Prefer to work alone?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Christopher Nisperos, Dec 8, 2007.

  1. Christopher Nisperos

    Christopher Nisperos Member

    Messages:
    422
    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2004
    Location:
    Paris, France
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    This will perhaps seem selfish, but as I get older I realize that I'm really beginning to hate being with another photographer when doing street shooting or fine-art landscape work. I can't stand comments or "advice" while I'm trying to create or —worse— when I discover something to photograph and the other photographer says something like, "Why are you going photograph that?. The bubble gets burst and ruins my impulsion to shoot.

    For example, today I was walking along with a photographer-friend of mine when I saw a giant, golden-colored autumn leaf with dark-brown veins, laying on the rain-washed black asphalt pavement. I had my Rolleiflex around my neck. I'm shooting b&w, and the contrast was very striking. In color, we'd say saturated. The leaf screamed at me to come shoot it. As I rushed toward it, opening my focussing hood, my friend said to me, "there's not enough light". I thought, "Shut up, what the hell do you know? That's why God made me put this tripod in my bag". Then I kicked away some chewing gum paper next to the leaf, to avoid including it in the shot. My friend: "Ooo. A 'set-up' shot!" That was it. I couldn't shoot. I knew that even if the resulting print were magnificent, this guy would forever be saying shit like, "I was there when he shot that. He set it up". That's all I need. A "Fred Picker reputation" (I'm refering to the incident where Picker once cut branches off a tree to get a clear shot of a landscape).

    Then there is the suggestion thing. Once I was roaming the warehouse district, south of Market Street in San Francisco, with a view camera. I found a stereotypical peeling paint shot. A guy comes up and says, "Hi. I'm a photographer too. Can I watch you work?" I say, No problem. But I prefer to not talk, if you don't mind". I set up, compose and focus. Meter. The guys says, "Aren't you going to include the part on the left?". I look. He was right. Argggg. I couldn't shoot it. It'd no longer be "my" photo, mistake or not. The very fact that he was there had distracted me .. and now he was pointing out the error of that very distraction. Maddening.

    Worse-than-worse? When you're out with a photog-bud, scouting for things to shoot ... you see something and compose on it .... then, so does he (or she). Arrrgggh.

    Truth be told, I almost wish I could post this anonymously. I feel a bit ashamed to have this attitude. Some might say I'm over-sensitive. But, damn it, creativity is a fragile thing. If a shot is bad, I accept the criticism. However, if it's good, I want full credit! Am I alone in this sentiment?


    Best,

    Christopher

    PS- The exception to this attitude, for me, is commercial work when, for example, an assistant will point out a fault before you shoot, or give a suggestion or two.

    . . ..
     
  2. Edwardv

    Edwardv Member

    Messages:
    397
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2005
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Hear! Hear! I feel that way too.
     
  3. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,698
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2003
    Good Afternoon, Christopher,

    I don't really find myself in conflict with someone else present, but I do find the occasional distraction leads me into errors that I don't think I'd make otherwise. Maybe that's partly because I'd probably be using the view camera which tends to require some degree of concentration.

    Konical
     
  4. Videbaek

    Videbaek Member

    Messages:
    852
    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2005
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Why would you ever photograph with another photographer? Maybe if you're in a bad neighbourhood and need someone to watch your back...
     
  5. Katharine Thayer

    Katharine Thayer Member

    Messages:
    252
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2007
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Perfect.
     
  6. Rob Skeoch

    Rob Skeoch Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    983
    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2005
    Location:
    Burlington,
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    I think you're right... it's hard to work with another photographer around. Although I've had some luck with my wife around although she spent a lot of time reading in the car.
     
  7. Cheryl Jacobs

    Cheryl Jacobs Member

    Messages:
    1,717
    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2003
    Location:
    Denver, Colo
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I'd never shoot with another photog. And I'm married to one.

    - CJ
     
  8. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,263
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Montgomery,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If you're shooting with someone else along, They should have enough respect for you to keep their trap shut and vice versa if they're shooting. It is a real test of friendship to be able to do this sometimes.
    I'm surprised you didn't break the Rollei hitting him with it.
     
  9. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,576
    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2004
    Location:
    DFW, Texas
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I understand the wanting to be alone thing, but some of us actually enjoy group shoots. You have to be with the right people, though. If someone is constantly giving unsolicited comments, you need new friends. :D

    On the Texas Church Project, we actually started the project just to have an excuse to go out and shoot with each other, then the project developed (beyond ANY expectations) and now we've had to get serious. Consequently, we've had to decide that we must go out now mostly alone so that we can cover more territory. All, or most, of us going to the same locations was not very efficient. Not only were we reaching fewer locations, but we spent most of time BSing anyway ... :rolleyes:

    Going on a shoot with someone is like a lot of other things: "Choose Wisely!"
     
