Gary Rabenko

The more a vendor explains things, the more likely he or she is to lose the sale. You might think that delving into the details and illuminating all the potential pitfalls that each service, product, and approach might present would instill confidence and bestow comfort to the point that the decision is easy. But that is not how things work — at least not now.

No one really wants to become an expert or do the research needed, and who can blame them. Getting information today is so easy that in just a few minutes you might have more information than the experts. The only problem then is in determining just which information is the right information. For that you need to be an expert or know experts you can trust. Otherwise everyone can sound like an expert, while they actually know very little. Reading, analyzing, considering sources, comparing philosophies, evaluating that which you cannot judge based on that which you can … whew — it is exhausting!

It is easy and painful to arrive at the wrong decision, even when taking all the right steps. You know that in advance, because you are a smart and educated person. Everything has a price and its value includes the time you feel like spending.

Aside from many political and community factors playing a role, some will book a photographer about whom they already have low expectations. Even after much research, how can they be sure they will be happy with their choice? Perhaps if they just relied on luck, they might be pleasantly surprised. So in some way this relates back to how a vendor who goes beyond superficial product and procedure discussion and stays focused on closing the sale early on by presenting the fewest options and making it seem the simplest can win the vote of a prospective customer. Someone seeking something superior might question the likelihood of all the details working out when exposed to all the fascinating intricacies involved, yet he might resign himself to it not being worth investing in better. Perhaps the bland may be all that is possible anyway!

This is also what happens when friends, other vendors, and acquaintances offer suggestions and recommendations. I have frequently heard how a friend, neighbor, coworker, doctor, teacher, or relative used someone for some service that at the time failed to impress and at times even failed to satisfy. But because it is a cheap and easy solution, it remains a viable consideration.

Photography and videography involve so much thought to make things right and meaningful. Beginners and assistants are always surprised how taking pictures can be such hard mental work. Thinking takes time and needs practice, but I cannot stress enough just how vital it is to making imagery that can mean something.

Pros who don’t think about everything they see and don’t approach the recording of each video clip, the snapping of each shot, and the move, turn, tilt, or lift of any light develop habits that make images of minimal value and meaning for the rest of their careers. Eventually many stop being pros, frustrated by clients who are never satisfied, and forced to abandon their dream by prospects who won’t pay for what can only be expected to have little meaning!

Seemingly similar moments can require different lighting angle lenses and treatment once one can recognize the specific subtleties and factors of importance that make this moment different from the last and the next.

Photographing people at a live event is way more challenging than most pros know, if customers seek something better. Clients, guests, and other vendors do not understand the skill photographers, videographers, and assistants should be trying to achieve and what is needed in order to react to the constantly evolving scene. If they did, they would appreciate what imagery could be, and place the value on the intangibles, rather than on what can be held. This certainly would be a great motivator to some photographers who have lost their artistic and technical compass while just trying to make a living.

Anyone can be a photographer — not because of smartphones, but because equipment is both much more sophisticated and less expensive now. Anyone can be a photographer because customers don’t know what to look for or expect, while photographers and videographers cannot possibly feel the need to master any skills when it seems anything goes, as long as it either looks like it is Instagram-worthy or it looks like what people already accept.

Imagery falls into two extremes. I am seeing the planned shots executed with the goal of being different, and I am seeing images made by those who cannot see any difference! The first can look impressive, garnering many likes and Instagram fans, while missing in heart, warmth, spontaneity, feeling, or fail to flatter. The second approach comes from the many pros who think that being a photographer and videographer is akin to non-photographers not thinking in artistic or technical terms at all from the start all the way to the end.

Many event vendors do a lot of business while not even bothering to attend to all the details requiring thought. They have learned that most customers are too distracted and caught up in the moment of their simcha to recognize all the problems and deficiencies that exist and the many things that are absent. This involves stuff they were promised and didn’t get, the songs that were not played, sounds that were raw, flowers that were faded, and food that did not compare to their previews. I can go on, but the important point here is that image producers have just as many, if not more, intricacies to consider as other vendors, but in addition to all of those, we are dealing with time-sensitive actions down to the microsecond!

Ironically, we make it possible for more thought to be applied when there is more time — later. We should be expected to be evaluated much more intently than other vendors whose job is over, while in many ways ours has far to go — be it video editing or album and print design. There too, in our post production, tremendous thought is required. Thought that can never be part of the product when it is outsourced or subcontracted, and which will always be different when assigned to lesser-skilled eyes and lower-level minds, who are not there to think or who might not ever have developed the needed perspectives to think as a photographer about all a viewer eventually would find meaningful. Or just maybe, those persons might not even want to be there doing that, when they are dreaming of being on the shoot and are just waiting to buy the gear or get the call. That is why what you can get might just not be worth looking at.

And that is certainly something you may want to think about being a good reason to select a special photographer who combines heart, mind, and skill!

Rabenko Photography & Video Arts is located at 1053 Broadway in Woodmere. To learn more, contact, 1-888-RABENKO, 888-722-3656, or visit


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