Christmas humour: You know if you’re a real photographer if…

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Following on from the popularity of the last stereotype post that left no single photographer un-insulted, and in an attempt to bring some comedic relief to what is otherwise a very, very serious site: enjoy today’s post. Laugh if you recognize yourself or your friends. And feel free to suggest any additions in the comments.

And last but not least, Merry Christmas, everybody – I hope Santa brought you something photographic! MT

You know you’re a real photographer if

…cameras rank above clothes on your holiday packing list; you’d gladly go cold or wear the same jeans for a week if it means you can fit in another lens/ tripod/ gigapan/ etc.

…you look at the egg holder slots in your fridge and think, ‘hey, they’d make for great film storage…’

…your fridge has more film than food in it

…none of the film has expired, but all of the food has

…the weather forecast is 1/60s f2 ISO 200 instead of ‘rainy’.

…your favourite times of the day are sunrise and sunset.

…your tripod costs more than your car, and you’re thinking of getting another one ‘just in case’

…a ‘whale tail’ isn’t something you find on a marine mammal

…’Linhof’ is not a type of cheese.

…a red dot on something doesn’t mean it’s cheaper or on sale, to the contrary: it costs significantly more instead.

…you live in a tropical country but choose not to tint your car because the film degrades optical quality ever so slightly, in the even that you want to take a picture out of the window. Even if it’s just with your phone.

…gold boxes make you excited.

…Paypal upgraded your personal account to a merchant one because of all the buying you do off eBay and forums…

…you harbour a secret desire to be caught candid on Tokyo Camera Style, if you happen to be visiting Tokyo.

…you actually think about what camera you’d like to be caught with on Tokyo Camera Style.

…you look for exif data in adult images.

…you run your iPhone images through ACR and Photoshop

…you use keyboard shortcuts in Photoshop at the same speed you type normally

…you carry at least one camera at all times. And you know how to use it.

…you keep a spare camera/ battery/ tripod/ lens/ compact/ roll of film in your car

…you have more bags than your partner

…your partner just sighs and starts posing for you automatically when you bring home a new piece of equipment

…your partner can’t tell the difference between one piece of equipment and the next because you’ve got so much of it

…you have more memory cards than free hard drive space

…you ask if a car you’re interested in buying can carry a golf bag because it’s about the same size as your lighting bag

…umbrellas only come in two forms: bounce and shoot-through

…you select your spectacle lenses because they have a high T stop, low flare and low chromatic aberration

…you own all the adaptors necessary to mount any lens you own to any body you own, regardless of whether they are actually usable in practice or not

…you select your seat anywhere – a restaurant, an airplane, the park – based on the direction of light and the ambient composition in front of you

…you select your flights based on the light at that time of day and what the route probably flies over

…your wardrobe has a high component of black or white garments so you can control reflections

…those black or white garments are color-neutral and grey balanced

…poor lighting design at restaurants bothers you more than poor food

…seeing somebody use instagram to replicate an effect that’s actually a mistake, like cross-processing, makes you want to choke them with their phones

…the compression and colour gamut of Facebook bother you more than their draconian IP policy

…coffee is good for two things: making caffenol developer, and keeping you awake while you use the caffenol developer

…you really don’t want to date a model

…you don’t wear your wedding ring because it interferes with your manual focusing ability

…and your wife doesn’t give you hell for it

…you buy micro fibre t-shirts because they can also be used as lens cloths

…your micro fibre t-shirts have little holes at the bottom where the filter threads of your lenses cut through the material whilst you were using them as a lens cloth…

…you own an enlarger and you’re proud of it

…you look at the phone numbers 1-424-247-070 ext 200 or 1-635-247-028 and get excited

…on negotiating a taxi fare, the driver offers to use the meter. You reply ‘real pros don’t need a meter son, we use our eyeballs.’

