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    Things That Baffle Me About the “Fauxtog” Community

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    As many of us on here have done, I’ve spent a good deal of time looking at the work of others, good and bad. What I’ve noticed looking at the really bad work is some trends, not just in the work itself, but in the attitude towards their work, the industry and business practices.

     

    Let me add a caveat to this. I would never discourage anyone from picking up a camera and learning photography. Everyone has a right to do that. There is no law in this country that bans you from gaining a new hobby. None of us start out Ansel Adams (or my personal favorite, Dave Hill) and we are all allowed to make mistakes and learn from them on our path to becoming competent, consistent photographers. What I object to, and what truly defines someone as a “fauxtographer” to me is a person who advertises themselves as someone doing ph

    otography business for pay without having the technical knowledge, talent and equipment to produce consistently stunning and professional work. Now what “stunning professional work” looks like is subjective, but I’ll leave that to the forum to discuss.

     

    What I’m listing are some things that baffle me when I look at a fauxtographer’s work. I am baffled because I assume these people operate in a vacuum filled with other’s doing exactly the same thing they are, regardless of the fact that they are on the same forums as many highly skilled photographers.

     

    1. 1.     Why do they all make the same editing choices?

    One thing I notice when I look at a fauxtaog’s work is that they all seem to make the same editing mistakes. Like there’s a book; “How to Edit Like a Fauxtog, the Picassa Method”. I can almost predict what they are going to do; really bad spot color, put a crappy vignette on everything, use my cross processing filter, blow everything out to the point it looks like a cartoon…I could go on. I understand that using filters for the first time is exciting, I’ve been there, (been using Photoshop since 1993). Go ahead and play, that’s how you learn what it does. That doesn’t mean you’ve discovered some brand new editing process. It also doesn’t mean I need to see every experiment you’ve done on Facebook. It especially doesn’t mean your clients want it done to their photos they paid good money for.

     

    If you look on my site, I guarantee you’re going to find spot color, cross processing, possibly even a vignette. But these things are fads. I used them a few times and moved on. In my opinion, photo editing needs to be subtle and dynamic. I have a look that I like for my photos and I have developed a workflow that works for me. I have tried to develop something that will be consistent over time.

    1. 2.     Why do they choose the worst lighting conditions in the worst location?

    I’m confused at how these people decide that shooting at noon is going to provide them the best possible photograph, especially when they don’t have the equipment to deal with it. I’ll save the equipment part until later but I’m just dumbfounded how these people look at the photo and say, “money shot!” Even worse, I have no idea how their clients look at it and say, “wow, so amazing!”

     

    You can find a plethora of articles, tutorials and videos on lighting for photography. So why on earth do these people not do their research? Putting someone under a tree in harsh lighting conditions is just going to put spots on your subject from light coming through the leaves. And nothing is worse than seeing all of the cars lined up in the background, or perhaps that trashcan or street sign you missed.

     

    Gauging your light and taking in account of your background are essential. I generally do this days or weeks before a shoot if it’s a place I’m not familiar with. Location scouting is part of the deal. Visit the area, figure out where the sun is and what direction it’s going to be at the time of your shoot. Look at the area and visualize the shots, take notes and even make thumbnail sketches of the shots. Nothing will help your shoot more than having a picture for you and your models to follow.

    1. 3.     Why do they all use the same failing business plan?

    This isn’t a surprise to anyone and yet it’s a surprise whenever I see it. The “shoot and burn for $50” is a sinking ship business plan. Not only are you not charging enough for your time (if you’re a decent photographer) but you’re taking money off the table. If someone wants prints, then they should purchase them from the photographer, not take them to Walmart to make all the crappy prints they want. I also charge a significant mark-up for my prints. I do this because I know the value of my work. If I give out my images, they are low resolution, for web use only and I charge for them. Again, I’m running a business.

     

    Another trend I’ve witnessed is just the complete under charging for photography services; $50 for a portrait session, $200 for a wedding. When you are the cheapest game in town, you are exactly that. You get what you pay for. My favorite business model I saw recently was the fauxtographer marketing that his clients decide how much to pay.  Nothing says unprofessional and insecure more than someone who undercharges.

     

    My suggestion here is to do your research. Figure out what you want to make (anything less than $100k for a business owner isn’t worth the time, in my opinion). Figure out your taxes (generally 35%), your expenses and the cost to grow and maintain (equipment isn’t cheap) your business. Divide that cost the number of weeks you want to work (I generally go with 48, I like some time off) and the number of clients you want. Then you will have a good idea how much you need to charge per client. The number may shock you.

    1. 4.     How is it that they think they are producing good images?

    I’m baffled as to how someone can produce a bad image and think it’s great. I especially don’t understand how they can compare it to good photography and think they are on par. Taking a bad photo and saying it’s good because art is subjective is invalid when you don’t know the basics. Even Picasso knew the basics before he broke the rules.

     

    The basics are there for a reason, they give you a starting point. When you understand how your camera works, lenses work, light behaves and basic composition, then you have a better understanding of how you can manipulate them to do something truly artistic.

     

    Learn the basics, take a class, watch videos online, read a book and put it into practice, whatever you need to do. But learn how to be consistently good before you venture into the professional market.

    1. 5.     Why are they so opposed to critiques and improving their craft?

    This goes back to the critique. It’s so confusing why people are so against having someone give them advice on what went wrong and how they can improve. Granted, many of the images you see on this site are difficult to find a starting point, but I refer to #4 in this situation. The only way to improve is to understand what’s working and what’s not. I have to wonder if this is a product of the “everybody gets a trophy” generation. This might be something societal and more wide spread than just the photography arena. It’s a topic I know a lot about, could pontificate for days on, but I will spare you that and leave it to the discussions.

    1. 6.     Why do they think they can get away with not using pro gear?

    I know many people are going to fight me on this. But at some point, if you want to play with the big boys, you need big boy toys (and girls). There are just some things that a pro camera has that an entry level DSLR doesn’t. That’s not to say you can’t make amazing images with an entry-level body, you can. My first camera was an entry level DSLR. I had access to some great glass and pulled off some very professional images. But I eventually got to the point where I wanted to set myself apart from the sea of entry level masses and got myself a pro camera. All I can say is, there is a difference.

