Skip

You Are Not a Photographer
August 13, 2011 7:24 AM   Subscribe

Just because you own a camera, you are not a photographer. Have you noticed how 50 girls you went to school with have set up shop as a "professional" photographer?

Pros review amateurs' submissions, and (sometimes) offer advice.

Related on the blue.
posted by lily_bart (130 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yes, this describes my sister-in-law exactly.
posted by ThePowerPopFan at 7:31 AM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


The electrical socket is the most interesting thing about any of these photos, "good" or "bad."
posted by nathancaswell at 7:34 AM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


We've got cameras.
posted by OmieWise at 7:36 AM on August 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


Just because you own a camera, you are not a photographer.

Reversing these clauses destroyed the intended meaning.
posted by DU at 7:37 AM on August 13, 2011 [31 favorites]


I don't get it. Either 1) people pay a crappy photographer to take crappy pictures of them--which seems like a pretty clear caveat emptor issue--and learn not to make the same mistake twice, or 2) people look at the crappy photographer's work before hiring them and decide not to hire them, in which case crappy photographer does not make a living as a photographer. It's a problem that solves itself.

As it is, the blog kind of seems like a "people of wal-mart" for photographers. Kind of mean-spirited. Even though...my god.
posted by phunniemee at 7:37 AM on August 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


I had not noticed this was a trend among high school girls. I am surprised that, as teenagers, they can afford to go into business. I am sure when they are in their 20s and are women, because of years of experience brought about by having been so precocious, they will have improved dramatically.

Or, wait. Was that just an oddly gendered complaint about adult women who make a small amount of money on the side as wedding or portrait photographers? Because that's neither new nor specific to women.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:37 AM on August 13, 2011 [56 favorites]


You are not a writer.

And, yet, here you are putting words on the internet.

Let's make fun of you! Stupid rube.
posted by chasing at 7:39 AM on August 13, 2011 [89 favorites]


They mad. And if this is wrong, I don't want to be right.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 7:40 AM on August 13, 2011 [35 favorites]


gave you permission

Brings up memories of furry artists and their copyright issues. Get with the times. Everyone has a camera on them at all time and wedding paps are there to record an event, not create something of value.
posted by jsavimbi at 7:40 AM on August 13, 2011


I had not noticed this was a trend among high school girls.

The title immediately made me think of girls with whom I went to college, and rang reasonably true, so I guess ymmv? But yes, a bit weirdly gendered. At least the text in question is taken directly from the blog this time, unlike the whole beer blog mishegoss last week.
posted by elizardbits at 7:42 AM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Of course a camera doesn't make you a photographer. You also need photoshop.

Also, if you have a copy of Microsoft Publisher, you are a layout artist.

And if you graduated from high school you are a writer.

Just ask my boss.
posted by localroger at 7:42 AM on August 13, 2011 [13 favorites]


For me, the number of "LOOK AT ME I'M A PHOTOGRAPHER" instances is outnumbered by the "LOOK AT ME I'M A BAKER" set. There must be a lot of people talking pictures of themselves eating cupcakes, is what I'm saying.
posted by Golfhaus at 7:42 AM on August 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


Yeah, this doesn't remind me of girls I went to school with at all. In fact, the vast majority of people I know who take photos like this are dudes who do glamour photography and take their badly 'shopped photos of hooters waitresses very, very seriously.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:45 AM on August 13, 2011 [28 favorites]


Golfhaus, this bud's for you. MetaCupcake.
posted by phunniemee at 7:46 AM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Because of the ubiquitous digital age, even photographers are not photographers. I attended a lecture by Art Wolfe his stock photography business is down to 10% of what it used to be. I teach art, and I had a student email me, a year after graduation from high school. The email was along the lines of, "I just bought a camera, and I want your help to get me into a show."

On the other side of the coin, a certain people are not visually attuned, and need help with personal projection, or image capture. With all that talk of the private sector, rather than government help projects, maybe the bazillion new photographers is the answer.
posted by Oyéah at 7:51 AM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Back in the old days we used chemicals and numerology to separate the men from the boys.
posted by Sailormom at 7:52 AM on August 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


I wondee if this is not another example of complaints by a short-lived profession being pushed into obscurity by technology. Wedding photography is expensive, slow, and they don't even give you the rights to the photographs. I have known more than one couple who has waited so long for their photos that the marriage had ended by the time the photos arrived. And the photographers may not be so embarrassingly amateurish as these are, but they often produce the same, semi-anonymous, wholly forced images of the couple staring into each other eyes, and the bridesmaids looking vaguely happy and vaguely uncomfotable ib a local park.

Or you could just have everybody take photos with their cell phones at your wedding and reception, and then tag them on Facebook, and you have a wedding photo album the next day. Sure, it's vernacular, but wedding photos have alwaya been a bit vernacular anyway -- compare the conventions of Russian or Indian photos to our own. It's free and it's going to happen anyway. I have a feeling a lot of people are going to skip profesional or unprofessional photographers in favor of this sort of approach. It's already happened, to a very larger extent, to event photography.

So don't worry, whiney, vaguely sexist wedding photograph snob. Yes, you're being put out of business. But it's going to happen to those girls from your school too.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:53 AM on August 13, 2011 [47 favorites]


IANAP, but what the hell is going on in this photo (from the site author's gallery)? Whatever it is, it ain't right.
posted by rtha at 7:54 AM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Back in the old days we used chemicals and numerology to separate the men from the boys.
posted by Sailormom


Aleister Crowley?!?
posted by COBRA! at 7:58 AM on August 13, 2011 [18 favorites]


Awesome Russian Wedding Videography is worth a look.
posted by stonepharisee at 7:58 AM on August 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


I don't understand this. People actually pay others to photoshop pics of their baby with a deer?
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:58 AM on August 13, 2011


Is this really by the author of the blog?

Because physician, heal thyself.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:00 AM on August 13, 2011 [24 favorites]


Is this blog just a invitation to laugh at people who may not be able to afford professional photography?

(I am aware that I may be making my own unwarranted assumptions about class and appearances.)
posted by oddman at 8:04 AM on August 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


IANAP, but what the hell is going on in this photo (from the site author's gallery)? Whatever it is, it ain't right.

HDR taken to ridiculous levels.

HDR is the new OMG-have you seen this photoshop filter?
posted by device55 at 8:09 AM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Or you could just have everybody take photos with their cell phones at your wedding and reception, and then tag them on Facebook, and you have a wedding photo album the next day.

Just leave a few disposable (yes, the kind everyone used in the late 90s) cameras on each table at the reception and have people turn them in at the end of the night. Multiple people I know have done this, and all say that the photos taken by friends with the cheap cameras are far better/more exciting than the expensive ones taken by the hired professional. Also, you don't have to wait for anyone to get their act together and post them for you. You have all the control.
posted by phunniemee at 8:12 AM on August 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


HDR-with-gunmetal-tones-and-shadowing-at-the-edge is a very slightly more sophisticated white vignetting.

