Words are powerful. Use them wisely.
I'm a member of a private group on Facebook called SF Image Makers. Its a nice little community of many, if not most, of the commercial photographers, stylists, makeup artists, digital techs and assistants in the San Francisco Bay Area. It's a great resource. If I need some technical info, a hand with a project, some advice, this is the first place I go to. Yesterday, many of us became enraptured by a thread posted by photographer Josh Edelson, wherein he sought advice about a dissatisfied client. Simple headshot, affordable rate, the kind of thing we all do from time to time. This client was so insistent in his demand for a refund of his $350 shoot fee, that he almost immediately resorted to a level of extortion that was shocking. He claimed that he would ruin Josh with multiple negative reviews on multiple sites. He began to craft a fictitious Facebook profile and threatened him with others. Well that escalated quickly. Josh, in his desire to make this go away and save his business any damage, agreed to a full refund. But then this happened. "Photographer Threatened with Ruin if Refund Not Given" PetaPixel grabbed the story and ran with it.
Now, this whole thing struck quite a nerve in the photo community. The client was a young tech worker with a seemingly complete inability to use reason or sense in dealing with this situation. We're a little touchy around here about folks like this. He, and others like him, are lovingly (not so lovingly?) referred to as Techies, TechBros, TechDouches, Drones. . . You get the point. In the last five years or so, the Bay Area has been inundated with less than socially graceful, young, technically astute, newly monied, supremely entitled, workers. Rents have skyrocketed. Neighborhoods are in flux. Construction is at an all time high. The general cost of living has gone way up. Artists are being forced out of San Francisco daily. Even Oakland, where I live, is getting more and more expensive every day. Creatives are leaving this region and it is being reshaped dramatically. We're starting to feel like unless you're developing an app or grinding away at a juice startup, sucking down Soylent, that there is little place for you here. And fuck you for trying to earn a living as an artist. When it is the artists, the musicians, the creatives, the renegades, the warehouse dwellers, the poets, the makers of things, the designers of dreams, we're the ones that made this region the fertile ground in which the tech revolution could flourish. We're the ones that made San Francisco such a cool place to live. We are the consumers and users of your tools for creativity. We are the designers of your front end and the image makers that make you look good. And now we're all leaving. Things are changing, thats cool, I get that. I welcome it! This area has always been in constant change. Tectonic plates run right through it! The Spanish pushed out the indigenous peoples, Mexico pushed out the Spanish, the gold rush flooded the area with Americans and immigrants. Thats why its so awesome here, its always changing. I love this time we live in. I love the tech. I'm surrounded by it and my job wouldn't exist without it. But some human kindness, some empathy, an attempt to look through the eyes of others that aren't like you, some simple humanity, some respect. . . Your words are powerful. You can use them to work out a solution where everyone wins, everyone is happy. Or you can choose to be a disgusting UberTroll and get called the fuck out.
San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cosmopolitan cities in the world, but we are a very small town. Word travels fast and we look out for our own. The way this little community rallied around a maligned creator was truly impressive. Word is, that the post on PetaPixel got back to the client and he is now deeply remorseful. He's in fear of losing his job over this. That would suck. I don't wish that on anyone. Hopefully a lesson has been learned. Your words are powerful. Use them wisely.