     

    However, what I find most baffling is when I see a “professional” shooting a session with a high end point and shoot. I don’t care how you slice it; your client is getting ripped off if that’s what you’re using. I also love the ones who advertise themselves as “natural light” photographers. That’s code for, I don’t know how artificial lights work and I have no desire to learn. I guarantee you’ll see that same photographer throwing their pop-up on at some point.

     

    I’m not saying that a professional photographer doesn’t shoot with natural light, they do. In my opinion, a good photographer is prepared to shoot in any lighting situation. Whether that means they bring a diffusion panel and a reflector, an on camera speed light with a diffuser or an entire off-camera strobe kit, they are prepared to handle any situation.

     

    Why not just advertise yourself as a photographer. The minute you segregate yourself as a “natural light” photographer, you are admitting are deficient. You are saying, “I can only do this type of photography, so don’t expect anything else.” Maybe the point-and shooters should advertise that they are only point-and shoot photographers.

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    105 Comments

    1. Brigade

      I’m only an amateur (and I’m man enough to admit it) so I don’t see what the big deal is with using the pop-up flash. I know it’s not very effective in most situations but it has its uses and many photographers just seem so negative when you mention using it.

      • Brigade not saying it can’t work well in some circumstances, but you have no control over how much light is emitted or the direction of the light, hitting your subject with light head on is not exactly the most flattering. Try a speed light and play around with it, you will notice a huge difference!

        • It’s not always true that you have no control over how much light is emitted from a pop up-flash. My Olympus has a few flash options, like 1/8, 1/16, 1/32 and 1/64 of a flash. First and second curtain of course, and full flash. And recently I saw small diffusers you can put over your pop up-flash.

        • Bzz. Wrong. Even the lowliest DSLRs by Nikon let you control light from the flash. My old D3000 had settings for 1/2, 1/4, all the way down to 1/128. Anything mid-level or better will have that PLUS EV+/- exposure settings as well.

          And there are diffusers and other attachments you can buy for them. The only thing you said that is valid is that the direction of the light cannot be changed (well, it can through some of the things you can put on there, but it’s not as good as a speedlight.

      • Well pop up flash has two very serious negatives. Its a small harsh light source and its coming straight from the camera so its flat and unflattering. That being said there are photographers that have learned to diffuse it or shape it to make it more useful. There is even some fashion stuff that is shot to have the point and shoot pop up flash look on purpose.

      • Cristina

        It never works… it always looks bad. Daylight, night time, wherever… it just always makes a pic look poor. I have an entry-level camera so low-light shooting is not my friend. What I do if I absolutely must use it is I hold a folded piece of white paper in front of the pop-up and with a white ceiling it really makes a difference.

      • I think only Terry Richardson can get away with the pop-up flash look on a professional level. You’re an amateur, so you can do what you want. If I ever saw a “pro” using their on-board pop-up flash, I’d wait for their “going out of business” sale so I could snatch up some good stuff on the cheap.

        • Always Better

          Terry Richardson is garbage.

        • Gotta agree with the hit on Terry, had his dad not been a fauxtog, he wouldn’t have been one.

        • I believe the whole ‘snapshot’ look is mainly for his personal work, if you look at his commercial and commisioned work, he has produced very professional work.

      • Michelle

        It is flat ugly light, if you cant see that not much anyone else can do for you

      • Flat out, pop up flash has no place in the professional photography world.

      • Pop-up flash adds an unattractive “washed out” effect to their faces. You want to see their natural color….come on. This is photography 101.

    2. KatarinaLOL

      Your last comment about “natural light” photographers is stupid and rude. What’s wrong with using the actual sun to light a picture? Seems to me that you’re just pissy there are AMAZING natural light photographers out there that are better than you, when you HAD to buy lights to get your photos to look good. Jealousy is just making you an ugly person.

      • No, that’s just an ugly comment. Photographers that pigeonhole themselves as “natural light photographers” are almost always inept at using studio lighting. Nothing wrong with natural light photography…I love it, myself. Do it all the time. Still know how to use studio lighting and would never call myself a “natural light photographer” for the very reasons mentioned in the article.

      • You obviously completely missed the point in the article. No one is saying that natural light isn’t a great way to get a quality photo. Sometimes you just can’t get the shot your client needs or wants with just natural light. It may because of the weather, location, time of day or whatever the case may be. If you are going to charge clients you should know how to get a great picture regardless of the natural light conditions. The article is spot on, most that advertise as natural light photographers are just to lazy to learn any other method.

        • I must disagree here. Studio lights are expensive! I own a couple off-camera flashes and reflectors which I use to augment natural light, but I prefer shooting outdoors because I live in NYC. I treat the neighborhood as part of the photo! Also, it’s fun to use reflected light off of buildings at about 3 PM in the summer. I keep my costs down and get to be outside!

          That being said, I’m saving up for a key light and a backdrop for when winter comes! :)

        • Kristian

          Richard, so what if studio lights are expensive (hint: they aren’t). If you’re touting yourself as a professional you should be spending money on your business and the equipment to make your business strong. I don’t care how you like to equivocate it or how butthurt it makes you feel, there are very, very few photographers on the planet who shoot in only natural light and are good. There are situations where it’s just not enough and it’s a lame copout.

          The wording sounds nice though, it makes an uneducated consumer think “oh, all natural! I like that!” as if it’s organic or something.

        • There are photographers that shoot almost exclusively in natural light. Check out Brooke Shaden she even states that she barely ever uses any artificial light, if ever. And she is an extremely gifted photographer.

        • I prefer using natural light, however, as stated in the article, even if you use it you have to know HOW to use it. One person just can’t lug an 8×10 AND lights to a portrait location. For this reason, weather and time of day can be very important factors. Morning or evening, or indirect sunlight while in shade, can all be used as free diffused continuous light sources.

