Sunday, July 13, 2008

Group photographs document children's activities

For the past five weeks I have been venturing west each Monday afternoon. An hour from my home is the Boy Scout's Camp Buck Toms, a 700-acre paradise on Watts Bar Lake near Rockwood, Tennessee. On Sunday afternoons a new corps of Scouts check-in for a week long summer camp experience. Most weeks average 400-500 Scouts, traveling from across East Tennessee but often including troops from as far away as Texas, Florida, Ohio and similar states roughly a days drive away. I have been a member of the Boy Scouts myself for more than forty years, and this ritual is not new for me. I served as a commissioned professional with the Boy Scouts for 32 years during my first career. Now I get to slow down a bit and document the fun that others are having, no longer shouldering the responsibility of being a Camp Director as I had many summers past.

Camp Buck Toms, according to some who have been attending for 25+ years, has not offered "Troop pictures". We changed that this year and it's been fun! We'll promote it more next year and hopefully get a greater response. I can't complain though because many troops did take advantage of the opportunity which made it worth my time and effort, even with today's gas prices. The Scoutmasters were able to pre-pay for print orders that I had delivered to the camp before the week ended. I also uploaded the images to my online gallery so they could be shared with family members in far off places. It has worked well both ways, with lots of pre-paid orders and a steady stream of online orders have followed each week's session.

One aspect the Camp Director and I talked about early on was how to identify the Troop in the photograph. At prior camps I have attended or served as Camp Director, the photographer would have a static sign with the camp name and session date, and the troop numerals would slide into plastic holders. It worked alright but the more I thought about the difficulty in painting a sign, finding numerals in proper quantity etc. the more I thought hmmm, there has to be a better way. Duh! We now live in the digital age when everything is easier! I asked the Camp Director for the camp patch. With my scanner I made short work of setting up the 'graphics' required to identify each troop. Everyone seems to be happy with the result and we're already planning promotions for next year.

As a side note to this, while working for the Great Smoky Mountain Council, Boy Scouts of America, I had the privilege to serve as staff adviser to an event held in April, 2003. It was a reunion for former campers and Camp Staff who attended or served at Camp Pellissippi on Norris Lake. Camp Pellissippi pre-dated Camp Buck Toms as the summer camp facility from 1936 until 1977 when the dining hall burned. At that time all summer camp operations were permanently moved to Camp Buck Toms. During planning sessions leading up to the reunion, someone forwarded to me a copy of a photograph of the 1958 Camp Pellissippi staff. Among those lined up and smiling was Eagle Scout and former Tennessee Governor, past President of the University of Tennessee, former U.S. Secretary of Education and now U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander. His mother had saved that picture all those many years and passed a copy along to share.

I hope two things come from this summer: 1) I hope another Governor, Senator or great civic leader will emerge from the ranks of our Scouts who attended Camp Buck Toms and 2) I hope lots of mothers cherish the photographs I took of their sons.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Respect for client's wishes

I photographed a wedding in late June. She was a beautiful bride, the groom a handsome young man and the family was very friendly and cordial. It was a great day! The photos turned out very well, in spite of the challenge of shooting outdoors in bright sun with a mid-day ceremony. The venue was a private home and the 2nd challenge for me as a photographer, was abiding by the wishes of the client, that their photographs would remain private as well. Ouch! What does any wedding photographer want to do after a beautiful wedding? Show off his work of course! But when it comes to a paying client, the first rule of any retail operation is "the customer is always right".

I also understand that some people want privacy in their lives. Think about all the reality shows on television today, the various means of "identity theft" that have us all worried about our personal security. It's a different world today than when I was the age of this young couple. I certainly respect their wishes, so you won't see their happy faces grace this blog, my online gallery or my website. They are presently viewing their images through my online gallery, but it is set to "private" so the general public who might try to see their images won't even realize the gallery exists. It's cool that in this new age of technology, anything is possible. They're happy with my work and that's all that matters. Another beautiful bride, another happy client!