On the road, the most common
ice-breaker is, "Where you from?" The second question is usually, "What do you
do?", which is the friendly way to ask, "Who are you?"
I sometimes answer with a rattle
about Bizware, or if I'm knackered I'll just say, "I'm a geek." Also good for a
Noticing the camera and tripod
slung over my shoulder in my best Ansel Adams imitation, a fellow in
Massachusetts persisted, "I thought you might be a photographer?"
My answer could have been, "Well I
do like to take pictures" or "I do dabble in photography" or the glib "I do
hang with shutterbugs". Anything to avoid the straight answer, "I am a
Partly, I didn't want to mislead
since photography is not my day job. I have no plans to change that. It's too
hard to eek out a living with pictures, and I didn't want my composition plans
to begin with, "Will that sell?"
A wedding photographer put the nail
in the coffin, "Sometimes going to work is like being invited to a traffic
accident." Frantic mother-in-laws scurrying about having a cow if the napkins
are not folded just right. And the stress to produce perfection without
direction. The inability to say, "The shot makes you look fat because you
wolfed down three slices of wedding cake,"
The main reason for my hesitation,
however, was a reluctance to be pretentious since I'm still just an apprentice
to the craft. To say "I am a photographer" would be to declare that I have
This impasse was breached by a
flashback many decades back to my Latin class, which I suspected of never
bringing anything useful to the party. Turns out the Roman Legions marched with
a fellow in front carrying their "signum". This signum was a military emblem of
disks or medallions mounted on a pole. To lose a signum in battle was the
height of disgrace. So it was that when a battle grew particularly hard, when
fear and thoughts of retreat mounted, the commander would order the signum
flung over the heads of the barbarians. The legionnaires would redouble their
efforts and fight their way over to their signum, routing the barbarians in the
Key was the visualization of
victory. They declared victory, saw themselves regaining their signum, and
marching on in triumph. They became who they said they were.
So it was that the next time I was
asked, I calmly answered, "I'm a photographer", throwing my signum way out
there, and then did my best to live up to it.
Sometimes we need to take a stand
about who we want to be by saying who we are, and then fulfilling our
Gypsy moths were everywhere
Woods Hole decorations
Hey, I'm just a duck
Rubber band collectors' parking area
|For more pictures of Massachusetts, click here.