People Skills for PhotoJournalists; A Guide
As a photojournalist, or someone that looks quite like a photojournalist from time to time, you’ll come across three main types of people. There’s the norms, the freaks and of course, the dickheads. In the last few years I’ve come across all three types frequently , with the first of the two categories coming up in first and second place respectively. Before we continue, lets define the particulars.
Norms: People that see you may work for a newspaper, see that you have an expensive camera but realise that although you may be able to put their face in the media, a human being just trying to do a job is actually what you are. In simple terms, they just don’t give a shit.
Freaks: Almost the same as above. These are people that have decided, long before they open their mouths, that you are a big, important photojournalist for some various newspaper and your sole mission is to get that picture of them to spread across the front page. They duck, dive, weave and block you at every possible chance in order to get their picture taken. If displeased or unsatisfied by your response to their demand, they can easily metamorphasise into type three.
Alas but in so many other walks of life; “there’s always one”. For the purposes of this rant, I’m going to refer to these “people” as type three. What follows is a 100% accurate series of events from earlier this evening.
I parked on the docks about 7.15pm and made my way speedily toward the train station to get a few (hopefully) half decent shots of the victorious Cork team making their way home. I made it past a couple of barriers by doing the ol’ famous ‘point at camera’ trick. “Press Pass?” . Erp. Not going to get past this last one. Ahh well, I made the best of it and took my position on the rail tunnel bridge just outside Kent station. 7.30 came and went. 8pm came around and as darkness fell the open top bus started rolling. Myself and the guy next to me made some idle chit-chat for a few minutes to break the monotony. Got a few shots off in the few minutes before the bus passed us and ran alongside to keep up, firing off the odd shot while dodging the running crowd.
Eventually made it down as far as the bus station, where the open top bus dissapeared from sight. The crowd made their way to Parnell Place, where a huge screen had been setup showing a stage which was presumably setup at the top of the South Mall. I waited a few moments by the triangular piece of ‘art’ in the middle of the road while the crowd got larger. Perfect for a quick picture of the overall event. When that time came, I turned to the two young girls standing on one corner of the construction and the following conversation took place.
Me: Sorry, would you mind if I just stood up there for 5 seconds to take a couple of pictures?
A not entirely unreasonable request and one that any type 1 or 2 person would gladly permit. Let’s define some variables. T3 is the girl nearest to me standing on the ledge. T3M is the girls mother. Yes, you can already see that this was a mighty interesting exchange.
T3: Eh, wha? You gotta be jokin’ like. No way like.
Me: Ah c’mon, I’m just asking for 5 seconds to take a few pictures, then I’ll get down and you can have your spot back.
T3: I been waitin’ for half an hour here like. No fuckin’ chance biy.
How stressed was I? How unreasonable was this festering she-male? Yes, I was stressed after running through crowds for ages. Yes, I deemed it to be quite unreasonable. The resistor in my head that controls anger management suddenly burned out in a flood of white hot rage and red vision.
Me (at top of voice): You’re some fucking langer. I’m only asking for five fucking seconds you scabby stella cunt.
T3 (looks at me as if she wanted to say): Ehh, where did that come from biy?
I turn to walk away, f’ing and blinding the crabfaced, disesase ridden, teenage mother of ten, pram pushing assfork of a so-called human being as loud as I could yet in a decidedly noticable mutter. Then, “the mammy” got involved. Woe unto anyone that crosses an Irish mammy. However, God himself wasn’t about to stop me now so it would have taken a whole fucking armada of Irish mammies to even slow me down.
T3M (in her poshest possible accent, despite the fact her daughter was as common as pig shit in a pig sty): Excuse me, that’s my daughter you’re talking to.
Me (thinking quickly): My deepest condolences.
Mammy looked shocked. I nearly crapped myself laughing as I brushed past her, imagining that at any minute either of the two outcomes would become reality.
1. Mammy would give me an almighty clip with her Dunnes Stores handbag, full to the brim with naggins of Scrumpy Jack.
2. More worryingly, Daddy (fresh from mountjoy) would turn up and turn his attention to smashing the fuck out of my camera, diverting his attention periodically to smashing the fuck out of my face. Given that there were police everywhere, I felt decidedly cocky and chose to chortle merrily away as I strode away. I didn’t get the picture but I did get a bloody good laugh. And a rant.
I’ll take 50 freaks for every 1 dickhead. I can take pictures and scribble down names all day and all night until you meet one absolute dickhead that knocks you out of your rythm temporarily. Photojournalism? Nah, I’d do studio photography instead. Or travel photography. It’s all good!