Photographers - who needs ’em?

THE ABOVE attempt at a joke was found in Waitrose Food Illustrated, whose editor William Sitewell lived it up in Cuba, while photographer Simon Brown had to traipse around after him. Simon's spread of pictures appears in the magazine, but Sitwell presented four postage-stamp sized snaps taken on his new mobile phone and asked "Photographers... who needs 'em?". Pete Jenkins of the Freelance Industrial Council relates another encounter with strange anti-photographer prejudices from people who really should know better.

WHILE standing in the queue of ten people at PC World (a computer retailer) waiting for service, (yes there were dozens of other assistants wandering the store like Day of the Dead extras but only one working the 'service' counter), I was engaged in conversation by the two nice chaps in front of me. One was the owner of a thriving property business in Spain and his colleague was his computer consultant fitting a new piece of ADSL kit. After chit-chat about the wonders of ADSL, the property tycoon cottoned onto my status as a photographer and asked, "Do you know how to take 360 degree pictures?"

"Yes," I said, "I do."

Mr Tycoon went on to regale me with the tale of how he had purchased an expensive piece of widgetry that they stuck on the end of a lens and it was supposed to do the job automatically. But of course it didn't work. "What do I need to do?" He asked.

"That's obvious", say I. "You had a problem with your router and you got in an expert on computers and networking to help you out. However, when you want an incredibly specialist type of photography done, you troop off to Dixon's and try to do it yourself. Then you wonder why it doesn't work. The answer to your problem is of course to get a professional photographer".

"That's funny," said Mr Tycoon, "I went to London Camera Exchange and to (camera shop) Calumet and they said I should get in a professional photographer as well".

DOH! Here he is in a multi-million pound business, he has spent thousands on setting up a really "kick ass" website (his words), and instead of doing it properly he tries to save a few hundred quid by doing it himself - and badly.

This guy is intelligent and he's built up a business through hard work. What is it about photography that makes intelligent people think that they can do a skilled job that they aren't trained for, or have any experience in? Would this man have tried to service his very expensive Mercedes himself? Of course not.

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