Wednesday, August 04, 2010

blog paparazzi

I was at the Renegade Fair last weekend, selling my work. My college degree is in anthropology, so craft shows are prime ground for studying the culture and human behavior in action. I like to take notes. I am mostly interested, occasionally annoyed at what I observe. Nowadays what I see constantly are parents who bring young children to shows, and then spend the whole time telling their kids not to touch anything. I consider that child torture. I watched a woman scold her six year old daughter: "Look at how cute that is-- don't touch it! Isn't that cute-- don't touch it!" If I have time, I will walk up to these poor children and teach them how to pick up pottery. I know parents think they are doing me-- and by extension themselves-- a favor by not letting their children touch my stuff, but really, they are just totally annoying me and everyone else within earshot. Take some time to help your kid touch and pick up stuff, you'll both have a lot more fun.

Also on my list of annoyances are people who talk on the phone while idly wandering around my booth, like they're in their own kitchen or living room. Feel that gentle pushing on your side? That's me, nudging you out of my space. Most people are so caught up in their phone conversations they have no idea what I'm doing to them until they are out in the middle of the aisle, getting buffeted by the crowd. And then there are the people who have no intention of buying a thing from me but want to tell me what I should be making. When these types start talking to me I make my eyes go really wide and start making a "grrrrrrrrrrr" sound under my breath until they get scared and run away.

These annoyances pale in comparison to a new scourge that one my friends dubbed the "blog paparazzi". These are people--mostly bloggers, some just plain old rude people with cameras (rpwc)-- who think nothing of coming up to your booth and photographing anything they please without so much as a "hello" or bothering to ask permission. This is a trend that I've been noticing more and more the past couple of years, and this last weekend I was inundated with people and their cameras. I had a number of people who didn't even make eye contact with me as they snapped away. I finally busted someone after glaring at them for a good solid 30 seconds while they took images. How anyone could ignore my patented weaponized glare is beyond me. I think they may have been an alien made of Teflon. This person was so surprised and defensive that I could possibly have an issue with them taking images, and didn't understand why I would want them to ask for permission. It could have been an educational moment but since I was pissed, it was probably just more frightening.

Here's the deal, blog paparazzi and rpwc: My work is me, and before you take pictures of my babies, you ask first if it's okay. If you want a picture of my work, you can go to my website or image library and look at all the pictures you want, and even download if you want to. I spend a lot of time and money on having beautiful images of my work out there, and an unattractive snap of my work at a show with bad lighting posted on your blog does not get me excited. If you must take a picture, you can show some basic common courtesy and respect and ask for permission. Why? Because it pisses me off when you treat my work like a public commodity that anyone has a right to take a picture of. Just because people have started documenting every moment of their lives does not mean I want to be a part of your personal archive.

Despite the rpwc and blog paparazzi, it was a really good show and my customers were awesome. I stopped doing any show but Palo Alto because of the poor sales at most of them, but I'm happy to make an exception for Renegade, even if I have to deal with some clueless people. Don't be one of them!

28 comments:

  1. You really describe these annoying attitudes so well!! Unfortunately I can understand perfectly what you mean, It looks like bad education is the same all around the world...
    By the way, congratulations for your beautiful work! You've got a fan in Barcelona ;)
    Eli

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  2. I think I could easily fit into the blog paparazzi category... close counts anyway. While I most likely would take the time to talk and ask questions, I still wouldn't have thought to ask permission to snap away.
    Thanks for the etiquette tip.

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  3. Good post Whitney. Right on about teaching kids to pick up pots. They are our future customers. It's fun to see them get excited.
    I agree about photographers and rude phone people too.
    Had a fun day hanging out with your pal Diana yesterday.

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  4. Fetish Ghost, I hope you are not the only one picking up some etiquette tips! I would be interested to know how old you are because from my point of view, this is something that (mostly) young people seem to do. The person who I "busted" was young, and I told her that 10 years ago NO one would have dreamed of bringing a camera to a craft show because taking pictures of work was simply something you didn't do without asking permission first.

