Stop Calling Yourself a Real Photographer if You Suck


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It has been about five years since I left my office job to make photos on a full-time basis.

Still, I feel quite uncomfortable calling myself a photographer.

Photo by Edward

Photo by Edward

Yes, my photos occasionally appear on glossy magazines covers; sometimes I see my photos on billboards in the center of the city, but still, am I a real photographer?

While this may sound like some sort of psychological disorder, and it definitely is, I find this constant self-analysis and self-questioning much more adequate than the attitude that many of today's newcomers have. What is that attitude I am talking about?

1. The Underlying Conditions

Let's face it: Not too many folks postpone identifying themselves as photography professionals--actually they do it right from the start.

It's either these people are complete idiots, or they must have some reasons to think so.

Well, I came up with a couple of ideas of why young and old ladies and gentlemen are so sure about their work being superior:

a) They Think Equipment Matters

guy-with-flashes
It really does. After 5-10 years of experience, when your customers really need that 50 megapixels image from your Hasselblad.

Otherwise, when I hear people saying that, "this camera makes really awesome photos," I still want to believe that they are kidding.

But unfortunately they are not. And they end up buying a $6.000 camera with a $2.500 lens, shooting everything from dead flies on their worktable to portraits of their friends against a window, which "by artistic pursuit," come out as bleak silhouettes only because the photographer, hmmm, camera owner has no idea about spot metering and exposure adjustment.

b) They Think Occasional Nice Photos Matter

monkey-with-camera

Apes and elephants can draw nice pictures if you give them a paintbrush.

But would you order something from an ape? With a technical assignment and sketches and stuff?

It's no revelation--photography amateurs sometimes take really great photos.

But the problem is they can't reproduce them because they have no idea how that happened.

They cannot unfold all the details and see what is right and what is wrong.

c) They Think Age Matters

wise-man-meme
As they say--even if you have been driving for 20 years--it's no problem. You can still become a good driver if you want to.

There are men and women out there who strongly believe that their age itself guarantees that they are highly experienced professionals and all the young fools must learn from them.

Too bad today's teenagers are usually ten times more talented.

d) They think that nice comments mean their work is great

stop-it-you-meme
Though, there is a certain law which drives all like-and-comment activities on Facebook and different photo communities, which is (please print it and put it on your wall):

People say nice things if they do not want to offend you, and they say bad things if they want to, regardless of the quality of your work.

2. The Perfect Scenario

This is how it goes:

A 40-year-old guy, let's call him Mike, who's been shooting butterflies and street signs with his point-and-shoot for the last two years, decides to get a decent camera "to take his photography to the next level."

So he buys a top-priced DSLR and starts to post snapshots of his offspring on Facebook.

All of his 315 friends from all over the world cannot just ignore these hundreds of uploaded photos in the fresh "Photography...My life... My passion" album and, being merely polite, drop an occasional comment: "That's great, Mike! Keep up the good work!"

Wow! Our Mike thinks people LOVE my photos. I should not be doing this for free.

And the next thing you see is:

Professional photographer. Have 2 free days left till the end of the month--contact me for pricing and details!

3. Vertigo Success

In time, it gets worse.

A professional photographer starts to make professional photography projects.

With pro models, pro stylists and pro everything. Thank God there are tons of them on Modelmayhem.

The crazy photographer
Let's make something unique, our Mike thinks. I want motion, I want emotion, I want expression and obsession! Yeah baby, let's make it dirty! Yeaargh! Well this is how all the Vogue and Vanity Fair photo shoots are made, right?

And finally, they start this arrogant and vanguard photo shoot. The model is showered with water, she plays hard, she screams, she slouches, she tears her t-shirt with an evil grin--she's a real rock 'n' roll baby!

The makeup is impudent, her pantyhose is all torn and she smokes and exhales into the camera.

But somehow, you can see that the lighting is awkward, water drops are indistinct and blurred and the backdrop is all dirty with footprints. The newbie model is trying hard to show that she is not shy, and you can see that her emotions are fake to say the least.

And there was no stylist on the shoot because the model said she can do it all by herself.

So the mascara is all over her cheeks, and the color of eye shadow does not correspond to anything in the frame.

And the photos are all black-and-white because decent color correction is for losers!

"Wow, this is amazing, Mike! This MUST be on a magazine cover!" a random friend comments.

Mike replies with an enigmatic, winking smiley ;).

What would that mean?

Well, he has probably already got a contract with Vogue, but he won't disclose any information because it's a serious business, you know.

