Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Vanity Photography

There's an amusing thread over in the PSP section of The Nation--I'm not intentionally dissing the NPPL by mentioning the PSP so lighten up--posted by an erstwhile "professional" photographer informing his potential customer base how to be proper customers. I have in the past commented (at least briefly) on this whole notion of vanity photography for paintball players and wondered aloud more than once what possesses any man--or future man--to pay somebody for "action" shots of them playing paintball. (It's okay if your Mama wants your picture taken playing the game. That's what mothers are for, embarrassing their offspring.) But I struggle with how self-respecting members of the Man Club find vanity photography appealing in any way, shape or form. Perhaps it's a generational thing but I'm not so sure. Sure, I pretty much hate everything and everybody and am the proud three-time winner of the silent loner award so maybe I'm not the best judge of this sort of thing either. But then I think, what about other non-professional and/or youth sports? Or even organized school sports? If this is perfectly normal, acceptable behavior where are the photogs at Little League games around the country? Youth soccer matches on Saturday mornings or high school football games from Cali to Miami. I've never seen a professional photographer at a Parks & Recreation adult basketball league game either. Or at a men's or women's softball game. Now maybe I haven't been looking in the right places and God knows I don't habituate Pee Wee sporting events as a rule but even when my kids were younger I just don't remember for hire photogs working their games.
Maybe one of y'all can help me out. Does vanity photography happen in other sports? Or is paintball all alone in this? And if so what does that say about paintball players? Just asking.

37 comments:

Mike said...

Baca
I think it does happen in other sports, to a degree. People like pictures of themselves doing things they enjoy/think are cool. And as participants they obviously can't take a quality picture of themselves while playing.

I also think it's just part of the "culture" of paintball. I find it rare that there is even a practice where someone doesn't break out a camera when they're done playing to shoot some photos. And IMO it's a good thing for the sport if players are posting pictures of themselves playing on social media sites (FB etc.) It draws interest and attention to the sport(or at least it has for me).

Anonymous said...

As one of those photographers you're talking about, I'll tell you right now that the absence of photographers from little league games isn't from lack of trying, I've emailed countless local little league baseball series, football leagues, etc. And the organizers just don't want it. I can't tell you why, but the parents of the kids and the kids themselves have asked me in the past if I can cover events, and the organizers just will not allow me to, I'm guessing it's a money thing.

Postman said...

Pics are taken in every major sport (Football, Basketball, Baseball....etc). Its a great way to advertise and try to get non pballers interested in OUR sport! As far as little leagues...I love taking pics when my daughter plays softball. We'll have something to keep as memories when she gets older. IMO!

Anonymous said...

I've shot many little league type events with no problems. First don't email them but go see them. I routinely go to the Little League sign ups in November and speak with the officials. When the first practices start up in the spring I follow up again in person. I've also done the team pictures for a couple of leagues due to my doing the game pictures. Bing the official photographer for a league is not a bad thing, Especially when the state finals come around. Over the years I've branched out into youth soccer, softball, basketball and football. Is there tons of money in it? Some days. Others it pays for itself by other bookings. I've done senior portraits for many of the families that buy my youth sports pix. You have to sell yourself in a positive manner.

Dan said...

I've seen photographers at every level of sport I've played from little league to college, in sports from baseball, wrestling, to cross-country even. Every single one of them I had a photographer at at least some of my events.

Photographs aren't always for vanity either. I feel like the premise of the post is short-sighted. A lot of people like having photographs of their team from events for the purposes of nostalgia. There is obviously an undercurrent of vanity, as you spoke about, but most people like photos of themselves.

Anonymous said...

Without these photographers where would you get images for publications, graphics, and your own website header to be even more specific. Its not entirely about vanity, but every tier of sports has photographers present. Its part of society now that social media is an ever-present part of our daily lives.

Don Saavedra said...

I'm not surprised Baca doesn't understand this. The only time he is ever photographed is when he drives through intersections.

Baca said...

Au contraire Don, I have that clever one way reflective film strategically located. Nobody steals my soul, especially The Man.

