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The Return Of The Family Photographer

IMG_3408I was reading a recent article at the Subtraction Project that referenced taking more pictures and the “the D-SLR that has been collecting dust” and HOLY CRAP, did that hit home. Mine is SO DUSTY. So! I’ve been trying to leave it out and within sight so that when I want to take a picture of something random, maybe I’ll grab that instead. While I adore the nice photos my iPhone takes, I do often pull up older photos I’ve taken with my real camera and think…but MAN, those are still so much nicer!

For example, I was digging up old photos from Thanksgiving 2 years ago to compare some of the kid’s sizes from this year and when you put my D7000 photos from 2012 next to my iPhone 5S photos from 2014? You realize that maybe the iPhone pictures are not as awesome as you think they are.

SO! I’m trying to use my “real” camera more. And this morning I had to get up early for a work project and thought, “I’ll take a coffee-drinking selfie!”

And y’all? It’s HARD to do that with a REAL camera. After like 20 shots, this was the best one I came up with.

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But I’m going to try to get used to getting it out more. I used to carry my real camera EVERYWHERE and I’d end up with really good pictures of my kids just because it was there at the right moment. I hate that I don’t use it anymore because that used to be my favorite thing to come home at the end of a day when I had taken a bunch of pictures, and just go through them all. I miss that. I also miss some of my artsy photos because they’re hung up all around the house and I haven’t added any new ones in YEARS.

SO. That is my challenge to myself: TAKE MORE PHOTOS. And WITH THE GOOD CAMERA. I haven’t done a good job of documenting our life with GOOD photos the last few years, so I’m trying to be better about that. What’s the point if having a nice camera if you don’t use it, RIGHT?

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Dear “Real” Photographers, Stop With The Mocking Already…

…it’s really unbecoming.

Added Preface: None of my professional photographer friends have ever done this that I know of. So, I’m hoping the majority of the professional photographer community don’t post public snark mocking hobbiests or novices, but for the very vocal hopefully-minority, I had to write this post.

When my oldest child was born I took nine million pictures of him with a point-and-click regular film camera. I got those pictures developed at 1-hour photo and always got doubles to share with my family. I framed 50% of them. I loved pictures of that kid more than anything and worried for any future children because there is NO WAY I’d take as many pictures of them as I did of him.

Fast forward 11 years when I had my daughter and BAM! Digital photography had changed everything. Now I have 14 bajillion photos of my kids, all sitting on my computer.

This love of taking pictures spurred me to buy a DSLR camera in 2006 or so and I fell in love with it. I didn’t understand a lot about it, but I tried to learn. I got a few fun lenses over the next several years, had another kid and just really enjoyed my hobby. In 2009 or so some friends asked me to take their family pictures, I did and felt honored. It happened a few times like that, nothing exciting, just family shots downtown. I felt weird taking payment so I asked them to donate to a cause I supported. I mainly just took a lot of photos of my family and then I took a lot of scenery photos of non-people. My office at home is filled with my own photography.

For a little while, I thought Wouldn’t it be fun to turn this into a career? How much do I love this hobby?

And that’s about the time I read my first snarky article from a photographer I respected and admired, about how irritated she was at people buying good cameras and thinking they could charge people for photos.

And then I read an article where they cataloged a collection of “bad” photos from people “who thought they were real photographers.” The article mocked bad lighting and scene setting and blurred subjects and shallow depths of field.

And all of the other “real” photographers laughed and mocked and complained.

The first complaints I always see are how it’s jeopardizing the integrity of the industry because novices don’t charge as much. I see the same kind of commentary from writers complaining about other writers who give articles to websites for free. Or web developers who can build a business website with a WordPress theme and only charge $100 for the whole process. (I was interviewed by a guy who was OFFENSIVELY snarky about people who did that.)

Listen, I hate to break it to ALL of you, but this is what being a professional is about. Haven’t you heard about 50-year olds getting laid-off or fired and replaced by fresh-out-of-college 22-year olds who will do the same job for half of the pay? IT HAPPENS EVERYWHERE. It’s part of every industry. People trying to break into the field charge less, THAT IS THE WAY IT WORKS. If you don’t like it, then I don’t know what to tell you. That’s the competitive factor of any professional career. If it bothers you that people hire someone for less than you charge, then complain about the people hiring them, don’t complain about the people trying to break into the field.

But specifically, let’s go back to the mocking or the making fun of “novice” photographers by “real” photographers.