4. Afterword

Unfortunately, this article is based on real events and personalities, maybe with a little exaggeration.

And what about you? Do you have the urge to spit in my face after reading this?

Hopefully you don't know my home address, so your feedback in the comments section is welcome!

George is an enthusiast photographer who focuses on both studio and outdoor photography, always seeking interesting and creative shooting and retouching techniques.
  • Ironscopics

    I’ve had enough of that kind of article that wants to teach me what is a photographer. What about doing your art instead ?

  • xXgannicusXx

    although there are certain elements of this “piece” that ring true, it is also ignorant and obnoxious. I love how the idea that people leaving positive comments on a photo is considered irrelevant, as if the average person is an idiot who couldn’t possibly know a good photo when they see one and are just being nice. In my experience, most people don’t say anything unless they like it…but what do they know, right George? smh

    • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

      Howdy xXgannicusXx (esoteric name),

      Thanks for your passionate and strongly opined comment! That’s why George writes what he writes…to get people thinking and stir some debate. Glad you were engaged enough to comment, and keep reading us…we’ve got more in store. :)

      Best,

      Marc

      • xXgannicusXx

        I only saw this because of a twitter link, I’ve read nothing in it that would suggest to me this site would merit subscribing too or coming back too. my wife is a makeup artist and we’ve seen plenty of hack photographers, calling themselves professional, that sound so much like the writer of this article and yourself. ironic, given the topic of this article.

        • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

          Oh yeah, xXgannicusXx…your imaginary wife, huh? What big projects has your “wife” worked on? What’s her name? Unless you’re willing to provide facts, don’t even bother bringing “her” up to boost your own apparent authority on this subject matter. :)

          • xXgannicusXx

            if I had an imaginary wife, I think I have more important problems than this site’s comment section

          • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

            Ooooooooo, good comeback…not! :)

    • Stinson

      You are taking the old as art argument that somehow great art is subjective. That’s ridiculous, ignorant and an affront to any real artist including the photographer that is an artist. The average person knows what they like. They know what appeals to them aesthetically and viscerally. The average person does not know what makes a great photograph, a great poem a great piece of art. They don’t.

      The average persons comment is irrelevant when it comes to determining if it is great art or not. It is not irrelevant if they are commenting on how they like the photo.

      • Paul Wren

        it must be great to have so much self belief that you’re better than everyone else. The thing is, the majority opinion from the people you fondly call average is what makes art. Like it or not, high brow and self proclaimed intellectuals call out their ideals on art, as do the average. The problems start when you start being rude to a particular section of the public. Do you really self love that much that only you counts in your opinion?

        • http://thomasjohannessen.no/ Thomas Johannessen

          Its not. What majority of people like, that makes art art.

      • xXgannicusXx

        art “experts” whether it be literary, photography, paintings, etc, are just as susceptible to talking out there ass as the next person. if a noted “expert” says something is amazing “art”, the rest of the muppets will jump on board.

    • Paul Wren

      you can sell one to the pompous puppet or you can make a lot of people happy. It’s about capturing the moment how you think it should be caught. Don’t let posts like this ruin your perception of Photography. The art is in everybody, critics are just critics lol. They have nothing better to do with themselves other than put others down. It’s their weakness not anyone else’s that read this

      • xXgannicusXx

        I’d love to see their income tax forms, wouldn’t surprise me if this trolling Mark guy and George “I didn’t name myself after a fictional character” Bailey make hardly anything from photography because they are more the type of people this article talks about than anyone else commenting in this forum

        • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

          Way to use projection to accuse George and I of EXACTLY what your story is a photographer. Bravo, sir, bravo! :)

  • Frznagn

    I’ll never be a real photographer, nor will I ever make a profit. But it does get me out of the house and some exercise.

  • Brad Tombers

    Don’t you think to a certain degree, these are stages that people go through for a reason? Meaning… learning takes time, and you have to make some mistakes to get better. What hit home for me was editing black and white because of poor color correction. This happens to me a lot, but it’s just where I’m at. It’s going to take some time for me to get comfortable and learn more. Then again, at the same time, I’m not parading around pretending I’m working for Vanity…. so I don’t know, am I a photographer? Who gets to say?

    • Paul Wren

      if you’re confident that you can capture what you want to see then you get to say ^^

      • Paul Goodwin

        That’s a very loose standard.

      • http://thomasjohannessen.no/ Thomas Johannessen

        well, if u can capture what you see the way you want it to look like, then ure a photographer. you catch light, and manipulate it, among other things like focus, DOF and elements.