          That being said, studio lights are valuable tools, and calling yourself a “natural light photographer” is indeed an omission of ineptitude like the article says. You can PREFER natural light for many reasons as an artist (style, practicality, speed) but not knowing how to use it is a definate disadvantage, especially for someone doing anything more than a simple portrait shoot. Doing a wedding without bringing a flash, or not knowing how, is a recipe for disaster.

          As photographers we should never stop learning.

        • “The wording sounds nice though, it makes an uneducated consumer think “oh, all natural! I like that!” as if it’s organic or something”

          Hahaha. Sorry, that just hit me funny.. and sadly, I just know that has probably been assumed at some point. People are amusingly unaware of things sometimes.

      • You forgot that everyone is always jealous of a fauxtographer and their passion and natural talent.

      • Michael

        How about we start calling them “Found Light Fauxs” instead. They shoot in whatever light they find with no idea how to control or shape it.

        • Always Better

          Well now we know “Michael” isn’t capable of working with natural light and that only fauxs use natural light. It takes more skill to work with natural light because it changes second to second unlike studio lights where you set and forget and shoot a million shots all with the same results.

      • Hmm… I am not afraid to admit I don’t know how to handle studio lighting. That is because studio equipment is too bloody expensive, and why would I buy it when I don’t have a studio?
        However, it doesn’t mean I don’t have an off camera flash and reflectors, and I do know how to use them in the natural light that I always use.

        • Michelle

          Lighting can be inexpensive speedlights, controlled lighting is the difference between ordinary and professional. It costs money to run a business, so spend some on educating yourself to use them. Creative live – Scott Robert Lim – Crazy stupid light less than $200 – no excuse not to know how to use them.

        • Dude… studio lighting is HEAVENLY. I’ve only practiced in a friends’ but I have equipment I rig up at home to play around with until we’re done constructing the place I’m putting a studio in. I think I’ve taken some of my better lit photos in studio… but I enjoy the versatility (and challenge) of natural light.
          If you get the chance, I highly recommend playing around in a studio to get a feel for it. You’ll leave NEEDING one of your own. Haha.

      • Michelle

        He is absolutely spot on about the “natural light” togs, learn it al then choose what you want to use. In fact just learn something

      • I call myself a Natural Light Photographer. Why? Because I think studio lighting is old fashioned, boring, and not very pretty. Not because I don’t know how. I have a studio set up, and it works quite well. I just don’t like it. You don’t get the beautiful reflections in eyes from studio light that you get in natural sunlight. And pop up my ass. Natural Light is just that. I have never used my ‘pop up flash’. I make use of my white balance, reflectors, etc. Sure, studio work can be very creative and look nice. I prefer using nature, natural sunlight, etc to get the best out of my pictures, and people love them – it’s what my work is known for. So regardless of what people ‘call’ themselves, it’s their personal business decision, just like those that choose to call themselves a ‘Landscape Photographer’, or a ‘Wedding Photographer’. I suppose that if they advertise and call themselves a wedding photographer, then they must not know how to photograph children or something stupid like that. Just saying. I agree with many portions of the article, but that piece was ridiculous.

    3. I love vignettes, I like to use them for exposure correction and I feel that they help to the viewer to more easily focus on the subject, especially if the background has a lot going on. They have a vast application, just takes some imagination and know how when it comes to selecting the right picture. I don’t think using a vignette automatically makes you a bad photographer or photo editor. I think they are dependent on the picture.

      • Nope. Totally disagree here. They are terrible pretty much every time they are used.

      • Vignettes are a crutch. EVERY time I see one, I see someone trying to make an uninteresting, flawed picture look more interesting and less flawed. That’s all I see.

    4. Ha, good article, but I couldn’t help smiling at the ad which appeared on the same page; “£245 Wedding Packages”

    5. jessnaylor6

      vignettes… eeek.. bad

      • Always Better

        Why? because you don’t like it? They can add something to a image but they are not needed every time.

        • jessnaylor6

          no, I don’t like them. I’m not allowed to have my own opinion on them? lol

    6. You forgot one..

      Photographers that violate Copyrights on their own site. One commenter doesn’t care that “Etta James, At Last” is subject to Copyright, especially on a commercial website. So guess other people using your images and not paying for them doesn’t bother you either? Just blatant disrespect for other artists..

      • You mean like this site? Yeah, they’ve been caught violating copyright in these articles before and are completely unapologetic about it.

    7. I’ve been a fan of your site for quite a while and am usually horrified at the photos you find. That being said, I also think the capitalism will run its course. The bad fauxtogs will not stay in business, if they were ever really seriously doing it as a business in the first place. Usually after I’ve seen a new post on your site, I think most of the fauxtogs are doing it as more of a hobby so they can use a cool watermark they created. And I’d guess the subjects are most likely a friend or family member.

    8. Great points, all of them. especially subset of question 3 where you talk about figuring out the number you NEED to stay in business (not just make a profit). I am an amateur too. I realized early that there is more to photography than buying the latest DSLR. or some fast glass.

    9. cameraclicker

      cameraclicker

      “wow, so amazing!” Translation: Boy, is that ever ugly!

      Remember, amazing means: causing great surprise or sudden wonder. As in, “I suddenly wonder how that ever got posted!”

    10. Always Better

      Another joke blog telling people who are doing they are wrong at doing, yet you continue to not do or produce anything other then self deluded beliefs you are better then those you call “faux’s”

    11. Always Better

      One point that makes this blog posting so stupid is the smug “use pro gear it’s just better” worst argument ever. A real photographer is never about the gear used to capture the event or moments but the person holding the camera give a $50 P&S to a pro you get a perfect image give a pro a piece of so called “pro” gear you get the same image. You make the same worthless advice as so many other blogs. It’s never the price of the gear it’s the person using it.

      • An exceptional artist can make a beautiful painting with $0.50 watercolors from the toy store, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t buy the highest quality paints for his art form. Yes, a great photographer can make beautiful images with even a disposable camera, but it is SO much more freeing to be able to work with equipment that was designed for your skill level. The skills I’ve learned on my DSLR have made it so I can use a point and shoot better than the average point and shoot owner, but dang it I hate using it because it’s so limiting. Why the heck wouldn’t I invest in equipment that makes it easier to express my vision?

