Trillium Mist

Just recently, my husband (and pro photographer) Brian Matiash, was in Mount Rainier National Park doing a little bit of shooting with Matt Kloskowski and the KelbyOne crew. He had an unfortunate interaction with a very rude, pompous, and arrogant photographer and wrote about it on his blog. It’s also getting a lot of attention over on Google+ and Facebook, so head on over to see how it all went down.

I have to say, this sort of thing really irks me. Why do some photographers have to be so smug? Granted, with most of the photographers I interact with, whether it’s on social media or in person, people are kind and considerate. But as you may remember, a recent conversation I had on Twitter proves that there is still a lot of “old-school” thinking out there in the photography world.

Sure, we share a lot more than photographers used to. Not only do we post our photos online, but we also often times will share where we photographed them, our camera settings, the gear we used , and even more “trade secrets” that tended to be “hush hush” back in the day. As an educator and pro photographer myself, I share a lot more than most, but it’s all for the love of photography—for myself, and for the people who learn from it. But I have also been criticized for giving away my “secrets” to other photographers, saying that I was “helping the competition”. I guess, in my eyes, I don’t see it that way. I am on a life-long mission to help create better photographers, and I do that by teaching photography. I know, it sounds crazy, doesn’t it? ;)

Have you ever had a less-than-desirable interaction with photographers out in the field? Share it in the comments below!

lavender-square-150pxNicole S. Young is a professional photographer living in Portland, Oregon. She is the author of several print books and eBooks, and runs her own online store for photographers, the “Nicolesy Store“.

You can read more of Nicole’s articles HERE, and view her work and website HERE.

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Join the conversation! 15 Comments

    • Thanks for sharing. :) That’s a classic example of what I was writing about. It’s one thing if it’s a planned (and paid for) shoot for a publication, but it sounds like this guy was just doing the same thing that you were doing. Plus, I’m gonna guess by those shadows that it was pretty far away from golden-hour? :) (That “I’m working with light here” line cracked me up.)

      • Actually, it was for a (very) small publication. Nonetheless, it was on public property and I expressed to the guy my only intent was to show a friend who collects and restores VW buses, and assured him they wouldn’t post to the interwebs until after his story had ran, if at all. Like your response below, it was more about the bad attitude than anything else.

  1. If this is the worse case of a photographer being smug that you have run into I think you guys should consider yourself lucky. I bet he walked away thinking that you guys were in the wrong for feeling entitled to his equipment. I love your work, but this just doesn’t seem like a huge issue.

    • I don’t think it was an issue of entitlement, but more how he reacted to Brian’s request. If a stranger asked me to borrow an expensive piece of equipment and I felt hesitant about it, I would have found a much nicer way of saying no.

  2. I was on a tour-bus vacation and brought my GItzo tripod with me, The legs on that tripod attach with two counter-rotating screws that have torx heads (star shaped).One of them worked loose and I used my nail-clipper’s file and a micro-usb connector to “McGuyver” them tight several times a day.

    On the third day (of 10) I came across a group of probably pro photographers (several shooters, lots of pelican cases of gear) and asked one of the assistants if he had two torx drives in his kit I could borrow for about 30 seconds. He went on a tirade about amateurs always stealing stuff and calling it “borrowing” and how he’s there to make a living, not be a supply house.

    I turned and walked away while he was still sputtering. He could have said he didn’t have them. He could have said he was under time pressure and didn’t want to lose the light (it was well past the golden hour). But, he CHOSE to be a jerk. I cannot understand what makes people like that tick.

  3. This “old school” thinking that you mention wasn’t more prevalent back in the day than it is now. Seriously. People or human nature hasn’t changed. What has changed is that digital is making it much easier for someone to make a photo and social media is making it easier for them to show it to a larger audience.

    I am a full time professional photographer. I have been a photographer at one level or another since I bought my first SLR in 1977. I belonged to camera clubs and worked with old school photographers in the field and in the darkroom (few photographers even know what film is now days). Never once did I feel that anyone was keeping secrets from me.