        • Brad Tombers

          Yes, I agree with all of that. I can do those things… I’m just thinking specifically of when I’m learning new techniques. You can’t expect me to automatically know how to set up a three point lighting system and get it on my first shot. It takes time. I can create pretty amazing images doing other things though.

          Another thought:
          In any profession, there are some that are better than others. Take, for example, professional athletes. Those who play in the minor leagues are still professionals. They still earn a living playing their sport… and you can’t expect someone in the D-League to play at the same level as Lebron James, because that’s just not where he’s at!

    • Guest

      Yes, I agree with all of that. I can do those things… I’m just thinking specifically of when I’m learning new techniques. You can’t expect me to automatically know how to set up a three point lighting system and get it on my first shot. It takes time. I can create pretty amazing images doing other things though.

  • http://www.yamanoor.com/ Yamanoor Srihari

    I want the 5 minutes I wasted on this back. Alas…

  • Bridget

    Meh. Have you ever watched a marathon? There are all kinds of runners out there. Young, old, beginning, advanced….They train, they run, they accomplish. I haven’t met a single person who doesn’t feel accomplished. If someone can’t make money being a professional photographer they won’t. But they can still be a photographer, a person who enjoys taking photos. BAM!

    • Scott Carnes

      I employ photographers as an editor. A person who enjoys taking photos does NOT a photographer make. When I advertise a photographer’s position, I better get real photographers looking for a job, not lamers with their first plastic DSLR.

  • Paul Goodwin

    This article was self-serving, elitist drivel. Photography is art. “Mike’s” art may not be George’s cup of tea, but to some people it is. Who appointed George the judge of who can be called a photographer?

    • Paul Goodwin

      And by the way George, people have been known to spend thousands of dollars on art created by the apes and elephants you mock.

  • Scott Carnes

    I agree with George for the most part, but I don’t know anyone who pretends to be a pro based on age. I do know of some young folks who make the mistake of thinking the old guy with a camera is a pro just because he’s an old guy. Maybe that’s just George’s misperception.

    Otherwise, though, he’s spot on. I have a friend who calls himself a graphic artist because he took a year of graphic arts courses at the local community college. Sorry, if you want to wear a label, you have to prove yourself. (Also you have to stop pretending there are professions like graphic artist.) Photographers make their living at photography. Artists make their living at art. If you don’t, you haven’t earned the title.

  • JOhnnySmith

    Thank you so much for writing this article, most people need to learn what it means to actually be a photographer from the basics to digital.

  • windy1424

    I wonder what makes you think you have any right to say this. I’m sick of every idiot with an iPhone saying they are a photographer, too. But I have a lot of respect for anyone who gives up the security of a day job to try their hand at being an artist. A lot of them are going to suck. But in among them are going to be some great ones. And what you are saying sounds a lot more like sour grapes than any sort of advise. If you are what is considered an “expert” on this site, I’ll be unsubscribing now.

    • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

      Sorry to see you go, windy1424, but just know that you’re in the minority, as we’ve actually seen an increase in subscribers since this piece was published.

      Oh, and what makes George think he has a right to say this…probably because he’s actually a photography professional. Just that little thing. :)

      • Paul Wren

        I came across this by google and some links. I’m a Photographer, I’m an artist and you Marc, and this site are a bunch of self congratulating pompous prats. What a horrible way to treat people to be so self indulgent on your own site. Go get some porn or a life or something

        • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

          Really, Paul, because it sounds instead like you’re EXACTLY the kind of “photographer” who George exposed in this controversial article, LOL.

          We educate readers about photography since we have pro photographers as writers…and many here have already seconded George’s take on sub-par photographers. Seems like his piece hit too close to the truth as far as you were concerned, eh?

          • Paul Goodwin

            I’m not sure how you think the Paul is EXACTLY the kind of “photographer” that George has “exposed”. I happen to think that Paul is spot on with his assessment of this article and of your rebuttals. By the way, by my count of the comments here many more disagree with you and your buddy George.

          • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

            Hey Paul,

            Did you accidentally sign in as “Paul Goodwin” this time instead of “Paul Wren,” just so you can make it look like there are more critics out there?!?! LOL. I wouldn’t be surprised.

            Let me break it down for you, nice and slow: Your buddy Paul Wren got waaaay too offended just because George, a pro photographer, expressed an opinion. Thus, it stands to reason that he’s probably the kind of photographer George was talking about. Clear enough for ya, sport? :)

          • Paul Goodwin

            Different Paul, and you’re way to snarky for your own good. I’d tone it down a bit if I were you and try to keep this a civilized conversation.

          • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

            Seriously, “Paul?” Now you’re making threats?!?!? That’s after you invaded this site and started insulting everyone here?!?!? Seriously? You sure you want to continue making yourself look this bad, dude? LOL.

          • Paul Goodwin

            I can’t see where I’ve insulted anyone here, or made threats. Advise, yes. BTW, I’m not sport or dude.

          • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

            Puh-lease. Just check your Disqus history: Your 1st comment was a broad insult, and your 6th one was a kind of hybrid between insult and threat. Amazing how quickly you deny when called out on it.

          • Paul Goodwin

            My first comment was a criticism of this article. You should learn the difference.

          • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

            Aha, so, because you’re a self-serving person and very shameless, you make excuses for yourself when it suits you. Pathetic…not only couldn’t you handle George’s opinion like a civilized person, but you also can’t admit that you’ve been hurling insults here like crazy. Weak…you’re just weak. man…

          • James Picton

            Grow up Marc, your the editor or a writer of/on this site. Be professional. Yes, some of the comments are silly, but some are peoples views..if you cant take the criticism, take down the comment section.

          • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

            Point taken, James. I don’t agree, however, that being “professional,” as you define it, means not rebutting people when they hurl insults in a very personal way because they got their feelings hurt by George’s opinion. The two Pauls went beyond criticism in their comments, which is why they had to be put in their place. If you notice, no one else who left a comment was dealt with in the same manner that they were–because they didn’t cross the line from mere criticism into something more serious.

            Thanks for opining, though!

          • http://thomasjohannessen.no/ Thomas Johannessen

            that LOL again, dude. You just sound childish. If you use valid and good argument, I could listen to you, but Paul Goodwin has a point, that you should try to debate over with real words instead of that silly language.

          • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

            Bull, Thomas! All you’re doing is kissing up to “Paul Goodwin” because you agree with his point. Don’t pretend that it’s anything else than that, you phony. LOL, LOL, LOL. :) Your problem, like the two Pauls, is that you get your little feelings hurt when a real photographer describes those people who are very inept at photography…probably because you’re EXACTLY one of those people George was talking about. Sad that you’re so transparent, Tommy.

          • Paul Wren

            “LOL, LOL, LOL” Mental issues at work here, kind of reminds of the insane cackling that depicts a madman. Seriously though, either that picture is fake and you’re no older than 10 or so, or you have some serious mental issues. I pity you and whoever has to put up with that mentality.

          • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

            Oooooo, you’re really outdoing yourself now, Paulie. I just counted two insults you directed at me, one about mental health and the other about age. Yeah, it’s sad that you have kids because with your mentality of lashing out at people who disagree with you in rage and anger, you’re only teaching your kids what it is to be a complete wimp who’s not capable of tolerating different opinions. The sad thing is you think you’re somehow “owning” me on this thread. Again…sad. :)

          • Paul Wren

            You misunderstand. I’m not raging or angry, even with this comment that questions my parenting skills, as your opinion on that means less than nothing. You mistook both of those emotions for what I suggested. Pity. I now feel this even stronger than before. Enjoy owning a website for what seems to be the first time in your life whilst criticising the people that were reading it and making mature critiques of the posts. Very professional I must say. That’s a great number of Facebook likes and tweets by the way. I have an idea why there aren’t more, do you?

          • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

            Uh-huh…way to twist social-media stats that prove such controversial articles are a big hit into something that makes it look like it was a total failure, Paulie, LOL. I guess totally uninformed comments like that are to be expected from a guy who hides his true identity and has no experience at running a popular website. Oh!

          • http://thomasjohannessen.no/ Thomas Johannessen

            how did George became a pro photographer?

          • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

            Why don’t you ask George? :)

          • Paul Wren

            WOW, just WOW. You could check your website traffic and realise that there are two different IP addresses per person, but I think you prefer to see reality the way you prefer. Unfortunately you’re sharing that alternate reality on a public site. Again, just WOW.

          • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

            Was there an actual point to that tirade, Paulie, or was that just you going nuts on your keyboard again with a totally useless declaration, huh? LOL.

          • http://thomasjohannessen.no/ Thomas Johannessen

            dont use LOL, youre just look like a fool. Use proper language.

          • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

            Since you also failed understanding Internet acronyms in addition to writing properly in English, let me educate you about LOL, which stands for “laughing out loud,” which many of us are doing at the “photographers” who couldn’t handle George the Professional’s hard-hitting opinion (like you). :)

          • xXgannicusXx

            do you read what you write? holy low self-esteem, man.

          • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

            I agree that “Paul Wren” has seriously low self-esteem, xXgannicusXx. Way to finally write something honest and valuable in all the comments you’ve spammed on this page!!!

          • Paul Wren

            Anyone with an ounce of sense will have realised that by this comment alone you have a childish mentality. My young children know better than to deflect attention to someone else in a nasty way. Quit your writing/Photography ‘career’ and grow up before you attempt to discuss anything in public again. Really, give someone something that they’ve never had (money, peers, public presence etc) and the failures stand out by a mile, usually by proclaiming they’re so much better than everyone else and that everyone else ‘sucks’ (a childish word in itself). Your ‘discussion’ is no longer of worth and you should elevate your mentality and writing skills to trollish.

          • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

            Okay, so in your childish world, Paulie, you show your “maturity” by getting overly offended about small things, by not being able to handle justifiable criticism and then by name-calling. Ha ha, anyone reading this can see that you’ve got a lot of growing up to do there, junior, but way to project your failures onto me and everyone else who doesn’t agree with your politically correct perspective. LOL.

          • Paul Wren

            At my age I luckily missed the politically correct madness that was thrust upon many, unfortunately that also means I’m way too old for such foolishness as taking seriously people that do certain things such as type “LOL, LOL, LOL. Puh-lease and people that call me Paulie. The former of the three makes you sound insane as I stated and the latter two just make you sound like an effeminate drama queen. Combining the two does not make for a pretty picture, and yes you may now state truthfully that I am name calling. As for projecting my failures onto anyone else you are completely mistaken but I no longer think that you have the prerequisite intelligence to discuss that point with any further, as your comments have degenerated into mindless repetitive effeminate babble.

          • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

            Why are you so sexist by using the word “effeminate” relentlessly? Is that you again PROJECTING your lack of machismo, perhaps, onto others?! Hmmmm, Paulie? :)

          • xXgannicusXx

            you’re too much of a fool in this comments section to be a good photographer. people with confidence don’t act like 9 yr olds in their responses.

          • Paul Wren

            Not at all, let’s define pro Phoptographer. Does one need a BA (Hons) degree? I’m just doing my second year of that, by invitation, maybe I’ll be a ‘real’ pro when I complete. Does one have to have pictures sold on a regular basis? Tick that. Does one have to earn a certain percentage of income or over a certain amount of income? So long as that’s a reasonable amount you can tick that too. Do I need to know inverse square law, the sunny 16 rule or be able to critique my own work ruthlessly? Tick that too. The list can go on, but that wasn’t my point. This wasn’t about me and whether I’m a pro, it was about your self righteous obnoxious attitude and the fact that because you have a website you think you should use it to put other people down. That suggests a highly unprofessional attitude (kind of reminds me of ‘The Phoblographer’ website) and a sense of bitterness that you really can’t make the cut. Enjoy your narrow life because you’re a hero to your friends…really. Just a shame that with the attitude shown on this site your real friend(s) are probably only you.

          • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

            C’mon, Paulie, be intellectually honest, if you even know what that means. When George delivers a strong opinion based on his knowledge of what a pro photographer is versus a pretender, then it’s not putting people down. Stop being so politically correct and easily offended to the point where you destroy any hope of an intelligent conversation, Paulie. :) It’s simply telling it like it is from his perspective. The problem with you and politically correct crybabies like you is that you hatefully name-call when you get offended in order to shut down speech and the exchange of opinions. It must suck to be so narrow-minded, Paulie. Again, I pity your kids that that’s what they’re learning from ya. You just made me sad now.

          • Paul Wren

            You destroyed any hope of an intellectual conversation with the quality of your your responses. Talking of intellectual I’m a member of MENSA are you? If not then you should maybe take a look at the headline of your topic and swap out a word or two, does it still apply?

          • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

            I’m laughing at your desperate attempt to gain status and credibility in this losing argument of yours by claiming you’re a MENSA member!! Hahaha…sure…how many people who post anonymously on the Internet have claimed that to inflate their status in pointless, online arguments? Far too many. By the way, how can you be a MENSA member when your IQ is, like, 44???!

          • Paul Wren

            Well it seems that my reply with a link to the photograph of my MENSA membership card did not pass your moderation, very strange. At least from now on you may consider that there are people out there that do tell the truth.

          • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

            For starters, Paulie, it’s not your site…you DON’T OWN IT, so why are you shocked that you can’t do everything you want to on this site, hmmm?!?!? That alone proves you’re not MENSA material, Paulie, since you don’t have the basic brain power to understand that. Now, I nor anyone else have seen no EVIDENCE of your MENSA membership card, so I’m still calling you a liar on that.

          • Paul Wren

            I sent you a link through Discus too. I hope that you can be mature enough to log in, look at my Photograph and then apologise for calling me a liar. That or let me post a link to the photograph so that other people can watch you eat your words too. Cheerio

          • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

            Wow, Paulie, you sure have flown the cuckoo’s nest here by being so desperate to be taken seriously that you’ve posted what appears to be a MENSA card. However, you still fail to establish that it’s yours or that you’re really who you say you are–that could be anyone’s card. In other words, you have just shown the stupidity of having your buttons pushed on the Internet and getting into a flame war that you just can’t win. Further, you also show that not everyone in MENSA, apparently, is really anything close to being smart.

          • Paul Wren

            I realise that you are visually impaired but on the full sized photograph that was sent to you my name is clearly seen on the card. I don’t think that because you are handicapped in life that this gives you the right to be so bitter, maybe you need some life lessons which I’m sure you will receive if ever you get out of your parent’s basement and speak to people in that way when they are within physical range of you. You are THE most retarded, unprofessional and immature person that I have ever had the displeasure of being in contact with. Pat yourself on the back for achieving at least something in life. Reply as you wish as this will be the last time I visit this site. Enjoy your little internet bubble where you can disregard all facts and treat others by looking down your nose at the screen, whilst looking up at the light in your basement. Bye.

          • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

            You’re calling ME “immature” as you relentlessly name-call me and then smugly tell me you’re not even going to read my rebuttal, which is like a two-year-old putting his hands to his ears and going, “La la la la…I can’t hear you?!” Way to fail at appearing anything close to credible again, Paulie.

  • Bill Facer

    Having taken rudimentary classes, I had the good fortune of working in a commercial photo process plant. My job was final inspection. I saw every example of great photography to the worst. I think the blog here was great, he isn’t doing anything other than perhaps hoping for a self awareness of how we think about what we are doing. Call it a paradigm shift.

    Everyone should have the opportunity to be final inspection on a production line at a commercial lab, seeing thousands of photos during a shift and sometimes having to throw whole batches out because they are “inappropriate”. Some are so good, you wish you could print and keep. My pet peeve from that experience is a thing we like to call composition. Nice pics with crap in the background. Think before pushing the button.

  • Shane

    I guess Van Gogh wasn’t a real artist because he only sold one measly painting while he was alive. I hope you’re not going around telling people you’re a writer just because you wrote an article on a blog.

    • Stinson

      To George’s point, Van Gogh had to work at his art. He sketched and painted The Sower hundreds of times. He had many many people sit for him over and over. He worked at his craft incredibly hard ( to the detriment of his physical and mental health) and if you follow the progression of his art you can see him go from blah to good to great.

      I don’t believe George is saying he is a writer because he wrote an article.
      He is saying learn your craft, know it, work it and even then,you may be hesitant to call yourself an artist.

      Btw…great article George

      • Paul Goodwin

        Van Gogh was still an artist, he worked at his craft and improved upon it every time.

  • Jeril

    I feel the post had a great start but having said that I would have loved if George would have added his perspective of becoming a real photographer.
    I think that would have given this post a proper completion.

    • Veronika

      Completely agree with Jeril. This article has some good points about today’s photographers, but lacks a “solution”. What then constitutes a good photographer, who has the authority to call himself or someone else a pro?

  • BOB

    Worst article on this site.

  • JAMES

    I couldnt help but cringe while reading this article. How did your editor let you post this?

    Anyone who puts in the effort, no matter how little or poor their work is, deserves to call themselves photographers. The world is filled with beautiful and interesting places, events and all things and kudos to anyone who wants to share it.

    These people take on the “job” to capture and present these still images. There already have they earned the “photographer” title. Be it their hobby or profession.

    Existing photographers can only thank new photographers for making this a very profitable industry and for driving innovation in the industry. Like any business, not everyone will be successful. But that’s business.

    This site has to thank everyone, even those they are saying to stop calling themselves photographers, for existing…I too have many thanks to mentors and proteges.

