What Do You Talk About When You Talk Photography?

This photo was recently in a show at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center. I went to the opening. Didn’t know anyone. That’s not unusual. No problem. It’s always easy to start a conversation with a fellow photographer.

However, halfway into the evening, I noticed that some photographers wanted to talk about equipment. Some want to impress me with the places they’ve been. Some wanted to show me their photos and tell me and how they came to shoot that particular image.

I don’t talk equipment. I have good equipment but . . .

And I’ve been to some cool places but . . .

I enjoyed the photographers who wanted to show me their work. I’m not saying that’s good, bad, or better. That’s just my preference.

The photo shown here was the one in the show. It was taken with pretty standard Nikon equipment in a kind of cool place–off-road in the badlands of South Dakota. More interesting is how I stumbled over the broken bottle and the several ways that I tried to incorporated that bottle into images. Here, I asked my model to look through it. My model was an ex-priest, 72 years old, open, interesting and comfortable in his own skin. That last bit about being comfortable in his own skin has as much to do with the quality of the photo as the lens I was using. Other photographers will argue that with the right equipment you can capture even unwilling subjects and situations. Probably true. Not how I operate.

What do you talk about when you talk about photography?

BTW there was some good work in that show. I was proud to be included.

Appreciate the model!

It’s not easy to be a model. Not only do photographers sometimes ask them to take off their clothes, sometimes we also ask them to get into water. I’ve had models work with me sitting in cold streams and ponds. I’ve had them work without complaint under hot lights and in cold drafty buildings. Here’s an example where the water wasn’t warm and wasn’t gentle. I was happy to be the photographer that day, not that I would ever try to reverse roles. I know my limits. Here’s the point:  Besides writing a check–I always pay my models–I also appreciate my models. I never assume that the job is easy. I have the easy part.