I get team photos. I get kids photos for families. I'll even buy into the pictures proliferating on social networks though I remain unconvinced that's any better than NPPL marketing, but--

I'm sorry but I still can't get behind guys buying pictures of themselves playing paintball. I guess it's the whole silent loner thing.

Marsallas Ponthieux said...

I would argue its less vanity than recognition, at least for some. I can enjoy any photo of myself or my bros at work and in action, not so much to take pride in agg gear or dynamic stances, but rather to recall a particular moment that brought out the best in me and my friends which can be inspiring, versus pictures of getting drunk every weekend with random girls (assuming we all post pics on fb). Then again I have not ever paid for photos that I've appeared in so maybe im just out of place here.

raehl said...

We've convinced teams that they are supposed to be sponsored. In order to be sponsored, you need photos. Even from a league perspective, I've paid photographers to photograph the NCPA champs the past 5 or 6 or more years, just so I know I have pictures I have the rights to to use for publicity purposes (including television).

And, the reason some little league etc. organizers don't want photographers around taking pictures of young athletes is they are pretty sure you're a creep. If mom and dad want pictures of their child playing, they can bust out their digital camera and take some pictures. So if you're running around emailing little league organizers about how you "want to take pictures of kids".. well...

Parents generally filling the role of photo taker does explain why pro photographers are more common in paintball - unlike most other sports, we put a net between the parents and their kids that is tough to photograph through and that they can't just waltz over to the other side of.

Anonymous said...

The problem is the vanity isn't in the player, it's in the photographer. Half of the people taking pictures nowadays are kids that aren't professional by any degree (and honestly in my mind, kids that suck at paintball and want to be involved with the game but don't like the physical part).

The PSP should really crack down on who's allowed credentials and you'll see a lot less of this "informing [the] potential customer base how to be proper customers".

papa chad said...

just stopping by to laugh at Raehl's notion that people are getting photos or want photos "to get sponsored."

photography is art, like it or not. most of these photographers suck, true. but, if you can't appreciate a good action shot of some player getting bunkered, if you can't appreciate someone trying to capture the intensity of paintball through photo, then you're probably almost everyone in paintball, so don't worry about it too much.

not all paintball photography is to capture aesthetics or the vanity of paintball. there is (some) talented, moment-capturing work out there.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/zachleard/4542334726/in/photostream

here's a decent photo that captures some of the spirit of the game. for those of you scratching your noggin, I'll go as far to explain that this is a photo of the break out, and that concept of the break is embodied here in a photograph. step two: appreciate it or don't.

unfortunately, as most paintball players might assume, it also captures these players' souls. you win some, you lose some.

Anonymous said...

It does happen in other sports. At cycling, running, and triathlon events, there are often photographers taking pictures as participants race by. The photographer then puts the pictures up on their website with giant watermarks, and offers non-watermarked prints for like $25. These are for the weekend warrior guys, not the pros. Here is an example of a website that does it: http://asiorders.com/

Anonymous said...

Looks like Pat Summit ain't the only coach showing early signs of dementia.
http://viewfromthedeadbox.blogspot.com/2009/09/ask-coach.html

Baca said...

I'm drifting off topic a bit here but couldn't let it pass. Sorry papa but you're off base--at least a little bit. Photography is not art. It can be art and it can be bad art. It can also be mundane and banal art. Nor of course does qualifiying as art necessarily elevate the worth or appreciation of any particular object.
And couldn't you have picked a better example? If that embodies the breakout I guess they're playing 3-man. I'm not really disagreeing with your sentiment but your standards leave something to be desired. ;-)

Baca said...

Good one, Anon. Clever and amusing. Thanks for the link, too. That was a good episode.
However, what with my early onset dementia I'm afraid you're going to need to explain how a comparison of that episode and this post are at odds. I'm not seeing it.

Anonymous said...

If maggot is vain enough to wear awesome gold cleats, beanie, head wrap & sandana, and tall T, he's vain enough for wanting pics of himself doing awesome things while looking awesome.

Baca said...

Okay, Anon, but awareness isn't inconsistency or dementia. In one instance I make fun of Little Baller and in this post I'm looking for parallels--that apparently really do exist!-- for the ubiquity of vanity photography in paintball.
That said your original post and link were still funny.