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  5. hi whitney, love the post. i think the reason as you mention in your comment that 10 years ago no one would dream of taking a picture at a craft fair is that they then, as now, are not interested in the image itself as much as the image's ability to fill the void of ideas for "blog content". much like cheering for a local sports team somehow magically makes the fan by extension a part of the athletic ability that they don't possess, taking pictures of your beautiful pots suggests to their blog readers that somehow by extension there is a connection between the work and them. it's a crazy manifestation of technology. i recently took my 5 year old daughter to a craft show and she already knows how to handle pottery because i make it at home. but i insisted that she politely ask each potter if they minded before she examined the bottoms of the pots. i can't even begin to get into cel phone use. i'd be ranting for pages. i do, however, like your way of dealing with it. that would never happen here in the south where direct confrontation is worse than death itself. if someone has a problem with someone's behavior, they would never let on and after the offender was gone they would go on about it for years while quietly plotting to destroy that person at some future date.

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  6. Amen, Sister!

    I like your idea about teaching kids how to handle pots, I will add that to my 'show' repertoire.
    -Kathy

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  7. We did a show this past weekend, and a man asked my wife if he could take a picture of her work. She replied "I would prefer that you don't." He nodded okay, then raised his camera and took a picture.
    She said again, irritated "I said I didn't want you to take a picture!"
    He nodded and walked off.
    I really wish I Knew what to do in those situations!

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  8. we call those annoying folks at shows the "corn dogger" crowd -they have no redeeming qualities to add to the event. I love your term "blog paparazzi!" I actually had a corn dogger shoot secretly from her hip fanny pouch after we said no photos...and she didn't even have a Blog!!

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  9. My sister is a photographer and had a client start taking their own pictures with her backgrounds when she left the room for a minute! She was quite upset, but then they ordered the biggest package deal, so all ended well. As for my artwork, I wouldn't want people taking pictures and then using my ideas while claiming them for themselves.

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  10. Elaine, that is precisely why I think the whole photography thing at shows is a touchy issue, stealing ideas. Of course I've also busted people sketching my ideas on notepads! It's so easy to "borrow" concepts from people nowadays that photography at shows seems a minor issue, but when I just find it to be so rude, annoying, and distracting!

    And Jim, I think your comments are VERY true and extremely well thought out. You put your finger on something very disturbing in our culture, the glorification of content over substantive thoughts and discussion. The bottomless well of "design" blogs and "product love" I see on blogs seems superficial and totally devoid of meaning. People are constantly sending me links to their blogs where they posted my work up. While it's nice to be noticed-- and loved-- the blog itself seems more often than not nothing more than the worship of objects and "I want I want I want". I find it totally boring and unoriginal. Boy, I could go on and on about this one!

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  11. I once asked a booth owner if I could take pictures and blog about his set up, and he told me how much he appreciated me asking. I wanted his information, too, so I could give him credit. It never occurred to me not to ask, but it never occurred to me that blog paparazzi (perfect description, by the way) had become a phenomenon. But since then I've noticed it, too, when I'm at shows.

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  12. AMEN!
    I find kids love to actually THROW my felted pieces. I know some of my designs are squishable and fun to play with, but I don't appreciate it when the mom thinks their kid is so "cute" doing it. SO RUDE! I love when people are polite & their kids are too and they ask before manhandling my wares. But it's not that often.
    I also get the women who speak quite loudly to their friend that "I can do this" while looking at my work with somewhat disdain. Um...hello....I can hear you! Now let's see you bust your ass and get a booth of beautiful items here too.
    Sorry for the rant. Whitney - your blog makes me do it :)

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  13. ''so craft shows are prime ground for studying the culture and human behavior in action.''

    gosh, isn't this the truth. i wish i could stop taking it all in and i think that may be what wears me out over the course of a show. but it's sooo fascinating.

    there is this particular 'look' people get when they are at shows and going from booth to booth. sort of a scrunch faced, mouth agape, concentrating look. it's hilarious to watch when you start picking up on it!

    i hate the picture thing as well, i do a huge show twice a year here in l.a. that gets tons of tourists that feel it's totally ok to photo document everything they see. it drives me up the wall. especially when you get that sinking feeling they may just be copying the work. but they never get it to look as good (as i can say by walking by another booth at renegade and being slightly appalled some shall not be named nesting bowels.)

    i swung by your booth real quick and it looked great! glad the overall show was good and it was nice to meet you.

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  14. I've only done one art fair, but I did have a couple people snap pictures of my work. They didn't ask and they didn't try to hide what they were doing. I figured it was just something that happened at art shows.

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  15. "I've also busted people sketching my ideas on notepads!"

