Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Send In The Clowns

When you don't hire a professional, it's not just your organization that can get a black eye, it's the entire press corps that can. Enter the amateur photographer who arguably caused golfer Ian Poulter to lose the lead-in to the French Open, dashing his chances to win that.

Poulter is quoted, in Sporting Life (Poulter Snaps Over Photographer), as saying "That's what happens when you let novice people come in and ruin our livelihoods. We are playing for world ranking points and I want to move up as high as I can."

Indeed Mr. Poulter, I agree with you.

(Continued after the Jump)

This is not the first time this has happened. In March of 2008 Tiger Woods cited a photographers' camera noise as halting his momentum, and in 2007, golfer John Daly tore a muscle in his abdomen over a camera noise (albeit a fans, in this case) but the list of photographers that are untrained and have an adverse impact on events like golf goes on and on.

Already a very crowded scene with too many photographers covering these events, photographers are going to be pushed farther and farther away. Further, it may not be unreasonable soon to expect that photographers closer than, say, 20 feet, if they are allowed that close at all, will have to use a sound blimp similar to those used on movie sets. (See Jacobsen Sound Blimp video we did awhile back).

Amateurs somehow always worm their way into press pens they don't belong in. Sure signs? A point-and-shoot covering a concert. A person who is admonished not to use their flash during concert photography, and responds - "what do you mean I can't use my flash?!?!" It's a dead giveaway. Someone in a press area during any event that is applauding during a speakers' remarks. These, and many more are sure signs you have an amateur making getting your job done just that much harder.

If you're going to pretend to be the press, don't applaud in the press area. Don't bring a point-and-shoot to a press conference, that's like bringing a knife to a gunfight, and for gods' sake, don't go asking for autographs from the people you are supposed to be there photographing. Lastly, learn when it's appropriate to take a photo, and when it's not, and then stick to it. If you can't figure it out, follow the lead of those around you.

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.


Vittore wedding photographer said...

It's really nice to see how some people do not understand the value of a professional.
Sometimes in my business ( wedding photography ) I heard some groom arguing that I'm too expensive and that there is cousin Tobin that will shoot for free.
The only wedding that I remeber when a cousin did a good job is my cousin wedding...

Daniel Cormier said...

"Further, it may not be unreasonable soon to expect that photographers closer than, say, 20 feet, if they are allowed that close at all, will have to use a sound blimp similar to those used on movie sets."

Sounds reasonable, but apparently that's not enough. From the article you linked to:

"I suppose you could say that if you concentrate 110% then you shouldn't hear it, but he was 25 yards away."

Steve said...

As a freelance sports photographer I completely agree but unfortunately the offenders will either not read this or if they do, just won't see it that way.

There just seems to be a pervasive sense of entitlement and arrogance with many new photographers these days, amateur and otherwise. There's a lack of respect for the craft, for the subjects and for those who've "walked before us." If I read one more forum post that begins with "hey just got a new DSLR and was wondering how I can get a sideline pass to . . ." I will certainly pull some hair out.

When I was asked to shoot my first LPGA event, I had already been shooting sporting events for a few years. But I was at least smart enough to know what I didn't know so I did my homework. I sought out the events media guidelines, emailed media relations, and asked questions of veteran sports photographers. I never once assumed that my credential gave me free reign to do whatever I wanted. During the event I remained aware and respectful of the players, other photographers, and the spectators who paid to be there.

I for one, am not going to allow a few uninformed, untrained "professionals" to ruin it for the rest of us. I've encountered many such individuals at numerous events and don't hesitate to point out why what they are doing is unacceptable. The one that particularly gets to me is the photographer who seems to think that its okay to stand 15 feet in front of the twenty or so other photographers there shooting the event.

Anonymous said...

You guys are kidding yourselves.

Nobody really cares about the differences between pro and amateur photographers any more, primarily because there are so few.

