I am about to do something that breaks all the rules, something that is a big 'no-no' in professional businesses, but, as I strip out the studio and remove the samples from the wall to reveal the plain white blocks, it feels like it is ripping the heart out of me and so, just for me, I am going to have a public 'rant'.
I have had two viewings today, neither appreciated the quality in the work they saw, nor did they appreciate the knowledge, experience and passion that had gone in to preparing them. This wasn't the first time, it is an ever increasing situation!
When I first started in photography, I was no more than a keen amateur but, when I covered my first wedding at just 14 years of age, with two SLR film cameras around my neck and the knowledge how to use them, there was a perceivable understanding that I was the 'professional' photographer for the event, a respect for that position and an eagerness to see the end images.
These days at a wedding, it is commonplace for the professional photographer to set up a group shot and for the rest of the guests to then snap away before the professional even has a change to ready his camera. It is common place for i-pads and mobile phones to be videoing a church service down the aisle and preventing the professional photographer getting those memorable images for the bride and groom without 50+ pieces of handheld technology in the shot.
To be told today that the price was too expensive for a 'little photo' was just about as much as I could cope with. If someone wants a piece of 7x5 paper I will happily sell it for a few pence. If however they want a piece of art, that the artist has worked for years to create, and for hours to prepare the images, it really sums up that, as a rule, the understanding of professional photography is dead.
It isn't the individuals fault of course. It is yet another example of technology, far from doing what it is supposed to do, actually having a negative effect. The idea that a camera built in to a phone or tablet can allow the user to produce great quality images is a fantastic concept. Of course, there is no training provided to the user to get the most from it. But the untrained eye then shares it on the other killer of perception - social media. We are all then presented with what an untrained eye will call a 'lovely photo'. Over time we become conditioned to these 'lovely photos', most of which, to a trained eye are actually pretty appalling.
So where are we going? We are being conditioned to think that the photos we take on our phones, tablets or even compact cameras are fantastic. We then store them on the computer and wait to lose them when the hard disk dies. Even at best, they are taken to the local high street supermarket to be printed at a couple of pence each, only to find that in 5 -10 years they are faded, scratched etc.
The fact that my parents both died before my daughter was born was upsetting. The fact that, even at three years old, she is able to see the (professional) photographs of them taken in 1950 when they got married that are hanging on the wall at home, she talks about them most days as if she knew them. She says how she wishes she could see them, even though they are 'in the sky'.
What will the current generations have to hand to their children, grand children and great grandchildren; some archaic piece of technology that no longer works or is compatible with anything? In the majority of cases I believe the answer is yes, or in reality, it will be nothing at all. Are we really reaching a stage of civilization that is so uncaring, so short sighted that we forget about our loved ones as soon as they have left us or that we have no concept of the importance of documenting our personal history for future generations.
I for one will will continue to believe in the beauty and importance of professional imagery to hand down to future generations, but it will undoubtedly become the exception rather than the rule. The fact that the majority of people now seem to fail to grasp the concept of what professional photography is about, but would happily spend more than the cost of a print on a couple of pizzas and a beer that, instead of lasting for generations, will be gone in a few minutes, I despair for the profession as well as the impact it may have on future generations.
Yes I am feeling sad, and a little depressed (it is a curse of the creative mind), but it is only in part for myself!