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Thread: The State of Our Hobby. Opinions?

  1. #1
    Senior Member NickPeterman's Avatar
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    The State of Our Hobby. Opinions?

    Hey guys,

    This is something that I have been meaning to post for a while, sort of the outward manifestation of an internal debate that I have been having for a little over a month now. Over that period, I have noticed some really disappointing trends and activities amongst a number of aviation photography groups around the country, and I guess I wanted to get your guys' thoughts on perhaps where we sit as a community (not meaning just NYCAv, but as a WHOLE).

    The first thing I have noticed moreso as of late is a spirit of outright hostility and competition between fellow photographers, and especially between established photographers and new and/or budding photographers/enthusiasts. And I am not talking about things where huge amounts of money in photo sales are at risk. I am talking about deliberately witholding information about things other members of the community might enjoy, or I kid you not, posting deliberate disinformation to obstruct other people. More concerning has been a desire to not share basic stuff like the location of perfectly acceptable, public spotting locations with new people who might want to come out and watch the action.It appears almost as a clique-ish, us versus them mentality, where as people who can tell an MD-87 from an MD-88 that we are somehow entitled to something, whereas a person who doesn't know that KAPA is Centennial Airport in Denver is somehow inferior and must be kept out. I remember starting out and being able to message people at new airports and get answers with info, now it seems I increasingly see people discuss ways of obfuscating places as publicly OK as Udvar Hazy and Founder's Plaza.

    Second is a proliferation of a "me-first, me-second" type mindset. As a known moderator of another aviation site, I got dragged into a debacle involving a statewide spotting group out West. At question was the ways the owners of the group were trading away the ability of their members to post photos of aircraft in exchange for greater access to the airport for "airside" opportunities. It seems that increasingly, in contrast to the great work done by Phil et al here, individuals are interested in securing their access at the expense of the group.

    Lastly is just a matter of content and tone in how we deal with one another. Over the past 6 weeks I have been called things ranging from "a traitor worse than Snowden" for posting photos of military aircraft taken at public airfields from public property, and had my work disparaged by any of a number of fellow "spotters" for lord knows what reasons. I know we all have friends in the hobby, and we all have spotters who might not be our favorite people in the world, but I feel like as people who all share something in common-namely this hobby- and given the extreme difficulty faced by those pursuing it in some places (cough...cough EWR), perhaps our efforts could be better spent that tearing one another down for sport.


    I am certainly not alleging anyone in this group has been doing any of this. To be honest I kinda consider this place to be the last bastion of people who aren't acting in the ways I described above. I just wanted to put some of this out there so that perhaps people will be thinking about it. I know for me this kind of stuff, and the outright hostility I have seen directed at me and my friends, is the reason why I have decided to hang up the gear for a while and focus elsewhere... and I know others who feel the same. In closing I just wondered if other people had noticed some of this behavior, and hoped perhaps when one is tempted to fire off a snarky note about anothers' work or ignore genuine requests for help or info from others that it really can have an impact on our hobby as a whole.

    [/rant]



    Nick
    Last edited by NickPeterman; 01-31-2015 at 02:30 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Gerard's Avatar
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    Well said

  3. #3
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    I haven't had any problems, but there aren't a lot of plane spotters in Des Moines. The people that I know always exchange information with me and vice versa, whether it is a special plane coming in or a spotting location. When I have travelled to other airports everyone seems everyone has been friendly.

    Doug

  4. #4
    Senior Member NIKV69's Avatar
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    What you have described hasn't just started happening. It has been going on forever. I have been at this for a long enough period of time to have seen it all, experienced it all etc. Spotting is basically a microcosm of life. You have good guys and you have morons. You have people that will go out of their way to make sure they get an airframe you don't. Just so they can run home and upload it before you.

    It took me awhile but I learned the best thing is to spot where I want to spot, upload where I want to upload, hang out with who I want to hang out.

    People love me, people hate me. I could care less. I am not going to get involved in the minutiae. It's not worth it.


    You are making a mistake many have made, taking "the hobby" a little too seriously. It's just planes and taking pictures. Just get out there and enjoy yourself.
    'My idea of a good picture is one that's in focus and of a famous person doing something unfamous.' Andy Warhol

  5. #5
    Senior Member megatop412's Avatar
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    There are a-holes everywhere, Nick. This subculture isn't exempt from the range of personalities you see in every other facet of life. In many ways high school never ends for some people. The friends I've made doing this were worth the expense of dealing with the hassles. In most ways, the state of my hobby is better than it was so many years ago, when I shot alone in the Costco lot and had no idea there were others out there. I've complained about this on another site and basically got told I was wrong, which means the status quo is being protected. Whatever. Like I told the reporter who met with us during UN week, I only do this to hang out and have a good time. I could give a rats a** about how many shots I could get accepted anywhere. I don't think I ever laughed harder the day I was with Mark and he was on the phone with Manny, saying "Where are you? the Spruce Goose just landed in Jamaica Bay"

    Don't let the nastiness of others discourage you from YOUR hobby, you only get one life and its already too short as it is.

  6. #6
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    Nick P, well said. I've also been at this awhile now. And over the years I have seen a change in the spotter community.
    It's hard to take chances but sometimes it's better if you do

    http://www.southpawcaptures.com
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  7. #7
    Program Coordinator
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    I agree with others, and Nick in particular.

    I think there are three major stereotypes varieties of spotter, and they can mix and match (and this applies in photography in general and probably everything):

    1) Doing it for the exposure.

    2) Doing it for the money.