…White Balance is not a political movement

…when an evangelist says the Trinity changed their lives, you ask if they went with the 14-24 or 17-35 for the wide end

…you dump your partner because they’re Nikon and you’re Canon or vice versa, and the two beliefs simply cannot coexist peacefully.

…when you overhear a colleague saying they’re taking Delta flight 100 on vacation, you suggest they might also like to try Acros or TMAX

…you go out of your way to photograph things other people specifically go out of their way to avoid: riots, extreme weather, wars, plagues, zombies…

…one day, you and some friends are discussing what constitutes emergency survival kit. You try to convince them a camera is an absolute must, then spend the rest of the evening in internal turmoil because you can’t decide if it should be digital or entirely mechanical and film, and if so, how much of which film to bring.

…you get motion sickness in a moving vehicle unless you’re shooting from it, then the motion is just annoying because it causes blur

…you can’t stand the sight of blood but would kill for the opportunity to photograph a live surgery, because that’s just awesome

…you look at hipstagram images and it annoys you that people choose the fake frame with ‘RVP100’ in the margins, but the image is faded and faux-vintagey-looking

…there’s at least one plain wall in your house to use as a backdrop

…your walls have no photographs hung because you can’t decide which ones deserve to be up there forever

…a random person asks you to take their photograph at a tourist site, and by the time you give the camera back to them, you’ve completely reconfigured it to your preferences and they can’t figure out how it works anymore

…a random person asks you to take their photograph at a tourist site, you take a look at their camera, and instead offer to take one with yours and email it to them

…random people at tourists sites always ask you to take their photograph because you’re the one carrying the most camera gear, ergo, you should know what you’re doing

…the photographer you fear/ respect/ loathe/ stalk/ are inspired by the most is the little ninja dude in the corner with the point and shoot or phone whom you never actually see shooting, but somehow produces the most amazing images you’ve ever seen

…you think 100mm is a long lens for shooting a pride of wild lions (sorry Nick!)

…you see a place through your viewfinder, not through your eyes

…you think about buying a 4K UHDTV just to view images on…in the long run, it’d be cheaper than printing, right?

…a ‘baryta’ is not the person who makes your coffee in Mexico

…you buy furniture that you think will photograph well, it doesn’t really matter if it’s comfortable to sit on or not

…mismatched fluorescent lightbulbs really bother you because it plays havoc with your white balance

…you are late to the opening night of your own exhibition not because you’re trying to be fashionable, but because you couldn’t decide which camera to bring

…you own an editing tablet

…you own more than one editing tablet, to match the size of your screen

…your editing tablet is so well-worn that by looking at which portions of it are shiny and reflective, you can tell where your Photoshop palettes are and if you’re left or right handed

…you can’t watch a movie with a camera in it and not be irritated at an existential level by the way it’s being handled

…you own a piece of plastic or other object that’s perfectly neutral grey under every lighting condition

…on a first date, you’re more interested in whether she/ he would look better photographed with a 50 or 85mm lens

…you know what licensing is

…it takes you longer to decide which cameras to bring on vacation than where to go in the first place

…A, C, E, F, G, K, L, M, P, R, S, T, X, Y are not just letters of the alphabet but have optical significance attached to them…

…’stock’ is not a soup base

…when you talk about the sums of money you spend with your ‘regular dealer’, people get a little concerned about you

…you get nostalgic at the smell of different films

…you get nostalgic at the smell of fixer

…you have brown fingertips from handling too much fixer

…you have cancer of the fingers from handling waaay too much fixer

…you watch an F1 race and the lolly pop man reminds you of a giant dodge and burn wand

…lolly pops remind you of dodge and burn wands

…souping up in the kitchen has nothing with anything that’s actually edible. Or soup, for that matter.

…Marissa Mayer’s statement about professional photographers insulted you.

…but her decision to use an overaggressive sharpening algorithm for downsizing on Flickr insulted you more.