But is that really the person who did the You Are Not a Photographer site? And is it a man or a woman, I genuinely can't tell from the photograph?
posted by Grangousier at 8:12 AM on August 13, 2011


"IANAP, but what the hell is going on in this photo (from the site author's gallery)? Whatever it is, it ain't right."

It appears to be a old black man smoking a cigarette while taking a break from playing his Sax. I love it.
posted by longsleeves at 8:14 AM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


(I dug a hole for myself there: I'm used to Rhys being a male name, never seen it as a woman's name before, and I couldn't really tell from the small photo on the Red Bubble page, so that's why I asked, it wasn't meaning to be... you know, but it was pertinent to the sexist comments on the You Are Not... site if she is a woman and the person who made the site and oh god I should probably shut up now and stop digging, shouldn't I...)
posted by Grangousier at 8:18 AM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ugh. LOL gurls, amirite?
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:20 AM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love it.

Anybody who has worked extensively with photoshops is going to see that image as being filtered to death; as a former photo editor at a newspaper, I would have been uncomfortable publishing it.

Which just goes to show -- one person's professionalism is another person's amateurism.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:20 AM on August 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Agreed, Longsleeves. That photo is more evocative than any other I've seen in a fair while. Because (since everybody wants to know; heh) it lets the gazing eye tell the story. It doesn't assume you won't figure it out yourself.

I do want this to be a photo of a band member at the wedding, taking a smoke break between sets. That would be an awesome reception.
posted by datawrangler at 8:20 AM on August 13, 2011


It really doesn't matter what profession you're examining, some people will be good at it, some won't, does it really merit a post here so we can acknowledge that?
posted by tomswift at 8:23 AM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Somebody spilled unsharp mask all over that sax player's hands.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:24 AM on August 13, 2011 [30 favorites]


But is that really the person who did the You Are Not a Photographer site?

Seems to be, yup.

The sax photo doesn't work for me at all because I find the over-HDRing of it so distracting. My eyes are too busy looking at the peculiar saxophone keys and the strange thing happening to the edge of the player's wrist.
posted by rtha at 8:26 AM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you have a camera and take pictures, you are a photographer, I suppose. That doesn't make you a good photographer, obviously.

I find this topic rather odd, because I am a Photographer, I even have a BFA degree in Photography, but I don't own a camera (the cheap one in my original iPhone is too crappy to count). I still work in photographic printing processes. But I've mostly been printing my old negatives, including some that I took when I was in my first year in art school. You'd be amazed at what you can do with a good negative taken with a superior camera like a Hasselblad, when you work with it for over 35 years.

In art school, they used to tell us that a photographer doesn't take pictures, he makes pictures. Or alternately, he sees pictures. The old school system I learned was built on Ansel Adams' Zone System. It emphasized "previsualization." You studied your camera equipment and the theory of how it operated, then you ran extensive film and development tests to establish the limits of how it worked, and to make it more accurate. Tech oriented guys like me were into specialized techniques like sensitometry, in many cases I would pick a film and development variation before I even shot the picture. The idea with previsualization is that you see the picture you want to take, and then you decide how best to implement that, using what you know of your equipment's capabilities.

But these blog pics are what we used to deride as "postvisualization." You just snapped pic after pic, eventually you have to take something worth printing. That type of photog never really does anything but churn out crap. They like to think "I can fix it in postproduction." This was a really expensive way to work in film, but now with digital, you can do this easily. This is not an improvement. We used to do critiques in classes and there tended to be two types of photogs. One type would take very few pictures, each one carefully set up and taken at a "decisive moment." Others would take roll after roll, they produced so many pics it would be hard to find anything that stood out as worth printing. I found this true in drawing classes too. Some guys always had notebooks and were constantly doodling. I found drawing to be intensely laborious, so if I wasn't doing something I wanted to finish, I wouldn't even start it.

Anyway, if you're going to be a wedding photog, you need skills more akin to a photojournalist. Very few photojournalists ascend to the higher aesthetic realms of fine art photography, and if they do, they were highly skilled at that, before they even went into the field. And you're not going to find them doing wedding photography.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:28 AM on August 13, 2011 [42 favorites]


What I remembered 10 years ago as a girl growing up was every girl my age would take black and white photos of themself naked, post them on livejournal, and have a million fans and get hundreds of comments about their art and feminism. And part of me was like, more power to ya, but then part of me also felt like the emperor had no clothes about the feminism thing because inevitably the most successful were people like Helena from myredself and skinny hipsters from DC, not, say, a certain heavier girl from Australia. This devolved into arguments about beauty and art and feminism and internet voyeurism, I remember. And then a few years later Helena and others were modeling O Mon Dieu flower rings costing $30+ in their arty portraits in exchange for being able to keep the rings and I was like ehhhh.
posted by ifjuly at 8:30 AM on August 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


Yeah, these are funny to laugh at, but on vacation recently I stopped to look in the window of a professional photographer and saw a 3' x 4' image of the groom's party: One douchebag about to get married, with four douchebags around him, three of them straddling giant, coastal defence cannons pointed right at the camera.

I'm jes' sayin: If amateurs think they can do what you do, maybe you need to be obviously better at what you do.
posted by fatbird at 8:33 AM on August 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


HDR if the Flicker equivalent of writing L@@K!! in the title of an eBay auction.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:36 AM on August 13, 2011 [13 favorites]


Charlie Don't Surf:

"If you have a camera and take pictures, you are a photographer, I suppose. That doesn't make you a good photographer, obviously."

Yes, this. We have the same thing going one in my slice of the creative world regarding who is a "real" writer and who isn't. And I'm very much in the camp of "You write? Then you get to call yourself a writer." Doesn't make you a good writer, or a professional writer, etc. But the act of writing is the base level consideration.

I have a camera and I take pictures, so I'm a photographer. I'm sure as hell not about to put out my shingle as a pro, however. I think having a decent assessment of one's expertise is not a bad thing.
posted by jscalzi at 8:40 AM on August 13, 2011 [12 favorites]


Anyway, if you're going to be a wedding photog, you need skills more akin to a photojournalist.

This is a very good point, I hadn't thought of it that way before, but you're exactly right.
posted by device55 at 8:41 AM on August 13, 2011


This reminds me of one of my friends, the wife of a computer consultant, who used to say, "Just because you have a program called 'Illustrator', doesn't mean you ARE an illustrator!
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 8:42 AM on August 13, 2011


I can empathize with the site author. As a graphic designer, I am constantly running up against the mistaken idea that buying a copy of Creative Suite will suddenly allow an amateur to do the same work that I do.

The real problem is that a large majority of the target audience for design and photography cannot tell the difference between good and bad work. Either they don't have good taste, or they just don't care. As long as the content they want is on the page (or in this case, in the photo), they don't care about nerdy things like color and composition.

