Professional Jealousy


Any trade or profession has internal rivalries – some friendly and some not. The dignity of the business will determine the level to which this is evident, though the general public may never see any unpleasantness take place. If they do see any little disturbance, you can be sure that there is a fight to the death going on below decks.

The photographic game is no different – indeed as it is largely regulated by unofficial associations there are numerous opportunities for rivals to clash. They rarely resort to fisticuffs but the level of verbal sniping would make Ypres in 1916 look like a vicarage picnic.

I encourage this, as it makes good copy. In my position as weblog columnist for my own studio, my old employers, and the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia I keep an open ear at any equipment demonstrations, award ceremonies, and club meetings that I attend. After the second glass of red wine some photographers become quite talkative. I imagine they would be a lot of fun in a tequila bar…

What do they hate on each other about? Mostly awards and contracts. Clients with money are not as thick on the ground as once they were. and those who have them jealously guard that possession. Their rivals do as much as can be done decently to prise the studio fingers from around the client’s wallet and to substitute their own. I have heard photographers disparaged as too arty, not arty enough, and artless entirely. Substitute the word competent, businesslike, or honest for the word art and you can go round the room on another glass of red.

I must confess to professional jealousy when I see perfect portraits of people whom I have also photographed – and who have been treated far better by the other photographer. The most effective way I have found to address this is to steal the image, change the watermark, and insist that it is my own. And then bill the client immediately.

You’d be surprised how many pay up before the truth dawns on them.


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