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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 17 Jan 2013 (Thursday) 12:19
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There seems to be confusion why photojournalists cover camera logos with gaff tape..

 
PatrickPhoto8
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Jan 17, 2013 12:19 |  #1

So, across the internet forums, the question of "why do photojournalists cover their camera's make and model with gaffer tape?" apparently is asked enough, and I have yet to see someone post the real, practical answer on why almost every serious photographer does it. I know the answer, and it likely will be valuable to you if you don't gaff already. But first, some of the fake/impractical answers people claim are the real reason:

I've seen "Because they don't want to advertise" which is crap, professionals rarely care about advertising a tool. That's as absurd as a carpenter covering his hammer's logo.

"To look cool"... gaffer tape = vanity? no. Maybe this is why some hipster types do it now, but not why it started, and continues to be used by those paid for PJ.

I've seen "So thieves don't want to steal it" that's absurd too, I assure you, a thief is someone who abuses opportunity. I don't care if your camera is thousands of dollars or a mere hundred, if someone looking to steal something can get it, it's gone, every time.

"To protect the camera", true... if the whole thing is gaff taped...

Point is, I've seen a ton of silly answers, but the REAL reason many photojournalists a long time ago started to tape over only the identifying words/numbers of a camera is elusive online, and it is sad, because everyone can benefit from it. Well, everyone who photographs people that is...

*Drumroll*

The main reason is due to the fact is that in today's world, interest in digital photography has skyrocketed and many people you run into on the street are likely to be knowledgeable of cameras or amateur photogs themselves. They are likely to be interested or impressed in what you are using, and this is a problem for "on the fly" portraits, as you end up with a portrait of someone no longer looking at the lens, but looking off the side slightly trying to see if you are using a 1DX or 1D Mark IV... in fact, what brand of flash is that? Canon? What model?

They likely don't even know they did it, the human brain scans for information at all times, and seeing CANON 5D MARK III in big bright white on black surface is MADE to pull your eyes to it. Canon wants that attention to the camera, YOU DO NOT.

You take a shot, get back to the office, the editor points out the guy is creeping your camera, and not looking at the lens. And that photo is likely to be passed over. Crappy all the time, but imagine it being someone you were supposed to get a photograph of, on assignment, by your editor/boss! If you just got a cold sweat simply thinking about that, good. You take a photographic job seriously.

That's it. That's the main point of using it. Go ask a professional PJ you know if you don't believe me.

That's why landscape photographers don't bother to do it. Why studio photographers don't bother to do it (they are able to check eye contact and reshoot without having a subject walk away or get pissy), that is why you pretty much ONLY see photojournalists (or anyone doing impromptu portraits) gaffer it.

PJ is a fast pace world, and you cannot risk having people not look where they are supposed to be looking when you are on a deadline and/or competing with all the other cameras around.

Gaffer the brand and model on ANYTHING aiming at the person. It will give you an advantage, especially if you are being paid to take an advantage over the other photogs.

And after you are done working, you just take the gaff tape off, no residue.

You now know one of the most misunderstood tricks of PJ, and how it actually is important. Now go buy a roll for next time you are shooting a event, and get the edge on the less knowledgeable!!!!


P.S. Always use gaffer tape, not anything else. Gaffer tape will leave no residue, especially for a relatively short periods of having it on the camera. If cameras weren't so expensive, simply removing/painting black the info would be fine too... but you use gaff tape to solve the problem while keeping the camera at highest resale value possible.




  
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sapearl
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Jan 17, 2013 12:36 |  #2

Interesting concept Patrick but I'm not sure I buy it.

At the distance the PJ is usually taking the picture, from the viewpoint of the subject there is little or no difference in distance between the "logo" and the lens. Perhaps if the subject was sitting 2 feet away that would be the case. Most shots are taken farther away though. Btw - welcome to POTN.


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PatrickPhoto8
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Jan 17, 2013 12:40 as a reply to  @ sapearl's post |  #3

You don't have the buy it ;-)a Feel free to ask professional PJ guys why they do it, I assure you, it started with newspaper photogs working on deadline doing close up shots and getting bitched out for eye contact.




  
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sapearl
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Jan 17, 2013 12:44 |  #4

PatrickPhoto8 wrote in post #15500791 (external link)
You don't have the buy it ;-)a Feel free to ask professional PJ guys why they do it, I assure you, it started with newspaper photogs working on deadline doing close up shots and getting bitched out for eye contact.

Learned it from Chicago Sun-Times photojournalist and pulitzer prize winner John H. White, who teaches photojournalism in Chicago. I'm gonna go with his word as to why they do it.

As I indicated, it depends upon DISTANCE.

What do they define as a closeup? A head shot in an office is far different from the street photography you were describing in your paragraphs above..... unless I misunderstood the main point.


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eeeksNYC
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Jan 17, 2013 12:57 |  #5

not a pro, but I tend to gaff tape the wear areas on the grip


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moose10101
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Jan 17, 2013 13:02 |  #6

PatrickPhoto8 wrote in post #15500710 (external link)
Point is, I've seen a ton of silly answers, but the REAL reason many photojournalists a long time ago started to tape over only the identifying words/numbers of a camera is elusive online, and it is sad, because everyone can benefit from it. Well, everyone who photographs people that is...

