Dealing with People

bratkinson

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Fortunately, I don't think I'll ever have to field those kinds of questions about photography.

On the other hand, I get them regarding PCs, software, upgrades, what-a-abouts, could you... etc. Over the years, I've become less and less 'available' except to my closest friends and co-workers.

The suggestion Sw1tchFX made of giving them a 10-minute answer what I have done numerous times about computer questions. Sometimes, "I don't know" is an adequate response, as well. When they ask about their new Nikon settings and you've shot nothing but Canon for years, you really -don't- know what menu setting screens are necessary for white balance, for example (assuming they even KNOW what WB means!).

Questions like "why no flash on auto when outside on a sunny day?" can best be answered with a very brief description of the meter being 'fooled', etc. The trick is to put it into laymans terms and to keep it brief.

It took me a long time, 40+ years ago, to understand what backlighting was, recognizing it, and how to handle it. I still fail to recognize it sometimes (I know...slow learner!) Over the phone, or, after the fact, online, I doubt anyone could be 'helped' with such a problem. So you risk having to spend hours explaining, or getting them even more 'lost'.

Just 5-6 weeks ago, I was at church with my camera and tried to show in an impromptu 2 minute 'live lesson' to the teenage girl I sold my 30D to about backlighting. There was a perfect example of a posed picture I was going to take with their back to a wall of windows on a sunny day. I showed her what 'auto' would do, switching to Av, etc, and how to handle it. I think it all went right over her head. I guess that until she has a problem with it, it's not a problem. I'm not really sure she understands the triangle yet either.

The downside is, after you've answered their first question, 30 seconds, or 2 weeks later, they have another, and another...or tell their friends that you're "available" for questions...

Another option would be to 'put them off' for a couple hours, or days, before answering. I've had to do exactly that when I was busy doing my post processing on a project and had an absolute deadline that had to be met. Be sure to let them you why you can't answer them just now, but will a little later when you have the time. Hopefully, by making them wait a bit, it won't be a problem anymore, or, they've found someone else to help them.

Lastly, be SURE to point them to TPF or other photography sites you frequent. There's a wealth of information for rookies and people like me who still make rookie mistakes!
 
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Jeatley

Jeatley

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Thanks guys. This has helped me a lot!
 

Steve5D

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If someone contacts me asking for tips on how to use their Nikon, I say "Sorry, but I shoot Canon. I'm not at all familiar with Nikon stuff".

If they ask me for tips on how to use their Canon, I say "Sorry, but I shoot Nikon. I'm not at all familiar with Canon stuff"...
 
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Jeatley

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Talk about "kiss" LOL Thanks!
 

Tony S

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Tirediron beat me to it, send them a link to TPF so you can answer their questions here. ;)
 

DiskoJoe

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Ok here is the deal. I have been shooting for almost 10 years and in the last 3 I have been slowly and steadily trying to build a business. My name is getting around and things are looking great. About once every two weeks I get a message like this.

"Hey Jeff, I see you are a photographer and was wondering If you could help me with something? I just bought a Nikon 5100 and when on auto mode outside the flash will not come on however I find that it is needed outside fairly often in certain shades or even with the sun, sometimes my subjects face will come out dark. I've looked through the Manual and played with the camera but I'm not sure what to do. Any help or tips would be greatly appreciated, thanks!!"

They are all asking for help. This is a woman I went to high school with but even then we were not even friends. It is not that I mind them asking and it is a great complement.

I would just love to know how others handle this situation. I have offered to do a class with either 1 person or 3 at the most. I offered it to a couple people and the questions stop. no one is interested in paying for lessons or my knowledge. Not like I know it all but I can teach all the basics. I would love to do it but can't afford to do it for free. What do you think?


As I was typing this I received another msg

"I absolutely love your work !!! Did you go to school for photography? Wow, I wish when I finish school that my work is half as good as yours. I use a Canon Rebel XS with interchangeable lenses. I enrolled at UL in continuing education classes in every class that they have because I just love taking pictures. Could you give me some pointers if you don't mind? I really want to start a business after I'm done with school. Thanks so much.... Oh, by the way, Brandon is my sister's son."





Just refer them to here.
 

DiskoJoe

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Fortunately, I don't think I'll ever have to field those kinds of questions about photography.

On the other hand, I get them regarding PCs, software, upgrades, what-a-abouts, could you... etc. Over the years, I've become less and less 'available' except to my closest friends and co-workers.

The suggestion Sw1tchFX made of giving them a 10-minute answer what I have done numerous times about computer questions. Sometimes, "I don't know" is an adequate response, as well. When they ask about their new Nikon settings and you've shot nothing but Canon for years, you really -don't- know what menu setting screens are necessary for white balance, for example (assuming they even KNOW what WB means!).

Questions like "why no flash on auto when outside on a sunny day?" can best be answered with a very brief description of the meter being 'fooled', etc. The trick is to put it into laymans terms and to keep it brief.

It took me a long time, 40+ years ago, to understand what backlighting was, recognizing it, and how to handle it. I still fail to recognize it sometimes (I know...slow learner!) Over the phone, or, after the fact, online, I doubt anyone could be 'helped' with such a problem. So you risk having to spend hours explaining, or getting them even more 'lost'.

Just 5-6 weeks ago, I was at church with my camera and tried to show in an impromptu 2 minute 'live lesson' to the teenage girl I sold my 30D to about backlighting. There was a perfect example of a posed picture I was going to take with their back to a wall of windows on a sunny day. I showed her what 'auto' would do, switching to Av, etc, and how to handle it. I think it all went right over her head. I guess that until she has a problem with it, it's not a problem. I'm not really sure she understands the triangle yet either.

