Great photographers are fundamentally unhappy people. Not in the suburban housewife way of unhappy and waiting for something tremendously beautiful to happen and be swept away, a la “Madame Bovary”. Not at all. They are unhappy with the world around them and how it functions. What bothers them is the way reality is commonly perceived : Normal, blend, boring and uninteresting.
What is compelling to a photographer is not the way reality is presented to them, but what is behind. Or on the sides. great photographers are those who are not accepting things the way they are. They are trouble makers. Put them in a photo call situation with pre-assigned position and they will go out of there way not to stay there. Not because they like to create trouble but because they want more. Something different. Something more revealing. Try to put the same photographer in a pool situation like it was done during the first Gulf war, and they will wave their middle finger at you, even if means they are putting their life in danger. If they can’t change position, they will change cameras, lenses, they will crouch, or jump, because somewhere else then where they are, is the right image, the perfect frame.
No wonder photography birthplace is Paris, France. Parisians, whether born there or adopted, are notorious trouble makers. There is absolutely nothing that can male them satisfied, beside, perhaps, being dissatisfied. From David Lachapelle to Cartier Bresson, talented photographers have always thought to go beyond everyday visual convention. They always seek in showing us the world “the other way”. Their untold reason ? to trouble you, to displace you from your center of gravity into a zone of sudden imbalance. You need to readjust yourself to appreciate their images, rethink what you thought was normal. They force you to think, and to learn. They so ever slightly move you away from your comfort zone and force you to re-position your thinking.
It is no surprise that talented photographers are 99% pain in the ass to work with. They have strong opinions, are stubborn, reckless, and most of the time have an extremely bad character. But that is simply because they are constantly challenged by a reality that annoys them. Like being assaulted by mosquitoes, all the time. They don’t have an attitude problem, it’s the world that lacks one.
This is the exact reason why we love their work. They disturbed the reality in which they are put in, they challenge it, always demanding more, to see what is behind. They do not want to photograph the yellow brick road, although that might be pretty, they want to photography the wizard behind the curtains.
This is true for all types of photographers; News, celebrity, portrait, commercial stock, landscape. Because, in photography, they are no rules.
So, next time you hire a photographer, make sure he/she is a trouble maker. Chances are, they will also be very talented.