  10. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

    Messages:
    1,504
    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Westminster,
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I have no problem photographing with others, but I rarely invite them to look through my viewfinder or ground glass. If they ask, I'll let them look through the ground glass after I'm done, but not before.

    I usually like the conversations that happen.

    But it sounds like from the answers here, that you guys shouldn't carry guns. Photo Road Rage, look out. Grin.
     
  11. Marc Akemann

    Marc Akemann Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,273
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2005
    Location:
    Michigan
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Well it's certainly understandable to feel the way you do with the 'photographer-friend' you described. I'd rather shoot by myself, too. However, on week-long photo trips trips, I have a couple of photog-friends with whom I can shoot with. We're all on the same wavelength and dividing the costs (gas & lodging) out between us really helps, too. Other than that, I do much better when I'm on my own.

    On several occasions, I have gone with a friend or two who I enjoy being with, but they just want to get together to catch up on things while shooting. Although I bring my camera, I treat this as more of a scouting trip for a future shoot and usually don't take any photographs. And it's okay. I got to spend time with a friend, and, I'm set up for the next time I visit the place where 'we' photographed. :smile:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 8, 2007
  12. Akki14

    Akki14 Member

    Messages:
    1,873
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2007
    Location:
    London, UK
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I think myself and the husband are both still in a "learning stage" enough that keeping each other in check on the technical stuff is more of a help than a hindrance. We don't try to argue the B&W/Colour or composition thing against each other. Different things catch our eyes differently. Generally I would want to hit someone like who you described though :D
     
  13. darr

    darr Member

    Messages:
    182
    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2005
    Location:
    Florida
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    "creativity is a fragile thing"

    I agree!
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. matti

    matti Member

    Messages:
    652
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2005
    Location:
    Stockholm, S
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have never tried that. It would be kind of interesting to go on an image hunt with someone else. But I agree that it might be distracting.
    /matti
     
  16. dpurdy

    dpurdy Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,223
    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2006
    Location:
    Portland OR
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I hate going out in cars looking for pictures out the window like youre hunting for pheasants. "What are you looking at you wanna stop?" "no I guess not" "Hey just let me know if you wanna stop"

    If I am going to work with a friend then we have to be going to someplace we can get out and work for hours and then not breath down each other's neck. Just go sperate ways and meet back up later. I do have one friend I can walk along with and work. It is a matter of trust.
     
  17. Christopher Nisperos

    Christopher Nisperos Member

    Messages:
    422
    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2004
    Location:
    Paris, France
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    LOL! Not a bad idea, Svend. In fact I'm starting to do a bit of night-time photography and I had actually thought about the idea of bringing along a bodyguard ..eh.. companion to keep an eye out while I shoot. But from now-on, not another photographer! I think that a good dog would be perfect as long as it's not a pointer, indicating better subject matter!

    As to your first question, when I was a teenager —and an absolute Ansel groupie-freak living in the Bay Area— a similarly-stricken friend and I used to go on "photo safari" in his VW camper-bus, leaving in the wee hours of the morning like some sort of fisherguys. We wanted to "catch the morning light" someplace or the other . . . just like Ansel surely must have done.

    At that time I had good reasons to go shooting with a photo-friend:

    1. It was fun (not that we weren't serious!). At that age (or stage) it was great to hang-out with someone who appeciated the exact-same interests.

    2. I hadn't much of an idea of what to photograph anyway, and I was open to suggestions

    3. To share expenses of the photo safari 'cause my mom was tired of paying for workshops

    4. To share film and equipment

    5. To share the experience (....something I no longer care to do .. that's why I called myself selfish. However —come to think of it—, perhaps the act of taking a photograph and showing it isn't so selfish, afterall. It's important, then, to have the right conditions to work under!)

    Best,

    Chris
     
  18. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    17,919
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Fortunately, whenever I've photographed with other photographers, they've usually had good boundaries. If I do, I usually think of it as a scouting opportunity to see if I might be interested in coming back later on my own, and if I get something really good in the process, that's a bonus.
     
  19. Christopher Nisperos

    Christopher Nisperos Member

    Messages:
    422
    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2004
    Location:
    Paris, France
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Whew. I'm really glad to know that I'm the only one! In any case, thanks to all who have chimed-in, pro or con, on the question.