My rage about this has always been there, but this article brought it back up again. This is the part that pisses me off. After discussing all of the gear a “real” wedding photographer brings to a wedding, and comparing it to a “friend with a good camera” the article asks if you’ve carried that gear too:

Have you done all of those things? If not, make no mistake, you are not a photographer — you’re just a person who owns a camera. People might pay you to take pictures with that camera, but it’s only because they don’t realize they shouldn’t.

This is the attitude that pisses me off. Did you “real” wedding photographers wake up one morning with all of that expensive gear automatically handed to you? NO. You bought it, probably with money you earned as a photographer who didn’t use that type of gear. No one walks into an industry with everything they need in terms of gear and knowledge from day 01. Allow people time to ease into an industry without you making fun of them. (Unless you just like being an asshole, then please continue.)

Also – on the other side of the spectrum, you hear “real” photographers snark that they could take good pictures with just a regular camera because they understand lighting/mechanics etc, and I’ve seen them do this: mocking people who spend lots of money on gear, but don’t know how to use it.

So, if you’re starting out, you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

I have never seen an industry more publicly vocal about mocking novices than Photographers. (Most people feel bad about that mocking and snarking and do it more privately.) I no longer have dreams of turning my hobby that I loved into a career, but I’m still proud of my photography even if it was done with a camera I don’t quite understand. My photos are framed all over my house, because I love them, and every time I see a “real” photographer snark or mock people like me who “call themselves photographers” I look at those photos and wonder if I should be ashamed instead of proud.

DO YOU SEE WHAT YOU DO TO PEOPLE?

Your snarky commentary and articles mocking people trying to be photographers makes people like me look at things they’re proud of and wonder, Should I not be proud? You make people doubt their career choices or dreams which – I guess if you don’t like competition – is a good thing. (Or, if you like being perceived as an asshole by newbies in your field. Then you’re golden.)

No one likes finding out that someone else might can do their job cheaper and/or better with less time and less investment. But that is part of being a professional. If you work for a company for 10 years, chances are you’re getting paid more than the guy they just hired. So, you have to make yourself valuable in as many different way as possible. There are new people coming up in every industry willing to do more for less and all of us old people have to compete with them. Photographers are not the only ones who have people trying to sneak in charging less for more. But no one else publicly mocks their younger/cheaper competition as much as “real” photographers do. I see comics and blog posts and articles about it constantly, and it makes me angry every time.

And photography is also ART. You are mocking someone’s attempt at making ART. Which makes it even worse. I find art snobs the most annoying. People who look at art and laugh at it. That is someone’s SOUL you are laughing at. I have a picture of a dogwood tree in my office that I took and I have no idea if it’s “technically” good or not but it is my heart. I have a lot of emotion invested in that picture and if a “real” photographer looked at it and mocked it I would be devastated. I thought about selling prints of it once (the tree has historical value here) but one of those damn articles turned me against it because – what if it’s not really as good as I think it is?

YOU PEOPLE DID THAT. You people who laugh at people openly trying a new career or hobby…You people make me look at a picture I adore and wonder if I should be embarrassed to have it framed.

PLEASE STOP.

(Unless you just like sounding like an asshole to everyone who is not a “real” photographer. Then, by all means, continue.)

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Zoot’s Zoo

As all of my kids get older I have stopped documenting their lives as much over here on this blog. Partly because I never want them to HATE this place, and partly because I have a lot more going on now, outside of being a Mom, which is much easier to write about.

But a side effect of this, and seemingly of my own recent hatred of my face/body, I HAVE BEEN TAKING A HELL OF A LOT OF PET PHOTOS.

I am that woman, now. Who posts crappy blurry cell phone photos of her kids on Facebook, but breaks out the real camera and takes advantage of natural light to photograph the animals in her life.

Although – the animals never sass me – and my kids have developed all SORTS of shitty attitudes lately. So that doesn’t help either.

Anyway! To prove to you my weird new photography habits. I haven’t broken out the real camera in a long time, and when I do? IT’S ALL ABOUT THE QUADRAPEDS.

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This is Milo. He belongs to my in-laws. The only Boston Terrier in the family now (there used to be four) so he get’s spoiled by EVERYONE. Including us.

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Dropbox…my salvation and my damnation all in one simple package.

Due to my job, I had to upgrade to a professional level of Dropbox recently. This means I can write it off on my taxes, so…yay! This also that when it came time to upgrade my phone – which was destroyed at the end of the 2-year cycle like it always is – I opted to go smaller/cheaper since I could use the Dropbox for iPhone app to back up my pictures.

