For those of you who aren’t big into the photo world, lately a particular group of pictures has created quite a buzz. Joe Klamar, a photographer with an incredibly successful 20 year career may have just taken the worst pictures of his life. So who cares, right? Photographers have off days and take bad shots every now and again. But when the job on the table is photographing the US Olympic Athletes, you don’t screw it up.
So I’ve been reading all the comments (and making plenty of my own) about the images. If you go to the guys website you can see, he doesn’t suck. But it looks like he sent an intern in to this gig, photographing some of the most accomplished Americans. What is blowing everyone’s minds is how could this photographer shoot people who have worked so hard their entire lives for this moment like bad senior portraits?
Here is the Kate Take: This is not what he shoots. If you go to Klamar’s website to view his award winning, internationally published, work you don’t see ANYTHING like this. To be well rounded in photography you have to shoot everything all the time. That is just not the way this industry works. What we are taught to do, conditioned by art buyers, agents, producers, etc, is to master one look. Make it synonymous with our names and success will come. So if you call a photographer at the top of his or her game, make sure you are calling because what you need is a shot that they take.
The AFP decided to send in one of their top guys to this. They thought, “hey! Let’s send Joe! He’s amazing!” they didn’t think, “which of our photographers is going to roll with the punches and be prepared for anything” since they clearly didn’t have the right idea of what this event was (as was made clear by Joe’s statements post-shoot, “I was under the impression that I was going to be photographing athletes on a stage or during press conference where I would take their head shots for our archives,” he explained. “I really had no idea that there would be a possibility for setting up a studio.” It was the first time AFP had been invited to participate in the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Media Summit) this is a miscommunication that destroyed a photographers reputation.
The article the AFP put out for their damage control made it even more clear, using the pitch “we love these photos…. they are just what we wanted… yup! We’re very happy!!” I hate to be Debbie Downer here but no, I’m sure the AFP isn’t happy. But I’m sure Joe is even more upset. As a photographer, we know when we take crap pictures. Joe is the one who has to live with this. I didn’t know who he was until I saw these shots, many others are in the same boat. We only know him as the photographer who took the worst portraits of Olympians ever. He knows that is what we are all thinking.
Joe is a master of his shot, which now, I have to wonder, is he just getting lucky? Because of these images, a photographer I otherwise would have thought had a great eye I know think gets lucky. I think he puts the biggest CF card he has in that camera and holds the shutter down taking as many pictures as he can before the camera has to process it. One must be good, right? How else can we excuse the way he doesn’t look through the lens and see how horrid the angles he is shooting are? That there is ZERO connection between subject and photographer?
In my imagination, I see a photographer showing up unprepared and trying to fake it till he makes it. Jumping around, making a big production about how he is shooting and paying no attention to what he is shooting. Bravo for taking risks but if the angles don’t work, try another!
So form your own thoughts… take a look at these images and let me know, do you think this is just breaking the mold brilliance or are they crap pictures? This is the first page Google Images search…
No seriously, thank you. Because as much as it sucks to have another photographer with the same name as me (we’ll both agree it kinda sucks), it doesn’t suck as much as it could. I appreciate that you are a normal person, not a crazy person. I count myself lucky that your working in a different genre than I am, living in a different part of this country, and I’m really lucky you are a great photographer so when we are confused for each other at least no one is walking away. So for the times I’ve gotten upset about the mixups that have happened. I apologize. You are awesome. You are nice. Thank you for that.
Here is a string of emails I received this week from a photographer who shares the name as another photographer. I think he wanted me to take down a link I have that goes to the other guy. But the other guy is a great photographer, and not at all crazy, so I am not taking the link down (besides, bullying is just wrong)… but here’s the conversation. It started last weekend and just in time for this blog post he sent the last one. Hope it gives you a good laugh this Friday! I took out the name of the photographer, but see if you can guess who it is…
Ever tried flying with your camera?
Ever tried flying with your camera, laptop, lighting, modifiers, hard drive, tripod and the rest of your gear?
