When others ruin your fun

Has the following ever happened to you?
 
– you attended a photography workshop or snuck a few shots in with a willing stranger but didn’t get the model to sign a release on the spot,
– thinking you were getting along fine, the conversation was good, you both agreed to exchange photos and permissions over the email, you left thinking everything would be cool,
– then you went home, developed your shots, found a few that you liked,
– you emailed them to your model, happy to wait for her reaction, only to be completely ignored by her,
– all repeated requests for whatever feedback she may have had went unanswered,
– you ended up stuck with photos you liked and would like to share, but your once willing collaborator turned out as two faced as a bad coin.
 
It’s not a good feeling when it happens once.
Your faith in good will of others may be shaken.
When it happens twice, your confidence may get rattled a little.
When it happens three times in a row, you start doubting the whole fabric of society and all humanity. Trust me!
It feels like people either don’t care, hate your work, or are too stuck up to give you the time of day because you are not famous enough a photographer.
And this can ruin an otherwise great experience and make you regret you ever took out your camera in the first place.
 
 
This is the exact thing that happened to me recently and it was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.
Before that, I really wanted to be fair, give people space and let some of those acts of unkindness slide without comment.
 
But this one stung particularly bad and has taught me a valuable lesson.
It hurt more, because it happened at a meeting with a person I consider to be one of my photography heroes.
And the man himself was great, the whole experience exceeded all my expectations and I learned a lot from an extremely successful photographer I admire to bits. He took the time to make real contact with his audience and I was glued to every word he spoke.
 
 
There was also a practical session where we had an opportunity to follow the master’s instructions and take some trial photographs with the model who turned out to be one of the gallery assistants.
It was a stressful time for the model and the attending photographers alike. But all in all, it went great.
When I got home, despite my fears, I was happy to see some shots actually turned out ok.
Nothing amazing, but still, a couple of decent, fun portraits of uploadable quality.
 
 
Then it came the time to obtain the model’s permission to publish the images on my own profile pages.
I sent a great ‘thank you’ email, profusely complimenting the entire event, as well as the model’s own performance.
And guess what? Silence. Nothing!
For a week, not even a peep.
Granted, I did get some messages warning of problems with spam filters on my email accounts, so I sent out notices through more reliable accounts like gmail and icloud. Still, no answer…
 
 
So, I took the photos with me on a pendrive and went by the gallery in person.
Left the photos on the hard drive with another assistant, left my contact info and was happy to learn the girl who modelled for me would be back later in the day.
I thought I may get a text message or an email later. Maybe a call? Anything…
Again, nada!
 
 
So, the camel’s back went crack!
Not only I felt slighted as a photographer, but beside the wounded pride, I also felt extremely disappointed and full of bitterness towards that girl who I treated with plenty of respect and good spirit, but who basically avoided me like a nuisance to be ignored until gone out of sight and out of mind. Extremely uncool in my book!
 
 

So,

 
TO ALL YOU MODELS: you don’t have to like the photos. You don’t have to sign the release.
You can comment and criticise and discuss and share your views and concerns to your heart’s content.
But whatever you do or don’t – at least communicate! Don’t leave someone hanging. Show some basic respect and manners.
It’s a people business, photography is. What goes around comes around. You may not know the photographer now, but two years down the road, everyone else might.
If human decency isn’t good enough a motivation for you, at least do it for your business reputation.
 
 
 
TO ALL YOU PHOTOGRAPHERS: get the models to sign the release right then and there.
Don’t be fooled by the friendly atmosphere, the informal ambience, the smiles and assurances.
This is a business, even when it’s not. Get your paperwork out of the way first. Don’t let that shutter snap until you do.
That way, if she hates your work or has a change of heart, you can still be respectful and honor her wishes.
But you will do it on your terms, meaning she will at least return your messages without you having to beg.