I’m Not a Trained Poodle: Dodging the Role of Photographer without Confrontation

To describe the folk singing title character in Inside Llewyn Davis as downbeat is to put it kindly but for all of his sourness there is one scene where I could not help but smile wearily at in solidarity with one of his (many) tantrums.

It is not much of a spoiler to say that, in the scene, he is asked to play a song at dinner to which he says, “I’m not a trained poodle”, begrudgingly plays the song, and then is set off by the relative merriment of the occasion. “I do this for a living, you know?” And, to the professor next to him, “I don’t ask you over for dinner and then suggest you give us a lecture on the peoples of Mesa-America…”.

If you’re the “resident photographer” of your social circle, odds are you have been handed a camera, perhaps rather abruptly, and put to work capturing a party or family event. For a lot of photographers, especially hobbyists, this is a welcomed opportunity. For others, it’s an exhausting reminder that we’re often defined by what we “do” and that creative work isn’t viewed in quite the same way as other kinds of jobs. Continue reading