The downside is, after you've answered their first question, 30 seconds, or 2 weeks later, they have another, and another...or tell their friends that you're "available" for questions...

Another option would be to 'put them off' for a couple hours, or days, before answering. I've had to do exactly that when I was busy doing my post processing on a project and had an absolute deadline that had to be met. Be sure to let them you why you can't answer them just now, but will a little later when you have the time. Hopefully, by making them wait a bit, it won't be a problem anymore, or, they've found someone else to help them.

Lastly, be SURE to point them to TPF or other photography sites you frequent. There's a wealth of information for rookies and people like me who still make rookie mistakes!

Solution for problem one = Bleeping Computer - Computer Help and Discussion
 

ISO

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Whenever I'm shooting something and look like I know what I'm doing I get people asking for help... I just help them, but I've been thinking of opening a crash course.
 

CMfromIL

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Why reinvent the wheel each time you get this type of request? Here's my suggestion. Come up with a 'Top Ten' list, or something similar for novice shooters. List the very basic info for the most common questions you get. Then everytime you get the request/quetion you simply reply with the attached sheet.

Then come up with a very basic photography class. When I bought my camera, I took my daughter to a class. It was $30/person and lasted 1 hour. There were about 9 people at it.

It was quite helpful. Went over the basic tenets of shooting (ISO/F-Stop/Aperature). It was very helpful and appreciated. The photographer also had some classes that dealt with sports shooting (at the local college), nature shoots (at a park) and some others. All were around $30/hour with a max size of 10.

Good luck.
 

manaheim

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Holy crap, this thread is BRILLIANT.

I'm sort of in brat's shoes... I'm an IT guy, too, and I get alllllllllll kinds of requests for help, and often times from folks who really don't understand how much they are asking of me, how much knowledge and experience goes into what I do to help, and who sometimes get SUPER pissy with me if things don't go well ... even when it's totally out of my control, and even when I've warned them that things could go this way. Sometimes people that I help (successfully or otherwise) talk to others and tell them how I "really didn't know all that much about what I was doing after all", or... worse... they tell them how great I am and suggest that they call me.

I don't think that people are fundamentally evil or anything, I just think they don't truly get it. It's "just a computer" or "just a big camera". Unfortunately ignorance doesn't change the end result... a drowning man is just as likely to swamp your dinghy, regardless of whether or not he appreciates your boating skills. :)

I REALLY like some of the ideas from imagemaker, 12andgood and rub... but I find myself wondering how deep that rabbit hole goes.

I personally try to be a little slow to respond and give about as much effort in my response as the person put into their research before they asked. If it's clear to me that the person has been digging into it and is just stuck, I'll make the effort to help them bridge that final gap. (usually that's pretty easy at that point) If it's one of these "Wow I wanna get a big camera like you so I can take great pictures" types, I wait about a week to respond and then give them a sentence or two at a high level and a link to a resource on line that they can read.

In short, I don't turn them away... but I also make pretty sure that they don't consider me their FIRST stop whenever they get stuck and don't feel like using a manual... or google.

The one modifier is the closer I am to the person, the more time I'll spend on it and the faster I'll get back to them. Though, over time this has basically condensed down to a few very close friends and my immediate family and wife's immediate family.

I dunno... doing much more than that always seems to just bite me in the ass, and... like brat... after spending 30+ years as the kid/teenager/young adult/man who "is a whiz with computers", I've had what is very likely a disproportionately high amount of experience and abuse with this kind of situation.
 
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Jeatley

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I did take a close friend out once. The first hour he was asking a bunch of questions that were way to big and complicated for what he understood. So 1st hour I gave him these huge answers with all the little details. then the second hour I told him to for get everything and we would go shoot. OH AND NO MORE QUESTIONS unless it was on the topic we were talking about at that moment. Each area we shot for about 10 to 15 minutes and I explained Shutter Speed, then aperture then ISO and finally DOF. That was it for 1 hour. We went eat and then went shoot again for another 1 hour and told him to put it back on automatic and just compose.... The guy was so happy and now loves the camera he was about to sell. His normal family shots are so much better now. He loves it. But he never wants to shoot for more than fun.
He had to call me a few times but his questions were much simpler and focused
 

NE-KID

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It's a tough call, you don't want to put these people off, word can get around if you're rude to them. If you have the time, maybe a quick answer back, a thank you for compliments, but keep the message brief. I like the class idea that 12sndgood mentioned, if you feel confident in helping out some people, it would be a good way to help generate some future business, or just make a few friends, can never have too many of those. Good luck with it.

Excellent comments imagemaker46.

It never hurts to help out. Good will and a favorable impression are very valuable things to build up. Providing an answer, or even providing a link to a web page that deals with the problem, reinforces the impression that YOU ARE THE EXPERT. You help a person out, and you build a positive impression. When somebody says, "You know, I got this new Nikon and couldn't figure out how to ___________, but I e-mailed Jeff and he knew exactly how to fix it," that's a good thing. Like strawberries and asparagus....you plant the crop..and it's not ready for quite a looooong time...but one day it is!

I agree with the both of them...Why be rude to someone when they are only asking simple questions their just trying to learn the camera/photography taking scene. We were all new at one time or another when someone ask me a question about my camera, sd card, lens, speedlight flash, or whatever they ask me about I always take time and answer them. If someone ask a question why ignore this person? I never got the point of it.
 

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