Never Look A Gift White Elephant In The Mouth

framGift is a noun. Gifting is apparently a verb…or perhaps an adverb. We really don’t use the terms ” giftor ” or ” giftee ” to describe people engaged in the exchange, but maybe we should – they sound much nicer than ” perpetrator ” and ” victim “.

The business of the photographic gift is worth examining. Of course we all want to be the recipient of free donations from major manufacturers – in my time in the camera trade I was given two cameras and two lenses by different wholesale firms – ostensibly to reward me for sales or to assist me to take sales pictures.

In reality they were bribes and I was expected to write favourably about the camera systems they were part of.  I did so…but the funny thing was they did not need to bribe me – I had a very good opinion of them anyway. So good that in one case I have chosen to spend my own money on further cameras, lenses, and accessories for years after.

In the other case the camera and lens was put up resale in the shop…but that is another story. Had I been allowed to keep it, it would have formed an equally good foundation for a professional outfit in the future.

I sometimes give photographic gifts as well, but they are tokens of either affection for the recipient or disgust at the equipment itself. Sometimes both. I rarely fling old photo gear into the bin unless it is broken beyond sensible repair as I have found that even the dodgiest old accessory can sometimes come in handy.

My favourite gift to give is a print. In most cases it is something that has the recipient somewhere in it and as that is all they see, they are pleased. But as the REB of the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia I feel it incumbent upon me to make sure that the print is a memorable one. It takes a bit longer to do, and you need a delicate eye, but it is possible to crop a standard-looking A4 or A3 print inside a white border so that none of the corners, either of the printed area or of the outside mat, are actually 90º. A rectangle is a quadrangle but the reverse does not necessarily hold. It is wonderful to contemplate the person going through the frame section of IKEA or Rabbit Photo looking for something that actually looks straight.

Books are another favourite, particularly if they are 60’s and 70’s colour-process tomes picked up in the $ 2 bin at the photographic flea market. In some cases you can score the Grand Slam Trifecta; the gift book talks about cameras that do not exist taking film that does not exist to be processed by chemicals that do not exist. If it goes further to enlarging, that is a field of missing ghosts as well. It is like looking into a Walt Disney talking mirror and seeing nothing but the wall.


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