Do photographers listen?

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In a world of technical ‘mumbo jumbo’ and jargon you could be mistaken for thinking that your photographer isn’t listening.

There are plenty of blog posts out there with jargon dictionaries so I’m not going to go into what each terms means here. The topic here is do your clients feel that you as a photographer understand what they are asking for?

Years ago, before I became a photographer, I worked in the IT industry. My role though was not your standard IT role. I was more and IT translator. I would go between the people who wrote the software and the people who used the software. I would take what the person who would be sat in front of the computer wanted and translate it to the IT Geeks in a way that they would understand. For some of the older IT guys that did involve and conversation that consisted of 1’s and 0’s.

It was also the same the other way around. After I had translated everything to the IT Geeks I then had to take their reply back to the normal people who would be using the software.

The way that I can hear some photographers talking it seems that this scenario isn’t restricted to the world of IT.

Why the 'mumbo jumbo'?

I guess the first question that we need to ask here is why do we do it? Why do we feel then need to talk in ‘mumbo jumbo’ and jargon and insist that everyone else should do the same?

Who remembers ‘The Yuppie’, even better who was a Yuppie, or at least wanted to look like one. Take Rodney and Delboy as an example. Rodney would walk around with his briefcase (which contained his sandwiches) while Delboy always used the ‘flashy’ words.

Why did they do it? Because they were trying to be something that they weren’t. 

Is that something that as photographers we do? Do we use ‘mumbo jumbo’ and jargon to make us look as though we know what we are talking about? The little that we do know is being used to make up for what we don’t.

For other photographers using ‘mumbo jumbo’ and jargon could be their way of indulging in their delusions of grandeur. They want to be the ones in control, they want to be the important ones.

I hope that in most cases though it is just a simple case of lack of understanding and not realising that we are doing it.


Are you listening?

It’s easy to get stuck on the technical aspects of photography. To get carried away with what we are talking about and what we know.

For a client, or someone who just appreciates a good photo, they aren’t really interested in how the photograph is taken. What they are interested in is how it makes them feel. What emotion does the images capture. Which part of the images is the eye drawn to.

Start talking about F16 and some of them would think you used a fighter jet to take the shot. Try explaining the rule of thirds and they will think they are back at school talking about fractions.

Good communication takes listening. I was always told we were given two eyes, two ears and one mouth for a reason and that we should use them in proportion.

What is your client saying?

What is it your client wants? If you start talking over them with technicalities, even worse telling them that they are using the wrong words, you are at risk of losing the client.

If they tell you that they want to see motion in the picture don’t tell them what lens you will need to use, the shutter speed and ISO. Simply ask how much.

Listen to the client, engage with them about what they want to feel from the image. What message is the photograph going to tell. Understand what they want to achieve and worry about how you will do it afterwards.

You are after all the photographer. It is your job to take what your client want and capture that in an image.

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