11 Aug 2008

Words in photographs

Words in pictures
Okay, I admit that some of you who have been to me for tuition might have heard me say that I do not normally like photographs whose only claim to any sort of appeal is an obvious printed message. Some people like this sort of thing. I'm definitely not a fan.
However, any photographer shooting for stock, in fact any professional freelance photographer, would be a fool to pass by an opportunity to capture a silly, but sellable, photograph like the one above these pictures can make money. And this one has done just that.
The picture has no artistic visual merit whatsoever, the camera has simply been pointed and the button pressed. Little time and effort was spent on it. Its message and humour (if you like that sort of humour) is entirely in the written sign behind the tethered cow. It is a good example of how a photographer who needs to make a living from his camera should often put his own personal views to one side in order to turn a penny and pay the mortgage.
Photographers who get sniffy and 'precious' at this sort of thing are often financially poor photographers out of touch with the realities of life. In fact, I've been quite happy to label myself as a 'panchromatic prostitute'. I take pictures for money. The fact that I love doing it is a tremendous bonus.
It's worth mentioning that the picture was taken while I was working on a major commission to cover the Royal Agricultural Show for a government publicity department. They would not want this type of image but I knew plenty of people who would.
It is wonderful to work for people who want to stretch my artistic skills and journalistic experience, and I have been fortunate to have worked for many such people over the years. These commissions are to be enjoyed to the full but I've always found it profitable to keep my eyes open for the less glamorous shots while I'm at it.
I get many aspiring professional photographers coming to me and wanting to know how to make a living from their hobby. Some have very grand ideas of how they should go about things. That's fine, but I like to show them a picture like this first so that they start off with their feet on the ground.


Anonymous said...

Re bread and butter photography, spare a thought for the poor sods who take the production line graduation pictures. (We've a lot going through our papers at the moment). To spend a whole day (days?) taking the same picture is not appealing.

So tell us, Philip - what were your least favourite press jobs?


Philip Dunn said...

Least favourite press jobs - well, there have been plenty of those over the years. Door-stepping came high on the list, and having door-stepped everything from Buckingham Palace to a gorilla's cage, I speak with some conviction. By door-stepping, I mean waiting outside someone's house to get a picture of them.
I loathe football with real passion and yet I've covered countless major matches. I used to think that in a stadium full with perhaps 60,000 people, I was the only one there who didn't want to be there.
On the serious side, the very worst job was alway having to approach relatives after a bereavement.