Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Conrad Louis-Charles: Brazil

I met Conrad Louis-Charles at the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop in Mexico City, he briefly described his background, but it wasn't until I returned that I discovered his work, and that the adage that still waters run deep is certainly true in his case. Conrad is an independent photographer and cameraman currently based in Philadelphia and Sao Paulo in Brazil. He worked with various corporate clients, and he specializes in travel, documentary and editorial photography...making him a perfect candidate for the pages of TTP. He's represented by Getty Images. His website showcases work from mainly Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Brazil. However, I was impressed by his Work-In-Progress gallery, which has a large number of his sensitive photograph of religious rituals and pilgrimages in northern Brazil. I'm not too fond of mixing color and black & white photographs, but Conrad kept the color photographs bunched together on his gallery, so it's not really mixing. Explore his other galleries as well, and compare his Haiti work to that of the earlier post.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Business Day Thursday: Is Professional Wedding Photography Dead

Priests, Ministers, and Rabbis have just about had it with wedding photographers - that is - since the advent of digital. Last week, we were having dinner with a group of photographers from the Lexington, Kentucky area. The subject of weddings came up, and then things really took off. One of my buddies made a remark about many of the churches in the area were instituting much stricter guidelines for wedding photographers because of the gross miss-conduct of so many of the new breed of shooters. Folks, those are their words, not mine.

Let me also be clear at this point, that I am not referring to the majority of shooters out there. Most of us know what we are about and are constantly trying to do our best job for our clients. I'm referring these comments to a much smaller element of wedding photographers whose non-professional roar is having an impact on our businesses.

Here is the story - it's scary, makes me embarrassed for my profession on one hand, and angry on the other. The photographer shoves the minister out of the way to get the shot of the bride and groom exchanging rings. Another minister sees a wedding photographer crawling along the floor on his elbows "marine like" getting in position next to the wedding couple to get his shot from the floor. Rabbi's are complaining about obnoxious behavior from photogs at wedding ceremonies. Photographers dressing in a less than professional outfits. These are not made up incidents. I have personally been told these stories from clergy I have worked with here in Cincinnati, Ohio.

What is happening these days? In so many cases it's a total lack of professionalism from a newer crop of so called professional photographers that think it's more important to get the shot at the cost of total disrespect and irreverence to the location, the Priests, Ministers, and Rabbis, the guests and wedding clients. Well, they've got it all wrong. They should be kicked out of the church and in many cases the churches are setting policies that will cause that to happen. The down side is that the clergy are lumping true professional photographers into this same insidious group of non-professionals.

So many of these photogs see themselves as the "artiest" and heck be darned if they can't get their shoot. What's the problem here? The problem is clear - it's about the photographer and not about the client, the event, or the location. My suggestion to those photographers - leave your arrogance at home and perform your job with the professional manner it demands. If that's a problem for you, change jobs - we don't need you or want you in a profession that always has demanded the best professional demeanor possible.

We need to interact with all sorts of personalities on the wedding day - from a stressed mom, frazzled bride, nervous groom, etc. and it behoves us to be the physiologist of the day helping it be a wonderful occasion for all concerned. If we take on a self-centered attitude like we are the most important person of the day, we are taking the non-professional approach to the shoot.

We always need to be looking at the big picture and working diligently and pro-actively to make the day go the best for all involved. And, wait there's more, we need to leave the affair with the most positive impression of ourselves with all other professionals in which we interact with during the wedding day. That means no arguing with the bridal consultant, no removing of floral arrangements, no flashing of the videographer, no removing of the church lady into the closet...... Is there anybody other than me that thinks that might be good for business? I hope so.

I once had an event in a church only hours after another photographer had worked in the same location. As per my custom, I checked in with the priest at the rectory and when I met him, I was "reamed a new one" if you get my drift. He proceeded to tell me how the previous photographer had brought his little dog into the church to accompany him with the shoot. I was horrified. The minister was fit to tied.

I wish I could find the issue of Cincinnati Magazine featuring the wedding pros in the city. Florists got a good wrap, jewelers got a good wrap, but wedding photographers were referred to as overbearing and obnoxious. Can anybody else see the writing on the wall? It's too bad we have this "element" operating in our profession. We must constantly guard against it in our own behavior, and continue to remain a true professional to the core.

How does the true wedding professional counter such an ugly wedding photographer's impact in our market. I suggest being totally pro-active in approaching the Priests, Ministers, and Rabbis in your community. When we book a wedding in a certain location, then let's contact the Priests, Ministers, and Rabbis and coordinators, and notify them that we are going to working there in the upcoming months. Send a PR packet guaranteeing your professional behavior/decorum. It should list who you are, your list of credentials and references - be sure to include references from other priests, ministers, and Rabbis, too. It should spell out your commitment to working with and respecting the location where you are working and the people you will be working with. You get the idea. This assures and relieves the churches of some of the angst they have built up against some of these "jerk" photographers.

Folks, this is an important issue and we all need to stay vigilant in stemming the negative tide of what is happening in our recent times in wedding photography. It's always about being a true professional all the time - no exceptions. Take a peek at this nicely written article on the same point with many suggestions on how to conduct ones' self during a liturgy. Here is the link right here.