It sucks. We all, even if have never had the opportunity, can agree that although sounding glamours, traveling with all that stuff is just a headache. We can always rent the gear when we get there, if of course we’re going somewhere that is an option. Even then though, is it really worth giving up the comfort of using your equipment to have the discomfort of traveling with it? Forget about the international issues. Making sure you have paperwork for any equipment that looks new so you won’t be accused of buying it over sea’s and required to pay taxes on it, again. Trying to debate how much you can get away with bringing on board with you verses (shutter) checking in your gear cases. The homework of just figuring this out takes an insane amount of time. So luckily there are some other options! The one that I am most excited about is Southwest Cargo. I’m a big Southwest Air fan to start, so their cargo shipping really gets me excited. Of course it’s really not an option for international travel but totally worth looking into for domestic shoots. www.swacargo.com there are photographers who swear by this. You can ship it before you go, it’s a whole lot faster than UPS and cheaper than regular mail.
I highly recommend looking into it!
Remember junior high? How you had to hit spell check after you wrote an essay? How about when you were doing your math homework and gave it that little once over to catch any mistakes? Although we would all LOVE to repress those memories a little longer there is an important lesson in them: proof read your work. Just because we graduated junior high, high school and some of us even college doesn’t get us off the hook for double checking what we do.
Sometimes it’s a little easier. For example if your sending out your resume of COURSE you’ll check your spelling. But do you take it any further than that? Do you actually read it out loud to hear how it is going to sound to someone reading it? If you recognize the importance of sounding intelligent in a resume than wouldn’t you also recognize that any email there after to that client is equally important. Take the time, read your email out loud. Most email hosts have a check spelling option but if you hit the wrong key and managed to still spell an actual work (although not the word you wanted) spell check is not going to catch it. Reading it back to yourself is.
Then there are harder places to double check, like your images. If you are creating a series of pictures you need to make sure any retouching you’ve done stays consistent throughout all of them. Don’t saturate the crap out of you sky in one shot and then leave it be in the next if they are part of the same story. If it’s personal work for yourself or work for a client, this is a very good habit to develop. If possible, use a program that let’s you open all the images in one window and see how they flow together. I love using Bridge for this. You can hold down the command key and select multiple images to be viewed at once. I do this for all my editorials. This also creates an amazing editing tool. Often I take a photograph out and replace it with another to see if the story is stronger that way. I’ve even gotten into the habit of taking screen shots of the edit and sending it to the editor I’m working with. It’s fairly normal to have 6 or 7 different takes on the story before we settle on the strongest layout.
Yet, if the images weren’t edited to look like they fit together this process wouldn’t work. Of course an image that doesn’t match the others in color and tone is going to create a stumble in the story. All the shots we consider putting into the fashion spread are given a quick retouch so we can edit fairly. See this example,
If your deadline/due date for an assignment isn’t due right away, finish it early and come back to it a few days later. Check to see if you still like the edits you made in post production. There are a lot of times I will get excited about something and then realize two days later it just doesn’t work.
Even when you have a client and you’ve shots 500 images for their website, go back and check. Although at the end of shooting, loading, and retouching 500 photo’s the last thing you want to do is see any more of it, force yourself to do it. You don’t want your clients thinking you are sloppy and there’s the chance that someone else isn’t going to catch your mistake either (if they are doing anything with your images odds are they are sick of them too). Worse case scenario, your careless mistake ends up published somewhere for the world to see.
So take a few extra minutes, a half an hour late without any mistakes is going to save your client more time in the end and will help you build a better reputation as a professional.
Turn off your cell phones when you finish speaking with a client! Then lock your phone, yes lock it, before you put it in your pocket.
Actually, it’s probably not a bad idea to do this after speaking with anyone. As we’ve all had to learn the hard way once before, either through being on the receiving end of that phone call or on the sending end, no one likes pocket dials. If you keep your clients information anywhere in your phone, those tight jeans may just end that relationship. I’m not saying you talk trash about people, of course you don’t! No one does It’s just that it is highly unprofessional to call a client and not have something to tell them relevant and important, so a pocket dial of you singing to “Don’t Stop Believing” at the stoplight is really bad. Equally bad is the assumption that your client hung up their phone so you don’t have to hit end on yours. Odds are if you were going to say something about a client it would be right after you finished the conversation where they wanted you to shot what!?! and for how much!?!?!?!! So if you were nice to them on the phone about it, suck it up and be nice about it after, at least until you make absolute sure your phone is hung up.
It’s not about taking trash, this is business people and everyone needs to vent once in a while. No one is going to blame you for it, unless you make a stupid mistake and get busted.
PS. watch out for cheek dialing, many a private phone call has been interrupted with a cheek dialed conference call.