Of all the things I do as a photographer, I really enjoy meeting people from throughout the world who either appreciate, or take part in our passion of capturing light. Once in a while, I’ll find myself in a conversation with someone that has read more photo blogs than they’ve captured images, and it can be amusing as the Photo Jedi extol their knowledge of the photography side of The Force. In some cases, amusing can turn to frustrating, especially if the conversation turns to your “process,” which they seemingly know more about than you.
For some people, dealing with proverbial photo know-it-alls, can be challenging. It’s easy to become defensive, as after all, it’s your work and your baby. The key is to learn how to take what they say, turn it around, and make your point in such a way that they’re gently corrected, and take no offence.
To wit: at one of my venues this past week, I was visited by a Photo Jedi. He perused my collection of images and said, “These are nice laser prints you have.”
I greeted him warmly and noted, “These aren’t laser prints. They’re actually wet-process metallic prints.”
“Don’t tell me these are wet-process. I know a laser print when I see one,” he snapped.
Not wanting to argue with him, I pulled out a piece of unprocessed Endura Metallic paper, and sat it beside the prints on the table, saying, “Yes, sometimes you can confuse laser prints with metallic, especially since some laser printers leave a bit of sheen from the diffuser, but these are true metallic prints.”
He picked up the sample, examined it, and placed it back on the table. “Cool stuff,” he noted, and I nodded in agreement. Point made.
A good portion of this comes down to our photographic knowledge base: Between all the photography magazines, and plethora of blogs on the Net, there’s an overwhelming amount of information, and disinformation as well. And with the advent of digital photography, this knowledge base is growing exponentially on a daily basis, taking the idiom, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat,” to a whole new level – more like a bazillion ways with multiple colonies.
Back when I was practically living in a black and white darkroom, the big variants were the chemistry and what type of Kodak, Ilford or Agfa paper you were printing with, plus what contrast filter was used. Today, our options are seemingly endless, with an overabundance of substrate and printer and printing options. So when viewing other people’s prints, it’s easy to confuse a Fuji Crystal Archive Pearl print with a Kodak Endura Metallic in the right light.
Which brings us back to one of the beautiful things about photography: There are no hard and fast rules to making an image. Photography is a creative process, and we all have our unique styles, or workflows. The photo police won’t come knocking on your door is you shoot an image at high noon. And as photographers, we’re always learning new techniques, and expanding our horizons. And yes, at first blush it might look like a laser print, then again, maybe not.
So the next time someone remarks that Sam’s Club does a great job on my canvases, I’ll smile, and show them the picture of my Canon iPF8400 spitting out a 36X54 image and say with a wink, “I didn’t know my name was Sam…”