The vast majority of national magazines have featured the photography of "amateurs" sometimes even as their cover art. With the availability of great post production tools like Photoshop, just about any reasonably exposed and focused image can be made "good enough" for publication, even in some of the top magazines.

Organizers of major events are often happy to give "press" access to somebody's cousin with a point and shoot, because it means they can get photos for their use at no cost. In my newspaper days, I shot shoulder to shoulder with other members of the press corps in the "press pit" during a White House presidential visit, but among us were several definite non-pros, one of whom asked if she could buy a roll of film from me, since she had only brought one of her own.

As far as professional athletes - they're supposed to be professionals able to perform under pressure. I find it hard to sympathize with a professional golfer or tennis player claiming they lost a match or hurt themselves because of the sound of a camera click, when even the youngest pixie gymnast can complete a 30 second precision routine with cameras firing constantly and crowds screaming their support throughout. You don't see baseball, football, soccer, or basketball players complaining about the sound of a camera ruining their career (or about the 110 db noise of the crowd during their point scoring efforts).

We've turned into a nation of whiners.

Unfortunately, some of you (my fellow pro photographers), are among the worst of them - including you, John.

Gregg said...

"Indeed Mr. Poulter, I agree with you."

Of course you do, John. Poulter blames his troubles on someone else.

Maybe you guys could start a club or better yet, grow a pair.

There are a lot of pros out there that can perform despite a shutter click or the fact that there is an amateur with a P&S in the press pen.

Unknown said...

Says a lot about your work if you honestly see it that way, Anonymous ("Nobody really cares about the differences between pro and amateur photographers any more, primarily because there are so few").

Often the ONLY thing that sets us apart is the professionalism that comes from the knowledge and experience of being a working professional.

If that doesn't ring true to you then you're doing something wrong.

Unknown said...

Unfortunately John, you are probably just preaching to the choir. I wonder how many amateurs actually read this blog if any at all. This is all about the business of photography. Amateurs often show that they have no regard for the business side of photography.

Anonymous said...

bet ya 50.00 the gal that credentialed her won't be in the same position next year.

everyone makes career decisions at these events every year. That was a bad one that will most likely affect everyone with a camera shooting PGA.

whinning or not, every aspect of life has rules and photography is no exception. Ignorance of the rules is no excuse either. There has never been more information available online for shooting the game of golf than there is today.

If that person loved golf and photography and was just getting his or her feet wet with this event his reputation has developed far, far faster the his skill level. Ouch!

to suggest this is whinning on the pro's part is unadulterated folly. Only a complete fool would agree with that and I'm a novice.

that's like expecting an actor to remember his lines with the audiance clicking there shutters away all through the performance.

the fact is differing activities have different rules. they have been developed throughout the years and they must be followed no matter what uncle ted believes.

I agree that many novices most likely won't be reading here but they should be. Just not the anonymous comments ;-)

John, your slant to the professional side of things in this article only lessens the impact of the actual offense and detracts from you credibility imho.

a good unbiased discussion about the rules may have been more difficult but it would have been effective and a good learning experience for the novice.

I love ya but again, know your market and cater to them. Screw what you associates think. They could really give a crap if you go down the tube but they will smile and pretend to be friends. You let yourself be used too much by less intellegent pro's imho.

Anonymous said...

John, Lead don't follow. Inovate and challenge don't copy. Your better than this.

Marco P said...

i agree with the notion of professionalism in these situations. if you want to make friends, learn the rules. Photojournalism is about leaving the smallest footprint possible.

on the other hand...

the golfer seems upset because someone was inconsiderate. that is the fuel for the fire, your the star and someone not as important isn't thinking (Christian Bale anyone?). if a bird chirped he wouldn't be whining, bird's don't know better. he probably would improve his game if he stopped thinking he was Jesus with a golf club. He's right, but in the "sue McDonald's cuz my coffee was too hot and I spilled it in my lap" kinda way. weak.

Sascha said...

Of course one can ask the question wether a golf pro should be able to hit a ball even if other people, birds or what ever are meking some noise.

