Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Do Not Disturb"

Today I happened upon an article about the royal wedding photographer scheduled to document the nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton (ok, I didn't "happen upon" it per say... but come on, we photographers get curious!). The first thing I noticed was that this lucky pair had their engagement photos snapped by the one and only Mario Testino (side note: since when is Mario Testino not signed on with Art Partner???). The second thing I noticed was that he was NOT shooting their wedding - an honour that had been appointed to a much less famous name, Hugo Bernand. While the article doesn't imply any commentary on Testino's integrity in any way, it lists among the reason's for the royal family's selection being "discretion".

the power or right to decide or act according to one's own judgment; freedom of judgment or choice.
the quality of being discreet, especially with reference to one's own actions or speech; prudence or decorum.

2.  judgment, wisdom, discrimination, sense. 

I would like to add to this list: Integrity.

As a photographer I have been faced with many decisions that called into question the strength and conviction of my integrity.

This includes agonizingly coming to the decision that I would NOT run off to the top tabloids after singularly capturing an intimate moment between Gwen Stefani and her son when I was trusted to responsibly handle the privilege of backstage access at her runway show. I have watched many people take photographs that they turn around and sell for top dollar to the highest bidder for an instantly gratifying buck (how tempting a quick and easy 1K can look!), disregarding cause for concern that they are exploiting their clients and abusing a privilege to be entrusted with capturing a wonderfully intimate moment.

It killed me that I couldn't share the exciting news with my friends and faithful followers - but then, with a little coaching, I realized - what's the point? What are my intentions behind sharing such private information - momentary second-hand glory? It is my humble discretion that has earned the trust and loyalty of my elite clients and has ensured the longevity of our working relationship. And that's far more valuable and rewarding than any short-lived popularity rush.

This also means not displaying family portraits that, while I have a disclaimer declaring that I retain copyright to each image and the right to display them for promotional purposes, I don't publicly display images when clients express to me their wishes for their session to remain private - no matter how GREAT the photographs are! Taking this one step further, I NEVER display images without prior written consent of the subject. While it is debatable whether this is legally necessary, I'd rather know my clients are comfortable with me sharing their images and save myself from any confusion or complications down the road.

The lesson to learn here is if you want to win the race find a steady pace and equip yourself with integrity first and foremost. The key is knowing when and where you can share personal information, or in this case photographs. Always put the client's comfort and security first and you will be destined for success... even if from where you stand right now it looks like it could take much longer.

And now for an image I DO have permission to show. I've been trolling through my archives for a side-project and stumbled upon this gem that never previously made it on to my blog:

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