You already know from my posts last year about all the astonishing things that happened over the summer that I do consider myself to be very lucky, and one of the things I think I'm luckiest about is the fantastic friends I've made over the last year - many of whom would LOVE to have had my life last summer, but have been overwhelmingly excited for me, supportive and just generally lovely. However, it's inescapable that over these last few months social media has revealed a few people who don't feel that way - either about the fab things that have happened to me, or in some cases, about fab things that have happened to others too. Some of the comments I've seen have gone from veiled comments saying how others feel they they deserve this sort of thing far more than "those it's happened to", to rather less veiled comments questioning what exactly I might have done, and with who, in order to have had the opportunities I have. (Bit of a brave one that, and pretty close to being challengeable on the grounds of defamation in fact...)
Some people have at least been upfront in their bitching - which is actually better, in a lot of ways. Take the person who said "Of course you're really lucky to have been in the right place to get these shots" about my Red Arrows display photographs. Lucky, is it? Well that's interesting, because if that's "luck" then it's precisely the same "luck" as everyone else had - every public display I've been to this year has been available for anyone who wanted to attend, and the position I have chosen to stand in to take said shots was - exactly the same - available for anyone who wanted to stand in. It's just I got there first, mostly. *grin* For every single display, I planned my travel to ensure that I would be there in good time, and, where possible, I checked out the location ahead of time on streetview to work out where I thought the best vantage point for my purposes might be. Weston Super Mare is a good example - planning on standing with a friend for the duration of the show, we did the streetview check in advance in combination with checking the show's details online. The afternoon previous to the show I was already in the area so took a quick drive through there to clarify whether in fact the spot we'd picked out looked good - it did, and we got the most fabulous day of aircraft turning pretty much right overhead - making for a lovely spot to watch from. Luck? Or planning? One of my favourite shots from that spot is this one:
...of the Reds arriving over the top of the pier. As soon as we got there I checked on my lenses to decide which one would give me the aspect I wanted. A couple of hours before display time I tweeted one of the team's pilots - a PUBLIC tweet - so again something that ANYONE could have done - to ask for confirmation on which direction they were coming in from. I'd already researched that one in advance, too, so my thoughts on the matter turned out to be spot on. I got my shot, and very happy with it I am, too. Is it "Luck" though, or is it (and indeed ALL my display shots) down to hard work, preparation, and a willingness to ask questions rather than just rock up and expect things to fall into place? Oh, and in answer to those who've suggested that "of course with expensive kit like yours anyone could get those shots...", that one above was taken with the £70 canon 50mm f1.8 lens....so yes, I agree entirely... ;-)
Another comment stopped me in my tracks completely at the end of last year. In conversation with someone over what a particular friend from the team was going to be doing this year - the person I was speaking with expressed sympathy having heard that my friend had not got the particular role he was hoping for, then said "that's a shame for you, then, he'll be no use to you any more!" Well I was stopped short for a moment - genuinely confused, what on earth they could mean by that? Then I realised - the person I was speaking with honestly thought that the friendship had been forged by me in order to get closer to the team...and that as my friend was no longer going to be in a role that has the same "possibilities" on that front, I'd be dropping him like the proverbial hot potato! Now, don't get me wrong, I know people who would do precisely that, but I'm definitely not one of them, and in fact in this case the initial hand of friendship was extended by the other person in any case! I was almost lost for words (and those who know me know how unusual THAT is!) but eventually settled for saying that it made no odds to me what my friend's job was, so as far as I was concerned it made no odds to the friendship. I doubt the person making the outrageous statement believed me for a moment, but I don't care very much, to tell you the truth, anyone who thinks like that isn't important enough to matter, and my friend is worth 10....no, 100 of someone with that attitude. (Regardless of the job he does and whether it involves a blue suit, or not!) Interestingly enough, the person who made the comment has since pretty much dropped *me* - clearly I'm now seen as not being any "use" any more, too!
The ONLY opportunities I had last year where "luck" has played a part have been the time spent at Bristol & Blackpool airports, and at families day. Those opportunities were given, and given gladly, as people had seen the work I'd done previously with the ground-shots, and had liked what they'd seen. I've ensured that all the ground shots I've taken at the various shows and locations have been available for those who featured in them, and where people wanted a particular photo taken (with family members, for example) I've happily helped out, and then sent them through the pics afterwards. I've not used my photos to ridicule people, where I've had shots with someone pulling a ludicrous facial expression, or with a finger inserted up a nostril, for example (Yes, it has happened!) then those shots have been deleted and not sent public via Twitter or elsewhere. At families day (the ONLY non-public display I've been at all year) when I took pictures of one of the pilots with his young son, he had no issue with me taking those shots because he knew full well that he a) would get copies afterwards and b) could trust me not to put them out on social media. It's about trust, and respect, and both of those things have to be earned - from BOTH sides. None of the shots I took were taken with any idea of "earning privileges" or getting something in return - I've taken them because I've enjoyed doing so, and the main reward has been seeing the pleasure that others have taken in them, also.
So - to clarify. If spending time talking to people and discussing what they do, their likes and dislikes, and in fact all the normal things that happen when you're chatting with friends, can be classed as "doing something I shouldn't have" then clearly I have, and shame on me, eh. There is a massive risk involved in bandying around suggestive remarks regarding others, and the damage it could cause in some relationships could be irreparable. Thankfully MrEH is well aware of the truth of the situation - and in fact spent much of the summer joking about me being "off with my other men" - not the action of a man who feels he has ANYTHING to worry about in that line! When I have been handed opportunities I've said my Thank You's for them promptly, and been genuinely delighted to have spent time with the people concerned - they're a great bunch and it was an absolute pleasure getting to know them. I've not spent time bitching on social media about what other people have been doing - I spent my summer enjoying the chances I've had, and making the most of every single second of them. Just maybe, if others had done the same, they'd have had more "luck" themselves, eh?!