DON'T TOUCH MY HAT.
Perhaps the famed headshot photographer guru Peter Hurley said it best when he proclaimed himself “90% therapist and 10% photographer.” After all, he’s dealing with some delicate actor/model egos and that’s a priority when it comes to photographing them. Clicking the shutter is the easy part. In many ways I think most photographers might relate to Mr. Hurley’s assessment of his trade.
And for guys like me that are just a one-man operation, the number of hats we, as photographers, wear can be a little overwhelming. It takes a heck of a big hat rack. I'm from Texas, and many folks around here wear cowboy hats. I'm reminded of the Lyle Lovett lyric, "you can have my girl, but don't touch my hat."
Well said, Lyle.
While I don't wear a cowboy hat, I sure as heck wear plenty of other hats.
This is true for many (probably most) self- employed folks that run their own business, whatever field they may be in.
The plumber who also answers his own sales calls is at his best when he’s in the trenches finding that leak. But the fact that he actually does answer customer phone calls, and take care of his own advertising, and do his own billing, and maybe even take out his own trash, all play a roll in why he’s a great plumber. Those things make him better. He’s in touch with all aspects of the business. He cares more.
It’s really more than multi-tasking.
It’s more than attention to detail. From a photographer’s perspective, it’s largely about adaptability to major issues like the weather causing a shoot to cancel at the last minute, and minor issues like making sure a subject’s tie is tied properly. In a way, the tie looking good might be just as important as the weather forecast.
It’s about continuity. If a potential client calls wanting to book a shoot, they talk to me. On the shoot, I’m the one that’s there to assure them that, yes, we’ll be able to photograph their CEO in only five minutes. And it’s me that processes their files and uploads them to a custom client gallery.
Would I like to have someone there to take on some of these tasks? Yes. And no. At times, it would be great to hand off some of these details. But it would come at a cost; for every little detail I didn’t have to concern myself with there would be a part of me, as a photographer, that would be lost.
While I’m not a micro-manager or a control-freak, I am particular about certain things, right down to how I want my gear loaded in my truck. Writing quotes for photography and negotiating contracts are things that I don’t enjoy, but they’re essential....and I wouldn’t want anyone else doing them.
My job, apart from being the best photographer I can be, is to be the best everything I can be, and like Mr. Hurley, sometimes - many times - I’m part therapist. And I’m part stand-up comedian and part furniture mover. But I wouldn’t really want it any other way. I am who I am as a photographer because I’m all the other things, and I like it like that.