I often ask myself why this is so? From my experience a lot of camera operators and photographers have this "I am too good for this job" ego. It's like everyone should cater to them when he/she is working and that everyone else is ignorant but themselves.
It may seem that cameraman and photographers make a lot of decisions in terms of the visuals in a production, but believe me it's just a small part of it.
Often I find that these camera operators are assholes to people that want to be nice, and they only bully those that won't bully them.
Those that sound like an ass are usually dumb like a door knob
From my observation, most of the time when these photographers/cameraman seem to sound like they know it all, they can't film for shit. They may understand the basic structure of a shoot but most of these guys won't know art direction if it slapped them in the face.
Asshole = Insecurity
I noticed that most of these people are usually people I meet in local Hong Kong productions. These individuals usually come with the same package. I find that this attitude is created due to insecurity. Insecurity that the new kid will take his/her job or that the insecurity of letting people know what they don't know so they BS about everything they know little of.
I know this guy that claims he knows everything, and shot with every camera and been with every production.
Are you for real?
I have had Hollywood cameramen come up to me and ask me with great humbleness because they want to learn how a kung fu sequence is shot in Hong Kong. I have famous directors telling me simply and honestly that they had no knowledge of a certain technique or skill.
This "any camera" person is one of the greatest example of what we call in Hong Kong "Lao Shi Fu". This term in Chinese sounds positive but in reality it really refers to a stubborn, arrogant, and hard to work with individual.
Is everyone like that?
Well no, I have met great photographers and great cameramen.
Are they all grumpy?
Yes, including myself. It's not an easy job. Often we are not given a second chance to get something right and that is where te grumpiness comes from. We are often responsible for very everything in general. Whether the hair looks messy, or there is not enough make up on the model's face, how certain props are poorly positioned, etc... So most cameramen and photographers do work under a lot of stress.
Does this make it a license to be an arse?
Of course not and in fact I can foresee this old school "Lao Shi Fu" style of filming/photography will soon be obsolete. The industry is getting younger and involving more stubborn people (in a good way). The type of stubbornness that will not have any patience for BS but plenty of patience for excellence and quality.
The industry is also opening up. Another reason why there is such an inner circle with this film/photography industry is because it used to be a very small circle (more so film/TV than photography). But with the internet and cable tv, the industry is opening up inviting a more younger and more talented group of individuals. As this develop, you can be certain to see attitudes change because the only way to survive is to accept the industry as it changes.
So next time you work along some old school photographer that is giving you attitude for not doing something their way. Don't get angry, be sympathetic. Because of your humbleness and eagerness to evolve and learn, you will most likely not have to fight for your spot in the pit with younger photographers when you are at his/her age.