      • It really depends on what you are doing.

        You can probably take a decent architectural or landscape picture with a P&S as those things don’t move.

        You can’t take any decent portrait using a P&S because the shutter lag will kill you. The time elapsed between the expression, you pressing the shutter and the picture actually being recorded is too long.

      • Hi Always Better – I generally feel as you do, but funnily enough – tonight I was processing photos from a session last week and I finally admitted to myself that I’m tired of having to sharpen photos. A ton isn’t required (got a nice sharp new lens this summer) but I’m always aware that the client might suddenly want a 16×20 ( as happened with a large family session in June). I’m pretty sure a full frame camera would solve this. So while I’ve been doing pretty well with my current trusty old DSLR, it’s time for me to set some more bucks aside and move into the big leagues. There really are some major technical issues that ‘pro gear’ can solve. And if you’ve already got the hang of lighting, composition, posing, etc. with less than pro gear – why not go the extra mile to ensure that your photos are pristine? That’s my $.02.

      • I think that’s a pretty ludicrous statement. There are a ton of technical problems that no amount of artistic talent is going to magically solve, but that good or at least decent equipment will (as anyone who has had a much needed piece of equipment fail will tell you). Sure, theres a point at which you are just huffing over who has the most expensive camera, but there is really a lot of value in getting a certain level of equipment. To imply that someone who has no control over exposure, shutter speed, depth of field or ISO can create that same images in-camera as someone with even a low end DSLR is totally ridiculous. Photography is as much a craft as it is a art and you need the right tools to be considered a professional. What you say is smugness just turns out to be good advise that maybe you aren’t taking.

        after all, lets ASSUME that someone is SO talented that they they are making bank in a very competitive industry using a canon power shot,. just IMAGINE what this miracle worker could accomplish with all the options of a real camera. they would save time, money and effort not having to rig up some ridiculous situation to get their shot.

    12. The over editing is due to the fact that they just plain don’t know what they’re doing. I know many years ago when running around with a point and shoot, the sun dropped off for one of my photos and it came out dark. Like a fauxtog, I over edited it to try and hide the fact that it was too dark and therefore very noisy when lightened. The faux that starts to figure out what he/she is doing and how to shoot things right will start dropping off the bad editing.

    13. You’re a douche.

      • Says the guy who commented just to call him a douche. I think you’re projecting a bit there. Haha

    14. #6 is a farce………Alex Majoli is Magnum Photographer…MAGNUM…….he uses point n shoots…if you have the talent..you have the talent….there are fashion photographers who have used iPhones…..I don’t care if you carry around a full-frame..or a medium format…if your work sucks….it sucks..no matter how good YOU think you are….

    15. Most of these ‘bad decisions’ you mention in this blog are probably made by photogs who are just starting out.
      Don’t forget that there are different degrees of art knowledge. On one end of the scale you have the laymen, who think the Ikea rose is beautiful art, and at the extreme other end you have the experts who are ‘snobby’ about what they call art. Most photogs who just start out are laymen. When they advance, they start to understand ‘art’ and techniques and improve their work.
      When I first started, I put my subjects in the center, over-edited, put ‘romantic’ vignettes on my photos and put them all in Sepia, because I thought that would be cool. And I put them on my free Wix-site with a lovely bold watermark I fiddled together in PS.
      After a while, when I took some courses, read a lot of magazines and books and looked at a lot of other photos I started to learn. And took down those first images and replaced them with better ones. And a while later, I payed for a website and replaced those ‘better’ photos with even better ones, and basically I’m still doing that now. Each month I learn and take better photos. But at each point in my career the photos I make at that moment are the best I’ve ever made.

      • Michelle

        You are absolutely right, they are just starting out, in the first few years of their hobby, the problem is they are saying they are pro’s when they are beginners, there in lies the problem

        • i agree! no one can deny that the reason these images are so bad is because they are very new, the whole point of this site though, is to call them out because they are not professional photographers and they de-value the work of an entire profession. If you are just starting out, thats GREAT, but be humble, pay attention, and soak up knowledge like a sponge, don’t walk around calling yourself a professional and charging money for your awful images.

    16. ThePixelDoc

      You can put the prefix “Faux” on just about every creative endeavor… or job title for that matter… on the planet. Faux-VP of Marketing at Microsoft for example :)

      As far as I’m concerned, you either have talent and a good eye, or you don’t. Yes, you can learn to a certain degree to be better, but there has to be an underlying talent and degree of taste to begin with.

      Case in point: a recent wedding I worked on as the creative director (event co.), where the pair wanted to include photos in their book taken by some of their guests. As expected and through experience, most of the submitted guest photos were of the “snap-n-clap” variety. However, a young girl of 16 with a Sony Cybershot just blew me away with here composition skill and that “perfect second” shooting ability. Quite a few of the pics were better than the pro studio hired… and even they agreed with that critique.

      No schooling, no training, just-for-fun… and now she’s an apprentice working with us and learning the technical skills that just may help and advance her talent and aid into becoming a top photographer some day, if she wants to go that route.

      I think the biggest problem with “Faux” anything, whether artist, musician, author, web or graphic designer, or marketing executive, is being honest with yourself and others being honest with you, whether you are talented or not. You can’t learn or buy it. You can have fun with it as a hobby… but jumping to conclusions and calling yourself a pro because you have expensive equipment or software is flat out lying. Not only to potential customers, but to yourself as well.

      My 2 cents.

      • I LOVE that story. I personally feel like the best photographers have both the technical (learned) skill and the natural, creative ability (unlearned). I’ve seen some boring photos that were, by all accounts, technically executed the proper way. Perfect exposure, dead-on white balance, crisp, in focus… but boring. Then, I’ve seen some eye-catching, breath-taking, knock-your-socks-off, tear-jerking photos. Those are always the images that are NOT ONLY technically executed properly, but also drowning in the artist’s creative personality. Anyone can learn the camera if they try hard enough, but the best are the ones who are born with the creative eye.