    Now with that being said there were jerks back then just as there are now, but they were the anomaly.

    • Good points, Gary. :) I started shooting film in High School, nothing at a professional-level at that point, but I definitely didn’t “start” with digital. DSLRs and online sharing have, however, enabled me to make photography (and teaching photography) a very lucrative career. I think what I personally perceive (mostly online) are photographers who somehow think that the barrier-to-entry should be more difficult, because that’s how it used to be.

      Plus, many of us pros don’t “look” like pro photographers (whatever that looks like, I really have no idea). :) I haven’t had the same experience that Brian did, but I have also not been taken seriously as a photographer when I meet someone in person … until they see my portfolio, then they know I’m legit. ;)

  4. What bugs me is the reason I assume the guy turned Brian down. He doesn’t want other people knowing where to find and make a beautiful image, hence the question about the internet. I assume he wants to keep the location and/or this image at this time of day a secret–he wants it to be unique. I can understand wanting something to be unique. But you’re fooling yourself if you think you have a monopoly on a famous place on Rainier, and you’re a lot less experienced than your getup would suggest if you think if someone is stealing your shot because they are standing nearby. We’ve all seen that pictures made at the same time in the same place by different people are completely different images. This is guy who out there TAKING pictures, not MAKING them.

    Of course, I could be totally wrong about the guy’s reasons. This is what I assume (ass u me).

    • First of all we want to preserve the area where the photograph was taken. I had a spot in Central Oregon which I called “Pigeon House” which gave no clue as to where it was. I had spotted a few photographers from back east there one day. They told me a person on the coast had let the cat out of the bag to where it was. I knew right then and there the jig was up. A couple of years later the only thing left is the wind mill, the rest has been leveled. It was a great place and gave up some wonderful shots. On super moon evening I returned to the shock of my life when the buildings were leveled. They were dangerous only to those who went inside. For photographing they were great. Early or late in the evening they with the appropriate sun they were great. Unfortunately for me when I first photographed them I was not yet using camera raw. Most of the time I’ll give up all the info on a place but once in awhile I don’t to help preserve them and sometimes for selfish and will founded reasons.

  5. I was photographing Kolob Canyons north of Zion Ntl. Park and had an encounter with an old gent using a 4×5 view camera on an old wooden tripod. He rudely warned me not to invade his space and stay at least 10 feet away. I respected his wishes. He went about muttering, GD digital cameras. A real curmudgeon…

  6. I love the photograph!
    Rita Leaders Bowling Green

  7. Great photo Nicole. I love it.

  8. I realized that this kind of fighting about who is or who isn’t a “pro photographer” is really useless so for example, if I see that someone is taking photos that are rather amateur than professional and trying to sell them, I’m not commenting on it because it’s just wasting my energy and I believe that every photo can find its audience. Of course, If someone asks me about my opinion, I’m not afraid to express it, but always in a friendly way and trying to find the positive sides because I know that words are powerful… For example, a friend of mine wanted to feature this photo essay in his local magazine. Since he is a journalist but not a photographer, he asked me if I think it’s good enough so I tried to explain the pluses like some of the landscapes are really nice or using a wide lens made the perspective attractive but all in all, the photos are very inconsistent and the whole essay would be much better if the amount of pictures would be reduced by making a second round of the selection. I think that this might be a way of talking about someone else’s work, following the words “live and let live”…

  9. The kind of behavior that Brian experienced just demonstrates the lack of basic civility among photographers that seems all too prevalent. I wrote a long blog post about this a few months ago that includes my own examples, some suggestions for how we should all act in the field, and a lot of comments from others about their experiences. I completely agree with your perspective on this, Nicole.


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About Nicole S. Young

Photographer, author, entrepreneur. I love photographing food and landscapes, and have written several how-to books on Photography, post-processing, and creative inspiration. You can find more about me on my blog, online store, as well as on Google+ and Twitter.




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