I think I’ve spent more time in camera shops over the last six months than I did at Baby’s R Us before my daughter was born (I think that place still has my picture up on their bulletin board as the “Biggest Sucker for Plastic Toys in Primary Colors”). Where I live in Orange County, there are quite a few camera shops to say the least. My visits have included everything from picking up prints, renting lenses and making big-ticket purchases.
So here’s the thing… time and time again I am amazed at the arrogance and self-righteousness of the people (read MEN) behind the counter. For example, I had an annoying experience when I went to a local camera shop to buy my latest lens (see entry below). The salesman made absolutely no attempt to hide his patronizing and disrespectful tone. He INSULTED my camera body and insinuated that the lens I’m buying is “too much lens” for me. Mind you, this is him knowing nothing about me, the type of photography I do, or my individual style. He basically saw a “young” woman (he was about 75 so Betty White would be about his speed) and he decided that I wasn’t worthy of his respect.
My dilemma, of course, was this… Do I give this asshole my business or do I walk out of there and never come back? Well, because I was so desperate for the lens, I went through with the purchase (but I did sit in my car for about 10 minutes afterwards white-knuckling the steering wheel and going over all of the things I SHOULD have said if that counts for anything). I am STILL pissed at how he treated me. So, here’s the question: If I can find the lens somewhere else, do I return the lens to this store? And if I do return the lens, do I explain why I’m returning it?
I’ve heard from another photographer friend that this is pretty much how the “old guard” at these camera shops operate. I’m not sure if it’s arrogance so much as insecurity. I’m sure these men are starting to hear about how we women have been gaining our independence as of late – we can even vote for the love of Pete! They must be terrified!
I’m hoping that a “new guard” starts to arrive on the scene soon. A new breed of salesperson that understands that photography is both a skill and an art, and like most art it’s subjective. It’s not a bad thing that I don’t enjoy shooting film or that I don’t feel the need to spot-meter everytime I pick up my camera. That’s the beauty of photography — the camera is the photographer’s tool, not unlike the potter with a block of clay. I can get it to reflect my vision… and it’s okay if it’s not the same vision as the guy behind the counter.
Well, I suppose it’s time to step down off of my soapbox. I haven’t yet decided what to do about the lens… I’ll keep you posted.