    What??? I can't believe people do that!! I'm so paranoid about making work that looks similar to other artists! Sometimes I see a great piece and think "Oh no, I was thinking along those lines and now I won't be able to make it"!! I suppose it's just inevitable that sometimes artists are going to come up with similar ideas (and I've seen loads of variations on the nesting bowls, including here in the UK) but to actually photograph or sketch work to deliberately copy??????

    That's a very good point about teaching kids how to handle pottery by the way :)

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  16. Sorry about those paparazzi and cell phone talkers, I blame the TV in part for this rudeness. I think a lot of people just fall into observer mode and act as if they were at home alone with no obligation to consider others.

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  17. Undaunted, believe it! Not everybody has artistic integrity or even sees the value in coming up with their own ideas, getting a finished product is all that matters.

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  18. Wow!..what a cute pictures are in this post...I like it very much...Also, its very interesting to read..I am eagerly for your next post...Thanks...




    manga

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  19. yes! this year in particular has been crazy with the craft show blog paparazzi! i've never actually said no to a request to take a photo, but asking makes all the difference. just give me some normal reason why you're taking photos and i won't mind half as much.
    although i admit at a show earlier this summer when a girl told me she was taking photos of my work because her friend would think it's cute, i did shamelessly suggest perhaps she should just buy said item for her friend instead of just sending a crappy cell phone picture.

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  20. I don't think that' shameless at all, merely practical! It does make all the difference when people ask, but even then I'm starting to feel like I don't want anyone taking pictures. It's just kind of annoying and intrusive to be trying to sell while someone is flitting around your booth taking images. I just had a new postcard made with my flikr link on it, I put it on there so people could see all the images of my work that they want without bothering to have to take their own! And more to the point, without bothering me!

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  21. I always always always ask permission before featuring someone on my blog. Y ou should always make someone aware of what your doing.

    After all its their work and have the right to say no!

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  22. Anonymous8:30 PM

    Wow, reading all of your reactions to "the public" is very disheartening. Let me start off by saying I am not an artist, at least not by your standards. However, I do enjoy to make things out of nothings...and when I am at a craft show and I say "I can make that", what I mean is: This is a great idea and I would love to go home and try. I am not trying to copy you; I didn't realize that you were the ones who came up with the original idea of a (insert any item one might see at a craft fair, ex: cell phone pouch, screen printed shirt, ceramic bowl, etc.). And as for the pictures, I was unaware that you didn't' want people to take pictures and copy your work, but you are fine with them looking at your website and copying your work. That doesn't really make sense. And if I do take a picture of your work, it is because it is beautiful...maybe I like the colors you used and it has inspired me to do something else. Maybe I want to show it to my friend that would love your work. Please don't assume that everyone is trying to copy you and make money off your hard work. Some people just enjoy beautiful things, and are inspired by you work. We are not all out here trying to rip off your creative minds. And in return, I will be more sensitive to snapping pictures when I am not supposed to.

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  23. I have no idea what you are talking about-- did not once say in my post that I'm concerned about people copying my work, I have no control over that. I simply think it is extremely rude when people take images without asking. The only thing you are "supposed" to do is ask first and show some common courtesy. Try reading the whole post before commenting, anonymous! Your misinterpretation, willful or otherwise, completely misses the point.

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  24. Whitney, I just wanted to comment about another aspect of the photography thing. My husband is a hobby photographer and comes to most of my craft shows with me. He usually spends the day going around and taking photos. I think he talks to most people, and I know he gets their contact information, but I don't think he specifically asks permission. He does share his photos on Flickr, but he doesn't take photos because it's a way to find more content for it, he does it because it's a way to remember what he did and saw that day. And because of his photos, both of us are usually able to go back and find artists that we liked at the time but didn't have the money to purchase from that day. He can photograph exactly what we liked from them, so we have more than just a simple business card that might not even have an image of their work on it. I just wanted to point out that there ARE other reasons for photography besides blogging or copying.

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  25. Lynae, I appreciate your comments. Actually, my concern has nothing to do with copying, it is so easy to copy work nowadays that trying to police that in my booth at a show would be crazy. I don't have a problem with someone like your husband taking images of my work as long as he asks, it can be something as casual as, "Hey, I like your work, do you mind if I take a few pictures?" I find that people taking pictures in my booth to be a bit distracting and interfering so if someone wants to do it, ask me and make it quick!

    As for sharing it on Flikr, I have to say I'm not crazy about it. In a way it's so far removed from me that I think it doesn't give random viewers much of a context, but I would have to give that subject more thought.

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  26. Whitney I agree with everything you said.

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