As readers of my Blog may be aware, I have been trying to make it as a photographer. The bread and butter work of this trade is Portrait work – where the camera captures a moment in the life of an individual preserving it for the rest of their days. I thought it would be easy ….. it isn’t.
I was asked by a young friend, Elliot, to help him get some promotional shots for his college work; he is studying Music Production in York and doing a fine job of it from what I can make out. I thought it would be a breeze taking his photos – technically it was. Morally it made me squirm.
I am a man. Elliot is a seventeen year old lad. I insisted he took one of his guardians along with him to allay their fears he would not keep his trousers on. They were very happy with the photographic results, but my depression has flared as a result of the shoot.
See, I was in a self-elected position of power. For half an hour I was asking Elliot to look this way and that. Yes his guardian was there, but I felt a bit of a creep. I did the shoot for free; I needed a model and Elliot obliged. If I was to get paid, I would probably end up in hospital again within a matter of months. The whole role of that of a portrait photographer was suddenly viewed in a seedy light. I felt I was an observer at one of those god awful camera clubs in 1950′s USA and had no way out. For half an hour I was a voyeur; a seedy old man capturing youth’s first flush. I hated it.
In this light, I have elected to no longer offer portrait work to make money. If any of my mates need a photo taken I will happily do it fro free and give them all of the images – sorry, commercial portrait work is not for me.
Maybe I am being prudish? I do not think that the storing of digital images on a hard drive (taken with consent) is a bad thing. Just it is not for me.
I will still work commercially in music photography and in nightclubs (taking photos of the DJs not the punters) but I do not think I could live with my concious if I was a commercial portrait photographer.