The photographic waiting room

It can be very easy to think that the  modern photographer’s life is one of instant gratification. After all, Ansell Adams often had to wait weeks before he knew if that shot of a rock had worked as he wanted it to…nowadays we can take a photo of the rock, add a few filters and send it to an uninterested world in a matter of seconds. But much like a young tradie being sent to the shop to get a ‘long weight’, there are still a few times that photographers find themselves waiting, and then realising that they are too embarressed to tell anyone about it.

The time between taking the photo and getting to work with it in Lightroom

Pretty much every photographer has had the experience of looking at a shot on the screen on the back of the camera and thinking ‘Nailed it!’, only to get the photo onto a larger screen and realise that in fact it’s soft (slightly out of focus), or noisy (ISO too high) or shit (shit). So there is always a degree of paranoia about your shots until you can load them into your computer and see what you’re really dealing with. After all softness can be sharpened, noise can be reduced and shitness can have 100% clarity added to it and passed off as ‘HDR’. But you just don’t know what you’re working with until it’s loaded onto your computer…and so the wait between clicking the shutter and clicking on the mouse can seem like an eternity.

Last year I shot my first ever wedding. By the time I got home that night and loaded the photos onto my computer it was late and I was too shattered to do any work on them. But then the next day was chock-a-block with family activities, and the day following that involved a 5 hour bike ride. So I spent over 48hrs freaking out that I had no idea if I actually had any decent shots…it was torture.

So if you live with a photographer and want to be nice to them, give them an hour off other duties and let them load in their photos and have a look at them  on a big screen with access to some software that can hide their mistakes…it will make them a lot more pleasant to be around.

Waiting for feedback

I think that people who don’t take photos can underestimate just how much a photographer invests in a shot. As the photographer  you’ve chosen to take a photo, you’ve composed it, you’ve chosen your settings, you’ve forged a brief alliance with your subject, you’ve taken the shot, you’ve spent time doing post-production on the shot, sent through the final product, and then…well then you’re in the hands of the recipient, and the longer you wait for a response, the more you become convinced they hate it. It can be soul crushing. It’s a bit like finally plucking up the courage to call someone you have a crush on, but getting their voicemail and having to leave a message and then having to wait them to call you back. Or maybe you should call them…to make sure they got the message…or maybe I should I see if they’re available on Facebook…wait, it says they’re logged in on their mobile…why didn’t they answer my call then?… Oh God they must be trying to think of a nice way to say ‘No’…Oh God I feel like such an idiot!…but why don’t they just let me know? Why do they just leave me hanging? What sort of psycho are they?! Screw this, I’m going to send them a really nasty text message telling them that I can’t believe I ever I had feelings for them, but not to worry, I can take the hint, and I’ll never bother them again!
Meanwhile, in the time it took to go to the bathroom, the subject of your desires has received one voicemail message followed a few minutes later by a bafflingly angry text message.
In short, you are a tad vulnerable when you put a part of yourself into a shot for someone else’s judgment, and paranoia + time = teenage boy.

So if you have the misfortune of living with someone who fancies themselves as a photographer, or someone has taken some photos for you, here are a few things you can do to assuage our fears:

  • Let us know you got the photos. Even if you haven’t had a chance to look at them yet, just let us know they’ve arrived. Sometimes, due to the vagueries of the internet, photos don’t make it from sender to reciever, and there is nothing worse than waiting for feedback  on photos when the other person is still waiting for them to arrive.
  • Give feedback. Look, I know we’re all time poor, but I’ve had photos that I’ve taken hours working on, uploading to a gallery on Flickr and sending through,  only to recieve  ‘Great, thanks’  as the feedback. What was great?! Which ones did you like? Why?
    When I did the recent photoshoot with Luke from the Cobblers  Last  he actually went through and listed the photos he liked and why. It was awesome because going into a shoot you have no idea what people are hoping for, so it’s great to know how close you came to what they were after.
    Oh, and if I’ve seen you write ‘Cute pic’ or ‘That’s so great’ to someone’s clearly out of focus photo of their child on Facebook, your feedback has no weight with me.
  • Tell it like it is We are precious flowers…but sometimes we need to hear what you don’t like. Yeah, it hurts and we will probably spend the next couple of hours in a huff, but we need to know why you didn’t like a photo. I can pretty much guarantee that if there’s a photo you don’t like it’s either a photo the photographer had doubts about themselves, or there is a specific reason why they included it. As a photographer you take a lot of photos…the real skill is culling them down to the ‘good ones’. The more informed we are about what constitutes ‘good’ the better we’ll become as photographers.
  • Be our muse Yep, standing a spot while the photographer stares blankly at the display on the back of their camera and then adjusts the the off-camera flash for the umpteenth time can be boring as batshit. But consider it an investment in the ultimate prize; a photo of yourself that you actually like!

So there you go. We photographers are in fact incredibly misunderstood and under-appreciated geniuses who thoroughly deserve your respect and admiration.  Just please tell us we’re good…please!



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