    Keep snapping guys!

    after all…”photography is for everyone” as this site suggests…or once did :P

  • Gisella A

    Well, sounds like I’m the only one so far who thinks this is a pretty funny description of many real people I know.
    Maybe I don’t get upset because I never called myself a photographer or thought of myself as a potential photographer – so I did’t feel touched by its sarcasm at all!

  • Steve

    What a load of opinionated drivel, I’m surprised to see it on a site like this which I thought was about helping others improve. This negativity really doesnt fit in and by publishing it serves no benefit whatsoever. To have one person thinking they are judge and jury over what others do, is worse than those that he is wishig to put down. Let people decide for themselves what they like and dont, we all have differets tastes, which dont fit into neat little categories.

    • http://thomasjohannessen.no/ Thomas Johannessen

      same time it can help people open their eyes and realize that their work is vanilla, and they have to practize and work harder to produce great work…

      • Steve

        Not everybody wants to create “great work” so who is anybody else to judge them?
        For some it could be the thrill of using the equipment, the excitement of being somewhere clicking the shutter, enjoying the great outdoors….
        We are all different, have differing aims and aspirations, let people decide for themselves where their goals lie, not judge them according to one persons negative view.

  • jenn75

    Great article!!! Im sick of having to be politically correct all the time for fear of upsetting someone! I think if this has upset you then obviously it hit a nerve! So you got offended because someone had the guts to speak the truth, well guess what? Put you big girl panties on and grow a backbone!
    Keep up the good work!!

  • http://thomasjohannessen.no/ Thomas Johannessen

    Well, as you have right in many things here George, you HAVE to consider that a photographer, should have knowledge of composition, colors and art/design as you are trying to describe other peoples artwork (designers, MUAs etc). Or products. SO, your knowledge in light and shade is not enough, if you cant make a decent balance in the image, or use the colors/lights to create an expression. When that said, there are more to art than a perfectly exposed image, where the MUA and the model also did their job well. If you, as a photographer screw up the composition, or cut off their hands (by the joints fex). AS for blackandwhite, there is no colors to care about, but you can not succed if you do not know how the color appear as a grey tone.

    Equipment doesnt matter. Unless u want to print highres glossy commercial sellout stuff. And thats not art. and art is not made by pushing the camera button, Its not art if I shoot a tree in fog either, even it looks great. But a photographer is someone who capture the time her own way, and see something in that expression. a pure documentation of a face/model with controlled light is not art either, its documentation.

    So, whats youre point?

  • Jeff Sinon

    I completely understand George’s point. It doesn’t take too long to find photography pages on Facebook filled with out of focus, poorly composed, over saturated photos, all loaded with praise from aunt Sally and cousin Bob. Yes art is subjective, good photography in my opinion is not. Sure, in the truest sense of the word, simply owning and using a camera makes a person a “photographer.” But if a person doesn’t even have the basics down, they have no business calling themselves a professional. Let alone asking other people to pay them for their services.

  • georgephotodoto

    Wow, so many comments! Though this article was intentionally provocative, I am really surprised at the gamma of reactions :)

    To sum up: no, I don’t think that photographers suck only because they are starting out. I do not think that doing it as a hobby is bad, and I do not think that your skills are smth that makes you a good or a bad person.

    Let me put it another way – “Stop being arrogant and looking down on other photographers when you have absolutely no reasons for it”.

    It is great when people enjoy the process itself, when they love cameras and simply feel happy making pictures. It is a must for both professionals and beginners.

    But it starts to stink when you think you are good enough and you can stop learning.

    So, I can even put it in several words: Be modest and never stop learning. Regardless of your age, equipment and feedback.

    That’s it :)

    p.s. No, I do not think that I am a writer ;)

    • Paul Goodwin

      George, because this article was intentionally provocative I think your point was lost. A better approach would have been to offer some constructive criticism instead of mean spirited one-liners. When you say “Stop being arrogant and looking down on other photographers when you have absolutely no reasons for it” You’re the one who comes off as being arrogant.

      • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

        Nonsense again, Paul. If you read the entire comment thread, you’ll see several people expressing support and appreciation for George’s blunt opinion. Too bad you waste so much time on your offended, little feelings instead of using his piece to broaden your mind. :(

        • PAULvsMARK

          HAHHAHA,,….I think Paul enjoys annoying you Marc.

          • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

            I know…right?! Only a madman would derive pleasure from doing something as nasty as deliberately provoking someone. Good call. That Paul is really insecure and full of it, but that’s why he hides his real name and persona, after all. :)

          • Paul Wren

            I can see why you would think other people would be hiding their real name and persona seeing as it looks like that is the way you live. Your comment here:-

            “Hopefully you don’t know my home address, so your feedback in the comments section is welcome!” says it all.