    Best,

    Christopher
    . . . . .
     
  20. gandolfi

    gandolfi Member

    Messages:
    1,804
    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2005
    Location:
    Denmark
    Shooter:
    Large Format Pan
    not even with me?:D

    I think I am quite good at keeping my mouth shut, when being with other photographers...

    unless they ask my opinion..

    but I can relate to your frustrations.
    I am more a studio man, and now and again, I take pictures (I never "shoot!) where other people are present.. and their suggestions can be frustrating. Sometime I listen - but mostly I pretend to listen, and then make my own images..

    I once photographed a wedding :smile:rolleyes:smile: - and an "uncle" stopped me, because he wanted to straighten out some rinkles in the brides dress...

    I let him - then asked him what he was doing, and went to the bride to make rinkles again! I had to do the pictures with my Diana (!!) so a straight dress would'nt have been good.:wink:
     
  21. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    3,754
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2003
    Location:
    Meeshagin
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    As someone who has spent many, many hours photographing alone, I love to go shooting from time to time with other people. Sure it can have its distractions, but I also find the conversation can be very stimulating when there is someone around that does what I do. It is not as if you are attached at the hip either. As long as you respect the other photographer's space and they respect yours, what's the problem? Just set your boundaries ahead of time and no one gets hurt. :smile:
     
  22. jgcull

    jgcull Subscriber

    Messages:
    911
    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2003
    Location:
    nc
    >>>Why would you ever photograph with another photographer?<<<

    My son-in-law is a photographer and one of the most fun times I've had was when we went shooting uptown together (dragging along my son, daughter, and another close friend). One other time we went shooting together (we did split ways) and I had real fun, though those are probably the only times ever I've done that. I'll say, we do work (or is it play?) quietly. I think it's just rude to interject too much when one is busy creating.
     
  23. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    4,124
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2004
    Location:
    Jacksonville
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've been thinking about this topic since it was posted. I usually prefer to photograph alone, but when others are involved, who they are, and how many there are is critical. I've had excellent outings shooting with my wife, and with one or several other people, but what's made then happy occasions is that they've always been alone-together experiences where others respected the autonomy of seeing and making the exposure. OTOH, I can't even imagine tolerating the kind of stereotypical 'photo tour' that has a mass of folks pointing their auto-everything SLRs at the same subject and firing away like a gaggle of paparazzi.
     
  24. langedp

    langedp Member

    Messages:
    144
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2005
    Location:
    Michigan
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    That's the limit for me. I don't mind other like minded folks shooting along with me but the above reminds me a of a recent incident in the Grand Teton NP. I had set up my LF equipment on top of Signal mountain well before sunrise. As I waited in the quiet air for first light on the Teton range, a 15 passenger van showed up full of DSLR shooters. It was a Nikonian tour and it turns out there were three such vans in the park that day. They set up all around me jabbering away about digi this and hyperfocal that. They then all pulled out their sunrise colored graduated filters and proceeded to make fake sunrise shots as the light began to hit the mountains. Talk about a disappointing morning. :sad::sad::sad:
     
  25. n_mercenier

    n_mercenier Member

    Messages:
    53
    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2005
    Location:
    Antwerpen
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Like Jean-Loup Sieff, a well-known French photographer, who unfortunately passed away a few years ago, said: 'Photography is like onany, solitary'

    But there is something worse than to be in company of an other photograher: to be accompanied by a non-photographer: "Why are you photographing that stupid roch, and not that wonderfull sunset?". Argh...
     
  26. Richard Boutwell

    Richard Boutwell Subscriber

    Messages:
    473
    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2003
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I have found I prefer photographing alone, most of the time. I feel I make my best pictures when I am in my own psychological space, and that is something hard to achieve with other people around. Sometimes being out with other photographers give me a little performance anxiety . . . they know what was there, and they are going to see the result, and I just can't take that kind of pressure . . . jk. Most of the time when I am out with other photographers, I want to just shoot the bull and not really do any work.

    But, in general, I would prefer to be on a road trip with someone who is a photographer than who is not. With photographers, there is a common understanding of what it is that makes us set up the camera, no matter how ridiculous.

    Lately I've been combining trips visiting my parents with photographing. They are always very understanding while I take forever, moving two inches in one direction or another, or waiting for the wind to stop blowing, or my wanting to get out and look every five minutes. They read, pick up cans and bottles, collect rocks, make me sandwiches . . .

    Girlfriends are another issue though. I will never go out with a camera and girlfriend . . . made that mistake too many times.