I’m having a conversation with some Photoshelter folks about the so-called Photographers Bill of Rights via a comment section. Most of it concerns photojournalism. That’s where my career started. That’s where my heart lies.
I read the entire document. If I’m going to talk about it, I should read it. That’s only fair. I have questions.
Let’s start with this one.
Why is a portrait photographer — a good one — telling photojournalists how to be? This is the same guy who wants working photographers to seek permission before we photograph someone on the street or at an event like a protest.
I’d like to know if he’s ever worked on the streets. He has no idea what that world is like.
Then, there is the term that the authors want to use for us. “Lens Based Workers.”
They claim that they want to be all inclusive. They want the term to be about photographers, videographers, picture editors, and so on.
I like inclusiveness. But, why such a low end blue collar name? Most of us attended universities. We are, at the very least, professionals.
Some of us have more advanced degrees like a Master of Science, or even a doctorate. That would be me. Laskowitz, PhD. I don’t use my title very much because my work has nothing to do with my degree.
You don’t get to call me a “lens based worker.”
If you push me, I’m going to insist that you call me, Dr. Laskowitz. Nobody wants that. Least of all me.
At the end of the day, I see this as an attempt to quantify what most of us in my generation have known for most of our lives. I don’t want that. I bet the young men and women won’t either.
I learned how to be a photojournalist/photographer from those who came before me. My elders. I’m willing to be a young photographer’s elder. Mentor. Guru. All they have to do is ask.
Just don’t call me an old white colonialist.
You have no idea what I think. As little as I know about my heritage, I know this. It’s very likely that my grandfather was a kind of serf. He left because Communism was raising its ugly head. He wanted to be free. Just like me.
What kind of colonialist is that? White? I’m sorry (not sorry). I was born this way. Old? I hope the writers of the document get to be old. Like me.
I had to think about why I take offense at the so-called bill of rights. The headline says it all. What I do is my calling. My work is what I was given to do. If I’m any good at all, it’s because I worked hard, listened to my elders and took a few chances.
Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy your own photographs.