LF Professionalism in the Field?

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I do much field photography but I use a 6x7 and sometimes encounter other photographers. I was recently photographing wildflowers and came across a nationally known 4x5 pro who was extremely rude to me. No, it wasn't David or Marc Meunch. (They are known for their politeness). This guy seemed to think he owned the place even though we both knew it was Indian reservation. Not exactly professional behavior from this well published LF shooter.

-- Steve Rasmussen (srasmuss@flash.net), April 21, 2001


Professional, amatuer, tourist with an instamatic, it doesn't matter. I happen to be a professional photographer. One of the best parts of the experience is experiencing a beautiful location with others that appreciate it as much as you do. If you weren't rude to him or obviously moving into his scenes, there is no excuse for his behaviour. I would expect him to feel embarrassed by his behaviour, and sore from the lump he should have on his head.

-- Jon Paul (jonpaul@aci.net), April 21, 2001.

Hi Steve,

Sorry to hear about your bad experience. My personal experiance has been exactly the opposite. I run into a lot of "name" pros out in the field, some of them multiple times. Without exception, they have all been VERY friendly and even helpful to me. I try to never interupt anyone while they are working (pro or amature), but if I just pass them on the trail, or notice that they are packing up, I'll introduce myself and chat a while if they seem receptive. Just off the top of my head, the ones I remember meeting are: Jeff Foote (several times - very nice guy), Jack Dykinga (droll sense of humor, he actually ran into me when I was shooting in the Redwoods and I didn't realize who it was until he told me his name at the end of our initial conversation), Larry and Donna Ulrich (great folks), David Muench (very friendly and still very enthusiastic about nature photography), Michael Fatali (in spite of the recent bad press about the Delicate Arch fires, when I met him in Zion a few years back - before the Delicate Arch incident - on a one on one basis, he was very friendly and I enjoyed chatting with him).

There are others, but that's just a short list. The ONLY rudeness I've ever encountered has been from "wannabees" (and even that has been rare). The established pros seem secure enough to not feel threatened (as long as you aren't interefering with their work). I have no idea who you are referring to, and I won't speculate or ask you to name names. Perhaps you just encountered someone who was having a bad day. It happens to us all. Or maybe it really was someone who makes a habit of being rude to others. There are people like that is all walks of life. I'd like to think that large format nature photographers are above that sort of behavior, but that's just wishful thinking. Given a large enough sample size in any group and there are bound to be one or two stinkers. I hope the next time you meet a "name" pro in the field that your experience is a more positive one.


-- Kerry Thalmann (largeformat@thalmann.com), April 21, 2001.

Earlier this year, I ran into a few professionals while shooting the wildflowers at Lost Dutchman State Park, east of Phoenix, AZ. I was surprised by how unfriendly they were -- not even so much as "hello" when you passed by -- but also how careless they were while tromping around off the marked trails. One of them in particular didn't seem to care at all about where he stepped and didn't mind crushing every flower and plant in his path while stalking _his_ images.

Fortunately, there were two exceptions to the rule -- Kirk Owens was very friendly when we talked to him in the parking lot after the sun had set and an older man whose name I've since forgotten (he was out with his wife and carrying nearly every lens known to man along with an Arca-Swiss 4x5 field) was also polite and friendly -- but it will be quite a while before I forget my encounter with those other three photographers.

-- Jeffrey Goggin (audidudi@mindspring.com), April 21, 2001.

I agree most I have met are fine folks. Few are rude, but they stick out. Yes, it is easy to have a bad day, especially when some idiot gets in front of and/or ruins your photo. But the few who take it out on others and are rude as hell are the minority, loud & obnoxious as they are. For each of them there are so many more notable photographers who are helpful, considerate & first class people. But, just as in any other endeavor, a bad apple can color your view of the whole bunch. Lucky for most of us our encouters with the jerks are rare.

-- Dan Smith (shooter@brigham.net), April 21, 2001.

This is why I always carry a loaded 9mm Glock handgun when I'm in the field. Not the new models with the wimpy magazines either; the old 17-round models. "Leave only footprints and the dead bodies of jerks."

-- Chad Jarvis (cjarvis@nas.edu), April 22, 2001.

Well, I should better work on my sociability now if I want a chance to stay an alive photographer!

-- Paul Schilliger (pschilliger@smile.ch), April 22, 2001.

All you guys are lucky, even Steve. I've never even SEEN another large format shooter when I'm out photographing. Of course I'm not usually shooting in national parks, but still it would be nice to run across a kindred soul once in a while. Usually I get people talking to me when I'm under the darkcloth saying that their grandpa used to have a camera "just like that" (highly doubt it) and they express disbelief that anyone would bother with such an old fashioned contraption anymore. (Haven't I heard of those newfangled digital cameras? They take pictures "just as good" and sure are a heck of a lot smaller!)

So I'd even be happy to see a rude LF shooter once in a while!


-- Mark Parsons (polar@thegrid.net), April 22, 2001.

> So I'd even be happy to see a rude LF shooter once in a while!

Me too. Usually it's either an anorak who has a technoplastik wunderblaster or a few rednecks who turn out to be friendly and utterly fascinated by the contraption I have. But never anyone else with a big camera.

-- John Hicks (jbh@magicnet.net), April 22, 2001.

The closest I've ever come to seeing another LF guy in the field was when I ran into an older man on a trail who had once upon a time shot 8x10. I had a nice conversation with him, but that was about it with him. Normally, the only people who I see when I'm out with my cameras are hikers, trail runners, and the occasional nature photographer shooting 35mm. Generally, they've all been very nice and I have yet to encounter someone being rude, let alone another photographer.

-- David Munson (orthoptera@juno.com), April 22, 2001.

I've run into a few LF photographers in the field and for the most part everyone has been pretty supportive except for one guy (not to be named) who's ego was wrapped up in the cost of his equipment and his use of colored grad filters to enhance sunsets. The worst photographer I ever ran into was a 35mm portrait photographer who had the gall to see where I was shooting and then have her client ask me if I could hurry up 'cause they liked that spot too. They pretty much just waited to see what shots I was interested in and if they liked it they asked me to move on. I did overhear her tell her client that I was using an "antiquated" camera. Small minds for small film I guess. (no offense out there I own several of those "midget format" cameras)

-- Kevin Kemner (kkemner@tatesnyderkimsey.com), April 23, 2001.

Here in Switzerland, and in Europe in general, LF photographers seem to be rare. The only one that I met or worked with in more than 15 years was my friend Paul Schilliger. If you visit Switzerland and see a guy beside a Toyo Wiew on Gitzo tripod looking at the world through various black cardboards with rectangular holes in them, it's him. So, if you are allowed to bring your handguns along to Switzerland, please do not shoot at him (and at me either, as I could be nearby). Paul is a very nice guy despite of what he wrote here above. :-)

People here usually react in different ways to a LF gear. They often ask why I use such an old camera, some try to look knowledgeable, once they asked me whether I was working for the Swiss TV, and many tried to be in the picture faking that they did not notice. I met some 24x36 and MF photographers, some of them patiently waited until I finished my picture to take the same, but I never met anybody rude.

-- Emil Salek (e.salek@net2000.ch), April 23, 2001.

In my earlier life I was an entertainment/concert photographer, shooting just about every imaginable rock, country or jazz artist who pulled through Denver. I met and interviewed many, many people that the general public would die to meet, but once I gave that up and jumped full-time into the landscape photo biz, I was shocked at how much more excited I was to meet big-name photographers than I ever was meeting world-famous rock stars. Luckily, except for one notable Colorado photographer who thinks waaaay too highly of himself, the famous photogs I have met have all been gems to talk to. My only problems usually come from those who THINK they're much more important than they really are.

-- Todd Caudle (tcfotos@home.com), April 23, 2001.

Thanks Emil, I owe you something now... I went to the ophtalmo recently and he was astonished when he saw that my retinas are becoming square. He had never seen that syndrom before except from a guy who had spent too much time on the internet.

As a matter of fact, I was out today on a mountain road pointing my Linhof mounted with a 450 Fujinon on Wista extension tubes to a rock detail above me when I was met by a couple of semi old walkers (I mean a bit older than me). The lady stared at my bazooka saying "Cet appareil, il est formidable!" two or three times. We had a very nice chat, the man thought I was shooting on plates and the lady that I was after chamois. I am glad I do not have your 8x10 in those circumstances, I would be still there talking!

-- Paul Schilliger (pschilliger@smile.ch), April 24, 2001.

The name of the rude photographer in question was Jack. I guess he was having a bad brain day.

-- Steve Rasmussen (srasmuss@flash.net), April 27, 2001.

Steve, We all have a few bad "brain" days every year. That does NOT make us all bad people, or rude people by nature. We often regret what we did and what we said during those bad "brain" days, right? So let's not to trash anyone's name on the internet. Instead, let's look on some brighter sides, and get over it. Cheers,

-- Geoffrey Chen (DB45TEK@AOL.COM), April 27, 2001.

I've met just about everyone who shoots out West here and every one of them has been nothing but nice, nice, nice. And very free with their time and information. Some have even looked at my portfolio that I usually lug around with me in case I stop by a gallery in the hope they will take a look at it. Or whomever I can hogtie to show them my stuff. Big names are no different than you and I except they are approached more often by their fans than you and I. Last summer I was a long, long, long, looonnnggggg way from the nearest road, wishing I hadn't lugged my heavy 4x5 with all the film, filters, polaback, extra lenses, heavy tripod, ect with me when, as I rounded a bend in the trail, there stood, under the cloth, an old guy with an old 8x10 Kodak. Not only was he carrying a full load of camera gear, but a couple days provisions w/water. I felt so foolish for all my complaining I had been doing about the weight I had been carrying. He was a really cool dude too. James

-- james (James_mickelson@hotmail.com), April 28, 2001.

I was photographing in public once, using a large, 4x5 monorail camera. A woman and her husband/boyfriend/significant-other were walking by, and as they approached she said "Nice camera!" As they passed behind me she may have noticed the "Linhof" label or even the "Kardan Bi-System" label, because she said, "REALLY nice camera!!!"

-- Matthew Runde (actorm@hotmail.com), March 25, 2002.

Geeze, I run into LF shooters all the time. Sometimes in the middle of Nevada or Utah(really remote locations too) I meet them. I think to myself, why the heck is this idiot way the heck out here in the middle of nowhere? Doesn''t he know that this isn't a Natl Park?! Why anyone would want to go where I go is beyond me. Except for Dan "Shooter" Smith. Or Ranger Bob. I love it whenthere is another photographer to talk with about the aesthetics of photography. Camped with opne fellow once near Mono Lake. Had a good time too. You've all seen his work in Arizona Highways. Really nice guy. Name Dropper

-- james (james_mickelson@hotmail.com), March 25, 2002.

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