I was recently asked to be a photographer at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival which was held Memorial Day Weekend (life’s been a little too crazy lately to get things posted in a timely manner). I attended the festival as a student when I was in elementary school and kind of forgot that it even existed until about a year and a half ago when I worked as a public relations consultant for the institute as part of a required internship while at BYU. After the internship ended, I continued to help out and photographed last year’s festival as well.
I love the festival and what it stands for, but being a photographer there is somewhat difficult. Aside from the difficulty of trying to make photos of performances in big white tents with terrible lighting look good, my biggest issue is the other photographers.
The same guy has been photographing the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival for several years and is incredibly territorial. When I showed up last year, he was not at all happy about. He grilled me about who I knew, why they had asked me to be there, and then spent a good amount of time commenting on why my camera isn’t as good as his. It wasn’t a great first impression.
This year, I ran into him within my first five minutes of being at the festival. He immediately came over to talk to me and rehashed most of our uncomfortable first meeting the year before. He also finish off with, “I forgot my CompactFlash card today. You wouldn’t happen to have an extra….oh, that’s right. Your camera only uses SD cards.”
Thankfully, that was the last interaction I had with him that day.
Later, I got to meet another friendly photographer when I took a photo from a location he felt was inappropriate. I had been very careful to clarify boundaries the year before to make sure that I was getting as intimate of photos as I could without creating a distraction. Following those same boundaries, I walked up to the front and sat in a chair off to the side near the stage. A moment later, I felt a tap on my shoulder.
“Are you authorized to take photos at the festival?” a man with a giant camera and lens combination demanded gruffly.
“Yes,” I said with some trepidation.
“Who are you with?” he asked as he looked at my camera with an expression that clearly communicated his belief that I could be anything but an impostor amateur.
“The festival. I’m one of the festival photographers.”
“Well, you’re not supposed to go past this point. They don’t want photographers to be up here.”
“I’m sorry. I wasn’t aware,” I said with incredible self-control as I grabbed my stuff.
Why do photographers have to be jerks to each other? This is a non-profit event, and none of us are getting paid. There is no reason to get all huffy and territorial. If I show up as the surprise second photographer at wedding, that would be one thing, but this is a giant event that is supported by the community and requires multiple photographers to capture all of its different facets and activities.
Because of this experience, I plan to make it my goal to be as nice as possible to other photographers in similar situations. This is an incredibly difficult business to make it in. Let’s at least try to make it as affable as we can.
Anyway, my rant is over. Here are some of my favorite shots from the festival (including some selfish photos of flowers and stuff).