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Commentary: Go-Fast Boat Photographers Need a Group Hug

Matt Trulio

Matt Trulio

About a week ago, one of the photographers I work with on speedonthewater.com and Sportboat magazine sent me a link to a thread from a message board. From what I could gather, you had to be a high-performance powerboat photographer to participate in this thread. And you had to be really pissed off at one or more of your fellow shooters for such egregious offenses as “posting on another photographer’s thread” and “whining.”

I have to admit I was entertained by it, much in the way I used to be entertained by schoolyard girl fights. (Come on, guys, who didn’t love those?) In fact, I haven’t been that entertained since Ndamukong Suh’s last press conference.

But gentlemen—and because I’ve worked with a lot of you I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt—please knock it off. Next time you want to slam a fellow photographer in a public forum, take a deep breath and step away from the keyboard. And if you come back hours later and still feel like slamming your competitor, take another walk. Take as many walks as you need until the urge to blast away is gone.

Because anything less not only looks amateur, regardless of how professional your photos may be, it is amateur. And that’s really off-putting for guys like me, the guys who hire guys like you. Just saying.

Want my theory on why you guys are at each other’s throats? (Probably not, but you’ll get it anyway—this is my commentary, after all.) There are a lot of you doing good work. Unfortunately, the market for that work—magazines and websites covering the high-performance powerboat world—has contracted with the industry, as has the population of boat owners willing to buy photos of their rides. So you guys are fighting for pieces of a much smaller pie.

Trust me, when work is plentiful you don’t have time for the kind of sniping and bickering I’ve seen. You’re too busy for that nonsense. There are deadlines to hit, digital photos to edit, memory cards to fill, invoices to send and checks to deposit. Life is good.

Want to expend “negative” energy on something productive? Leave each other alone, and get seriously angry and diligent about enforcing your copyrights. Anything less is giving away your work, and once you give away your work you establish its value forever. Plus, when you give it away you’re sending the wrong message to the media outlets that actually pay you.

Don’t work for “exposure” or because it “will be good for your career.” You probably should end the discussion, politely and professionally of course, when you hear those words. You don’t have to get paid a lot, but get paid something. (Obviously, none of this applies to the donations of photos you make for charity auctions and such.)

The good news, at least for guys like me, is that there is so much photographic talent out there right now. So much. But as the saying goes, act like you’ve been there before—even if you haven’t. And that means leaving behind the acrimony and petty bickering.

Now, in the spirit of the holidays before the weekend kicks off, how about you guys all bring it in for the real thing?