Photographers are, by and large, a bit of a touchy bunch. They like to lord it up, telling anybody who'll give them two minutes of their time about the latest bit of kit they've bought (which is usually better/dearer than the version you've got), the fact that they've got an exhibition coming up in a gallery you can't even pronounce the name of, or even if they've been working with some uber hot model that makes the girl you usually use look like a church gargoyle that's been struck by lightning on multiple occasions. I believe the coloquial term for it is a pissing contest, and I hate it.
A couple of years ago, we tried to get a bit of a photographers' network set up in North Wales. It lasted two meetings (both in pubs, naturally) and fizzled out, primarily due to the fact that a couple of the people who came along treated it as an opportunity to push their own agenda. It was a train wreck. Ain't nobody got time for that.
Not one to give up on these things, I (along with another local photographer) decided to give it another go, so we arranged a photographers' social evening for last weekend. I thought it'd be a disaster, but a funny disaster nonetheless, and worth the effort to arrange it. Anyway, after a false start (we had to reschedule it for a day later), ten of the finest photographers and film-makers North Wales have to offer (well, I have to polite - they might be reading this) gathered in Fountains Bar in Llandudno.
I'd love to tell you that we all acted in a totally professional manner and spent the night discussing lighting techniques and public liability insurance premiums, but we didn't. We talked about our embarrassing scars, our cars, our significant others - everything apart from photography and film-making - and all washed down with a not-inconsiderable amount of lager. Yes, we got a bit noisy but it was completely different to what I thought it'd turn out like. You see, something completely unforseen happened - we all got along.
We didn't fight, argue, bicker or moan. Relationships were formed, we respected each other (personally and professionally) and we all left that evening as friends. Like I said earlier, we didn't really talk much about photography or film-making, we just had a good time and sang karaoke very badly and at top volume. Facebook took a battering about 30 minutes after we all got home, with allsorts of incriminating evidence uploaded for the world to gawk at. Does it make us look unprofessional? No, not at all. Everybody deserves the chance to let their hair down once in a while and that's exacly what we did. Then on Monday, we all went back to being solid, dependable professionals that get the job done. Albeit with with a monster hangover on my part.
And the moral of this story is...? Not quite sure, haven't worked that out yet. All I know is I had a top night out in great company, and I can say with confidence that I have a renewed faith in the industry and the people within it. We'll probably end up arranging another "networking event" (otherwise known as a piss-up) sometime this summer and all are welcome. Just remember to leave your ego at home, and the first person to refer to him/herself as a "tog" has to buy a round of tequilas for everybody. And to everybody who made the time to come along on Sunday...
...Gentlemen, I salute you.