    3) Doing it for the fun.

    I've found number two to be the most rare, since making a living (or even making back expenses) is pretty tough (though doable) - these folks aren't always willing to share info because new folks knowing with they do threatens their ability to make the bills. One, in its worst stereotype, is the a.net a-hole who wants the field to his/herself and gets super competitive / problematic with new entrants. Also not willing to share info but not because they threaten paying the bills but because you might affect their little corner of a.net traffic. This shouldn't be confused with locals getting irritated with newbies or out of towners taking stupid risks or doing illegal things for a shot, however. (I know you aren't that). Interesting things come through Seattle all the time that I never hear about, mostly due to a prevalence of #1s. Used to drive me up a wall. Eventually just have to let it go. It starts to ruin spotting when you don't.

    Third is still, in my experience, the most common. Good people who just love planes. And want other people to love planes with them.

    Chill with the ones you like, don't bother with the rest. Let go of what you can't change.

  8. #8
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    I'm new to spotting and have only spotted a few airports. Mostly PHL, but also JFK. So far the community has been very accepting. That said, I engage in another hobby where the bad behavior is on steriods. That is metal detecting. Grown adults overcome by greed. Integrity has taken a major day off in that hobby. As an example, I joined a metal detecting club. One of the club's officers acts as a mentor to new members, guiding them with equipment purchases, learning curve issues as well as places to hunt. Sounds great, the way it ought to be in every hobby! Except this guy does nothing but mislead. He advised me to buy the wrong machine for beach hunting. One that won't work on a beach at all! He misled me and all the other newbies by lying about state park hunting rules and where the better hunting beaches were. Why? He is one of the biggest beach hunters in the state. Misleading rookies causes them to quit and creates less competition. Pretty scummy, but just one example of a hobby gone off the rails with bad behavior.

    I no longer associate with most beach hunters because too many are of the same ilk. People who will watch you drop your gold wedding band in the sand, then deny finding it if you ask if they've seen it. It's sad to hear that this hobby may have some of the same bad behavior going on. It is my sincerest hope it does not go the way of metal detecting.
    Last edited by tjc; 02-16-2015 at 09:04 AM.

  9. #9
    Administrator PhilDernerJr's Avatar
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    There have been times that I've seen people get upset about things that pertain to the hobby, and it kind of astounds me. We all do this for fun, no? As much as I like the planes, the PEOPLE are what really made me fall in love with this world of enthusiasm. I go spotting less (though you'll see me much more once it warms up) because I want to spend my time working on NYCA...to hopefully help others enjoy the hobby. That's because of the "previous generation" of people that helped me out when I first got into it and made me welcome.

    As far as I'm concerned, the people looking for exposure and are selling out for their own benefit and doing things that screw other people, or simply are just rude and unfriendly...though they may be "among" us, they are not truly one of us, and that is a clear distinction I've been able to make in my head. Their behavior is the opposite of "community," so how can they really be considered to be a part of one, when their goal is to look out for...number one?

    The thing is that our hobby has grown a LOT. With so many people, there ARE going to be a larger number of bad apples among us, and with so many communities and organizations popping up, the odds of those that are running them being power hungry, greedy, deceitful, also grow with it.

    I look at it as the same way I'd deal with any non-aviation friends in real life. I choose to hang out with friends who I feel are good people, who make me a better person, and will treat me the same way I want to treat them.

    The only downside is when the outside world looks at our community, as the public's awareness of us grows, and they see that kinda garbage that has infested. But I think the rest of us can make up for that just by being good and happy. :)
    Email me anytime at [email protected].

  10. #10
    Senior Member RWB's Avatar
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    Ah Fiddle sticks, if ya put it in a pan with water and boil it all down, all that's left is just ones and zeros, nothing more, nothing less.
    Love it or hate it, ones and zeros...nothing to blow a gasket over.
    PANTS UP, DON'T LOOT!

  11. #11
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    I've only been spotting for a few years now, but I'm pleased to say that I have yet to meet anyone you could consider a bad apple in person (though I have heard stories of a few). Some folks may be more serious than others, but in the end it's always been friendly and help. advice, etc. has always been given when asked. I know I'm bound to have a run-in with someone eventually, but I just find it hard to comprehend how someone could take a social hobby such as spotting and turn it into a chore and a competition. After spending a few years out west, I moved to NJ for work and my new "regular' airport for spotting is JFK. Thanks to this site and people I have met on the few spotting trips I've made so far, learning the intricacies and know-how of a complicated airport and it's busy surroundings was a piece of cake.

    When it comes to spotting of a different mode of transportation, railroads, I've also had several instances where I was the one being asked for advice. For instance, there is a small railroad in northern AZ that is really remote and hard to spot. Another member and I were the first people (as far as what was available to see online) to get photos and videos of it in action. Soon after posting said images and videos I got several request from people who wanted to see it for themselves asking for advice. I could have kept what knowledge I had secret, but instead I shared as much as I could without giving it a second thought. A while later new photos showed up online from the people I spoke to. Their photos were better and more interesting than mine, and I was happy to see them. I even offered to personally tour around a visitor to AZ that wanted to go trainspotting since it happened to be on my day off work, and I made a new friend that day.

    There have even been days where the weather would send most photographers home, but I stuck around just to be social with people that where there to watch plane, trains, whatever, and talk the hobby or just bs in general. Do I like the bit of exposure that comes from all the image sites? Yes. But that it not the main point in my enjoyment of the hobby. Long story short, just enjoy the good folks around you and don't let any bad apples ruin your day.

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