I used to be an event. I know I’m dating myself…screw it.
It used to be a big deal when I showed-up to do a shoot. Didn’t matter who it was, I was coming to take their photo and preparations had to be made. Time had to be set aside. This would probably take a little while.
It would also take several trips. Cameras, film, a case or two of lighting gear, all kinds of stuff. And there was no, “We were going to have Tommy down the hall take the shot…he’s got a camera,” because “Tommy Down the Hall” didn’t have a clue what half the stuff I just dragged in even was. I had stuff no one there had ever seen. I had large format cameras and lenses and Polaroid backs, all in brushed aluminum, combination locked Pelican cases that made me look like freakin’ James Bond for God’s sake.
So time was granted. Patience was extended. There was the acknowledgement that something special, something out of the ordinary was happening.
Fujichrome. Ektachrome, tungsten, fluorescent gels and filters, $500 light meters, two Dynalight packs, four heads…there was no pretense, it was just, “I can do this…and you can’t, so don’t pretend that what you do with your Instamatic is comparable.”
If I did a Polaroid, everyone in the room would lean in to get a view of it, and more often than not nod approvingly, and say, “I love that smell, it reminds me of Christmas.”
Sadly, it’s not a big deal anymore. Chances are someone in the room has my camera or something better. And they’ll want to talk PhotoShop, or for the love of God…Pixel counts! And they’ll look at the lights and think, “What does he need those for?” People don’t seem to think it’s work to get a good photo anymore. They’ve seen too many ads of the guy in the top row of a football stadium with his Rebel, who clicks and the next thing you see is flashing on the screen is a photo worthy of a Sports Illustrated cover. It’s easy now, what’s taking so long?
I have to admit, I miss the exclusivity. I miss the magic-act aspect of it all. I miss holding my over-sized light meter to someone’s face, pushing the button and saying, “He’s dead Jim,” and having people get the joke.
Photography is faster now. In many ways it’s easier, too. It’s certainly cheaper. And I suppose it’s more accessible. But although digital photography at first blush seemed like magic, it really isn’t. It’s technical. It lacks mystery. It lacks romance. And it certainly doesn’t smell like Christmas.