Photographer or a Geek — or both?

Photographer or a Geek — or both?

I have gotten couple of times into a heated conver­sation lately about the role of a photo­grapher: should you only produce images and leave it at that — or should you also get involved into the presen­tation of your images. “You moron, you just compromise yourself as photo­grapher when you start hacking the code yourself…” is the argument I have heard more than once.

As I am very much interested in the way our media will look in the future, I naturally stand behind the argument that one should be involved all the way. Hell, if I am often not happy about the layout on a simple, white, printed page/spread, you can imagine my frustration when my images are displayed on a page which looks like Flicker from the nineties — if it did exist those days — or something of that level.

But I get the counter-argument: if you start worrying too much about the coding/computer part of rich-media production, you lose your focus as photo­grapher. You should stick to your own field — that is, photo­graphy. Or is it?

Click on the image to view the website
Click on the image to view the actual live website

I’m sure I’ll be addressing this issue in the future — a lot — but let me show a very simple example from last week, which I hope illustrates one aspect of this.

This is not journa­listic work, this is a simple assignment done for the B-to-B -marketing of the TV network I work for. I was asked to shoot a venue — not for publication, but as a collection of “profes­sional snapshots” for the partici­pants who had attended. The venue was karting — by invitation only — with a special guest, F1-driver Heikki Kovalainen. Images of — and for — important VIPs and their children, something to remember this unique occasion by.

I don’t think my client had a solid plan as how to showcase the pictures when they contacted me, so I suggested I’d do a simple layout and host the material on my server. They agreed and this is what I came up with.

Very simple: several 360x180° images on the banner, a timer set so that each image is played c. 8 seconds, looping. Under the banner a flash­based slideshow of the venue highlights (c. 15 images) with X-fade thru white, and a short leading text with links to the company website (and a video of the event), a picture gallery of c. 180 images and a feedback form. Company logos etc. naturally displayed as they should be.

All done in concor­dance with the visual style of the invitation email they had sent — and with the visual look of the MTV3-website in general.

Now: they could have gone the easy way and just plastered the images on a HTML-page, using some readymade template — maybe even used an external service, such as Flicker — but I am happy they accepted my suggestion to do something a bit more custo­mized.

Would my images been any better if I had not done the coding? This kind of work, I don’t think so. Did the client get more value for their money? I should definitely say so.

Was it worth for me — i.e did I get a better compen­sation for doing that? No, this time I didn’t — and I didn’t ask for that, either.

But, for me, the question is: will they hire me next year to do the same thing again?

I’m pretty confident they will.

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