‘Jack of all….’

by simonrleach

This post could be a difficult one because I might come across as sounding like I am not confident about what I do which, without being too big headed about it, is not true. In fact, getting the result is exactly what I do! Adding that “little something extra” is what I always aim for. But, what seems like a very long time ago now, a man who had a very big influence in my life said to me: “in photography there will always be something to catch you out “. I still hear those words in my head every single day.

So confession time. Thereof is one thing that scares me as a photographer: how can I know it all?

Sure, the advent of digital made photography ‘easy’ (so I have been told). Certainly it is more accessible and perhaps it appears simpler for those who want to become professional. But, as the saying goes, ‘ignorance is bliss’. It is only simple until it doesn’t go so smoothly, at which point it will be your knowledge, that time you put into the boring stuff, that saves your butt. Add to this that whilst photography is still a scientifically based artistic medium, it has moved from a chemical- to a technology-based one. In doing so a process that was researched and developed relatively slowly has become one that you can find yourself behind by a generation if you blink.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying you have to buy the latest version of every piece of kit, although those who work for the manufacturers would probably like us to. Keeping an eye on the ever-moving developments and the thoughts and opinions that surround them is just another little nugget of useful information we should be trying to retain in what for me personally is a fairly average sized brain.

As technology progresses there are more elements of the photographic process I am told I can add into my skill set, more that the client will have been told ‘can be done by the photographer’. The more this happens, of course, the more there is that can catch us out. As a professional photographer this is one of the reasons you are hired, it’s a trust thing, we don’t get caught out, we can be relied upon. Consider my work as a stills photographer (just a part of what I do). I have to look beyond merely creating the image. Obviously there is the planning and organisation, making sure I know what I am going to do if something doesn’t work out, that has always been there. But now I don’t just hand over the film. I am now responsible for things like resolution, colour, perhaps retouch. With so many devices and software enhancements giving a ‘desirable look’ to photographic images, I need to make sure what the file reproduces correctly, is what I wanted not what a particular devise thought is how it should be.

I can’t help but think that somewhere there is a line to be drawn and like most things it will not be the same for everyone. If it is about guaranteeing results, then there has to be confidence in the services that are being offered and that means having the skills and knowing the information, as far as possible, inside out. As far as I am concerned I have a standard, the client has a standard, both have to be met. Therefore, the only way for me to expand my service offering is to collaborate with others who have similar values and who focus their brains on the skills that I don’t have.

So to the title; if I am not happy to risk my budget or scheduled deadline by trusting a ‘Jack of all trades’, why should I expect my clients to?

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