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 ŚworseŚ 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.

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