Defending the indefensible

I really can be quite unsympathetic when I see bad photography.

Particularly when it is by a 'Pro' working for a major and world renowned organisation.

When I first became aware of the furore surrounding the shots of the USA Olympic team by Joe Klamar I really was pretty astounded by what I saw, and despite all the excuses from his photo editor the pictures are, apart from a couple of exceptions, pretty rotten.

Nothing can really put into words what it wrong with them, lighting, execution, concept.

They are bad.

As I'm sure Joe Klamar(whom I have never met, nor do I have any connection with).would readily admit to, over a beer perhaps.

If you are expecting me to join in giving Joe Klamar a verbal lashing, which in my mind has been similar to the stoning scene in 'The Life of Brian' where all the women are wearing fake beards, well think again.

I have committed similar photo crimes to Joe and so very much worse too.

Let me explain.

The photo's are generally indefensible until you read his account of the assignment.


'I was under the impression that I was going to be photographing athletes on a stage or during press conference where I would take their headshots for our archives [and] I really had no idea that there would be a possibility for setting up a studio'.

I have seen some pretty strong comments from all comers.

But I would ask any of them to consider this.

What would you have done?

It's all very well winning 'blah, blah' photo of the month with some unforced photo of something you like to shoot and had some kind of control or input in.

With the possibility of planning too.

Joe was sent on the equivalent of a photo suicide mission.

Without wishing to play the blame game, one could look elsewhere.

What brief was he given?

Most of my photo apocolypses have been set up by either poor briefing ( ie not telling the photographer what they were getting into) or when I have not listened to the brief properly.

I have no idea which it was but these are scenarios which are possibilities.

The comment which cropped up often was 'I could have done better with my iPhone, and in the right conditions I dare say we all could.

And there is the rub, in the right conditions.

Consider the excellent American baseball team photos by Nick Laham, shot on an iPhone in the restroom, seemingly against the odds but there was some form of preparation, note the KinoFlo's ( I LOVE them!), and I'm prepared to wager he was not fighting with every other news organisation to get the shot either.

Imagine it was you who was sent to shoot this super high profile assignment unprepared, not knowing what the possibilities were, and having all the wrong gear.

On the AFP blog, Joe tells how he arrived with 2 bodies, 3 lenses and one flash unit..........oh dear.

After the wave of nausea had swept over you and, providing you were still standing, you would have to come up with some sort of plan, and quickly.

You might have done better than he did or you may have cracked under the pressure and done even worse.

He shot something which was not his finest moment, though I do actually like the shot of the guy with the dreads.

There is a native American saying which we could all do well to pay heed to

' never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes'