No, I don't mean YOU of course, so read on. As you know, I usually let my images to the talking and tend to hold back a little on the text. You might also have noticed that I don't often get overly 'personal' and don't necessarily share too much of my inner workings, deep thoughts or difficulties (no different to anybody else's) as I know that everybody has their own problems. Whilst I'm not overly privileged, I appreciate that I am lucky to have what I do, know that I'm still more privileged than a large part of the world and don't need to constantly point out how hard I work or moan about my life just because I have an audience. However, this weekend something happened and I need to vent what was sadness and later turned into anger. That means more to read and only one photo which I took yesterday afternoon. It's of my dining table just as it was at that point in time and I kept staring at it whilst trying to formulate the words here in my head. Nothing deliberately styled for the photo, some spoons I had bought from a market still lying there waiting to be cleaned and put away...
So, here is what happened. I won't name names as I don't want to sink to that level and I don't think it would reflect very well on me. I have no intention of "returning the favour" in that way or actually providing these people with more exposure and essentially free advertising.
On Saturday morning I popped into a small shop. I had known the owners for about five years. We weren't close friends, but we were on very friendly terms and they know my family etc. In a nutshell, things had always been warm and friendly. I had always liked the shop and admired the owners' ability in their chosen field. Every time I popped in I would take a pic, though I have to add that I always asked beforehand (I always ask, wherever I am), and it had never been a problem. In fact, they used to be pleased that I would share their work. I even wrote a blog post about their shop on my old blog which they liked - well, I was somewhat more naive back then and basically provided them with some free advertising. Ouch!
This Saturday, I said 'hello' and could immediately sense that something wasn't quite right as I didn't get anything like the usual warm and friendly reception. They were busy putting a commission together, but knew it was me in the shop. So I snapped a pic on my iPhone. That instant one of the owners came darting out from the back room and told me "I don't want YOU to take any pictures here" with a facial expression of pure hostility. I was absolutely shocked and stunned. All I could say was "but you know me…but it's never been a problem…" to which she replied "yes, but the pictures are then associated with you not with us". It is important to mention here that whenever I had posted an image of that shop, I had ALWAYS mentioned their name and given credit for their work, after all, all I did was take the picture. I have never claimed that the work IN the picture is mine. Anyway, she then simply disappeared and I tried to just say "good bye" in a friendly manner, but got nothing back. I left shaken and close to tears as I couldn't believe what had happened.
I went for a little walk, tried to calm myself down, gather my composure and had a little think. In my naivety, I thought that maybe I had just appeared at the wrong time and that it would be possible to have a calm word. So, I went back in, completely calm on the outside, and asked in a friendly manner if we could maybe talk about it. "we can't talk to you, you can see we're busy, come back in an hour" was the response I received in an ice cold manner. Needless to say, I didn't go back.
All this had left me shaken, saddened and ultimately angry. And it got me thinking about the taking of images and sharing them on blogs and other social media platforms. You see, that person was trying to say that by me taking a picture in their shop, their work would then be associated with me, not with them. Apart from the fact that I am not even in that line of business, wouldn't that mean that nobody could take a picture of anything really? If I take a picture of a beautiful house, a stunning garden, an interesting piece of furniture or Tower Bridge, does that mean I'm laying claim to the content of the photo? Of course not! I capture something created by another person in the best way possible and take credit for taking the photo, but that is as far as it goes. If anything, I am paying the architect, designer, artist etc a compliment for their work!
If every business and every person who has ever created something had the same attitude then there would be no fashion magazines or bloggers (featuring clothes designed by somebody else would be a no-no), no interiors magazines (after all, they feature other people's homes) and no interiors bloggers, press shows would be completely redundant and useless and advertising would die a sudden death. I wouldn't be able to work with the brands I work with because - whilst I style the images - their products feature in those images. It's absolutely ludicrous!
More than all that though, it's a complete insult and a poor attempt at elevating yourself when you claim that somebody else's success is based on your work. I create most of the content for my blog (and quite a lot for my Instagram) myself - unless of course I photograph somebody else's work as mentioned above. I cook and I style and I take the pictures. To even imply that I need their shop to further myself is laughable at best. I might not be in the absolute top league of photographers or stylists (yet - a little self-awareness goes a long way) and I'm constantly learning, but I know that my work in this, my chosen field, is a damn side better than what they're releasing on their own social media. They're great at what they're doing and I (just to keep with the theme here) am great at what I'm doing, but wouldn't it be nice if they could acknowledge that maybe I'm doing a better job with the images than they are? Clearly not.
At the end of the day, I don't need them and that's where they've really missed the point. I will certainly never set foot again in that shop. There are literally hundreds of small businesses in London doing the same thing who are friendly, open and only too happy for bloggers to share shots of their work. It's their loss, not mine. What had left me so shaken was not the fact that I can't take anymore images there, but the naked and completely undisguised hostility and rudeness from somebody I thought was friendly. That was so very unexpected and like a slap in the face. Apart from that: I don't need you!
Wishing you all a positive and happy Monday.