Anonymous said...

Has to do with the damn netting....hard as hell to get a good picture of ANYTHINg from the bad side of the net, pro photographers get to take photos from inside the net sidelines: better pix. Been to a plethora of little league, pop warner, AYSO soccer, my kid plays on 2 travel leagues...no where are any kind of pro photo people besides 'picture day'...why...no obstructions between them and the kids, any amatuer with a decent lens can take great pictures.
-DraK

papa chad said...

I guess I made it sound like all photography is art, which definitely isn't the case. I mean that it can be, thus there must be at least some valid paintball photography.

valid photography is rarity in paintball, which is why I couldn't find a very good example on the fly.

hokay, so here is what I think is good (valid):
http://www.flickr.com/photos/61149122@N07/

Gary Baum said...

Wow this who blog entry is really silly and I am even more surprised at all the responses.

I have been involved in paintball media for over 10 years now and perhaps due to my long banning from PbNation I am have become a bit naive about all of this but I am still surprised the this has produced to many responses.
First of all the term "professional photographer" has been bandied about a lot here and IMO there are no true professional photographers regularly shooting paintball. We have far too many people who buy their first digital SLR at Wal-Mart show up at an event, set their camera to the running man sports mode, advertise on PbNation, set up a Smug Mug account, invent a cool name for their new media "company", and get in the way of the very few real semi pro photographer's at events.

IMO there are perhaps three people in the world I would consider pro photographers (no I am not one of them) who shoot paintball. I define a pro photographer as someone who makes a living off of photography.

I have photographed events all over the world for almost every established league and from my more than 10 years of experience I see very troubling trend at events in North America. There is not enough control of who is allowed access to the fields and there is little regulation of those who are allowed on the fields. For me since I shoot for FaceFull, Action Pursuit Games, Headshot (a new Russian print magazine) and X3 come Sunday I am under a lot of pressure to produce images and the last thing I need is to fight for position and a crowded sideline with a bunch of children with their bright new shinny DSL cameras that they just got at last week at Best Buy. ( aint I harsh and cynical here just like my hero Mr. Loco)

I now also see problems with all the new" media people" getting in the way of the referees not to mention the real photographers who have earned their pace on the side line of pro events after years of experience shooting smaller local events. (BTW Don, Referees IMO, have absolute authority on the field over any media personal)

Now that I am back on PbNation I am further surprised that they permit so many of these "photographers" to advertise their services . But the very existence of some many of these advertisements simply proves Baca to be wrong here....sorry Mr. Loco

I tried to establish some sort of organization with in the PSP to certify photographers and develop a set of rules and regulations for the media but they were apparently not interested.

Sorry about this somewhat off topic sarcastic rant but this struck a nerve and I could not help it

Anonymous said...

Anon #2 says:-

Let them carry on taking photos. They don't make much from the tightwad players anyway, and I still need a decent picture of me onfield. 21 years in the game, and I look terrible on all the photos taken of me.

Baca said...

Gary
I would be lying if I said I wasn't enjoying this.

Small point of order: the ubuiquity of photogs doesn't make me wrong--it makes me right-er as I identify an obvious social illness. :-)

And to show you my heart is in the right place--still beating inside my chest--I'ma help you & the leagues out. Clearly the league suffers the photogs because the customers want them around. However, if the number (and quality) was regulated (and licensed ala the MS) the new regulated scarcity would provide greater opportunity for the individual photographer and if properly screened should improve the general quality of the photographs taken. Win, win

Anonymous said...

Good looking people know why we like pictures of ourselves. It's OK that you don't.
You say 'vanity', I say 'man, do I look good! -SO glad I got myself a picture of how awesome I am looking right now, because I won't look that good forever!'
I also have something to show my granchildren, which I am very likely to have, because of how very good looking I am.
Known fact - Ugly people hate photographers. They also hate mirrors.
I love mirrors, and not because I'm vain (at all), but because I like how great I look, and I want to cherish it and share it with others.

Anonymous said...

