Thursday, August 8, 2013

Stop! Don't Shoot!

Just reading the title should get the point across. The casual use of the word "shoot" among photographers is more than a little inappropriate. And a lot annoying. As a wildlife/nature photographer, the fine art arm of my work, the idea of shooting anything is repulsive. I probably don't need to point out that the same sentiment applies to portraits and events that I (don't shoot) photograph. Get a couple of photographers together and you'd think it was the O K Corral. "What are you shooting these days?" Which could mean subject matter, or it could mean equipment being used. "Oh, I was out shooting some birds at the refuge last weekend." Pity the innocent bystander who has to listen to all this talk about shooting birds, or perhaps the knowledgeable conservationist who knows that "shooting" is not allowed in the refuge. Imagine a call to the warden to report someone was "shooting" birds there.

Here's another reply I've overheard. "I shot my nephew. He's a senior this year." Let's hope that someone overhearing that conversation does not mistake this for a bizarre coming of age ritual. The Satere-Mawe, an Amazonian tribe, does use bullet ants for a coming of age ritual as boys in the tribe become men. But even they don't refer to it as "shooting," though they would be more justified than photographers given what the bite of a bullet ant is supposed to feel like. I never want to find out. And I certainly never want to be shot. With anything.

I am definitely an outsider in this regard among my photographer colleagues and friends. I cringe when I hear of anything being shot. And I will continue to respond to questions about "what are you shooting these days" with reference to "I recently photographed..." or "I've been working with some new lenses..."  or "I'm a Canon user." I will never say that I "shot" or "am shooting" anything. It seems in bad taste, especially in the current social context. I hope the day doesn't come when I am so complacent at the thought of anything being shot that I don't cringe at least a little at hearing this, even when I know the context. 

Health care workers realized this a long time ago and stopped talking about giving "shots," opting for more professional, and accurate, terminology.  A "shot" is not reasonable slang for "injection" or immunization. Shots don't belong there; shots belong in discussion involving weapons, where all the meanings of "shot" can be understood in context. And I suspect "shots" will continue to be part of bar language for some time as well. I don't see that one changing. But I really wish photographers would stop all the shooting.

If you are looking for someone to photograph your portrait, ceremony, event, or farm, drop me a line.  I'd love to talk with you. And you can be sure I won't be shooting anything. 

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