Last time I checked, I'm not a household name, SF Chronicle or not. Some of the commenters on the online version of the paper (SFGate) seem upset that I'm giving away my services for free. And in doing so, am taking away their ability to make a living.
I'm sorry, but I have to laugh. Brittney at Sparkwood & 21 makes the argument better than I can:
Take better pictures than everyone else, and you'll get paid before they do. But don't begrudge someone their hobby. Don't pretend that exchanging "modeling services" and writing the accompanying story isn't a fair trade.
Just because you have a big fancy camera doesn't mean you get to be a pro automatically anymore. Technology is making nice cameras more affordable, opening up the field to more and more. You don't get to be/stay a pro because you got their first.
Do good work. Try harder. Then you can and will make your money, and you won't have to worry about the amateurs.
I wonder about the people who leave those comments. I mean, can they really be serious? (Aside from the dig about my website, "Flash is sooo 90s", which I'm not sure exactly why that's bad but then I'm no computer genius.)
Up until that article in the paper came out, no one who commented there had a clue to who I was or what I was doing. I can't imagine that any of my subjects had been considering portrait sessions with other photographers and then cancelled them when they found out they could do something with me for free. Truth be told, the people who find out about me generally do so because someone else they know has done it, and they are enthusiastic about the idea of being part of a larger project.
They also want to share their story.
They are storytellers in their way. The photo shoot is almost a secondary thing for them.
It makes me wonder about abundance and lack and the perception of how big our own piece of the pie is. I've written about this before, because I find it so curious that people really don't see what a wide, wide world we live in. Even if I took portraits every day for the rest of my life, I wouldn't capture all the faces and stories in San Francisco. And what that has to do with taking away someone else's income baffles me.
There isn't one way to take photographs or reach out to people. People come to me because they like what I do or want to be part of something. Why should I be the only avenue for that? Just last night, someone wrote to me about wanting to start a project like mine in the city where he lives. I spent a good 20 minutes outlining how I got started, how I work and what a great idea I think it is. Really, because I do. What if there were i live here projects in all kinds of towns and cities? And people enjoyed meeting new people and sharing stories? Even in San Francisco, there's room for more.
I know quite a few SF photographers now who are on the same page. Many of us, like Plug1 and Brad and Thomas Hawk, do portraits and share stories like I do. I look forward to seeing their work and encourage them as they do me.
And all of us are "amateurs," in our way. Perhaps the pros need to realize that there's more to photography than stamping out the competition. There are faces for everyone to go around. More than one lifetime's worth, in fact.