By Gary Rabenko
Years ago, a few photographers were using a hard-to-find old magnesium ladder made by the White Metal and Stamping Company. It was super lightweight and very strong. More importantly, the steps and top were at the perfect height, and the ladder had no back or rail. Thirty-four years ago, I was introduced to that gem of an unavailable ladder. They never needed replacing, so the company folded! I was assured they were unavailable, so I redoubled my efforts and ended up with a collection.
Gradually, it seems all the photographers who use a posing ladder have started using a boxy, clunky, cumbersome eyesore—a trip hazard that is neither practical nor pleasurable. That is an annoyance I never would consider even if it were the only ladder on the planet. It’s annoying.
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Once, two photographers were at an event on the North Shore. One of them, an excellent photographer, had only a black suit. The invitation specified black tie. The client had a fit during the smorgasbord and banished the photographer to places unseen. Later the poor chap had to borrow an ill-fitting waiter’s jacket for the party! Today, photographers wear short sleeves, striped shirts, sneakers, and T‑shirts. It seems that people like a paparazzi look. How it aids in the decor by the chuppah, I will let readers decide.
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Whenever I see event photographers at work, it seems they are saying, “One more photo.” It’s always one more. It would be so refreshing to hear “Folks, we will need to do a bunch of these!” There are many reasons for creating more than just one. But, for those who participate in a three-hour photo-shoot, hearing “Just one more” even one more time can be nerve-racking.
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How many event photographers really look like they are enjoying their work? I ask this not to make the point that most look either spaced, distracted, or disinterested, even though they do. That is a whole other issue. Here, I would like to know why anyone would want, expect, require, or accept crewmembers in their shots. Yet even in published work and advertisements it has become fashionable for crewmembers to be in the shots. This bugs me. Maybe it is unavoidable and that is why it is tolerated. But the reason it is unavoidable is that there is no discipline, training, teamwork, or caring. Each person on a shoot cares only about getting his or her shot, and is not interested in the whole situation and all the production issues involved.
With the crazy-low packages that desperate photographers are selling now, certainly there can be no attention to this type of detail. It means the public is getting used to it. As crews get larger and larger, with more doing less, they are also getting more obtrusive with faces in your albums and video. That is especially annoying when those faces do not look like they are in the moment, or even aware of a moment! It’s annoying.
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How do you feel when you get that perfect shot? Don’t you feel great and want to look at it right away to be sure? And then it is either a good feeling or a disappointment—right? Well, I would think that photographers should be more disciplined. On the job is not the time to enjoy the shot they just made. That is the time to be working towards the next shot, right? So why is it that most photographers miss important shots, just after they get a great shot? You guessed it!
That is not as annoying to me as the daydreamers. Most photographers somewhere during the job will . . . space out. It usually is when they are on top of everything and there is nothing to do. So that is the moment I keep telling myself, “Something important is just about to occur.” That is what I sometimes find myself reminding my crew . . . just to be sure. And invariably something great always does happen—if not immediately, immediately afterwards!
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Light is everything to a photographer. Years ago, I could count on the fingers of one hand photographers who set up large room lights at events. We had to modify garage-door openers into remote flash controls, and run hundreds of feet of extension cord back then. Each decade saw more sophisticated radio remotes, and more portable flash units. Today most photographers set up additional lighting. But the funny thing is that once it is set up, they do not use it with any skill, do not notice when it is malfunctioning, and often block their own lights as well as other photographers’ lights. This is annoying.
Light is everything and the angle, direction, and intensity of the light are critical. None of that is important to the videographers who cannot benefit from the electronic flashes. But it would be a good idea if they were trained and disciplined not to block the photographer’s lights. After all, the photographer went to the trouble of buying them, bringing them, and setting them up, ostensibly to do something. And then, they get blocked! This is really annoying.
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I wrote about ladders before. I am sure every caterer and venue owner hates photographers who come in with ladders, only to immediately lean them up against the wall—not the photographer’s wall, the owner’s wall. Certainly that is annoying and they just keep doing it.
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I am always early. That is the only way to be on time. An assistant begged for more work and was eventually hired. Punctuality was discussed, and assured. Two days before the gig:
“9:00 a.m. seems so early.”
“OK, come a half an hour later.”
Soon it’s 9:30. No assistant. At 9:45 he calls and is lost. Arrived at 10:00 a.m. Guess 9:00 a.m. was the right time to meet. Planning to arrive only on time, not early, is really annoying. v
Gary Rabenko can be reached at email@example.com. Rabenko Photography & Video Artists is located at 1001 Broadway in Woodmere.