But on the other hand one should not forget that many of the rules we photographers face today and that comlicate our work are the results of photographers breaking unwritten rules of our trade or even basic rules of human behaviour.

Edward said...

this post reads like cameras making clicking noises is a new thing.

I'd hate to think what Poulter would do if this were 10 years ago...not only would the amateur be clicking shutters but no doubt whirring motor drives as well....and most cameras had a motor drive back then, even point'n'shoots so the noise would potentially come from the spectators that don't know the rules.

Speaking of golf, some professional photographers these days remind me of the time a almost guy got chucked out of the golf course for having the audacity to wear non-white socks.

Anonymous said...

I love how the angry amateurs, photo purists, and wannabes just light up these comments when the lens is focused on them.

Stick to your day jobs, and leave us alone.

I've typed it; now go ahead and flame.

Jeffrey Snyder said...

Agreed, Agreed, Agreed. For all the years I covered Redskins football, the sidelines were blanketed with amateurs with 18-55 type Zooms, all with the same credentials hanging from their neck the we did. Never understood that for a moment...

Anonymous said...

Well as for the amateurs not reading this blog - I just happened to stumble upon this blog by accident. I don't photograph for a living, nor do I try to sneak my way into a press corps...

But reading the blog entry and its long list of comments from 'professionals' I ask myself how professional in the very word sense the majority of photographers really is.

Sure - I can understand that the recent development of Digital SLRs available for discount prices gives almost everyone access to a profession that before required years of training and substantial investment in money. And yes - I agree that there are plenty of douchebags out there that play photographer for fun and taking the pro's jobs.

But hell guys! Calm down a bit. It's not alone the fault of the amateurs. Would a hospital employ a kid that has a Doctor's kit? Would a furniture mart employ somebody who knows what a couch looks like? Definitely not! It's those who employ pro photographers that kick your butts by taking an amateur over a pro to do the job.

As such the only one comment that I can support here is the first anonymously posted one at the top. Instead of flaming and going into guerilla war against amateurs you'd better a) get more self-confidence and respect for your craft b) stop blaming the wrong people (like that stupid golfer did).

I'm pretty sure you won't listen to my words but that's okay. If letting off some anger helps you to be more happy afterwards then this comment has already served a good purpose. But honestly - so much irritation and fury only shows one thing: maybe not so pro after all.

Sincerely - some amateur.

Anonymous said...

I as a professional find it very interesting that the novices and amateurs always have the most to add during discussions such as the one we have here.

Thank God I don't have to compete with their wisdom and logic on a daily basis.

Anonymous said...

Know your market!

Rich Green said...

It would be nice if there was a reaction on the part of the photo buyers to reverse the trend of using amateurs, but I guess that's not going to happen.

Virginia Photographer said...

Did any of you read Poufter-boy's quote?

"I suppose you could say that if you concentrate 110% then you shouldn't hear it, but he was 25 yards away"

Yea I'd say if you were in fact giving 110%. Sure you possibly shouldn't fire on the back swing etc. but the unruly photog was 75 feet away! I use pro bodies and my Canon may not be as loud as the D3 but what a cry baby - 75 feet!

These professional golfers hit thousands of practice balls on the noisy beaches, practice grounds and what have you. They have built up a huge tolerance - they are machines - swinging identically over and over under rain or shine.

Poufter simply blew it and as a typical English Nancy boy whiner - not winner - took his shank out on the smallest closest person to him he could hurt professionally - the photog.

We have no evidence that the photographer was an amateur let alone possibly a seasoned pro of the golf circuit pushing the boundaries of the image as he should be.

Screw Poulter you big fat fairy poufter- we hope you do not return to any professional venue as you don't deserve the opportunity. Go practice at Heathrow Airport and become a professional golfer yourself. Golfers have to have a backbone whilst surrounded by thousands of coughing, sniffing shuffling, snapping members of the public.

