On The Fly Photography wants to make the world a better place. With that in mind I would like to take a moment to raise awareness about a serious condition sweeping thru the photography world. It takes people who would otherwise be fantastic photographers, great people and potential mentors to new photographers and cripples their ability to interact with other people in a civilized way.
I’m talking about SPS. Small Penis Syndrome.
I recently had a potential photography student contact me to enquire about one-on-one photography lessons. In our initial discussion she related some of her experiences with some other local (Fort Collins and Loveland) photography clubs. It sounds like SPS is on the verge of an outbreak.
Upon learning that she shoots Nikon a large number of noses turned up in the air. Then upon learning she doesn’t own the latest Nikon camera even more noses turned up in the air. The consensus was that she would never be a real photographer and she was even told that “at least you sat on the right side of the room” referencing the animosity between those infected with SPS-Nikon and those infected with SPS-Canon.
Doctor Skippy says “The best camera is the camera you have when you want to take a photograph.” The difference between a real photographer and Uncle Bob is that a real photographer can take a photograph with any camera. Uncle Bob needs the newest Nikon and Photoshop because the technology is his crutch.
Speaking of crutches, apparently, according to photographers with SPS, if you don’t always shoot with a tripod you are not a real photographer and can’t take good photos.
This is so stupid that I didn’t think I heard right when she told me this one. If your case of SPS is this far along I’m certain you are beyond a cure. Amputation (at the neck) may be the only recourse.
Meanwhile another symptom of SPS that I’ve seen more than once is the prime lens obsession. I once saw a photographer tell a model she should never shoot with a photographer who doesn’t use only prime lenses because that photographer will not be any good.
Like many infections SPS has a set of common symptoms. In SPS it’s the attribute of relying on technology to substitute for skill and intention.
A photographer who doesn’t have SPS knows how to use lighting, shutter speed, depth of field and composition to create an image as pre-visualized. In fact if you don’t have SPS you can pre-visualize. Instead of holding down the button, shot-gunning and hoping you get a good image after 3 hours in Photoshop a real photographer knows what she wants the photograph to look like then uses a camera to achieve that.
Real photographers have them. You intend to convey an emotion, tell a story, create a mood. The photograph and the methods you use to arrive at the final photograph are informed by your intention.
My potential client told me another story in which she received the most useless critique I have ever heard of a photograph.
She had a macro image of the buttons of a TV remote control. The depth of field was shallow such that one row of buttons in the middle was in focus, the buttons on each side of that row were out of focus. She was told by Patient Zero of SPS that she needed to take multiple photographs and put them together in Photoshop so that the entire remote was in focus.
Without asking first if the intention was to even have all the buttons in focus. Maybe she didn’t want all the buttons in focus. Patient Zero simply made assumptions and started to word vomit all over the place. Important note: SPS is spread by word vomit.
Telling someone how to fix a photograph (as if the photograph is “broken”) without knowing the intention of the photographer is a sure sign you have developed SPS.
If you are learning photography please memorize the warning signs of SPS and don’t interact with anyone who is infected. SPS can be spread thru body fluids, word vomit, casual contact, photography clubs and even the internet.
Keep your distance and keep yourself safe. You don’t need a new camera. You only need skill and intention.