You've seen the images, perhaps you've even done them yourself. High school seniors want to feature their graduating year, engaged couples want hearts and their date, while expectant couples want to announce their pregnancy.
They do it using colored sidewalk chalk on the walls of old brick buildings. However, while what they're doing is creative, it is certainly unethical, if not illegal. If you as the photographer promote this as a "creative" idea, the responsibility now falls on you to clean up after yourself. The problem, however, is that most people simply walk away, assuming (incorrectly) that the rain will just wash it clean.
|Actual photograph taken in an area used regularly by photographers. Note the dates, hearts, etc. on the wall. Thanks to Jeanine Pohl for use of her image.|
We're not vandals. Most of us do our best to treat the places we photograph with great care, knowing that they'll be there for us another day as well. Yet, there are those select few who either don't care what others think of them or the industry as a whole, as long as they can "get their shot."
Harmless as it seems, chalk isn't something that just washes off every surface. As stated on eHow.com, "The surface of brick allows substances such as sidewalk chalk to enter into its tiny pores. Once trapped inside these crevices, the chalk becomes difficult to remove. Wiping the brick with a damp rag does little to remove the chalk stain. The brick requires a agent along with abrasive action to loosen the chalk and allow it to be released from the brick's surface."
When you think of what we can do in Photoshop, why not find a great brick wall background and add your own personal touch later on? You can surprise the couple with your creative talents without defacing private or public property.
Maybe the best way for a fresh start would be to get a bunch of photographers together armed with buckets, brushes and graffiti remover (if not a power washer!) Even if it's not your handiwork, spend some time cleaning up after those who have not only defaced someone else's property, but disrespected our profession in the process. Maybe a group outing to "Pay it Forward" is in order!
We are talents artists, not mercenaries who are simply after a buck or vandalize property.
- David Grupa
(PS Note: As pointed out by a colleague who owns one of these brick buildings, power washers are not the best idea either. The force of the water stream can loosen or damage the old mortar between these aging bricks, causing even more issues. Be smart . . . bring a small chalkboard!)