Ultimately, struggling against amateurs becomes a losing battle when clients insist on making the logo bigger or filling up a page so completely with content that it becomes a muddled mess and fails to communicate a coherent message.
posted by MegoSteve at 8:49 AM on August 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


A guy on my Facebook feed has recently started a page declaring himself a photographer; he exclusively takes pictures of young, scantily-clad and heavily-tattooed women standing by old cars or train tracks, that sort of thing. The photos are not artistic in the least and I can't help thinking he's doing it to occassionally get laid. He gets extremely defensive about his 'business' in his posts... half the time, I find the whole thing funny, but the other half I just feel embarrassed for him and the women he's shooting.
posted by stinkycheese at 8:59 AM on August 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


The amazingly tacky HDR shots linkes above are from "sometime contributor" Rhys Harper, not the authors of the blog. Looking at her(his?) photography after reading that self-righteous rant was just what I needed to get my morning off to a hilarious start.
posted by dvdgee at 9:06 AM on August 13, 2011


All the huffing and puffing over who is or is not a real photographer or writer reminds me of that scene in Wonder Boys where the ponderous gasbag of a novelist gets up to speak at a literary event and smugly begins "I (dramatic pause) am a Writer," to gasping applause.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:08 AM on August 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


> ...half the time, I find the whole thing funny, but the other half I just feel embarrassed for him and the women he's shooting.

Well, I don't think you need to feel embarrassed on his account. If he's truly only doing it to get laid and succeeding, then he's fulfilling all his artistic ambitions.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:14 AM on August 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


MegoSteve: The real problem is that a large majority of the target audience for design and photography cannot tell the difference between good and bad work. Either they don't have good taste, or they just don't care.
This is absolutely right, and it goes way beyond photography or even the visual arts, in my experience. And an expert who has devoted much time and effort to developing a sense of aesthetic intuition is invariably rankled when that expertise is implicitly disrespected by inept displays of "professionalism" like these.

Sites like these are mean-spirited and possibly less constructive than they might be, but I can understand why they exist.
posted by Western Infidels at 9:16 AM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I know two people who have been encouraged by others to become a professional photographer by their friends and by anonymous people online who have seen their work and written them with the "you should turn pro," line.

In one case, they are correct in that every shot she takes is a near masterpiece and yet she is utterly naive about the technical or classic aesthetic aspects of photography but distinctive and brilliant work just pours out of her camera. In the other case, despite nearly identical praise, there is nothing, nothing, nothing to recommend her work as anything more than snapshots.
posted by bz at 9:22 AM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


if you take pictures regularly, you are a photographer. if you get paid to take pictures regularly, you are a professional.

of course, you might be TERRIBLE. but that isnt unique to photography. the same is true for other arts (music, dance, etc) and things we don't normally associate with art (i know some professional java coders who, frankly, suck.)
posted by davejay at 9:30 AM on August 13, 2011


> In one case, they are correct in that every shot she takes is a near masterpiece and yet she is utterly naive about the technical or classic aesthetic aspects of photography but distinctive and brilliant work just pours out of her camera.

I have a friend like this. I am not a "photographer," nor do I aspire to be one, but it seems to me that the most important dividing line between great photographers and non- is having "the eye." This guy takes utterly amazing photographs of stuff/people/landscapes/whatever I wouldn't glance twice at. There's no gear or software for that.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:31 AM on August 13, 2011


The real problem is that a large majority of the target audience for design and photography cannot tell the difference between good and bad work. Either they don't have good taste, or they just don't care.

Or those people have an aesthetic taste and values that you don't share.

But seeing as they're ignorant plebes and you're the fifth associate assistant director of internet fonts in green at Smug Douchebag Web Design LLC, it is probably gauche of me to say that.

I do wonder, however - Is it hard to pass under bridges on a horse so high ?

for my wedding, on of the photogs we approached insisted that nobody else at the event take pictures. Stupid.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:33 AM on August 13, 2011 [12 favorites]


This isn't really a new trend. I think many of us probably remember the same kind of thing going on in high school, when the 'photographer' from the school paper was let loose with his/her own camera on bar mitzvahs, weddings, and graduations.

Our homeroom teacher (the paper and yearbook advisor) had a huge banner on her wall that read, "Just because you know how to mix a stop bath doesn't mean you know how to compose a photo." Substitute 'have a Flickr account' for the chemicals and you've got a great update.
posted by yellowcandy at 9:34 AM on August 13, 2011


If you have and use a camera you are a photographer. If you can see that stuff and make some sort of living from it you are a professional photographer.

It is as simple as that. quality is a whole nother matter. And there is a certain amount of objectiveness to that.
posted by edgeways at 9:39 AM on August 13, 2011


Or you could just have everybody take photos with their cell phones at your wedding and reception, and then tag them on Facebook, and you have a wedding photo album the next day.

This is exactly what we did, and later I printed a photo album on Lulu for our families who would appreciate that sort of thing. It was a lot of fun and I don't regret it one bit.
posted by nev at 9:43 AM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is exactly what we did, and later I printed a photo album on Lulu for our families who would appreciate that sort of thing. It was a lot of fun and I don't regret it one bit.

And why would you. It was the people who made the event and the people who participated directly documenting their own experiences, and that's glorious, subjective issues of taste aside.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:46 AM on August 13, 2011


"Have you noticed how 50 girls you went to school with have set up shop as a "professional" photographer?"

Unless 50 girls have set up shop as one photographer, this is a good example of the fact that writing is a lot like taking pictures: You may be passionate, but if you don't know what you're doing, the technical flaws in your work will distract people who sweat the details.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 9:46 AM on August 13, 2011 [21 favorites]


for my wedding, on of the photogs we approached insisted that nobody else at the event take pictures. Stupid.

I'm baffled that so many wedding photographers insist on holding the copyright to the images of some couple's wedding.

Does the photographer really think that this copyright is going to prevent the couple from running a print down to Walgreen's and slapping it on the Insta-print Photo machine to make a copy for mom? What are they going to do? Sue their customers?
posted by device55 at 9:50 AM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


The photography and design professionals in this thread seem unanimous in their belief that they bring special aesthetic qualities to their work that amateurs cannot, and that almost no one is capable of appreciating these differences. That seems like a strange way to make the case that people should pay handsomely for your services.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:51 AM on August 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


Multiple people I know have done this, and all say that the photos taken by friends with the cheap cameras are far better/more exciting than the expensive ones taken by the hired professional.

Wow, did they ever hire the wrong professional.
posted by Dasein at 9:52 AM on August 13, 2011


Photographers are horrified to learn that their customers would rather pay less for cheesy photography than more for polished photos, and even then, the more polished photos were rarely ever that amazing. Expensive professional wedding photographers generally produce generic, near-fungible photos. You see the same visual cliches over and over and over again.

There might be some improvements in lighting, framing, and the avoidance of silly filters, but at the end of the day, the newlyweds want pictures of their wedding for a reasonable price, not perfectly clean photographs. A somewhat clumsy photo of them taking their vows is every bit as valuable to them as a somewhat cleaner photo of them taking their vows.