    17. Not sure about #3 – the massive markup on prints is the most annoying thing about pro photographers… charge for your time, charge for the images, but trying to control and license the use of those images is surely an outdated business model that the market is turning against?

      • MyTwoCents

        I agree, I know so many people who have got married and, when coming to find a wedding photographer, balk at the price tag and have to go with someone who is less skilled because they are free.

        Photographers can go crazy trying to control the flow of prints, you are better off agreeing a price, including rights to images and then just handing them the JPEGs, because photos are too easy to copy these days.

        • Kristian

          I don’t agree with part of what you’re saying. I include prints as part of the package but and I will also give a digitals on either a USB or an iPad depending on which package they purchased but I also tell them specifically where they can print from. If your clients are getting their prints from poor printers like walmart, as just one example, it’s not showing your work in a very good light either.

          I think that a big part of the reason that people are jaded by the price is because they don’t value the print enough. There are some clients that will go with the cheap photographer because it’s “good enough” but there are others that want high quality work and are willing to pay for it because that’s what they value.

        • You ‘tell them’ where they can print them??
          Once they have the dvd, or flash drive, or whatever media you prefer to give away your work on – they will immediately ignore your advice and go to the cheapest place they can to get prints. Every time.

        • I started out with this mentality, but I had one too many BRIDES!!!!!!!! tell me they were getting their prints at Walmart. After paying quadruple digits for the photos to just be shot, processed, and put on a disc, they were getting Walmart prints. Walgreens prints. CVS prints. OF THEIR WEDDINGS.
          I now offer the individual files for invitations, photo gifts, or absolute DEMAND of Walmart prints, but at a price. They, alternatively, have the option of purchasing their prints through me. This isn’t because I want to profit big-time… it’s that I saw a GIGANTIC problem with the fact that I’d tried so hard and spent SO MANY HOURS to present them with images that are worthy of keeping forever. The unless they’re well-versed in digital files and storage, the average person doesn’t back up their digital stuff, no matter how much you cram it down their throats (I know this, because I’ve had to put a limit on the amount of times I supply replacements for their discs/print release/whatever because it was just plain getting annoying and unnecessarily expensive mailing disc after disc) and Walmart prints will last about 15 years before getting ugly. By limiting the use of my work, I am ensuring quality prints, and that their photos be taken seriously. If they don’t agree to those terms, they’re free to choose another photographer.
          I know the “average person” mindset well, because I was “that bride” before I was a photographer. I didn’t even have prints until I started photography as a business, because I just plain didn’t hold them as important as I do now. But had that disc-full of wedding photos I had laying around for a year (not backed up) gotten destroyed BEFORE I learned the importance, I’d have gotten an extremely painful and terrible lesson by losing my wedding photos forever, without even a print to put visual form to that day.

    18. MyTwoCents

      I looked up Dave Hill and he sucks, his stuff is massively over-processed to the point where I found it hard to look at. I enjoyed your satirical opinions until I found out that was someone you put in the same league as Ansel Adams and then I realised you are just as capable of tacky taste as the people you denigrate on here.

      Hill is clearly very accomplished at Photoshop, but he seems to have no knowledge of ‘enough is enough’, like JJ Abrams in film making.

      The reason bad photographers exist and continue to get paid is some people have bad taste and they want their awful taste recreated in a photographic format. A lot of these are appalling, but how many were commissions by the customer? How many people requested having the Superman logo painted on their belly? Should photographers turn to their paying customers and tell them to get lost because what they want is appalling?

      • Interesting point. Sometimes the creative directors/clients/paying customers are the ones who suggest these awful ideas.You can’t tell them that their idea is idiotic. As a former cameraman for motion pictures, I struggled constantly with artistic integrity vs. paycheck. It’s awful. Especially since you are paid for your tastes but 2nd guessed constantly.

        (incidentally, I worked on two features with JJ Abrams. You may not like his style, but he really cares, and has a ridiculous library of film knowledge. Both technical and creative. I respect the guy b/c he openly encourages others to learn on his dime too. It’s rare here in L.A.).

      • Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I like Dave Hill’s work, I also like JJ Abrams’ films. I would argue that you are in a minority, but you are entitled to your opinion. I’m fairly certain that Dave Hill knows more than just photoshop. Fairly certain he knows how to use his gear, knows a great deal about lighting, composition and story telling. He also gets paid very well for what he does, I assume.

        If a client wanted something terrible and wanted to pay my price to do it, I would give them the best polka dotted dog turd I could produce. That just means it will never see the light of day in my portfolio. I have standards, I have my own style and I like what I like. The things I produce that are my best work, in my opinion, are going to be what I show to the public.

        For the record, JJ is the guy they picked to direct the next Star Wars, he can’t be all that bad. But I’m sure you hate those too. I will agree that 1, 2 and 3 were horrible, never let George near the directors chair.

    19. We all stand on the shoulders of our predecessors. It baffles me how the ones who pick up a camera don’t pick a style/artist they admire and really study them to a point of obsession. I constantly push shooting film for this reason. Most argue you learn more from digital, I think you handicap yourself, since they think digital images are expendable and therefore machine gun fire and pick out the correct one in post. That said, #6 in regards to pro gear…

      …I find it unbelievable that you can purchase a PROFESSIONAL Mamiya RZ, the likes of which the higher echelons of fashion/editorial photographers used and get paid $10k/day for less than a 1/4 of a price of a DSLR. This is PRO gear. Yet, it’s been abandoned. Doesn’t make it less professional.I challenge a fauxtog to pick one up and use that and I bet they improve 1000%.

