Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sometimes I Wonder Why I Bother

Over the last couple of months, I have finally learned a hard lesson. It somewhat goes hand in hand with the posts I wrote earlier, one about things that should come back in style, like manners, and the other one about thank you notes. It really boils down to appreciation, or, lack thereof, for work I have put into things. Let me explain with examples.

Example One: A person that I see on a fairly regular basis knows I like to take photos and that I have a decent camera (for it not being a DSLR). So this person, a few weeks (maybe even a month, now, or more) asked me to take some photos for them. They asked me 2 days before they wanted photos done. And, it wasn't even phrased in a manner that would have helped me say yes. It was ALMOST like I was being told to do it. But, that may have only been perception, since it wasn't asked face to face. Not only did I not really have the time (especially since it was short notice), I I felt that this person would be much better served if they had a professional photographer take these particular photos.

Because of the unique situation, and the time crunch this person was in, I got in touch with a photographer that I had won a free photo shoot from and asked that photographer if I could gift my photo shoot to this person. Her schedule was tight and she was only available at a certain time, and so I passed this information along to the person who wanted me to take their photos. I didn't hear back from them. Then, because the time was growing more short, I let this person know of several other photographers I know of or I have worked with that might be able to work with them. Again, I heard nothing.

Now, like I said, there were special circumstances going on, so I understand that this person maybe couldn't get back to me, a the time, for various reasons. But at no point after this, or since I've seen this person, did they even thank me for my time, or for looking up other photography possibilities. Nothing. (And, it may just be perception again, but they seem a little more distant and cold. But, I guess that's neither here nor there.)

Example Two: This actually began before example one, or I might have rethought that situation. I was asked to take some photos for someone I know. I like taking photos and I usually don't take pictures of people, because it can be intimidating, but I went ahead and said yes. Mostly, because it would help me get a little more experience, and because the photos were going to be used for a personal project and not really seen by many people (in other words, not going on a Christmas card, or anything). Let me just say that during the photo shoot, it was expressed to me that they were thankful for my being able to do this.

I had a good experience taking the photos, and as I was editing them (now taking place after example one), I thought that a lot of them came out pretty good, if I do say so myself. However, I do like to do artsy editing, and I hoped they liked it, although I wasn't sure. Also, I found these cool templates for storyboards online, and did a little extra with the photos -- mostly so I could do something fun, and not because I actually thought they would be used.

So I handed the photos over and ... nothing. I didn't get a thank you after they were looked at. I had no idea if they even liked the photos or if they were usable for them. I fretted a little, and even wondered if maybe I should have just done simpler edits. I knew when this project was to be presented, and the day came and went. Finally, a day or so after that, I couldn't help it, I sort of roundabout asked two people involved (at different times) how the pictures came out, citing that I usually don't print my pictures out (which is true, I don't) and just wondered how they came out. One told me they came out really nicely. Another one mentioned this too and finally said thank you.

But I have to tell you, I was a little discouraged. I'm not expecting to be told I'm the next Annie Leibovitz, and I would even have expected constructive criticism, but I didn't feel like I should have to fish for a thank you.

Example 3: My oldest niece, who turned 20 at the end of last month, also got engaged on her birthday. The wedding is at the beginning of January. I have long been purported to be the favorite aunt. Also, out of all the people in the close family, I was the most recently married. I KNEW that with such little time the ball had to start rolling, and quickly. So, I sent her several emails detailing things that needed to be done. Important things.

However, I recently learned, through my mother no less, that my emails have not really been appreciated. That they were stressing her and my sister-in-law out, because there were too many decisions to make and this wedding needed to be kept simple.

The problem is, decisions were NOT being made. And apparently, they thought I was being bossy and trying to run the show (maybe not said in so many words). And I have to tell you, I was shocked. Did I tell her she needed to get invitations out ASAP? Yes. Did I tell her which ones to choose? No. Did I let her know that they both had to be here several days before the wedding to get their marriage license because there's a waiting period? Yes. But that's a MUST. That's not optional.

So, my biggest fault was trying to be helpful, and so some it came off as something else. Well, forgive me for wanting a lovely day for my niece where she isn't stressing out! And ... I, yes, I, had to send an email apologizing for stressing them out and that my intention was only to help and not be bossy. And the response I got back from my sister-in-law was a thank you for my apologizing and that they wanted things simple and didn't want to stress out my niece. (She didn't even acknowledge the help, which I can tell you, the way this wedding has been planned, I will be surprised if everything gets done.)

I will agree that in the last example, I probably should have asked if they wanted help or advice, before providing it. I just wanted to be helpful! :(

However, I do want to make clear that while I don't expect a jubilant gratitude, I do hope for the minimum social cordiality of a thank you. That's it.

Like other people, my time and talents are valuable. And just because I'm doing it for free, doesn't mean that they're any less valuable than someone else's. I think, from here on out, I may decide to start charging for photo shoots, and the like. Just a small, minimum fee, to make it worth my while. Because if YOU can't tell me thank you, your money certainly will. *LOL*

Disclaimer: I am uneasy about making a disclaimer about something on MY blog. It's my blog, and I can cry (and whine), if I want to! *LOL* But I just want to make sure that it's understood that these are MY feelings. These are things that I have actually gone through and witnessed, and if I have upset or angered or offended anyone, that's not my intention. Yes, clearly I have been somewhat hurt by these things, but mostly because I thought more of the situations and people. You know, maybe these people don't even realize what I feel was done wrongly. They're my feelings, my perceptions and these recent examples have shown me how courtesy has declined in our society.

But, on another note, I DO realize we're all human. I DO realize we all make mistakes. I make them too. And it's possible I have slighted someone without knowing it, and if it's you, I apologize. I can maybe look back on these examples and think that these are these people's recent slip-ups and not a pattern of behavior. But that three happened to me within a short time frame does make me wonder.

AND, on that final note, I say that part of blogging is for therapy, at least for me. I have FINALLY gotten this off my chest, and I can stop obsessing about it. I have learned my lesson, and now I can move on. ^_^


Rocketgirl November 20, 2010 at 9:11 PM  

No judging here, that all sounds so disappointing. I don't have camera skills, but I do make the mistake of offering to teach people for free. I want to be helpful - I know what I have is valuable and sometimes I just want to share. And once the person really respected it - but mostly it has been so frustrating. People not showing up, not practicing, not caring. Gah. If I lived near you, I'd beg you to take pictures for me then fawn alllll over you. Plus, your wedding was AMAZING. If I got to do it again, I'd be desperate for any advice you could throw at me :)

Gabby November 20, 2010 at 9:55 PM  

Thanks, Reva! I think that people take advantage of others without realizing it. We ALL have great things to share, and a thank you goes a LONG way. You rock that fiddle, girl! (And thanks, about my photos and the wedding. Especially the wedding. I think I know a thing or two. ^_^)

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