Also, these fauxtographers are often better at networking than more expensive photographers. To the victor go the spoils. The fact that many fauxtographers burn themselves out in terms of energy and money is beside the point: the clients often don't see the more expensive photographers as offering enough value for their services.

I hate cheesy photography as much as the next guy, but the whining is a bit much.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:52 AM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Have you noticed how 50 girls you went to school with have set up shop as a "professional" photographer?"

Unless 50 girls have set up shop as one photographer, this is a good example of the fact that writing is a lot like taking pictures: You may be passionate, but if you don't know what you're doing, the technical flaws in your work will distract people who sweat the details.


Also, who are they quoting? Why did they quote just one word? And yet, while it's merely odd that they quoted just one word, it's downright unforgivable that they don't attribute the quotation.

If dueling were legal, I would insist on pistols at dawn.
posted by oddman at 9:53 AM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, I remember starting photo school and the teacher starting to talk about ...... "well theres a lot of digital cameras out there now so that means......" and I thought he was going to say something like 'so lots of people are getting into photography, its much more accessible' but he just said " so that means a lot of shit photos are getting made".

I just thought that was a very closed minded thing to say really, there's quite a few old school people like that or otherwise they are just being mean. I can't stand all that who's a real photographer crap, I hope they all get washed away.

-you are not a photographer, who the fk are you ? especially if that hdr shot dug up by bunny is for reals.
posted by sgt.serenity at 9:53 AM on August 13, 2011


Multiple people I know have done this, and all say that the photos taken by friends with the cheap cameras are far better/more exciting than the expensive ones taken by the hired professional.

Wow, did they ever hire the wrong professional.


Maybe the professionals got the wrong training.

There was a quote from Henry Bond's Lacan at the Scene. I'm too lazy to dig up the exact cite, but I remember it listing four sorts of photography - it might have been "professional, clinical, fine art, and the snapshot" - but anyway - the quote named the "snapshot" as the only form of photography in which formal experimentation was truly common. The spontaneous, untrained snapshot is often more exciting to look at than the more consistent, rule-of-thirds-obeying, perfectly-exposed photograph made by a trained professional.

This is not to say that we should replace professional photographers with untrained vacation snappers, but it does mean that, yeah, especially when the professional has more training than talent, often the spontaneous digital snap is just plain more interesting to look at.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:58 AM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't understand this. People actually pay others to photoshop pics of their baby with a deer?

I...would do this thing.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:08 AM on August 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


Agreed, Longsleeves. That photo is more evocative than any other I've seen in a fair while. Because (since everybody wants to know; heh) it lets the gazing eye tell the story. It doesn't assume you won't figure it out yourself.

I do want this to be a photo of a band member at the wedding, taking a smoke break between sets. That would be an awesome reception.


Oh come on, look at the nasty shit around the large valves to the left third of that picture. He's trying to do the fake-HDR-make-people-look-super-wrinkly thing that blew up with photojournalists a few years back. Trying and failing.

Somebody spilled unsharp mask all over that sax player's hands.

Don't forget find edges.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:31 AM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


There are basically three kinds of people with regard to this sort of thing:

1. The person who never notices that there is a Coke can on the ground in the foreground of their otherwise beautiful swamp landscape photograph.

2. The person who notices the Coke can when the photo is printed and only realizes then it is no good.

3. The person who notices the Coke can in time to reframe or remove it. This is the person who has "the eye."

Besides the Coke can there is the half of something split at the edge of the frame, the too much or not enough space between the subject and an edge, the bizarre color juxtapositions, and all the other stuff that "doesn't look right." If you start out in category 2, you can move to 3 with practice. If you start in category 1 you can move to 2 with training, but only if you care.

However, if you are in category 1 and see category 3 people as being overly picky people riding a high horse, you will stay in category 1. The thing is, even category 1 people can tell when a snapshot is alongside a properly composed photo that the properly composed photo is better; it's just that they can't articulate why.
posted by localroger at 10:42 AM on August 13, 2011 [13 favorites]


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by Hoopo at 10:44 AM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


The spontaneous, untrained snapshot is often more exciting to look at than the more consistent, rule-of-thirds-obeying, perfectly-exposed photograph made by a trained professional.

If you're really good you get your snaps to come out properly composed without coaching the subjects. A really good way to practice this is to photograph animals. I did a lot of work with birds on film in the 1980's which is a great way to burn money buying Fujichrome 50. I did sell enough to pay for my film (there were a lot more pet and nature magazines back then). There's nothing like seeing the Coke can after developing the slide to make you start looking for it before you press the shutter release.

Of course, digital and photoshop have changed that, which is not a good thing.
posted by localroger at 10:47 AM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would find the Coke can to be the most interesting part of the photo. Where does that put me?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:50 AM on August 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


Seems like these people are just guilty of having really cheesy taste and thinking adding a gaudy PS filter makes a photo 'professional', yes they are ugly (tho a couple were quite funny), but the site's MO and snark factor doesn't sit right with me. Ok you're a proper photographer, just get on with it then.
posted by rollerball at 10:55 AM on August 13, 2011


oh and I forgot to add, that, like others have said - of course this isn't new - you're little neighborhood photo studio will have the same cheesy effects and backdrops to add if you like.
posted by rollerball at 10:57 AM on August 13, 2011


I totally get where this frustration is coming from. I'm not a professional by any means, but I can recognize the training, expertise, and understanding that I lack. When a skilled pro sees others make blatant, basic mistakes without any awareness of how faulty (in the most objective of senses) their work is, it must be infuriating.

However.

Guess what? They're making money apparently. Don't blame the skill less photographers. Blame the audience that feeds their egos. Blame the technology that allows them to easily churn out hundreds of pictures. Blame the clients that hire and pay them.

It may not be fair, it may not be "right", but it's happening and who are you to cry foul? Here you are, a photographer with decades of experience, formal education in the arts, and numerous accolades. Yet some 25 year old girl from your school picked up a DSLR two years ago and is sniping your wedding gigs before you can get hired. Her quality might be much less than yours, but so is her asking price. And her clients love the results all the same because they're not artistically trained. They care, but they don't know what to care about.

I'd say there is a gap here that people are exploiting. I would love that every pro embody the best of the art form. But I also think it's shrewd (in a dynamically emerging trend sort of way) that people are coming in with less fixed costs from education and training and capturing value for themselves and others.

If I might make a final analogy. I hate scalpers. I hate that my show sells out before I can grab tickets, but then those same seats are readily available online for almost double the price. I don't think it's fair. But it is smart. And it works. And in some ways, it actually is economically efficient. Sometimes, if you can, you should.
posted by ChipT at 11:02 AM on August 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Next week: Just because you draw a webcomic you are not an artist. Or a writer. Or human
posted by dng at 11:10 AM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are basically three kinds of people with regard to this sort of thing:

I'm with shakespeherian - some modern landscape photographers would ONLY take the photo if there were an undisturbed Coke can in the foreground. Because, really, that's what much of our modern landscape looks like these days. And some of those prints are what end up in higher-end galleries and Aperture.