    20. I started as a hobbyist 15 years ago with an old manual film SLR Nikon developing and printing my own black and white photographs. This meant I had to REALLY understand how my camera worked as well as the various films and papers without the instant feedback of an LCD screen. Now I have Rebel DSLR (entry level) but with good lenses as I hope to upgrade my body as soon as finances allow. Also, through renting and borrowing I have used and understand the higher end equipment. I have been doing family and child portrait photography for friends and family for a few years and I take it very seriously. I have done paid sessions but it has left a bad taste in my mouth as I find that clients in the market for a cheap photographer seem to expect cheap looking work. Does anyone have an explanation for this? I use PS (which I learned how to use correctly) and my editing is subtle–yet I have had people ask for those horrible overblown vignettes and hazy filters that look like the lens was smeared in vaseline. I have spent years perfecting my technique and learning to compose beautiful images in-camera–it baffles me when people request these Picasa point-and-shoot looking images. I have a day job but I would love to expand my photography into a business. I understand that I need better equipment, but it’s not realistic to drop several thousand dollars and immediately establish a business model like the one the author describes here. Is there something between the $50/session fauxtog and the $2500/session pro? Has anyone here had success at something in the middle?

      • I agree, Holly, that one doesn’t just jump into a professional photograpy business model. Unless one has immediate access to funds that can turn their hobby into a business, it takes time. You can’t charge $50 a session but not everyone is in San Fran or LA or NY where clients already assume they’ll have to pay top dollar. Like you, I have a day job – but I established my sole proprietorship, pay my taxes, got a web designer, etc. I’m not even CLOSE to making enough to quit my day job, let alone make $100k. It’s just going to take time, and patience, and better marketing skills. 😉 In closing, yeah, that’s all I know. :)

    21. You forgot adding on a ridiculously obnoxious “watermark” with the impression that people actually want to steal your crap.

      And I think (I hope) it goes without saying here that the writer isn’t talking about people starting out, but rather the people who keep making the same mistakes over and over without even attempting to get better.

      • Kristian

        In a lot of ways it is the people just starting out though. I wonder how many people unwrap a Rebel with a Kit lens and the next day have a watermark and a facebook pro photography page running a contest to generate likes with the winner getting a free photoshoot.

    22. jakelunniss

      Golly, this website has changed. What started out as fun and amusing has grown into yet another source of self aggrandising masturbatory asshattery. Like the world needs more of that.

      I wonder, would the author of this piece be kind enough to post a link to their portfolio?

      • The site is run by clowns, for clowns.

        When they were posting really horrible photos..photos which clearly weren’t fauxtography, numerous people were calling them out. not a peep out of the admin, until they decided to run this idea, and it’s just been one winner after another.

        There is a way to run this, but they’re so far off the mark someone really has to make a competing website.

        • jakelunniss

          If only I didn’t have a business to run and selective colour to process 😉

        • Competing website? Sounds like you’re the man for the job jacked. You spend a lot of time complaining about how bad it is and not much time doing anything to change it. It’s like the TV, if you don’t like the channel, change it.

        • And yet you probably couldn’t do any better jackd. All you do is bash the site with nothing to back it up. I’d be surprised if there was anyone here that actually took you seriously.

      • Link to my work is on my profile, knock yourself out.

    23. I’m currently studying photography at College! There is so much you need to learn and I’m still learning to this day with different techniques and with playing around with photoshop & Lightroom. I love using natural light, Sue Bryce is an amazing photographer that uses natural light for her photographs!! I’m slowly learning how to work with artificial lighting, but before I could bye my flash and light meter I relied on my pop up flash for some of the images I took for college…

      Also with the charging price I think it’s your starting out in this industry do packages for $50 and up. Until you have that conferdence in yourself and amazing feed back from clients you can bump up your prices to the prices to your liking. I would also love to know what you think a good DSLR camera is? There so expensive there days the starter kits with the lens are usually the best way to go to start off, it look me just under a year to save the $$ to upgrade my DSLR camera.

      • Don’t lowball yourself. People don’t value what they can get for cheap. To start off…intern somewhere good. If you’re enthusiastic enough, they will throw you work they don’t want to do.
        The $50 Club will keep you knee deep in Fauxtogville.
        This is, of course, dependent on what you want with your career.

        • Yeah… seriously don’t lowball yourself. I did a wedding for a “friend” as a tester to get into the wedding field on my own. I charged her a couple hundred since I knew her, and dude. I wish I could just scrub that off my record. The wedding was atrocious to begin with so I think maybe three of the photos went into a portfolio in the end, just because of the embarrassment factor- NONE including the groom.. she was demanding, assuming, and broke her contract in three different ways, and I TO THIS DAY really never want to see her again…
          Needless to say, my business plan is now TOTALLY different than when I started out. I’m charging more, I get more quality feedback (they’re more monetarily invested, so they’re more emotionally invested), more aesthetically pleasing weddings to work with (you can take the best photo in the world, but if the aesthetics of the atmosphere is low-budget, there isn’t much you can do in terms of creating a classy documentation of the event), and people take my photography and business more seriously- including that pesky contract!

    24. These are things I also don’t understand, especially the part about critiquing. I get it, when you have something you think is awesome and are proud of, it sucks to have someone tell you things that are wrong with it. But I’ve seen so many people, with photography, and drawing, and other mediums, get so flustered and mean when someone kindly tries to give them pointers. The f-bombs start coming out and it’s ridiculous. I’m not a professional, by any means, photography is just one of my hobbies. What I plan to make my career in is baking, and whenever I bake something new, I always try to get as much feedback as possible. Its just the best way to learn I think.

    25. As a professional, I’m only going to take exception –and not a huge one at that– about your comments regarding entry level vs professional DSLR’s.

      I have 3 basic bodies: a Canon 7D, a Canon 60D and a Canon T2i; for many shoots (e.g., school children, church directories, formal portraits) it doesn’t really matter which body you use. The key differences (e.g., extended ISO range for a concert, or multi-focus points…) don’t really come into play at all. At 200 ISO, with professional lights, softboxes and umbrellas, on a tripod… the only thing that really makes a difference is the glass. Assuming you color balance correctly, focus correctly, it would be almost impossible to tell the difference from body to body.

