What are the limits?

It’s that time of the week again! I’m back! I’m Dave Williams and this week for #TravelTuesday, on Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider, I’m going to pick on a subject that seems to always be looming, but never fully addressed. It’s a topic that is absolutely not helping to lift any negative reputation on photographers.

With news this week floating across the internet that photographer Andreas Hvid was caught atop the Great Pyramid in Egypt, the question again has popped up: –

“What are the limits?”

I wrote before about how Russia has popularised the selfie sensation to the extent that they had to restrict certain areas and locations, owing to the risk of death and serious injury following ridiculous photographic exploits. Similarly, there has been news of people free climbing monuments and buildings for the thrill and the selfie from the top, and the whole train track thing is so ridiculous it’s basically unfathomable why people would do it. I mean, I take risks in making my photos, but the risk is calculated and manageable.

Andreas hit the headlines in Egypt having snuck around the Giza plateau and climbed to the summit of the Great Pyramid, with what he has called a “friend,” and taken a series of photographs. The images show the pair nude and in sexual poses, which quite rightly owing to the importance and sensitivity of the location, has caused fury and upset to the Egyptians.

So, what about all the other headlines that have cropped up recently? The one of the engaged couple, who died after falling from a cliff edge into a canyon, springs to mind, as do the tributes paid to a photographer who fell to his death from the top of a building. These things, as I said, are very damaging and quite rightly cause us to be looked at with a great caution when we do the not so dangerous things. The term “photographer” is also brought into question with this subject; what is a photographer? What does it mean to be a photographer? It seems that in cases like these it’s used to describe anyone who takes a photo, rather than anyone who makes a living from photography or who is known for their photography. The use of the term is damaging to those of us who do make a living this way, and it effectively brings us into disrepute. To that end, my personal message to Hvid and anyone else who discredits photographers by climbing national monuments, scaling tall buildings, cranes, posing on train tracks, or overhanging cliff edges, is this: –

You are not a photographer, you are not acting as a photographer, and you are damaging the industry in which I make my living. Your acts of clowning and fooling around are damaging my reputation and my livelihood, and your behaviour is immature and utterly ridiculous. 

To take a risk that is calculated, manageable, and in the interests of art is one thing, but to push that risk beyond any control and literally put your life on the line is quite another.

Respect the industry and know the limits.

Much love


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