This time it’s political

I like reading photography blogs. Seeing others’ perspective on the art and science of it is always good. Some of the blogs I follow for reasons such as their writing style or because they come from a different culture which has a different point of view than my own. It never hurts to broaden your horizons and learn something. Yes, even an old man like me can still learn things. It’s just that I forget them again, very quickly.

A few of the postings are unintentionally funny, such as when people get things wrong. They’ll learn too, eventually. Some are dull to me because they are aimed at learners, but that doesn’t make them less valid and especially not less valuable. Besides I’d be a hypocrite to chastise such writers as a lot of what I do is instructional as well (if you can get through the layers of silliness).

However in my random perusing today I came across a blog written by someone who is in fact the staff photographer for the legislature here. Now I did not comment on the post at all because that would give the wrong impression: I’ve nothing against him. I wish him well. I could argue about his style or quality but that is entirely artistically subjective; he could make just as many, or even more, objections to my work. I do notice he has a lot of really nice (expensive) equipment. I’m not envious of that exactly, except in the form that as a taxpayer I paid for it, so to speak. This brings us to the real problem: the job itself.

Why, in this day and age when everything every member of government says or does is covered by a plethora of media representatives, do we even need a position of Staff Photographer of the Legislature? It seems to me to be an utter waste of taxpayers’ money, and a job that exists only to stroke the already overgrown egos of elected officials.

Now let me give you a little perspective on myself so you’ll understand how this is not envy. I knew a fellow years ago who was Official Staff Photographer at the local college. Was that a waste of money? No. Many events went on at the college that needed official photographic documentation and were unlikely to be covered by the press. If he hadn’t been there firing off his Nikon a fair amount of history would have been lost. I’m not in favour of losing history. For the clincher, my own father was the official photographer (in addition to his main duties as head of Quality Control) at the company he worked for. Again documenting all sorts of events and things that they needed a record of which no one else would have done.

This is not the case with the Legislature. As I said, the news media covers them like scum on a swamp and I doubt there’s anything the official photographer would catch that a dozen other cameras didn’t as well. Frankly the number of images captured by the average citizen with their smartphone probably would have the job covered even if no professionals showed up. We are in the age of cameras everywhere, after all.

Which brings us to the ironic aspect of the job: this man’s artistic talent is clearly being wasted. I seriously doubt the officials he aims to please can tell the difference between the shot taken with a Fujifilm X camera and something caught on a cheap cell phone, never mind if he puts some artistic effort into the composition. I think the best thing that can be said about it is that at least one photographer has a job and gets to pay his bills. I have known several who were not so lucky, despite their talents, and I fear that the latter state is more likely to be the future for photographers everywhere.

A Winter Scene

One thought on “This time it’s political

  1. You remind me that my first wife was staff photographer on an Air Force National Guard base. She did everything from make officer portraits, to document automobile accidents on base, to hang out of helicopters to capture images of stuff they might want to blow up (or whatever, I don’t know, I wasn’t in the military). She did this in the film era and shot a lot of MF, and had her own darkroom for developing and printmaking. She used to give me bootleg rolls of Plus-X for my old box cameras. Anyway: highly useful role, she was always busy. The legislature photographer — yeah, I agree with you.


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