The same thinking applies to family get-togethers. I bring the camera along because I want to remember the folks I met there. We often go years between such meetings, so a documented record of the event helps me hold on to these folks who, despite the distance, remain important to me. I also bring it because I find crowded rooms overwhelming, and having my camera in my hand gives me something to focus on and to break the ice.
Most folks get it, and they amiably dive into my ongoing game of socio-photographic family togetherness. Some folks, however, do not. And I ran into one of them last week.
About halfway through a delightful brunch with family from far and wide, one relative approached me and rather coldly asked me why I hadn't yet taken any pictures of her side of the family. She proceeded to berate me for focusing exclusively on my wife and kids, and for ignoring her and her brood. She told me I needed to get a move on because they were planning on leaving soon.
So while my flabbergasted brain processed this fit of staggering rudeness, I maintained an impassive face as I thought of the following points of fact:
- No one hired me to be the event photographer. This wasn't a gig, and I wasn't aware that she had appointed me as the de facto professional photographer for her family.
- I had already covered the entire room, and by the time she opened her mouth I was certain I had at least one photo of everyone in attendance - including her brood.
- She hadn't offered to take any pictures of my kids. Come to think of it, she hadn't brought a camera. And while we're at it, I don't remember her taking any pictures at any previous family events.
Your turn: How do you respond to such rudeness? I guess some folks would simply leave their cameras home in future, but I'd hate to lose out because one bad apple among countless amazing ones decides to ruin the moment.
One more thing: The day was wonderful. I reconnected with people who loomed large in my life even though I may have last met them when I was a kid. I learned who they were, what drove them and how they had left their mark on the world. I found myself in the middle of crowds of people, bantering with them as if we had never been apart. It was difficult to leave, and I found myself wishing geography didn't have to be such a barrier to family togetherness.
I decided not to let the photo-deprived outlier cast any more shadows on the day. Life's too short, after all.