What a loser!

Professional and seasoned photographers have always tolerated the newbies and the unwelcome GWC's preferring instead to make their shot instead of blaming someone else.

Anonymous said...

This post is interesting in its bias: "No pro could make a mistake like this." No pro that didn't have a decent shot for the day that needed one or their day was wasted. Naw, that would never happen. I don't buy it.

I didn't see where the article reported the offending photographer was an amateur. Since there were, presumably, a higher percentage of pros than amateurs in the "cameraman" area, I have to assume this amateurish mistake was made by a pro. Why? I don't know that I'm right, but the odds are with me and I don't know that you are right either John. Without more information, it is not logical to paste it on an amateur -- no matter how biased you may be. Being biased is bad business, even for a professional photographer.

What I actually see in the article is a pro golfer that lost their concentration (or just made a mistake) and needed a scapegoat. Not very professional either. Kind of amateurish, actually, as is the post.

Anonymous said...

Wow, when he titled this "Send In The Clowns" I thought he was refering to the amatuers at these events. I had no idea he was refering to the people that were going to comment.

The pro's make mistakes just like this. No often mind you but they do it. If your an amatuer standing next to them watch out. They will blame you. It's like a fart. No one did it! Everyone did it.

Since this is not a teaching thread about shooting professional golf please visit www.sportsshooter.com and link to their message board.

There you can search past threads about how to shoot professional golf. Also, check the newsletter section. Then....don't misfire!

AdvRdr said...

About 17 years ago a major golf tournament was being held in California and the wires had shooters with the leaders -- as they always do.

One of the leaders hit his approach shot and it landed on the side of the green opposite where the wire shooters thought he'd be putting from. So, as a group, they got up to move 180-degrees from where they were seated.

One lone shooter decided to take a route opposite his peers -- and into trouble. As he did, his foot landed on the ball of the other player, sending it rolling down a bunker away from the hole.

Play was stopped on the hole so the umpires could decided what to do. The shooter was asked to leave.

Everyone makes mistakes.

Names withheld to protect just about everyone.

Ian Heaton said...

I have to say it has been great reading this laundry list of rants. I have to agree with points from both sides.
The pro's are accurate in saying that there has been an influx of prosumer photographers who shoot events (weddings, sports, what have you) and don't know what they are doing. The point that the other side of the coin brings up is very valuable to look at. Shame on us for letting it get to this point. Shame on me for shooting an event and being lured into the notion that burning a DVD is a proper presentation of my work.
Last year I went to visit a distant family member, whose wedding I shot, and saw Wal-Mart prints of my images. I have not offered a Shoot and Burn option since.
We need to reclaim our profession and craft. I think that there is a place for this new type of photographer. The do need to learn more about composition and lighting, once the economy turns around and they get their real job back they may not want to lug the camera around on weekends.
We can't let the guy chimping in the corner of the reception take over our craft and ruin the way we are looked at as a whole. Insead we should educate, and push those in our craft to do better work.
We should have control of how our work is displayed, no matter what my exposure is, it won't look like pro quality when printed at Wal-mart.

Ian Heaton

Al said...

Why, is walmart not calibrating their printers RGB? Or are you not post-processing and calibrating your monitor.

Print quality shoulnt make a world of difference if your craft is good.

Awesome comments, I believe the pros are loosing the fight so far...

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled upon this post and I just can not believe this. The golfer was just blaming someone for his loss and this is completely unprofessional. There is ton of literature on sports psychology where the golfers are used as an example of perfect concentration and playing no matter what.

Now, let's draw a parallel here. So the author is a professional photographer who ventures into the area of logical reasoning while clearly missing the most basic concepts. For example, there is no reference I can see that claims that the photographer was amateur except from the golfer. Therefore, the entire assumption of the post is bogus and the entire post that follows from the incorrect assumption is just another rant. So who it the author now? Professional photographer, but amateur..hmm.. writer? Or maybe amateur golfer?

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