I was driving to a friendâ??s house the other day when I entered the motorway and everything ground to a halt. We crawled along for a few miles and before long the source of the trouble became apparent.
A sporty looking saloon â?? it was impossible to tell what it was before the crash â?? had spun out, swiped a lorry and ended up half way through the barrier. The police, fire and ambulance service were all in attendance and there was a blur of fluorescent jackets swarming around the vehicles.
Without warning the carâ??s fuel tank exploded. I donâ??t mean that it caught fire and popped a bit; it actually exploded â?? fire ball and all. I had no idea that this could actually happen in real life. I thought exploding fuel tanks only happened in Hollywood. In my excitement I reached into the back seat, grabbed my camera, switched it on, raised it to my face and zoomed in. Then something odd happened. I started to squeeze the shutter release and as I did so, a flood of guilt washed through me and I froze. As if someone else was controlling me, I put the camera down on the passenger seat, leant back in my chair and let out a long sigh. I felt appalled with myself. Some poor fellow might have just been really badly hurt and my first thought was to get a good snap of the fray. Moments later the traffic moved on and we left the horrible mess behind us.
Iâ??ve thought about the crash a lot since then. It was one of those situations and one of those opportunities that (at least I hope) will never present its self again. Iâ??m certain that I missed out on taking an amazing photograph. I probably could have sold it, at least to the local papers, and I would have received lashings of praise from my photographer friends. Regardless though, Iâ??m sure I made the right decision. Sure, it could have been a great photo, but at what cost? All I could think while putting the camera down was what if it was me? How would I feel if someone else profited from my misfortune? I could never be proud of the photo; I would always feel a little ashamed.
Itâ??s not quite the same thing, but I have a friend who is a freelance celebrity photographer. Heâ??s one of those guys you see hanging over the railing at glitzy, red carpet events. In his view, the absolute best part of his job is when something goes wrong and he gets a good snap of the big name when it happens. Itâ??s these photos that heâ??s most proud of and itâ??s these photos that earn him the most money. In life away from work heâ??s one of the nicest people youâ??ll ever meet. Heâ??s kind, generous and a great guy to be around, which is why I canâ??t understand why he gets such a buzz from doing what he does. After all, isnâ??t it profiting from someone elseâ??s misfortune in its purest form?
There are times when it is prudent and even important for us to photograph â??bad thingsâ?. For instance, without the photographs and news reels of the two world wars, how would we know of the atrocities that occurred? Itâ??s also important that we keep seeing them. Not every day, but at least every now and then. Itâ??s imperative that we are reminded of these â??horrors of warâ??. Can you imagine what would happen if we forgot? Without the photos of starving children in third world countries we would be unaware of the constant struggle of hundreds of millions of fellow human beings. They would have no voice and there would be no way for us to know that they need our help. Itâ??s these photographs that remind us of how fortunate we really are and in doing so give us perspective on our own lives.
I donâ??t think the lessons we learn from seeing photos of car accidents are really on the same par. Sure, we are reminded of what happens if we donâ??t drive carefully, but then how many traffic accidents do you see in a year from simply driving about? That seems enough of a reminder to me. As for what we learn from seeing A-list celebrities tripping over at a movie premier â?? well Iâ??m stumped.
Perhaps Iâ??m making too big of a deal about all this? Maybe Iâ??m just going soft, but this type of thing really doesnâ??t sit well with me.
What do you think about this? If you had been in that traffic jam what would you have done? Would you have taken the photo or would it not have even crossed your mind? Perhaps you would react as I did, fully intending to take the shot but then finding that you couldnâ??t follow through? Is there a line that should be drawn or is everything fair game?
Peli, the manufacturer of the world famous Peli Protector Case has now introduced a complementary range of soft bags. The new Peli Soft bag range have padded inserts and are made from water resistant nylon ensuring that your equipment is always protected.
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Soft-Sided Bags (Prices from Â£44.99 Inc vat)
Designed to store and protect DSLRâ??s, lenses and accessories, they all feature expandable outer side pockets, interior and exterior mesh pockets. The comfortable carry handle with padded strap makes transporting your equipment much easier. The wheeled soft-sided cases are built with inline skate wheels and retractable locking handles which make them roll with ease.
