I’m afraid I’ll have to apologise for that header – I’m not really an iconic superstar…I’m more of your international master mentor type. Though I could be a legendary ambassador if the pay was right.
Or alternately, I could take pictures. For a living, if anyone would pay me to…
If this all seems a little mysterious, remember that I work in the photographic trade – in my case as a sales assistant in a pro store in Western Australia. As part of my job I am fed with iconic master ambassador superstar legend mentors who win awards internationally on a daily basis, and sometimes the diet tends to cloy. Add to this the internet and the Thom’s and Ken’s and all the rest. Eventually I need a sit down and a stiff drink.
If this were not enough, I am occasionally tagged as the shop representative to trade displays or camera club nights – in the case of the nights it is as a visiting judge of club competitions. This is an activity with all the appeal of minesweeping – but harder on the nerves. At least when you strike a moored mine it blows up and you get to sink without a trace – make the wrong call on a club competition and the mine takes you to the back of the room and bursts into tears…
This has contributed to something of a sense of cynicism about photography. I am comfortable with this as it does not interfere with my job and sometimes lets me see things more clearly than would otherwise be. For instance:
1. International superstars come from somewhere else and as the local environment is pretty tame, they tend to go back to somewhere else pretty quickly.
2. Award-winning is all very well, but remember that every Soviet Field Marshall had a chest full of awards and none of them would buy a cup of coffee at Starbuck’s.
3. Mentor is a fine word. There was a brand of cigarette called Mentor, and a British training aircraft called a Mentor. Mentor means teacher. Or advisor. Or sticky beak kibbitzer. Someone else’s opinion made manifest…A mentor and 5 cents will buy you a nickel cigar.
4. Legendary means someone has a written document about them. Hell, Willie Sutton was legendary, but I wouldn’t pay him to tell me how to do my banking…Hercules was a legend, and I’ve seen enough Italian movies to know what he’s worth as a photographer.
5. Iconic. Something that is worshipped. The last time I worshipped Something it wasn’t for the purpose of learning how to adjust a digital camera. If the Zeiss company had not sold out to Cosina I might have been tempted to worship an Ikon but even there it has sort of a bad feeling.
6. Master. How many camera makers have a program of Master…why not a program of Mistresses. Now THAT I could take an interest in. 120mm focal length with f:2.8 and fishnet stockings and suspender belts and long black gloves and….oops. Sorry about that. I’ll take the pills now…
7. Ambassador. Now that has something. That means the government has sent me to talk nice to whoever for the purpose of soothing them until the satellite mapping of their military bases is complete. Or to plead for their money to be invested in our country as a way of preventing them from invading us. Or just to get me far enough away from the local press to prevent me telling the truth about the Prime Minister. I think I could handle being an ambassador. If the brandy was right.
The people in the camera clubs are a different proposition. They are cleaner and simpler creatures. They want the judge to like their work and to award it the prize and to crush and to destroy their fellow club members. This is a laudable ambition. It might be nice if they would remember that judges can and should be bribed – and I don’t mean a cup of instant coffee and a Nice biscuit. I mean cash. Pay me and I choose you – leave the flowery art-speak and obfuscation to me as I can grind it out by the hour. You may not make it to the Venice Bianalle but you can at least be King or Queen of the car park for a night.
And that is a good investment.
Note: That is Leanne on top.