Editor's note: the following is a tongue-in-cheek, oftenirreverent, question and answer column published in the ASMP News solelyfor the entertainment of our readers. It does not necessarily reflect theviews of ASMP, the local chapter or other ASMP members. All opinions andanswers are solely those of the author, and he is welcome to them.

Readers' questions about any aspect of photography, or life ingeneral, are welcome and Dr. Photography will answer them in future columns,if he happens to feel like it. Send mail to:
Dear Dr. Photography

Dear Dr. Photography,

I am an art director for a Fortune 500 companyin the Bay Area and I'm constantly hearing our photographers say they needto control the light on a shoot. Why is this always so important?

Sanguine in San Jose


DP: Photographers, as you no doubthave discovered, are a somewhat different breed than most of the rest ofsociety. I mean, what other group (aside from nuclear physicists) spendcountless thousands of dollars on specialized equipment to document andmanipulate something that they can't feel, smell, hear or touch. Althoughwe see it every day, light is not an easy thing to comprehend and most ofus just take it for granted until the power goes off and we can't see whichbrand of beer we're grabbing out of the cold case at the supermarket. Butphotographers, being the artistic types, feel the need to exercise somesort of control over something in order to justify the fees that they charge.So generally, they try to control light, primarily because nobody else isreally interested in doing so as it's not really an accomplishment you'dlist at the top of your resume. Unfortunately, choosing to control lightis somewhat like trying to give a cat a bath -- it takes an awful lot ofeffort and usually leaves you wondering whether it was worth it when you'rethrough.

However, you do have to admit that most professional photographers windup taking better pictures in spite of this strange desire to control light.So, as an art director who likes receiving good photographs, you shouldprobably just continue to tolerate this peculiarity and nod approvinglywhen your photographers say "I just want to fix one more thing withthe light." Just be glad you don't have to live with one.

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©1991 Scott Highton
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