“Stop that damn noise!” the man said angrily. He was upset to the recharge alarm sound of the studio flash unit. The thing required time to charge between shots and kept making a beeping sound.
The man had brought his lover with him to the studio, giving her neither a name nor introduction. She was helpful however, trying her best to make the man comfortable in front of the camera and calmed him somewhat.
“This man hates to be photographed” was the first thought that came to mind. I instantly regretted having accepted the job offer through Lancers website. I couldn’t understand why in a world did the man want his photo to be taken even though he really hated to be in front of a camera. To tell truth I was a bit afraid of him. I asked the studio manager to stay in near room just in case there is a problem.
I managed to make it through the shoot even though my back started to hurt in the middle. Last year I cracked my 11th vertebra and it still kind of hurts especially if I’m in uncomfortable position as when I’m shooting.
The man wanted to take the photo exactly as a sample of a foreign celeb he provided. So some processing was necessary. He made me to adjust the background and brightness of the photo to match the heavily compressed thumbnail sized JPG he kept sending me. The photo had to be exactly same and he kept sending me several requests for revisions to blur the background more or less, or adjust the contrast to the overexposed level he preferred.
This was the last straw for me; I am done with this job, I decided, and few days later I sold all my digital photo gear. Somehow my heart was filled with warmth and lightness again.
Although it has not always been this bad, this experience is, well professional photography in a nutshell. There is nothing romantic or artistic about this job at all, especially in Japan. This is essentially what you will be doing if you are to work as a pro photographer. Like the sweaty man in studio said “keep shooting, keep shooting”, regardless of whether the shots are any good.
Professional photography is not especially well paid job and the prices have gone down recently quite much. I also dislike the questions that I was often asked like “what gear do you use?” or “can you make the background blurred more” and “could you make this brighter?”.
And every year there are new digital cameras introduced with new features and old cameras become worthless. It’s endless black hole of money. At some point I started to feel nausea passing the digital camera section in Yodobashi camera. I want out!
Sure, sometimes I have enjoyed this job, when there’s chemistry and right setting. I honestly felt sometimes that I was able to be genuinely helpful for the world, people generally seem to be at ease in front of my camera, especially women. And I really feel fortunate to have met wonderful people through this job.
But the reason why I became photographer is from another world. Now I have only one (film) camera and one lens left and I have never felt so satisfied. This is the only gear I need to take a photo.
I love photography, so I quit professional photography. Then I am happy to return to be a naive amateur; a man who wants to shoot with his heart.