(That’s the biggest memory hog on my phone: pictures and videos.)

I figured I could back up all of my photos on my old iPhone to Dropbox. THEN…I’d have a bigger interface to sort through and delete the ones I don’t want to archive forever. (I mean, how many photos of food do I need to save into eternity?) I’ve wanted to get rid of dumb photos and archives the good ones for 2 years. I like to keep every photo I take that I can find any reason that I may want to look at it in the future. I take photo archive VERY seriously. BUT – I don’t want to do it on my phone where it’s a slow and tedious process.

(That last sentence makes me laugh SO HARD right now.)

(FORESHADOWING!)

And then, once I had a nice clean archives of the last 2 years of iPhone photos, I could just constantly have backups uploaded on my new iPhone! Perfect deal, right?

IN THEORY.

First – it took almost 36 hours on almost constant WiFi connection to upload all 6000+ photos on my iPhone.

(What?)

That I was kinda expecting. I knew I had a lot of photos. No biggie.

Second – it didn’t give any sort of organizational options for the upload. Like…organize by month? I mean – people who take a lot of photos and who care enough about them to backup them up ALL organize them somehow. And the easiest way is by time. So, it seems if you’re marketing towards photo storage that would be at least an OPTION.

It was not.

So, when the process was finally done. I had one folder “Camera Uploads” with 6000+ photos in it.

I decided to start the process of deleting them. I thought I’d could view them as large icons and just delete chunks at a time.

Nope. For a few reasons.

1) You can’t view as large enough icons to really tell if you want to delete it.
2) You can’t delete in big chunks at a time without totally bogging down the system.

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And here’s the thing…a folder with 6000+ photos in it? IS BOGGING DOWN THE SYSTEM. So, it’s impossible to do anything. The interface kept locking up. That picture above is just me trying to open the folder with my pictures in it. NOT EVEN DO ANYTHING TO THEM YET. The only way I could keep things moving was if I just viewed like a slideshow and then deleted from there. ONE AT A TIME.

After about 100 photos – with 4 or 5 restarts due to freezing – I decided I needed a better way.

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SO! I decided to organize them FIRST. Then I’d have smaller folders to look at and Dropbox would handle things better.

OH MY GOD.

I’m just trying to move photos into monthly folders. Like a 2012 folder with 01, 02, 03, etc inside it. It works out to be about 300 photos a folder, give or take 50. I didn’t have too many for the year 2011 so I threw all of those in one folder. I’ve made it to March of 2012 and I’ve crashed Safari THREE TIMES.

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But at least Safari will let me do it. Firefox kept locking up before I even moved any pictures.

In other words, this system is going to work FINE if I can just get to a good starting point. If I can ever get all 2 years of photos organized by month, and then if I ever get through and delete the 9000 pictures of beer, then Dropbox will be a GREAT backup tool for my phone, allowing me to use the smaller/cheaper model. Maybe if I had started this process before I had filled up one iPhone. So, it’s frustrating getting to that point now? But when I get all of the photos moved, and then can easily delete all of the sweaty running selfies, then…THEN…I’ll probably be really excited I chose this option for cell phone storage and organization.

IF I EVER GET THERE.

UPDATE: Now that I have everything organized in smaller folders, it’s now letting me “View In Photos” which I had been trying to do (even though I had no idea what it meant) but it kept freezing up. This is a MUCH better interface to delete photos from. It lets me see big ones AND I can delete more than one at a time. So…MUCH BETTER.
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Family Photos

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One of my favorite Pinterest boards is my Photo Projects board. It’s everything from poses for photos, as well as fun things to do with the photos after they’re taken. That’s where I cataloged the idea for this pose which is PERFECT when you have kids spanning a wide range of heights.

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I also saw variations of this on Pinterest. Dangling a child upside-down for a photo. It’s a perfect way to make sure they’re smiling and adds a little bit of personality to a photo. These are the photos I’ll probably frame because they’re the ones that will make people stop as they walk down the hall.

It’s that time of year when we’re all thinking about the pictures we’ll use on our Christmas cards. I always do a collage because I can never decide on one photo, what about you? Do you have any fun poses you’ve done for your family pictures? Do you do your own cards (I design mine Photoshop) or do you use a service like Shutterfly or Tiny Prints? I’d love to use those services but I can never find the perfect photos the perfect dimensions…and I’m annoyingly picky when it comes to my Christmas Collages. My bathroom floors my be disgusting…but my Christmas Card WILL BE PERFECT.