…you can wake up at 5am for sunset sunrise but you can’t wake up at 7am for the daily commute

…you get an itchy shutter finger if you haven’t shot for a day or two

…your shutter finger has a callous on it right at the point you hit the release

…your cameras have names

…’the local’ is a not a bar/ pub, but a lab/ printer/ camera store/ rental house/ studio…and they save a seat for you!

…you get a sickie off your day job on Friday not because of laziness but so you can shoot a three day assignment over the weekend

…you don’t want to learn how to dive because you can’t afford a proper underwater housing

…’blimps’ in your world aren’t capable of flight

…you’ve seen and remember that photograph of the 70s-looking dude on a golf course in shorts with twelve cameras, none of them with lenses under 300mm, and one bazooka/ antitank weapon/ nuclear warhead/ 1200mm lens over his shoulder

…you think that flashing somebody is perfectly acceptable in public or polite company

…you think nothing of sticking an enormous threatening-looking tube in somebody’s face, then making machine-gun noises with it, smiling and walking away

…somebody asks you to recommend a camera, and eventually they fall asleep because your answer is too long

…somebody asks you to recommend a camera, and you ask them ‘how long is a piece of string?’

…somebody asks you to recommend a camera, and you tell them any camera will do, it’s the photographer that makes the difference

…somebody asks you to recommend a camera, and you send them a bunch of referral links

…somebody asks you to recommend a camera, and you suggest the most expensive thing you can find just to see if they’ll buy it

…somebody asks you to recommend a camera, and you try to sell them yours so you can upgrade

And the number one reason: you’re reading my site! 🙂 MT


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  1. Haha! 明, I enjoy reading your blog, so much valuable stuff! I really enjoyed it, it made me both laugh and a little embarrassed at realizing how many of these points apply to me… Happy new year 2014! 春節假期!

  2. From this post, Ming, I have discovered caffenol developing techiniques, I’ve already successfully tried them out using a recipe I found and its now become the main point of a college project (I’m studying photography you see). Many thanks for all your work on your blog. Have a great year 🙂

    • In all seriousness: are the results sepia-tinted?

      • M Shields says:

        Indeed they are, but when scanning or printing from them you can treat them as black and white negatives. I don’t mind the sepia too much, its not something I apply to my digital files, but I don’t mind it in this case as it can be bypassed, or can look good and coffee coloured.

        • That would make sense. What are development times and tonal quality like compared to normal developers?

          • M Shields says:

            Developing time was 11 minutes with Ilford HP4 PLUS 125 B&W film. There is no stop bath, instead you wash the film before fixing. The tonal quality was good, though because of the staining from the coffee, shadows and highlights were muted a little bit. This was only the first film done, I will be developing some Kentmere 400 later this week.

            • Thanks for that. I actually don’t use a stop bath, so no different. Sounds like it might be useful for very high contrast situations…I’m guessing you probably use TMAX or DDX developers normally?

  3. William Rounds says:

    How about…if the curtains and drapes over your windows were selected for their light diffusion quality.

    • That’s excellent. I will keep that in mind next time I redecorate.

      That said, I did choose my present apartment based on the amount and direction of the light it receives…

  4. … If you pick a seat at the cafe based on its compositional and lighting possibilities … and you walked around the cafe first checking out every spot. It may or may not have happened to me yesterday.

    • I do that pretty often too…and I admit that some of my favourite cafes are not for the food, but the interior or light or visual aesthetics…

  5. Wheee! Tickled pink, nice way to end the year.
    My contribution:
    Rodenstock makes more than spectacles.
    Have a great new year!

  6. Michael Biggs says:

    Ming, wonderful. I laughed all the way down the list. Been there … done that so often 🙂 Let me add one: For a casual walk through the forest, you load a tripod, multiple camera bodies, light meter, a few zooms, and a couple of primes on your back … and discover you CAN’T MOVE. But somehow, you can’t … you just can’t do without the full kit.

  7. Fascinating list, that goes on, and on, and on to the point of squirming embarrassment.
    Fortunately not quite there yet, will use this as a list of things to avoid….where possible. 🙂
    Complements of the season to you and yours.

