AC/DC as a lesson in photography

I was having lunch with my buddy Peter … everyone say “Hi
Peter!”.


Peter1
 

He is the guitarist and singer in two cool bands
Shimmersound and Quitters Anonymous. We got talking about the creative process,
as we often do, and he said something that really made me think. He said “Look
at AC/DC, they have great songs and all that but when you really listen to them
there is a total lack of ego there. At no time is anyone getting in the other
players way. Nobody is trying to show off and that is so rare.”


Photographers, like any working artist, wants to be allowed
to do their thing. We want to be the author of our work and don’t want to
sacrifice our grand and noble “artistic integrity” whatever that is. Lots of us
tend to do work that is in some way self serving. We are married to a technique we are fond
of, a process/look that we think is special, subject matter that we think has
more merit than others, whatever. You know the type. Maybe he can't possibly shoot without his ring light or has to do lots and lots of post processing. Nothing else will do.

Now I have said before that our work should
make ourselves artistically happy in the long run and I will always stand by
that. However it’s amazing how many photographers are tough to work with. We
can be demanding divas and petulant children and I don’t understand why these
folks get work.


I was just talking to an editor yesterday who let me know
that the image that I shot for the cover was being replaced by another image of
mine from the shoot. Seems that some editors didn’t “get it”. My reaction: why
should I care; I’m still on the cover so why freak out? I know that some
photographers would. Yeah the initial image was way cooler and the one they are
going to use is much more straight forward and to me rather boring in
comparison but I’m not offended by the switch and why should I be?


As I see it, when I’m hired I’m part of a team and my job is
to bring back to the client what they need with as little trouble as possible. Keep
it simple stupid, right? But I hear about other photogs who simply have to
bring a big entourage to the set or have specific demands on trifles such as
the snacks to be delivered during the lunch break and I just shake my head. How
does that kind of attitude effect the subject? Do they enjoy that kind of
energy coming from their photographer and does that help them relax and make
better photos? Eh!


Personally I try to make the process of making photos as
simple and fun as possible. I see myself as a problem solver and never want to
be adding to the stress. Hotel booked up? I’ll sleep in a tent. It’s raining? I’ll
do the shoot indoors. Subject having a rough day? I’ll work fast and make it
fun somehow. That’s my job.


It’s not about me. Ever. Yeah I have concepts and a style
and all that but it all has to work for the end result: a photo that makes the
client want to hire me again and to make an image that is fair to the subject.
I want the process to be invisible and for me to be just a dude that the
subject is hanging out with and not some pompous and demanding jerk. As such I
love to work with stylists and editors who are all about the artistry and not
the artist.

I did a quick and easy shoot this morning with a guy who has
been photographed quite a bit. I was walking the subject out of the studio he
said something to the effect that of all the photographers that he’s worked
with I was the easiest and most fun. That’s exactly what I want them to
experience: a fun time making some photos with nothing, especially me, getting in the way.

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