      Finally, I’ve been using a Fuji X20 mainly because of the luminous lens and the short shutter lag, for concert photography. It is good. Not great in some circumnstances, but good enough to produce highly saleable pictures. It is not cheap, at $600, but it is a serious threat to DSLR’s

    26. This is a really great post and it’s interesting to read the feedback, such a good debate. I never comment on posts but there a few things that bothered me with some of the comments here.

      In regards to some people taking offense to photographers only using the “best most expensive gear”, there are definitely times where it’s not needed. But I have clients who specifically request it and jobs need it. My images are put on billboards, glossy mags and fine art publications and my little 5d mk3 isn’t good enough. I need my phase 1. Clients specifically request it because they NEED it. I would be a joke to submit work to clients with images from some of my low end gear. But for sure, when I’m shooting web catalogue content etc I’ll bring out the 5d mk3 because it’s lightweight and good enough.

      As for the natural light debate, I love natural light. Most of my work is natural light as I’m in the lifestyle industry, but I use all sorts of help, reflectors, black card, sheets, scrims etc. That said, when I book a fashion client and it’s got to be done in my studio, I can’t shoot natural light. They might ask for a moody wet look, and I’ll need to use lighting. There are no two ways about it. Sure it would be great if every client wanted that romantic window light look, but this discussion here is about professional photography, which includes every possible type of client.

      There’s a reason why lighting and high end equipment was invented. For the jobs. And if you want to shoot for print, commercial or editorial, you’re going to have to invest/hire that stuff out and be knowledgable in its operation otherwise someone else with just as much talent will book the shoot. The key is to have all this and then add your creative talent.

      • You probably don’t need a phase 1 for billboards. Viewing distance factors in heavily. Unless you are going to stand 3 feet from the billboard I doubt it really matters.

    27. I like to blame fauxtogs on their friends and family. They look at these and say oooooo! look at that color pop! or just generalized praise from people who don’t know jack and shit about what makes a photo good. If its not totally fuzzy and dark, then its a masterpiece. And that is why any critique is met with such disagreement. lesigh.

    28. I love this site and am most of the times horrified by the pictures you post and rightly make fun of.
      What I do however not approve of, is that arrogance, that certain techniques (yes, provided you actually know any and use them on purpose) are just wrong – full stop. Still a matter of taste!
      Plus, you don’t have to have the most expensive camera there is to be a pro. A good photographer can take great pictures with a starter DSLR.

      Basically, kudos on your site, just try to be a little less condescendant and arrogant. After all, are you perfect? More importantly, define perfection…

    29. I love this article. I’m a photo student right now and my professors talk about this kind of stuff all the time. You’re right about how everyone should be given the chance to be a photographer if they want. But if they’re serious about it, they need to learn about their equipment and basic lighting if they want to succeed.

    30. What ever happened to doing something because you loved it? When people ask me if they can hire me, I tell them I don’t work for money. Why? Well despite the fact that I do get compliments on many of my photos I don’t have the necessary equipment or skills to pull off a proper job. Secondly I’m not interested in getting paid to take photos because then I would be taking photos of what someone else wanted me to photograph.

      I view my photography as an artistic pursuit and while I don’t see anything wrong with being compensated for your work, charging people when you’re not very experienced or talented is scammy. Anyone can take photos with their cellphone and what is the difference between using your iPhone and a dslr on full auto? I’d be hard pressed to tell the difference in the 2 seconds if spend looking at your photo on Instagram.

      People who are worth getting paid can read light like a map, can create good photos in bad light by expertly using artificial light, and have a strong sense of what needs to be in a photo and what needs to be out. This involves good directing skills. Sure you might say, oh I like the photojournalist style – fly on the wall type thing. That tells me you’re not able to direct. I should know, I’m bad at it too. This is why I mostly photograph family, close friends, and scenic places.

      To be good at directing you have to know precisely what you want. In a photograph with people in it, this is for them to look as beautiful as possible. You need to know what angles they have that are gorgeous and what angles they have that make you cringe. Every single person has great angles and horrifying ones. That’s the secret to a great portrait. Of course you need chemistry if there are more than one person in the photo. Photographers change the dynamic of a photo because people behave differently on camera. Most of the time the chemistry needs to be a reasonable facsimile because most people are body conscious and feel awkward publicly displaying affection while someone shouts direction at them.

      Everyone makes good and bad photos, but if you can’t tell the difference you shouldn’t be charging. Gimmicks can dress up any ugly photo and disguise it to some degree but if you rely on filters and tricks you shouldn’t be charging and your photography is going to look dated and stale – not classic or timeless.

      Basically if you can’t do all of the above and a few more things, you shouldn’t be getting paid.

      I’m a student of photography and I make many of my photos on 35mm film and even self develop some of the time. I do it because I love the technicality and the process of making photographs this way. I shoot digital, I use Lightroom but making a print is much more rewarding. I use old cameras and fast prime lenses – and I’m switching to manual lenses more often. You learn a lot about the way a camera works when you disconnect from all the tech. If you’re in it for money, digital is probably much cheaper to shoot and use but if you’re in it for love film has a place.

      In closing I’d say, it’s my true desire that everybody respects the art of photography, and takes the time to learn the esoteric as well as technical aspects of good photography – which I define as photos that are classic. A good photograph makes you forget you’re looking at a picture and makes you wonder about the content or remember, or feel. A good photo is timeless and never looks dated or tacky. Avoid trends – select color, tilt-shift, overdone broken, ratcheted up saturation and unnatural colors – fades and filters, half desaturated photos – etc. stick to good light and color, composition, and skill.

    31. The one part of this article i take issue with is the charging for prints bit. I believe that if you pay to have me at your wedding, all of those images are yours. It just seems dis-honest to charge someone for my time, and ALSO for the pictures since the only reason at all that they want my time is for the images. I think the model of charging for prints is outdated in a digital world. However i make sure that my hourly fee includes what I could reasonably hope to make off prints anyway. After all, I shot it, I edited it, and i’m not going to beg the client to pay for it. I also direct my client to a professional lab in the area to get their prints made. I’d rather not deal with the headache of getting prints made anyway.