  8. Meier, kurt says:

    Oh come on Ming!
    You are a great photographer; not a prophet, unless I am very much mistaken.
    I am 13.864 km and 168 hours away from Kuala Lumpur. So who gives you that information about my tripod and my car? Heh?
    and: my backup-tripod is made of (German) wood… looks inexpensive in the eyes of my girlfriend.
    Merry Christmas, Ming.

    • Not mistaken at all. I am doing nothing but a little introspection 😦

      I’ve always wanted a Berlebach, though. 😉

      Merry Christmas!

      • Taildraggin says:

        …you only use wooden tripods with large format film cameras. Digital cameras get the carbon gitzo…

  9. Frans Moquette says:

    …you don’t have a partner because all the wardrobes in your house are full of photographic equipment…
    most of which you haven’t used in years!

  10. Oh and what’s a whale tail? A google image search does not turn up a photo thing!

  11. Funny! Although leaves me wondering how many of these were true for you… 🙂

    My spectacles have Zeiss lenses, as do my sunglasses(!) If someone asks me for camera advice, I mumble something about how it’s all really about ergonomics and then ask “what’s your budget?”. I keep looking at some unusual film, thinking that at one point I’ll do a project using it.

    I do get the feeling that you have a nice wife for putting up with all the photo stuff 🙂 Happy holidays to you.

  12. Reblogged this on Stefano Scheda and commented:
    You know you’re a real photographer if
    …your fridge had more film than food in it.

  13. Thanks Ming. I really laughed loud. 😀
    Have a great new year.

  14. Joseph Forsyth says:

    … bought 15 cameras this year, but haven’t found time to pay your property taxes yet……
    Merry Christmas to you and your family Ming, and thanks for all the work you put into this blog.

  15. Merry Christmas, Ming! It’s been about a year now since I’ve been reading your blog. I remember reading a few MT articles last year in between bursts of Christmas activities with the family. A whole year later and not much has changed, except that I now use an EM5 in place of a D7000, yet I still find myself on the MT site more often at work and at home. Merry Christmas to you and your family, and onward to 2014!

  16. A classic! As always your writing style is first rate.

  17. Steve Jones says:

    Funny and some of them are too true. When I needed reading glasses a year ago I ordered Zeiss because,… know.
    When they arrived they were not correct for my vision and I had to take them back. Now I’ve got a pair with Nikon lenses. Clear and sharp but terrible trapezoid distortion when I slightly tilt my head to the left or right. What were Nikon thinking? They cost as much as a
    camera lens which has better correction for distortion. Maybe i should stop thinking like a photographer and try Oakley or wait for the Zeiss Otus series. Ha ha! And the funny thing? When I look through my M viewfinder everything is clear without any adjustment. i guess I should carry my Leica all day and only look at people and things through the Leica. I’ll never miss another shot!

  18. When you name your pet dog Zeiss, tripod, or f/stop you know you are in trouble!

  19. Jorge Balarin. says:

    Definetely, I’m not going to take a diving course. Merry Christmas (even if you are muslim) and happy new year !!

  20. … When you watch the Sunday news talk shows, you’re more disturbed by the terrible longitudinal chromatic aberration of the TV camera lens than about what’s happening in the world.

  21. Kristian Wannebo says:

    I did enjoy this!

    “…cameras rank above clothes on your holiday packing list; you’d gladly go cold or…”
    No no, I think not, you will have to pack a tripod instead … to avoid blur from shivering fingers!

    “…you dump your partner because they’re Nikon and you’re Canon or vice versa, and the two beliefs simply cannot coexist peacefully.”
    That’s not a REAL photographer… 🙂

    When reading some of your “comments”, I can see that you have a hard life as a photographer… 😉

    “And the number one reason: you’re reading my site! 🙂 ”
    A good one!