I get where the blog post is coming from, but photographers -- like anybody in a profession that's been transformed by the digital and Internet advances of the past 15 years -- need to find their niches. Some folks are willing to pay decent money for a specific aesthetic or level of technical skill. Many others aren't. Figure out where you fit in, and go after that. If you can't make it without compromising your principles, it's time to let it become just a hobby or do something else.
posted by lisa g at 11:10 AM on August 13, 2011


the site's MO and snark factor doesn't sit right with me. Ok you're a proper photographer, just get on with it then.

Yeah, the guy is selling bumper stickers and other merch for people to publicly display just how much your photography *really sucks*, it is really off-putting.

I hear this sort of talk a lot from graphic designers and it rubs me the wrong way. It often comes down to "good design is what I like and do". I know a guy who teaches design at college on the side of his design biz (he's pretty good actually) who states as fact to his students that a good logo should be round. Since when? There are hundreds of perfectly good and even iconic logos that aren't round.

Yes many of the pictures on this blog are objectively terrible, but the whole thing comes off as amateur-bashing when there are amateurs out there that can hand a "pro" their ass.
posted by Hoopo at 11:18 AM on August 13, 2011


People shouldn't litter in swamps.
posted by desjardins at 11:21 AM on August 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


people look at the crappy photographer's work before hiring them and decide not to hire them, in which case crappy photographer does not make a living as a photographer

Yeah, I don't know about this. I think it's possible to build up a portfolio of work where you've gotten lucky enough that you've got some great shots, but still don't know how to reliably produce work of the same quality for people.

Have you noticed how 50 girls you went to school with have set up shop as a "professional" photographer?

Some of them are actually pretty good. Others, less so.

I do think the gender weight of the phenomena is interesting. I think this might be one of those things where not having the social expectation of having to feed a family might leave more women feeling free to dip their toes in the water. I know more female songwriters really giving music a go than male ones, too.
posted by weston at 11:26 AM on August 13, 2011


I'm kinda glad almost no one notices the photos I post online. This is why.
posted by tommasz at 11:39 AM on August 13, 2011


Bah, let's all link to our flickr accounts and savage each other.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 11:57 AM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


some modern landscape photographers would ONLY take the photo if there were an undisturbed Coke can in the foreground

Sure, if that's the assignment or intent, but its usually not; I was trying to sell pics to nature magazines and tourism bureaus and they most definitely did not want litter in the photos.

An amateur will on occasion get lucky and find something evocative and un-messed-up in the frame; they might even recognize their good fortune for what it was. But a professional can go out looking for the right image to fulfill an assignment and have some chance of returning with a product appropriate to the given task.
posted by localroger at 11:58 AM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nthing that the qualification to be a pro anything is "getting paid". Some of the shots in the blog are pretty appalling, but the tone of the blog is too. I guess they're even.
posted by immlass at 12:15 PM on August 13, 2011


localroger - I think your original point was that a lot of people wouldn't even notice the Coke can in their framing of the photo, and you're right. Many photographers haven't trained themselves to look at all the details or consider the ultimate composition of what's in their frame, either out of laziness or a sense of "I can always fix any problems later in Photoshop."

My point was just that, in the wide world of photography -- from photojournalism to pet portraits to documentary work to art photography to wedding shots to pinup-girl photography to pristine nature shots and so much more -- there's a very wide range of acceptable styles, content, aesthetics, composition rules, and ethics about setting up shots and altering images in Photoshop. But you're correct that a professional is a lot more likely to consistently achieve their goals than someone who's just hit-and-miss and occasionally pulls off a lucky shot.
posted by lisa g at 12:20 PM on August 13, 2011


So that's why everyone keeps giving me the finger
posted by Smedleyman at 12:23 PM on August 13, 2011


the qualification to be a pro anything is "getting paid"

...in a context where standards are applied. Simply getting paid doesn't always cut it. For example, the fact that hundreds of people have sent me donations and hundreds more have bought the self-published POD version of my novel doesn't make me a professional writer or, as far as many or concerned, it a "real book." (Even though it has an ISBN thanks to Lulu, it's discriminated against in many markets simply because it's POD.) The reason is that there is no professional editorial judgement involved, even if I've made more money and found more fans through it than most first-time SF novels manage.

On the other hand the fact that Bull Spec, a startup SF magazine, bought reprint rights to my web-published story Mortal Passage for the princely sum of $100, actually makes me a professional writer this year. Woohoo!

The situation with photography is a bit more complex, and obviously you can make a case that someone who hangs out a shingle and gets regular jobs doing weddings and such is a "professional." I'd say the caveat is that if a professional who is regularly paid by places that have editorial standards such as magazines and advertising agencies makes the judgement that their work is crap, they are unprofessional even if getting paid, just as all the donations for my novel don't entitle me to join SFWA.

If anyone wants to extend this to the art world though I will quietly slink away.
posted by localroger at 12:26 PM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't wait until Flickr has totally destroyed the professional photographer. Christ.
posted by Jairus at 12:38 PM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


...in a context where standards are applied. Simply getting paid doesn't always cut it. For example, the fact that hundreds of people have sent me donations and hundreds more have bought the self-published POD version of my novel doesn't make me a professional writer or, as far as many or concerned, it a "real book." (Even though it has an ISBN thanks to Lulu, it's discriminated against in many markets simply because it's POD.)

As a professional writer and editor, I'm going to disagree with you there.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:39 PM on August 13, 2011


I had not noticed this was a trend among high school girls...I am sure when they are in their 20s and are women, because of years of experience brought about by having been so precocious, they will have improved dramatically.
"I tried taking pictures, but they were so mediocre. I guess every girl goes through a photography phase. You know, horses... taking pictures of your feet."
posted by pxe2000 at 12:42 PM on August 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


Bunny I suppose I should consider that a generous interpretation. I've been a professional writer and photographer, regularly enough that I had to file quarterly taxes because of it, but not recently because the internet killed most of my mid-market customers. I'm pretty sure my editors and colleagues from that period would agree that the success of MoPI doesn't quality as a professional sale.

My dog in this hunt isn't the damage to my income, which has been minor since my real career involves building industrial control systems and that's going well. It's more that I am the only person in my very successful small company who has even a minimally good eye, and we should have someone on staff to do copywriting, layout, photography, and maintain our website and we don't because management doesn't see the value. Sometimes they let me do it if I'm not busy with my real job, and sometimes they get someone else to do it who does a terrible job, and they can't tell the difference.
posted by localroger at 12:46 PM on August 13, 2011


Why is this person singling out girls?

Just because you have a blog, doesn't mean you're worth reading.
posted by Decani at 12:54 PM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Simply getting paid doesn't always cut it. For example, the fact that hundreds of people have sent me donations and hundreds more have bought the self-published POD version of my novel doesn't make me a professional writer or, as far as many or concerned, it a "real book."

