A Fistful of Shrapnel

As you can imagine I get some varied responses when I ask people for a picture, but at the weekend I had a first.  A tanned man with a well lined face glowering under a beany initially refused point-blank with a “Picture of me?  What would I want to let you do that for?”, but as I walked on he turned and called me back.

“Tell you what…” he said, “I’ll let you take a picture of me if you’ll pay me one pound forty!”  As I caught the alcohol on his breath (it was 10.30 am) I guessed at what he wanted the cash for, though had no idea what he would get for such a small sum.  Nevertheless I declined his offer.

The value of a photograph is a thorny question.  There are thousands of words written on blogs and forums by pro photographers decrying the way in which a combination of amateurs with digital cameras, and full-time photographers trying to undercut the competition, are devaluing the work that they offer.  Why would someone pay hundreds/thousands of pounds to have their wedding photographed when Uncle Bob will do it for next to nothing?

Of course with a quality photographer you are paying for them not just to “be there for a few hours” but for their ability to capture great images in virtually any conditions (and without upsetting the priest with constant flash), the time they spend editing and processing afterwards, and the fact that they carry insurance, multiple cameras and multiple memory cards to make sure that they are ready for anything.  The alternative can be devastating.

Still there are plenty who will go for the cheapest option available, and realistically this tells me how important the wedding images are or are not to the couple concerned.  If you really want to be sure of some special memories then why take the chance?

There are similar hurdles to be overcome when photographers work with models.  An aspiring model might expect to pay a photographer to produce some images for her portfolio, but the situation is reversed if the model has a good reputation and a photographer wished to improve his or her portfolio.  In the attempt to reach a fair settlement the offer of time for images is often a negotiated compromise.

I mention all of this because there was a cost to today’s image.  I’ve written before about the great work for the RNLI and how they rely on donations to continue that work.  They were collecting at Seaburn today, and probably when they planned it they expected a warm summer’s day with plenty of passing traffic.  Instead it was cold and grey with regular outbreaks of rain.  There appeared to be plenty of promotional items left unsold.

Despite this, Holly, who was collecting, continued to great everyone with a smile and a polite offer to explain more about the work of the charity, and how I could join for the cost of a pint of beer each month.   I happily made a donation in return for a photograph, but when it came to processing I decided she deserved a more colourful background than she had had to put up with all day.  Blue skies to match her blue eyes and give it a promo poster feel.

Wonder if the mysterious beach totem builder made a donation?