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These new lines of cases have been designed with the busy digital professional in mind. They are reliable, strong and versatile. They come complete with moveable dividers and feature a padded computer pocket to carry a full size laptop. They all come with a nylon storm cover and are fully airline compatible.
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Back to the subject of Wedding Photography, again (I suspect we’ll be covering this one a lot!).
I was talking to my friend Mark, who I have mentioned before is right now going through the transition from keen amateur to professional. Mark was telling me about the half a dozen or so weddings he has covered for free, or dirt cheap, in order to have the opportunity to get a few weddings under his belt and into his portfolio. Oh, and for the experience of course, which never comes cheap in this game!
The trouble is, he is now in danger of being labelled as a “cheap wedding photographer” for the foreseeable future. Although having covered friends’ and relatives’ weddings at a special rate has lead to a number of referrals, the referred clients have an expectation of an inexpensive photographer covering the event from dusk till dawn.
It strikes me that when trying to make the jump to pro status, the photographer needs to have a plan, almost a prepared statement to read to the lucky couple getting the special deal. My suggestion (much too late for Mark, obviously!) would be to quote friends and relatives the full price you intend to charge once you have made the jump. Then, give them a whopping discount, clearly showing that this is a one-off because you are my cousin/nephew/sister/best buddy or whatever. This way, the photographer has shown his normal price and the friend/relative can clearly see the saving they get from being in the right place in the gene pool at the right time.
Will it actually work? I don’t know. I need someone to try it out and let me know! Any takers?
One of the stands I purposefully made my way to at Focus on Imaging in Birmingham last week, was the Lastolite stand. I have several of their products and their original collapsible reflectors have to be one of the best accessories ever invented.
I was particularly interested to see the HiLite Background system, which bears a passing resemblance to a huge softbox, but used as a background (the clue is in the name) instead of as a primary light source. There were several reasons why I wanted to see it:
- I’m in the market for a new background “system” and high-key is a real challenge for me as I only have two lights
- My TDM buddy, Charlie, said I should take a look and he’s often been right about the kind of gear that works for me
- I didn’t see how it could possibly be any good (sorry Lastolite – pre-judging like this is unfair) and this was my opportunity to check it out
Well, I liked what I saw. Clearly, it does work (although I have not yet got my hands on one to test it fully). However, one possible stumbling block preventing me from investing is that I don’t always want a white background; I regularly shoot low-key against a dark grey background.
Anyway, today I learned that Lastolite has brought out a set of new “Bottletop” covers to provide a little more versatility. These include black and grey versions (I’m assuming you switch the back light off, at least for the black version!) and Chromakey versions in both blue and green. Simply slip the elasticated bottletop cover over the HiLite background to produce an instant change of colour. They also come complete with a train (although I’m struggling to find out exactly how long the train actually is). Now I’m excited!
Here’s the new range:
HiLite Bottletop Cover with Train 5â?? x 7â??
Black â?? LAS 8702 SRP Â£54.99 Inc vat
Grey – LAS 8770 SRP Â£54.99 Inc vat
Chromakey Blue â?? LAS 8788 SRP Â£54.99 Inc vat
Chromakey Green â?? LAS 8781 SRP Â£54.99 Inc vat
HiLite Bottletop Cover with Train 6â?? x 7â??
Black â?? LAS 8802 SRP Â£64.99 Inc vat
Grey – LAS 8870 SRP Â£64.99 Inc vat
Chromakey Blue â?? LAS 8888 SRP Â£64.99 Inc vat
Chromakey Green â?? LAS 8881 SRP Â£64.99 Inc vat
You can find out more about Lastolite products by visiting www.lastolite.com or by phoning 01782 753304.
I need to get hold of one of these for a proper test – I’m not sure whether I will still need to get a third light to illuminate the HiLite, or whether using one of my lights for the HiLite and one for the primary light source would be enough. Still, I was anticipating an additional two lights for the background so this could still be a good solution.