Translating Garyspeak to English:

millennium kisses my ass and everyone else is sick of my BS.

Anonymous said...

translating anono-speak to english:
I am one of the amatuers Gary is referencing in his post, and I don't like it much...

Anonymous said...

Anon #6
Ok now it's 2 posts on the pics=vanity subject that blathers on about too many children with their bright new shinny DSL cameras getting in the way, and I get the "What's vanity got to do vanity?" reply from our host?

To Gary:
I admire your work. I really do. But until these "children with their bright new shinny DSL cameras" showed up there was not much in the way of professional pics taken of divisional players (i.e. those unwashed masses who make national tournaments possible).

Going WAY back there was a women who used to take pictures at Cup every year. She would get the FILM (yes film) developed over night and the next day if their was one of me I'd BUY (yes buy) a print from her. I even got one of me getting bunkered by a pro, was that vanity?

A few years, and a digital revolution later, I remember looking at gallery after gallery on line and seeing nothing but pro players with a dozen or so pics of that all girls team (Femmes was it?) sandwiched somewhere in their, which must have been tough to compile in the split second they lasted after the horn blew.

Maybe vanity is the wrong word, maybe the children with the shiny new paintball markers want to feel a little like the pros and have a few pics like the many the pros get. Maybe that moment captured in time makes them look as cool as their hero the pro player on the next page does?

Anonymous said...

One of the reasons why there's so many photographers at an event, I think is because they charge for a media pass and is just another way for the league to make money, so they let anyone get one. I was at Cup last year and couldn't believe that some people were able to get a pass. The PSP can claim all they want how they have regulations and that they enforce them, but when you look at the sidelines, all you see is +$100 for the PSP for each head there.

I'm in paintball photography because it's fun for me. I didn't get into it expecting to make a ton of money. I just like taking photographs of paintball, because it's one of the things I enjoy the most. Being able to see tournament paintball and to hang out with people I call my friends that I only see a couple times out of the year is fun. I want to make photography a career, specifically sports photography and paintball is a great place to start since it's so unique.

Just kind of how I see things and my opinion on it all.

Anonymous said...

Also, I forgot to mention...paintball photography is now becoming a fad, with more and more kids grabbing cameras like Gary said because it's the cool thing to do. Eventually, it'll die out and kids will stop when they realize they're not making as much money as they thought they would. That's what I'm hoping for, at least.

Anonymous said...

Not going to bother reading any of the posts.

Technology is better than ever. More people have access that they would have never seen five years ago.

Play it by the numbers- if you can't afford paintball, then hey, at least you can take photos and (maybe) get paid for it.

-OG

Anonymous said...

Gary Baum IS the guy who shouldn't be allowed on the field.

Anonymous said...

Did the guy above me just wake up from a coma?

Anonymous said...

Its funny how a lot of you guys are talking shit about people and cant even put a fucking name on your post. Man the fuck up and tell people who you are.

-MutR.

Anonymous said...

Your mamma named you MutR?

Missy Q said...

when did this become the smackbox?

Don Saavedra said...

Seriously! I personally don't read much in to someone wanting a visual record of the thing they are spending tons of money to do. People buy photos of themselves skydiving and going on roller coasters and even visiting ball parks and zoos. Vanity is many levels above what's going on in paintball: Me and my friends are gonna play this big national tournament and I want to be able to see myself do it. IOW, "Hey! Look! It's me!"

In this way, perhaps paintball is simply ahead of the sports pack, and eventually little leagues all around the country will have "shinny" DSLR bearing yobbos getting in the way of umpires and foul balls.

I don't wanna get caught up in the politics of this, even though I've been called out by name. But if the teams playing or the league felt the photographers/videographers were such a menace they'd have been gone by now. They get in the way of each other, not so much the playing of the game. So who cares?

Anonymous said...

I mean, rule #1 is always block other photogs.

Then, not only are you getting better photos/video, you're on the DVD of a competitor!

The way things are, most of the paintball media need to take photos of practice and tournaments just to keep their business going. Think "small sales". Without them, they cannot afford to attend tournaments. Without tournament photos, they cannot compete.

-OG