You may not be an "author", but you're a writer, and a professional one if you're getting paid. I'd probably make an exception to payment meaning professionals for people who are "paid" tips in a tip jar, which is the equivalent of busking for tips instead of selling services or product. The social prestige of being an artist/author/musician/etc.--which is what the linked blog seems to be about, complaining that "OMG insufficiently arty people got paid!"--is a different matter, which was one of the things I was getting at in my comment.
posted by immlass at 12:57 PM on August 13, 2011


I am a Photographer, I even have a BFA degree in Photography, but I don't own a camera.
[...]
One type would take very few pictures, each one carefully set up and taken at a "decisive moment." Others would take roll after roll, they produced so many pics it would be hard to find anything that stood out as worth printing. I found this true in drawing classes too. Some guys always had notebooks and were constantly doodling. I found drawing to be intensely laborious, so if I wasn't doing something I wanted to finish, I wouldn't even start it.


Does this technique of not owning equipment or practicing apply to other fields as well? For example, I now notice that I don't own any pole vaulting equipment, and that I've spent my entire life not practicing pole vaulting.
posted by Pyry at 12:59 PM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


An site devoted enirely to belittling others? I am not sure whose taste is poorest here.
posted by caddis at 12:59 PM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


caddis: "An site devoted enirely to belittling others? I am not sure whose taste is poorest here."

Exactly. As someone said upthread, this is just "people of Wal-Mart" for photographers.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 1:03 PM on August 13, 2011


One of those linked posts had her talking about how she was spending $50,000 per year on college where all the professors were doing was telling her how bad her photography was. It's like she bottled up that rage and found someone even weaker to unleash it on.

Typical and banal.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 1:08 PM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


One of those linked posts had her talking about how she was spending $50,000 per year on college

Thinking you are a Professional Photographer when you do not have the ability to compose a snapshot is a relatively small error compared to this.
posted by localroger at 1:09 PM on August 13, 2011


Also, can I be honest for a second. My roommate's girlfriend does professional photography and posts her photos on Facebook... for advertising? I dunno. Anyway, they are terrible.

I feel bad saying it. But I never look at them and think good thoughts, just 'that looks horribly fake and staged.'

That's my bad thought for the day.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 1:11 PM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of those linked posts had her talking about how she was spending $50,000 per year on college where all the professors were doing was telling her how bad her photography was.

Well shit, I've seen 3 of her photos and I can do the same thing for a fraction of that.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:17 PM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: Just because you are here, you are not wise.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:19 PM on August 13, 2011


Digitally empowered amateurs have been invading the commercial arts for a couple of decades now. It has lead to a whole new vernacular taste that seems rather tasteless to old school artisans trained and experienced in the fundamentals as well as the nuances of their once ratified crafts. Any ambitious hack can seem like a pro in such an environment. Soon only the real artists will be able appreciate, let alone recognize, each others work.
posted by bonefish at 1:19 PM on August 13, 2011


I do a lot of random browsing on smugmug, god knows why. (I have no aspirations or desire to be a professional photographer. I have the opposite of "the eye," despite being a reasonably talented designer--every shot looks great to me in my viewfinder, and rarely does it actually look great, or even good, when I look at it later.)

Anyway, I notice a few things, looking around there:

A serious lack of imagination. Train tracks? Check. Holding hands and jumping in the air? Check. White dresses and shirts and khaki shorts on a beach? Check. Often times these seem like a checklist, which is what a friend's wedding was like...the photographer seriously had a pages-long checklist of shots to take, nothing at all spontaneous. Boring.

A serious lack of technical skill. I'm not talking here about composition, but just basic stuff like lighting and especially focus.

People aspiring to be photographers: Please lose the shot of you looking through a big camera back at the photographer taking your shot on your "about me" page.

That said, I've seen a number of really beautiful shots. Some are beautiful because of adroit technical skill and luck, some are beautiful because the subject is really lovely or the scene is (a blah composition of a photogenic person still contains a photogenic person), and some are just damned good photography.

(Also, look at enough photography sites and you realize that there are a lot of "models" in portfolios who just aren't attractive enough on film to pull off the glamor work they're going for, and the cynical part of me wonders exactly how much "getting laid" is going on. "I'm a photographer and, my god, I think you'd be an incredible model. I'd be happy to do a studio session just to see if my instincts are right...")
posted by maxwelton at 1:20 PM on August 13, 2011


I'm a part-time photographer. What a lot of part-timers don't realize is that taking the photos is only a small part of the service. It involves being pleasant, courteous and efficient. It means having people skills. It involves having the experience and equipment and skill to deal with the unexpected. It involves being good enough to deliver a product on- time and on- budget such that you will get recommendations and repeat work. It's work like anything else. I've learned that it's not art that sells. If you manage to end up with a bit of art, it's a bonus. What sells is a good product and a good experience for the client before, during and after the event.
posted by jimmythefish at 1:20 PM on August 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


I guess I don't understand why I think all of this staged photography looks so awful, but I god damn love photo journalism. On The Atlantic, they'll have 40+ pictures of events and they're moving powerful images every time.

I shudder to think of the staged family photos in my parents house though. Ugh. I must be missing why people like this kind of stuff since it's a legitimate industry.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 1:25 PM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


What a lot of part-timers don't realize is that taking the photos is only a small part of the service. It involves being pleasant, courteous and efficient. It means having people skills. It involves having the experience and equipment and skill to deal with the unexpected. It involves being good enough to deliver a product on- time and on- budget such that you will get recommendations and repeat work.

Very true. I was a photographer for nightclubs/live events for about 10 years, and the social interaction aspects of the job were far more important than any photographic expertise. Having a consistently well performing camera is important, but if I was having an off night emotionally, the pictures suffered.

I think the snark behind blogs like this is due to increasing devaluation of the title "Photographer," which some people take pride in. Imagine if you were a practicing M.D. and suddenly everyone began calling themselves a Doctor. Now, you're forced to spend your time explaining why you're not like all those other so-called doctors, whereas before, the title alone would have sufficed (or at least provided some level of acknowledged proficiency).
posted by ShutterBun at 1:42 PM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Shutterbun, very true. I do think that far less has changed in the mid-high end market than people may think. While you do have the $500 wedding photographer out there, the people willing to pay for quality were never going to be swayed by the low- end in any case. I really believe that digital merely means that photographers who are good at what they do can offer still better products and services than they did before, provided they know how to work in that medium. The challenge is to continue to provide an excellent level of service - merely having a camera or calling oneself a photographer doesn't mean you can do that. I don't know too many serious working professionals who really are threatened by those with lesser talent or equipment. The price of admission in terms of experience and gear and hustle weeds out the crap pretty quickly - regardless of pedigree.
posted by jimmythefish at 1:55 PM on August 13, 2011


I downvoted this when it was an "annoying Facebook girl" macro on /r/adviceanimals.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:12 PM on August 13, 2011


Soon only the real artists will be able appreciate, let alone recognize, each others work.

