October 3, 2012 – Turning the Screw

This is a story that I came across on the internet and I thought to myself that I need to take a picture of it.  It goes like this (I don’t know the origin of the story so I could not properly credit the author)

The huge printing presses of a major Chicago newspaper began malfunctioning on the Saturday before Christmas, putting all the revenue for advertising that was to appear in the Sunday paper in jeopardy. None of the technicians could track down the problem. Finally, a frantic call was made to the retired printer who had worked with these presses for over 40 years. “We’ll pay anything; just come in and fix them,” he was told.

When he arrived, he walked around for a few minutes, surveying the presses; then he approached one of the control panels and opened it. He removed a dime from his pocket, turned a screw 1/4 of a turn, and said, “The presses will now work correctly.” After being profusely thanked, he was told to submit a bill for his work.

The bill arrived a few days later, for $10,000.00! Not wanting to pay such a huge amount for so little work, the printer was told to please itemize his charges, with the hope that he would reduce the amount once he had to identify his services. The revised bill arrived: $1.00 for turning the screw; $9,999.00 for knowing which screw to turn.

Many of us have used services from professionals.  Some are good and worth their weights in gold, some are debatable.  The point is that the (real) professionals really know they do and can make what they do seemingly (almost) magical.

The advancement of photography technology have reduced some of the revenue stream of my photographer friend because nowadays, with a less than $2K investment, anyone can be a photographer.  Really, how hard is it to line people up, tell them to smile and say cheese [people still say cheese??!!) and press a button (15 times for good measure).  Of course, once you realize the professional photography involves more than just pressing button, you may see the light [pun intended] differently.

I am still pretty bad at what I do in photography (come to think about it, I still don’t know what I am really good at anything).  Sure, once in a while I managed to snap a couple of nice pictures just like  a broken (analog) clock is still right twice a day. Most of my photography results are still more a product of luck than design.  A real professional relies on predictable result from his/her action – I cross my fingers.  Therefore,  I shall be contempt to remain a fauxtographer.


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