*Drumroll*

The main reason is due to the fact is that in today's world, interest in digital photography has skyrocketed

Patrick,

Surely you don't think everyone does this for only one reason? And you're the person who's identified that "one true reason"?

BTW, photographers were using gaffer's tape long before digital photography was invented.




  
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PatrickPhoto8
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Jan 17, 2013 13:09 |  #7

Even photojournalists have to get up close sometimes. In fact, often. I'm having a hard time thinking of any known photojournalist who doesn't have impromptu, person looking dead at a camera, photos in a portfolio.

I'm not saying you must employ it to get a good photograph, I'm simply telling you the reason it is most often explained as employed in PJ, by those who do it. It's fair to assume it may just be paranoia passed down from one to another, but the reason I was originally explained it, by professionals, is to "avoid people creeping at the camera" and not looking at the lens.

Not saying I got the "only reason". I've seen gaffer on a whole damn camera to 'protect it'. But as for ONLY the model and make, feel free to ask around, and I'd hope you agree that this reason is the least asinine as to why it is done by a professional in a very specific field.

I didn't come up with the reason either, it was explained to me a while ago, So I'm not taking credit, and it didn't take any deductive skill on my half, only a pair of ears. Hell, I thought everyone knew the point as this, until I saw a million threads on "why is the camera's info taped over on PJ cameras?" so I was just sharing a bit of utterly non-harmful knowledge that may (or may not) help people out, that I had told to me years ago, and seemed to be not known on the web.

No need to get up in arms over tape... I got no emotional attachment to your use of or lack of use of the stuff, but, come on... it was looking like the main reason people give online was "it keeps thieves at bay". If you think it will keep your camera from getting stolen, you aren't the brightest light in the room, and spreading bullcrap that some poor guy might take as good advice on how to protect an investment. I assure you, taping your camera's make/model doesn't make it less likely to be stolen if someone can get it.




  
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cdifoto
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Jan 17, 2013 13:12 |  #8

PatrickPhoto8 wrote in post #15500710 (external link)
You take a shot, get back to the office, the editor points out the guy is creeping your camera, and not looking at the lens.

Yeah I don't think so. Looking at the lens, looking at the make, or looking at the model isn't going to impact the photo since they're so close together.

Then again if you shoot your PJ work with a 12mm lens you might have a point...


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Jan 17, 2013 13:16 |  #9

PatrickPhoto8 wrote in post #15500905 (external link)
Even photojournalists have to get up close sometimes. In fact, often. I'm having a hard time thinking of any known photojournalist who doesn't have impromptu, person looking dead at a camera, photos in a portfolio.

Sure they do. Because they hammered down until they got it or have good timing. It's not because they taped their logos to keep the politician from getting curious. I can assure you they could not care less.


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Ags1
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Jan 17, 2013 13:29 |  #10

Some people just like gaffer tape.


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Jan 17, 2013 13:30 |  #11

cdifoto wrote in post #15500939 (external link)
Sure they do. Because they hammered down until they got it or have good timing. It's not because they taped their logos to keep the politician from getting curious. I can assure you they could not care less.

+1 - Absolutely this. Timing, and your ability as a photographer to relate to your subject and direct them, is what makes you effective at getting that shot just right.

I've done social event and PJ work in reception halls, radio, and tv studios for a number of years. I don't tape my cameras. If it's a posed head shot, something from 3 - 10' for example, it's all in how you direct the subject(s). For whatever reason I don't have a problem getting my shots..... realistically not 100% of the time, but it's pretty much a non issue for me.


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Jan 17, 2013 13:47 |  #12

Oh and the in-your-face is actually more often pap than PJ. While legit PJs do have to do that at times such as on courtroom steps, they usually don't. They usually have a designated area or are capturing stuff from slightly afar as it happens.

If it's pap, I don't exactly look at them as the model for photographic expertise. ;)


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Jan 17, 2013 13:48 |  #13

I'm sure you have presented "a" reason, but certainly not "the" reason as you have claimed. Frankly, I've never seen a PJ with their logos taped over. And personally, the only time I've ever gaffed my stuff is for functional reason. I will put it over my AF/MF buttons and other buttons on my lenses if I'm shooting with multiple bodies to keep from bumping them when switching and sometimes various things on the body for the same reason. I don't care if someone knows what brand my camera is. To me, it raises more attention to have tape over logos than not doing it.


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Jan 17, 2013 13:49 |  #14

I could see taping the "Mark whatever" logos on the 1 series since they're actually reflective like a pin but that's about it. I still don't though - maybe that's why my wedding candids suck.


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Jan 17, 2013 13:54 |  #15

cdifoto wrote in post #15501077 (external link)
...... I still don't though - maybe that's why my wedding candids suck.

...Naaaa - that's just because you're putting all your energy into schmoozing the pretty girls :lol:.


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There seems to be confusion why photojournalists cover camera logos with gaff tape..
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