And then we can stick a fork in it, because it will be dead.

While I dislike the kitschy, over-produced, Photoshopped-to-death, HDRed crap that gets far too many positive comments on Flickr as much as anyone, I'm pretty suspicious of any "art" that can only be recognized or appreciated with a lot of special training. I've never had a ton of tolerance for that sort of sophomoric MFA wankery, which in my experience typically consists of (sometimes literally) shit art and a giant artists' statement telling you in 5,000 words how deep it is.

The more you have to explain your art, the more it sucks. And if only people who have the same degree as you can recognize what you're doing for art, there's a good chance you're just engaging in intellectual masturbation.

So yeah, a lot of wedding photography is bad and a lot of amateur stuff that you find online are the early-21st-century equivalents of a black-velvet Elvis painting, but the fact that so much 'respectable' professional photography (that done by people with a lot of training and credentials) is inaccessible to the public and fails to stand on its own merits without a lot of explanation or interpretative training doesn't say anything good about the state of the art.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:12 PM on August 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


While you do have the $500 wedding photographer out there, the people willing to pay for quality were never going to be swayed by the low- end in any case.

This is true. The problem, as in writing and probably other fields, is that the mid-tier has disappeared. In writing this happened because those mid-tier magazines couldn't sell what the Internet was giving away for free; in photography, it's partly because those same mid-tier customers disappeared, and ultimately because the remaining mid-tier customers are just individuals who are deluged with people who can become "photographers" for a much more minimal investment in hardware than was necessary 15 years ago and they can't tell the difference between good work and crap.

I think the real tragedy here is that people who would have gone from casual photography to semi-pro, learning the skill and because there was some side money to be made, will now stop doing that. In the 1980's and early 90's my wife and I used to travel with a modest but capable 35mm rig with which we regularly took saleable pictures. We couldn't compete straight up with nature photographers who could afford the latest $10,000 long fast sharp lens, but by being in the right place when those guys weren't we could get a shot in that might be just what a mid tier market needed to illustrate an article.

Nowadays we carry a high end point and shoot with long zoom and motion stabilization, because it's good enough to ID the bird and illustrate the wife's blog, but we don't kid ourselves that there is a paying market for our pictures and so the light meter, tripod, and anything else that can't be worn around the neck stay home.
posted by localroger at 2:15 PM on August 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Does the photographer really think that this copyright is going to prevent the couple from running a print down to Walgreen's and slapping it on the Insta-print Photo machine to make a copy for mom? What are they going to do? Sue their customers?

Locally one wedding photographer was going broke and used the negatives to try and extract a last bit of cash from customers. Any who didn't pay? Wedding negatives were burned.
posted by rodgerd at 2:17 PM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Something that people are missing here: there are tons of people who *love* this stuff. In my hometown in the South, every young family has a portrait of themselves sitting on a large rock wearing overexposed, gaussian blurred (and therefore body-flattering) white outfits. These aren't the work of delusional photographers. These are the work of people taking photos that clients love and making a living at it. Sure, I think these photos are silly and not terribly sophisticated, but I'm not going to try to shout them down. Classical photographers are going to have to come to terms with the Precious Moments genre of photography.

Baby superimposed on a deer? That sucker is going on the front page of that baby's scrapbook.
posted by the jam at 2:21 PM on August 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


I think the gallery from Rhys sums up this website perfectly. Anyone that uses weird filters in an attempt to make a poorly composed boring photo better, is doing it wrong. You are not a photographer indeed. Stop wasting your time being snarky a-hole on the internet and more time shooting and then maybe you will become a 'photographer'.
posted by WickedPissah at 2:24 PM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Baby superimposed on a deer? That sucker is going on the front page of that baby's scrapbook.

...and directly into the garbage can the day the second of the baby's parents die.
posted by localroger at 2:59 PM on August 13, 2011


I'm pretty suspicious of any "art" that can only be recognized or appreciated with a lot of special training. I've never had a ton of tolerance for that sort of sophomoric MFA wankery, which in my experience typically consists of (sometimes literally) shit art and a giant artists' statement telling you in 5,000 words how deep it is.

The more you have to explain your art, the more it sucks. And if only people who have the same degree as you can recognize what you're doing for art, there's a good chance you're just engaging in intellectual masturbation.


Kadin2048 my stepson went through an anti-intellectual phase where everything he didn't know enough about to understand was labeled as sophomoric (i.e. "stupid"). In his case the more he learned about a scientific subject, or musical style, or art form, the less stupid he thought it was. Might work for you.

Anyway, the photographer that wrote this blog piece is just the latest in a long line of creative professionals who became horrified when they realized anyone with the means of production could crank out product. Desktop publishing, wysiwig web design software, photoshop filters, and digital cameras all put the means of production into lots of unskilled hands. Using scare quotes around "art" or "photography" just signals insecurity about one's own work.

As far as I am concerned anyone who pours a sizable amount of time and energy taking photos, or designing logos, or creating visual art is a photographer/designer/artist etc. Their work may be amateurish, they may have an inflated sense of self-importance, etc. but if they are regularly producing work there's no reason to argue they can't give themselves whatever corresponding title fits.

It doesn't matter how poorly executed the work is, it doesn't matter if it doesn't reach well established professional standards in the case of commercial work, or conceptual and aesthetic standards in the case of work that aspires to place itself within the world of contemporary fine art. It's still art, it's still photography, it's still design.

As a few people above have pointed out, the anger is misdirected. It's the audience and/or client that decides whether having all this bad work flooding the marketplace matters or not to the photographers who have spent years honing their craft. Unfortunately that might also cause the author of the article to have to come to terms with the possibility that commercial success is often bestowed upon poorly executed work, and the marketplace is not the best determinator of quality. The free market is not the source of all that is good in society, and often it does not fairly reward the best products or businesses. There's no special exemptions for creative services or design work.
posted by stagewhisper at 3:12 PM on August 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


I downvoted this when it was an "annoying Facebook girl" macro on /r/adviceanimals

img-hipsterkitten.jpg
posted by entropicamericana at 3:20 PM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Photographers are horrified to learn that their customers would rather pay less for cheesy photography than more for polished photos, and even then, the more polished photos were rarely ever that amazing. Expensive professional wedding photographers generally produce generic, near-fungible photos. You see the same visual cliches over and over and over again."

I worked as a wedding photographer once. I was hired by an acquaintance I didn't much like, who was rude throughout the process. I told her to look at the work I'd done (I was NOT a professional, and I still can't afford a DSLR, and I didn't realise I was good at it until I already had a degree in something else so lack formal training... but had been paid for work and produced work I was very pleased with and got me shortlisted in a couple of big competitions) because I wasn't convinced my style would suit her (think Martin Parr, and no photoshop if only because I can never do it in a non-obvious way - having a PC too crappy to run it forced me to learn how to compose shots properly) but she insisted and I needed the money and the experience.

