Photo snobs- Man, I work with a bunch of them. “That’s alright” or “It’ll work” is what is often conveyed when one reveals a new photograph to the group. Every once in a while a “nice” will be stated, but that’s on a rare, Friday the 14th-like occasion. Most of the time, a simple shrug of the shoulders is all you get.
I’ve gotten use to during the years I’ve worked here, and have long since my first day found myself becoming one of them – a photo snob. One who nit-picks every photo, one that can turn 1,000 field images into 30 by the first coffee break. But it’s necessary, I found out quickly, for making sure NEBRASKAland’s photo quality remains paramount.
One of my first days in house, editor Doug Carroll sat down with me to discuss some photos I had taken. “Are those gentlemen urinating off the back of the boat,” he asked. “No, they’re fishing,” I answered. “Then get on the other side of them,” he said, “and let me see their faces.”
A few weeks later, I showed Tim Reigert, our art director, a photo of some fishing lures on a boat. “Why didn’t you photograph the alien?” he asked. “Huh?” “Well, there’s alien light,” he said, pointing to my accessive amount of flash. “I’d rather see a photograph of it.”
There are a hundred stories like this related to photos I’ve taken here, stories that continually teach me to strive for making better shots. But they also teach me to be a little snobbish when I’m looking at other peoples’ work.
So when I started working with interns from the University of Nebraska-Omaha, they quickly found out what was acceptable and what wasn’t.
“Where did the alien light come from?” I asked one of our interns recently.
He understood immediately, but still responded. “It reminds me of a camera trap photo, like one a person will get of a bear or another animal at night.”
I smiled. “Did you set a camera trap to photograph these berries?” I asked, and we both laughed, pressing Delete on the keyboard.
It takes a little while for interns to get used to this, having their photos culled from 100 to 4, but after I show them the work of Fowler’s, Helzer’s, Farrar’s, Grier’s, Forsberg’s, Kathol’s, Hager’s, Sartore’s, and others who frequently call NEBRASKAland home, they begin to understand very quickly that if they want to ever, ever see their photos in print, they need to find out how to compete with these photographers. Much like I’m learning.