    32. To the author: Show us your work so we can see if you can do any better.

      • Actually he did post a link to his fb page. N they are better than the fauxtogs shown here

    33. You go from bashing a bunch of beginners for not being good with lighting, editing, and composition to bashing them for not using thousands of dollars worth of equipment? These guys aren’t professionals but you want them to use professional gear? The only motive I can gather from that is that you want some more lame, overdone material to use against beginners.

      Tune in next week when this clown starts making fun of the kid with a used 5D Mark II that still doesn’t take great pictures. How riveting and fresh.

      How about instead of targeting the beginners charging $50 for a bunch of mediocre portraits you go after the self-entitled boneheads that think they need to charge $400 for a session because some twat on the internet wants to play pro for a day yet they still don’t deliver good results.

    34. herp derp

      The pro gear argument is ridiculous. Such smug bullshit. Entry level DSLRs are almost identical in quality when shooting pictures. Its a different story when comparing video, but look at any comparison. ESPECIALLY for portraits. You literally cannot tell the difference. I realize you want to justify spending that money by deluding yourself into thinking it makes a massive difference, but it really doesn’t.

      • I used to think the same thing when I had entry level equipment, until I upgraded. What a HUGE difference pro equipment makes! Not just making every aspect of the work easier, but the beautiful bokeh you can get with very fast long glass, and the huge amount of punishment that pro gear will take compared to plastic entry level equipment. You really don’t know what you’re talking about until you use try the real thing.

    35. “I also love the ones who advertise themselves as “natural light” photographers. That’s code for, I don’t know how artificial lights work and I have no desire to learn. I guarantee you’ll see that same photographer throwing their pop-up on at some point.”

      Ugh. I’m sorry, I’ve tried to learn how to do studio setups multiple times, and each time I left with a headache. It feels soulless and fake. NOTHING is as beautiful as natural lighting. Period. I use a speedlight for fill light if necessary, generally opting for reflectors. I see nothing wrong with someone opting to do the same–it certainly doesn’t say anything less about their level of professionalism.

      • Maybe you should have kept reading to the next paragraph…

        “I’m not saying that a professional photographer doesn’t shoot with natural light, they do. In my opinion, a good photographer is prepared to shoot in any lighting situation. Whether that means they bring a diffusion panel and a reflector, an on camera speed light with a diffuser or an entire off-camera strobe kit, they are prepared to handle any situation.”

        I’m so surprised that so many people got upset at the natural light comment. I clearly said that a professional photographer is prepared to shoot in any lighting situation. If that means that natural light is the best solution, then that’s what the do. I never said that a professional photographer should lock themselves up in a studio. I don’t have a studio to lock myself up in and even if I did, I would get out of it as often as possible. I generally bring a 3 Alien Bee kit, a speed light, reflectors and diffusion panels. More recently I’ve been limiting myself to the speed light and the reflectors/diffusion panels. These will generally get me the shots I’m looking for but there are times when I pull out the Alien Bees because there’s no way I can get what I want with natural light.

        • I read the second paragraph. It STILL doesn’t change that I find studio photography to be incredibly unappealing. Most of my clients know I specialize in natural light and understand that’s what they will get from me when working with me. If any obstacles come up with the weather, we reschedule.

      • I’m willing to bet you leave your camera on full auto mode too. Just an FYI: The “P” setting on the dial doesn’t mean “Professional”. 😛

        • BTW that comment I made above was directed at Laney. 😉

        • No. Way to pull an assumption completely out of your ass, though.

      • studio lighting is an art in itself, to light something in a way which communicates what you want be it a natural look or an artificial one just like photography isn’t something you can learn overnight!

        have a look at gregory heislers work, that guy knows his lights!

    36. I disagree with the whole not advertising yourself as a “natural light” photographer thing. I am an ambient light photographer, not because I don’t know how to do studio work, or how to work with artificial lights, because I do. I’m just as good with artificial lighting, I just prefer ambient light. I can work in a studio, I went to college and took mostly studio classes. I just advertise myself that way so that people know I prefer not to work with my studio set up and would rather work outdoors. It’s part of my personal style. I actually partially enjoy it more because it is more of a challenge then studio work is for me (I find studios boring at this point). And for the record, I often forget I have an in-camera flash, just because I don’t use it. (I have a portable off camera flash set up, but I hardly ever use it either. I know how, and I use it if I need it, but I prefer not to.)

    37. I work at a studio and personally find it boring. When I do a photo session outside of the company I work for I only use natural settings and light. If someone wants a studio shoot there are photographers out there that they can use. I can use artificial light all day, it was one of the major aspects of my BA in Photography. Now taking natural light and posing someone to the light while using your ISO and Aperture settings to get it just right for that perfect natural looking photo. That’s a challenge. Don’t get me wrong I use diffusers and reflectors to light up the fill side or bring down the key light a bit, but “natural Light” photographers are no less a photographer that can use lights to manipulate the setting instead of adapting to it. Now on the money side… I love taking photos and the way my clients light up when they see a photo that they love. I take great pride in my work, but I personally feel I don’t have to charge hundreds to thousands of dollars for a photo session and prints. I do charge enough to cover my cost plus enough for me to live comfortably and happy, but that’s it. When it comes to prints I give full res disks and let the client make as many prints as they want. If they want prints from me, I have companies that charge no more than a couple bucks for and 8×10 for example. I charge a few dollars on top of that. They are damn good prints but, I’m not charging someone a crap load of money on something that cost me $2. What I have come to find out about a lot of these photographers that are crying out saying these lower price business plans are never going to work or are unprofessional photographers. Plus many other bashes, names or slander they have are actually feeling threatened. I have a couple friends that are a lot more expensive than me and they have admitted that there are a few cheaper photographers around that are just as good, but taking a chunk of their business because they are not over pricing everything. Overall, all I am saying is that some of us that have been trained, educated in this field charge very little for our services without taking away on quality. I’m not saying my photos are always mistake free. Sometimes however some of my best work has come from mistakes here and there. At the end of the day though if the client is happy and loves your work, you did your job. That is what makes you a photographer.

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