It was no money and a lot of stress, but the worst part was when she said 'You need to take them all in colour, because I want to do arty things with them, like have them all black and white but with my bouquet of roses in colour.' ARGH. This is my least favourite 'photography trick', but it was what she wanted. Maybe the cheesy photography is often what the client wants - many people are not in possession of what seems to the "photographer" as good aesthetic sense. See also: cliched tattoos.

""Have you noticed how 50 girls you went to school with have set up shop as a "professional" photographer?"........Also, who are they quoting? Why did they quote just one word? And yet, while it's merely odd that they quoted just one word, it's downright unforgivable that they don't attribute the quotation.


It's scare quotes. They're mocking these people calling them professionals.
posted by mippy at 3:28 PM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


See also: cliched tattoos.

See also: Every client who wonders why there is "empty space" over there, "I'm paying you to fill that up."
posted by maxwelton at 3:38 PM on August 13, 2011


Have you noticed how 50 girls you went to school with didn't want to go to prom with you?
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:53 PM on August 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


"It's scare quotes. They're mocking these people calling them professionals."


Yes, that's why I made the joke.
posted by oddman at 5:57 PM on August 13, 2011


Almost anyone with a camera can be a great photographer once or twice. Technical competence, consistency, creativity, and good people skills, characterize the professional. All of these, with extraordinary vision, characterize the Artist who works in photography. This post is not about photography, it is about girl-hating.
posted by Oyéah at 7:15 PM on August 13, 2011


Oh yeah, we know, everything is.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 7:33 PM on August 13, 2011


Perhaps if I were an expert at image manipulation it would evoke the same sort of contempt in me that it has in other commenters who have apprised us of their expertise in that area, but I do love that photo of the Saxophone player.
posted by longsleeves at 11:06 PM on August 13, 2011


Kind of mean-spirited.

My reaction to it as well. Yes, some of the photography is less than stellar. No, it doesn't mean they're not professionals.

If you sell a photograph, you are now a "professional photographer." Whether you're a good professional photographer remains to be seen, but to have one hack try to build a reputation by attacking other hacks is, well, taking the low road.

Reminds me of the whole "Lengthen Your Line" chapter in "Zen in the Martial Arts."

Also, I'm betting that at least some of those photographs weren't submitted by folks with rights to do so, given the nature of the site.
posted by FormlessOne at 11:15 PM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


IMHO maintaining a public blog that takes random work from those less skilled in your field than yourself and holds them up for mockery is a mark of being insecure in your own work. I used to trash the art of cartoonists at or below my level when I was younger; now that I am convinced on a gut level that I am pretty casually competent (but not that I am a goddess) I feel like ripping stuff apart in public is mean-spirited.

I'll still laugh at really astoundingly bad work with my artist friends, dont get me wrong. Some stuff is just too awesomely terrible not to share. But if you have any concept of professional behavior, that does not belong in public. The person you're ripping apart for yucks might even be a fan of yours. Well, until they google for themselves and find you being an asshole.

(it is cool if the amateur in question has come to you and asked to receive a serious crit in public in the interest of being an example for common mistakes, but that is a very different situation!)
posted by egypturnash at 3:16 AM on August 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


This thread has a lot of comments about weddings, so let me add this: I have played in bands at a couple of hundred weddings, and part of the job of the bandleader is to orchestrate those (stupid) traditions like the bride's dance with the father, while we play some cheesy song in the background.

A wedding photographer also has a function other than pressing the shutter: there are certain groups of people that are traditionally grouped, and his or her job is to herd them together. The guy who shot my wedding did this very well and took a single shot of each group, when none of us were blinking or looking weird. He took "candids" as well as all the traditional shit (and this, 20 years ago, was his first request for B&W) and it looks pretty good.

Of course, I like the idea of an army of point and shoots disposables, too, and the shots my siblings sent me were just fine. Wedding photography is not fine art, but artistry is involved.

It is sad that professional photographers are being put out of business by people who have a camera and Photoshop and say "Oh, well, I can just do it myself." The results are not the same.
posted by kozad at 9:49 AM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would notice the Coke can or the electrical outlet. But I think that's 'cause I'm overly detail orientated, not necessarily possessing "the eye". I made a great assistant to the wedding photographer I worked for, catching the little details that can disrupt an image and spotting backgrounds that would enhance the subjects. But journalism, photography, and fashion merchandizing classes may have helped train that little obsessive-compulsive part of me into being actually useful at times. Don't get me wrong, I love the accessibility of digital. But it's not the same as a row of chemical baths, an enlarger in the corner, and a line of drying images. I felt a loss. It's tons less messy now, though.

In my limited experience, many marrying couple want the traditional, boring, vanilla poses. It can be challenging to get them to expand their horizons. It gets super boring, though; after a while, every wedding is the same wedding. However, some of those YANAP images are downright frightening. Many weren't merely "not good", but downright awful. I didn't realize Photoshop was a loaded weapon.

I think training in photojournalism could only help a wedding photographer. Maybe that's what I'll look for if I ever get married again.
posted by _paegan_ at 10:49 AM on August 14, 2011


Just because you bought a used toilet, you're not an artist.

Just because you can play records doesn't mean you're a composer.

Just because you're rich doesn't mean you quality to be president.
posted by Twang at 11:20 AM on August 14, 2011


"I'm not a crappy photographer! I'm a good photographer! You know this because I spend so much time painstakingly digging through crappy photographs and pointing out that they are crappy!"

Somebody needs to spend less time in front of the computer and more time behind a camera.
posted by cmyk at 11:54 AM on August 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Looks to me like a pretty rank How To Monetize Your Web Site sort of thing. And lazily done at that.

Next!
posted by IndigoJones at 2:05 PM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I enjoy the digital medium because it provides instant feedback and allows me to learn quickly. Film does not allow for this. I consider myself an amateur photographer.

If these ladies are opening businesses and they are profitable - just because you don't care for the images doesn't mean there isn't a market for them.

I enjoyed the link.
posted by BuffaloChickenWing at 7:20 AM on August 15, 2011


I bought a quality (albeit low end on the pro spectrum) digital camera because I want to take good pictures of my young children. We go to friend's birthday parties for their toddlers and part of my birthday gift is to take pictures and people really appreciate it. I'm not a professional, but I've made some people really happy with the memories I've captured.

I guess I have the self awareness to not quit the day job though because while people love getting free photos done I have doubts if this would pay the bills. Good thing I realize this because there are web sites like the above linked where I would be ridiculed for trying to make money doing something that made my friends smile.
posted by dgran at 8:00 AM on August 15, 2011


This is just mean-spirited and closed-minded. Yes there are a lot of people taking bad photographs, some of them charging for their services and advertising on the web. Like, so what?

Why are you so focused on feeling superior? Is that really productive? And even if that is important to you, why share it with us? And why does anyone else want to participate?

Ugh.
posted by grobstein at 8:37 AM on August 18, 2011


« Older Five myths about Africa   |   End of the line for the euro: a novel Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post