    I hope you had a really Merry Christmas,
    and didn’t get too much new gear…
    (…which would steal your time.)

    You know you’re a real photographer if…
    …the only reason you want a white Christmas is because it gives you new landscapes to photograph.

    • Merry Christmas, Kristian!

      I keep wishing for a white one here, but although that would give me some new landscapes, snow in the tropics would also probably mean some much more serious problems… 😉

      Tripods are part of the general ‘camera gear’ weight budget.

  22. when you watch a movie.. you upset about the noise.. and its not the audible one…

  23. Michael Matthews says:

    I wear the same jeans until time to replace them; on the other hand, I just acquired a 27-inch iMac in order to have a decent monitor.
    Do I make the cut?

  24. very extensive list; thanks for sharing.

  25. What about when another kind tourist asks to take a photo of you and your family with your camera, and you just look at them, then their camera, and say, “um, no thanks.”

  26. Edward Michaels says:

    The picture is of three guys sitting on their haunches while photographing. I never could do that without falling over backwards. Does this mean I am not a photographer?

  27. Ha!!! So I am not crazy!!! Thats great I will make a poster with it.

  28. Roger Wojahn says:

    It’s all true! Merry Christmas, Ming!

  29. Another one for the list: when you’re in a place with a lot of tourists, you can’t help looking to see what camera they’re carrying, and then snorting derisively under your breath because it’s not as good as yours.

    • Or the other way around: you snort derisively because they’re carrying much better gear than you but clearly don’t know how to use it since the dial is in the green box position…

  30. ernie marton says:

    Yeah, good times…

  31. OK, I’ll crack:

    What does

    …you look at the phone numbers 1-424-247-070 ext 200 or 1-635-247-028 and get excited


    I’m not getting any tingles or uncontrollable smirks or anything!

    • Popular zoom ranges!

      14-24 24-70 70-200

      16-35 24-70

      Presume the 28 refers to Ming’s preferred focal length 🙂

      • f2.8 🙂

        I’m oddly partial to 55mm these days…

      • Aha! Thanks mark. Being a prime lens type — smugly flicks hair back — the zoom references went over my head. Though, any halfway serious Nikon user somehow knows the import of “14-24.” Seeing that in there had me half thinking it might be about zooms; but the telephone number reference had me thinking it might be the NPS hotline (America) or some dedicated Zeiss Otus users only telephone customer service 🙂

  32. You know if you’re a real photographer if you call a Full Frame camera as small format.

    And consider a medium format camera as barely acceptable substitute for your 8×10 to carry on your long track up through Nepal.

  33. You know you are a real photographer if:

    You take “behind the lens” pictures of yourself in the mirror…

    [Left eye open or closed?]

    (Correct answer: closed)

  34. Nice list and very funny! Merry Christmas Ming!

  35. How about . . .

    You have a second refrigerator just for film.

    Or . . .

    Your partner can tell the difference between an image made using camera A and B.

    Merry Christmas Ming!

  36. Brilliant 🙂 seems I am not one of you lot 🙂

  37. Love this one: “…your partner can’t tell the difference between one piece of equipment and the next because you’ve got so much of it”

  38. Merry X’mas 🙂

    Thumbs up for this “….. …your fridge has more film than food in it”

  39. You have some real gems in that very long list. Though like your photography, it might benefit from a little photographer’s discipline and moderation.

  40. Thanks for the laughs Ming! Merry Christmas! Wish you all the best for 2014.

  41. Funny!
    ….but if you are waking at 5 am for a sunset you do have a serious photography problem!


  1. […] (inspired by Resource Magazine and Ming Thein) […]

  2. […] Photography News: Christmas humour: You know if you’re a real photographer if… Following on from the popularity of the last stereotype post that left no single photographer un-insulted, and in an attempt to bring some comedic relief to what is otherwise a very, very serious site: enjoy today’s post. Laugh if you recognize yourself or your friends. And feel free to suggest any additions in the comments. Read full story => MingThein […]

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