            Domain Name: PHOTODOTO.COM
            Creation Date: 2006-03-09 22:44:00Z
            Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 2014-03-09 22:44:00Z
            Registrant Name: LAURA I have deleted the surname J…
            Registrant Organization: FREELANCER
            Registrant Street: deleted this part BASELINE APPT deleted the number of the apartment
            Registrant City: Deleted the city S…
            Registrant State/Province: TASMANIA
            Registrant Postal Code: Deleted your postcode 7…
            Registrant Country: AU
            Continue on with your lies and false claims.

          • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

            Photodoto was actually started back in 2006 by John Watson, a photographer from Hawaii. What’s your point in posting this, Paulie??? To show that you can do very basic Internet sleuthing regarding PUBLIC information?!?! Again, you’re not exactly MENSA material, are ya, sport? :)

    • xXgannicusXx

      “Stop being arrogant and looking down on other photographers when you have absolutely no reasons for it” – you pretty much did exactly that, as did the apparent resident site troll, Mark Schenker, who has the mentality of an immature teenager.

      “it starts to stink when you think you are good enough and you can stop learning” – if your point is that you are never too good to stop learning…perhaps, you should have led with that, titled it that, and focused on that instead of cutting down people who think they are good because people like their photos on social media, among other criticisms you laid down that came off as personal attacks against anyone thinking they are a good photographer that doesn’t make a living off of it. just saying.

      • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

        Again, you project your immaturity and childishness onto me, person who is too cowardly to provide his real identity! Anytime someone, such as yourself, is losing an argument, it is obvious that he’ll play the “you’re immature” card, not because he’s credible, but because he has no class. Also, I urge you to stop being such a crybaby because George called out bad photographers.You’re probably one of those bad photographers, which would explain your little, wittle, hurt feelings from this great and popular article.

  • Katy

    I find this article pretty ironic considering it’s posted on a site who’s tagline is “Photography is for Everyone”…

  • NomorePhotodotoforme

    OK I read this article and tried to take it with a grain of salt, but I couldn’t. I enjoy taking photographs and I enjoy learning about photography. I have come to this site many times and found helpful tips and answers to things I have struggled with while trying to learn something new. The few things I have shared with others, some of whom are photographers by trade, have gotten positive feedback. I found this article to be extremely mean spirited. I think you can take amazing photos and call yourself a professional all day long, but when you write something as discouraging as this article was to me, I don’t consider you a professional with that kind of attitude. This wasn’t constructive at all. All I got from it is George thinks, “If you’re not as good as me then you can’t call yourself a photographer”. How many people who read this and have genuine talent but don’t dare call themselves photographers do you think won’t post pictures now for fear of George being a royal jerk because they took them with their first “plastic DSLR” after using a point and shoot for 2 years? Think of all the wonderful pictures that may never be. Thanks a lot George! And to Marc Schenker, grow up.

    • http://marcschenkerwriting.com/ Marc Schenker

      Why don’t you stop being a coward and post your real identity, huh? Obviously, you should grow up because you can’t handle fair criticism from a professional photographer like George. Why don’t you go back now to doing exactly what George said lame photographers do…like posting your questionable pictures all over Facebook, okay? Deal?! Good! :)

  • Graybe

    Unfortunately you are right… It is a hard truth that many ignore. i learn something new each day, I am not a professional photographer and I don’t undercut their prices. Photography should be fun, If I am asked I will do the work, also I sell photos through an agency and have had exhibitions. We live in a digital age where 90% of the photos never see the light of day. I travel widely and keep my kit to one camera and one lense, that is all I need. Having started with real film you soon learn not to waste a shot, spending the time getting the exposure and composition right. Lightroom replaced all that but the lessons were all hard learned.

  • Lyndsey

    I was severely amused by this article! I’m almost scared to read the comments in fear that I might pee myself! I have seen so many photographers act this way. Of course, if it were a perfect world, this article wouldn’t have amused anyone or infuriated anyone seeing as the people it infuriates wouldn’t have been confident enough to think their photography is better than all others. And any and all who read this article would understand that photography is an art, and art is merely a form of expression. Some people just express themselves better. ;) <ha! NEVER will see that face the same again!

    Thanks for the entertainment! I do believe I'll proceed to the rest of the articles :).

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  • Jason Ness

    Sounds like someone is insecure about his own abilities. Never heard a great photographer tell anyone they suck.

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