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Photographer Totally Happy to Bring His Camera to Thanksgiving to 'Just Take a Few Pictures'

Davenport, Iowa: A photographer who was looking forward to relaxing is totally happy to bring his camera to Thanksgiving dinner to "take a few pictures." Really. No problem at all. Who likes to relax anyway?

Aarav Patel, a local portrait and events photographer, was looking forward to a relaxing Thanksgiving dinner with his wife's family, when the request came in:

I got a text from my brother-in-law asking me if I could bring my camera to Thanksgiving to 'just to take a few pictures.' I know how this goes. The last time this happened was at my niece's birthday party. Before I knew it, 'just a few pictures' had turned into four hours of events coverage for a bunch of crazy 12-year-olds, 30 posed family portraits, and an all-nighter of editing just so my niece could share the shots on her Instagram the next day. All I wanted was a piece of cake. Do you think there was any cake left by the time I was done? Spoiler alert: THERE WASN'T ANY CAKE LEFT. 

Patel's brother-in-law, Lenny, picks up the story:

I don't know what the big deal is. Aarav is a photographer because he likes taking pictures, right? We figured it would be fun for him. We just need some pictures of the turkey and all the sides for Linda's food blog, posed but totally candid-looking shots of everyone together for the family album, some photos of some jewelry Megan made for her Etsy shop, and a new headshot for my business cards. Oh, we might as well do a Christmas card shoot while the whole family is here too. Oh, we all need passport photos before our winter vacation too. 

Patel picks the story up again: 

This is going to be like the cake, isn't it? I'm not going to get any turkey either, am I? 

Lenny chimes in:

We'll leave some leftovers in the fridge for him and the dog. 

Fstoppers will let you know if Patel manages to get any turkey. 

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Tony Clark's picture

Sure, let me draft an estimate and have you sign it. What’s the call time?

Motti Bembaron's picture

And don't forget the advance payment.

Saad Khan's picture

Ya this happened to me a lot as well. I didn't mind taking the camera at first but at one event before the party was over friends started asking me to email the pictures right away. I told them I have to edit them first. They said no need to edit. I told them no need to bring my camera to any future get togethers. A few people started to hound me the next day asking what was taking so long with the photos. I told them Photography is work for me and I have paid clients who need to get their photos first. I'm in no rush to deliver these shots unedited. I'll get these to them soon. Ya I was done taking my camera anywhere anymore. Now when I get asked by friends and family I tell them I just want to enjoy myself. And that my camera only likes to leave the house when it's getting paid.

Nathan Wong's picture

I've started using film again. That stops people in their tracks.

Zack Schindler's picture

Best answer ever!

Brian Knight's picture

Depends on your relationship with your family. I don't mind at all doing it for them, within reason. But then again, they would probably do anything for me. Not the least of which cooking all morning and inviting me over.

Darin Simmons's picture

After pie, my aunt will do some fillings, I might hit her up for bridge work.. I think my brother-in-law is setting up trusts; and rumor has it my nephew will be doing oil changes. :|

Deleted Account's picture

Been there, done that. I set boundaries for future family events. Same went for playing the piano at Christmas at my brother's. Nephew took over that job! ;-)

BIPIN GUPTA's picture

Hey guys stop cribbing. If this was a fun thing OK. This is a Cultural thing in Asian Families where a Family member invites you over for a grand event and asks you to bring your camera along. You better do, as I did.
No big deal. Our Culture obliges us to go. YOU have to grab some beer, Turkey and eats as you photograph your Family.
I too was in the same situation in Toronto. What Lark I had and lots of fun with a loving Family and Friends. Here is my son with the kids riding horsey on him.
Hey Aarav Patel, my Bahu (Daughter In Law) is from your Gujarati Community which never cribs at Family gatherings.

Glem Let's picture

Skipped the predictable TG article and went straight to the comments... so funny..!

On a serious note, in reality no one asks you to bring your camera any more, they all have smartphones, so just take a great shot for them on their phone, hand it back and go eat...

It’s a fair exchange, they invited you and you used your talents to help out, just like a bar man/woman would open the wine and a barista help with coffee afterwards...

Amanda Coplans's picture

You could use your iPhone/smartphone combined with your photographic skills and knowledge of light, composition and posing. That would almost eliminate the editing factor and hopefully satisfy them.

zave smith's picture

When I was a younger man I resented being asked to shoot these family occasions but over the years I manage to set limits and today, especially with modern cameras making this type of shooting much easier then the past, I have come to enjoy doing this. Also, I now have a large family archive which as become one of my prized possessions. The use of this archive really came to light when a few years ago I purchased a digital frame for our living room. My wife and I and many, many visitors love sitting and watching our family stories. I don’t know how I would feel if somebody starting asking me to shoot the dinner and prep for their food blog.

jay holovacs's picture

Entertaining post!

But I can assure you it's not just a problem of photographers--doctors, lawyers, IT folks, mechanics and countless others find themselves in the same bucket.

Deleted Account's picture

True. Those in the building trades are regarded as having an interesting hobby that they would not mind practicing for the benefit of others. I once was invited to a "painting party" to repaint the interior of a new condo. I told the hostess, who was essentially an acquaintence, that I used to do that for a living and it seemed too much like work to me. Never, ever heard back from her about anything, anything at all.

dale clark's picture

I just remind people how busy things have been and I really need a break from my camera. When I first started years ago, I got an invitation to a client party. I was really excited about going, then I got the dreaded email about bringing the camera. I eventually politely backed out with some excuse. I realize people mean no harm. In a small way it's like the singer who always gets asked to stand up and sing one song at gatherings.

Josh Wright's picture

You can even "forget" your camera, but someone will have a Canon rebel waiting for you

Pierre Dasnoy's picture

If they have an instax, there the game begins :D

Matt Hucke's picture

In addition to being the family photographer, I am also its genealogist. As such I have physical custody of photos taken by, or of, my great great grandparents on both sides. When asked to shoot a family event, this means I am adding to a repository that goes back to the 1870s, and I am proud and happy to do that.

Jason Frels's picture

Oh, genealogist. The first time I read that I thought.... never mind.

Cat Milton's picture

oh gosh.
I can SO relate.
I'd share any number of stories like the above - not so much family but friends - acquaintances - except it just makes my heart drop into my boots.

One thing I will say, - I usually get asked after I've arrived at the event, and even if I've only my iPhone with me, leveraged because I "know how to make [insert event] look good"

Nathan Wong's picture

LOL! I'm all too familiar with his plight. He is not alone.

Ryan Davis's picture

Show up with a giant view camera, a hood, and flash powder, and ask which room is least likely to be damaged by mercury vapor.

I guarantee they'll never ask again.

Stefan Gonzalevski's picture

Wait, I thought that anyone owning a camera or smartphone was a photographer ?... Have I been misled ?

Great funny article ;-)

Hawaii Portrait Photographer's picture

LOL, this is why i don't bring my camera to family events, i tell them to just use the iPhone. work is work and play is play.

Paul Lindqvist's picture

I have never been the guy that takes the camera with me to family gatherings or graduations etc. Not before I started my business and certainly not after. Luckily my family understands this, well most of the time or at least they have realized it by now.. :-)

John Ohle's picture

I just tell people that I am a forensic photographer. If the hostess asks me to take any photographs she is met with 'Just let me switch on my blacklight'. Funny how the hostess then stops the shoot...