I didn’t think I would ever take another photography workshop.
When I began taking pictures for my graphic design business in 2000, I took lots of classes in pursuit of camera competence. I started at the very bottom, Camera 101. Some workshops were good, some dreadfully average. The instructors weren’t dull or uninteresting, it was the other students that made me roll my eyes. There are student types, groupies if you will, that crawl along the photography workshop circuit: Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Santa Fe, Rockport. Taking prime spaces in the best classes…with the best of intentions.
They sign up early for workshops taught by various stars of shutter and lens. The kind of classes you never get into because you’re too busy trying to balance creativity and your checkbook. Each morning at the workshops they shower, text the spouse and kids, check office email, pull on pressed khakis (with pockets stuffed with credit cards and lozenges) and decide to become creative! They grab their $5000 cameras and walk straight into all of your shots.
This group prefers luxury accommodations, gourmet food, and spends freely on the best mainstream camera equipment their dividends can buy. Some are balding, some are bearded, many spend their days in dark suits in dim fluorescent rooms. They read camera manuals and shutter blogs; strain their eyes watching training videos well into an ISO 12000 night. Yet, when the light hits the sensor they can’t make a picture for Jack. They come to class with 50 images of doorknobs (including one with the neighbors cat!) and expect the rest of us to swoon over their precious, singular genius. Oh my.
So inspite of myself, *sigh* I ended up taking another photography workshop this past July. Thank you Greg Miller, by far the best instructor I’ve ever had.
And on the first day of class, there they were: a legion of hedgefunders, physicians, widows and beneficiaries. They’ve never attended art school. They took up photography as they needed a fun(!), creative outlet(!) they could practice on Sunday mornings with the dog. They’ve never endured a 4-hour negative critique. Or stayed awake all night writing copylines for Michelob Ultra Light. But mostly, they’ve never learned one fact that 99% of all artists learn the first year of either school or work: you’re not that special.
I call this group of entitled, 1-percenters: fauxtographers. They’ll take your ideas and all the credit if you let them. They try to tag along on your assignments all the while spewing nonsense about nothing.
I took my seat in class and introduced myself to Skip, a hairless, thumb of a man who’d spent his life in pharmaceuticals. He told me about the family camp, just a few miles away, and how the class was a nice diversion from the family for a few hours. He texted his wife. Mentioned his boat. He fumbled through his camera bag excited to show me his new 400mm lens.
I leaned over and peered into his $300 camera bag and said “Hey, Skip, do you have any scotch in there?”
This is going to be a long week.