Monday, 8 December 2008

My Strobist Post

Addressed to David Hobby of Strobist fame commenting on some negative feedback on his article/essay about offering free photography services

Hi David,

I have been an avid reader ever since I met (....well, actually saw you and heard you speaking while out in the corridor on the last day) you at the Gulf Photo Plus 2008 event in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. At the time, I had heard about and briefly gone over your site. Frankly, I didn't "get it" until I took Joe McNally's workshop. I actually showed up to the workshop with my 'strobes', which were actually a couple of portable studio lights in a large duffel bag. Only later did I realize that 'strobes' were actually the camera mounted flashes....Hmmm...No wonder Joe looked at me funny!!!

My eyes were opened by what could be done with strobes. I renewed my acquaintance with STROBIST, which then took on a whole new light. I learned a lot from your site (though haven't fully put this information to good use). I read everything you post as if I was just starting out in photography. I love the passion you put into this site and the reason you post.

With the exception of the last month or so, I have followed your posts and tutorials keenly (though silently...a lurker!). I felt that I wanted to learn as much as I could (and boy, have I) from the site before posting comments and interacting with the site & your readers. BUT, some of the comments on this post and from the other sites (you mentioned above) forced me out of lurking.

In my opinion, a lot of the negative comments come from readers who have either just read the title and or briefly skimmed over your post without fully understanding what you actually said.

My take on what you said is, to offer a 'free' service to the market....

- where you are 'creating' an interesting assignment for yourself, where one didn't exist before
- while pointing your photography business in the direction you want it to go
- in order to market yourself (or services)
- while expanding and/or diversifying your portfolio
- in which you control the shoot completely
- to make use of your down time (for whatever reason)
- all the while making it clear to your subject/client that the work CANNOT be used commercially without authorization
- to show your targets your artistic/technical prowess (interpreted thought)

AND (last but not least...)

- as you are a photographer and you love 'making photos' (i interpreted that one all by myself!)

So, I don't really think you are:

- simply offering to do an 'assignment' for FREE (not especially a commercial one)
- stealing another photographer's potential earning
- undermining the industry as this is something that YOU ARE CREATING for yourself

Maybe, I am a little too idealistic, but I think that some of us photographers (me included) have forgotten why we became one. Or maybe, just maybe, not realized the purity of what we are doing. Guys, I say, let your art/profession bring you your earnings. We are living in a dynamic world and if we start pointing fingers or become 'nay-sayers' we stand to loose our footing in the ground we gain as professionals.

I started out in photography because I loved to try and share my image of the subject I was capturing. Somewhere along the way I went commercial...a natural course, I'd say. Strobist has renewed my inspiration to share and give (while not being taken advantage of). Though I am have started earning a decent income in the UAE, you guys (David, Chase Jarvis and a few others) have opened my eyes to charity/volunteer work. I hope to shoot stuff that inspires me to the next level, helps the community/people/causes around me, try to become more 'human' and keep my love for photography growing.

One thing I would like to suggest is that you (the photographer) should clearly make known a list of your terms and/or conditions early on in the dealings. Hey David, maybe one of the things the post could result in is a list of points that a (any) photographer might need to cover if he/she would engage in this kind of work???

By the way, I just switched to full time photography in August this year though I was part-timing for over 3 years. While admitting I am a nobody in the photography world, I am not afraid of "free" photographers. I am no David Hobby, Chase Jarvis, Joe McNally or Vincent Laforet but I know that there are enough clients here (Dubai / Sharjah) to hire me because of what I can commercially offer them. I hope to earn even more doing the thing I love!


Thanks David for all you have done so far and wait to hear more from you.

Charles Verghese
(Posted a copy of this on my own blog which I started a little while ago -