10 Steps to Follow to Avoid Being A Fauxtog

The biggest problem with the industry of photography/fauxtography is not due to lack of people wanting to do it… it’s due primarily to the ease of entry combined with lack of knowledge. But that knowledge is VERY easy to get, at least as far as the basics for a profession are concerned.

1. Learn all these rules and how to apply them before breaking any of them. Including this one.

2. Learn how your camera works, and how shutter/aperture/ISO all interact, and how to adjust all of them on your camera. Quickly. Without looking, if necessary.

3. Learn to focus and use individual focus points. Learn to focus and recompose.

4. Never shoot with the intention to “fix it in post”.

5. Click the shutter only after you’ve looked at the entire frame. Compose an image starting with the background, then place your subject in it. This failure is the biggest, single indicator of a fauxtographer: failure to look at the entire image.

6. A bad photo starts bad and ends bad. It’s okay to reshoot something with better light or better focus or better composition. Sometimes a post processing experiment doesn’t work, so don’t release it. Even the masters shoot bad photos; the difference is that nobody ever sees it.

7. Don’t use a flash until you study lighting. Tape your popup flash down. While light is required to make a photograph, using it improperly usually harms an image instead of enhancing it.

8. Learn to process images well. Photography has two parts: shooting the image, and developing the raw image to a final. It’s been this way since the 1800′s. If you don’t develop an image you shot with the same care you took shooting it, you’re only half a photographer. Corollary: Shoot and burn dilettantes are not photographers, they’re like hobbyists that have a drawer full of exposed, unprocessed film which they try to peddle.

9. Start with a light touch on post processing as you learn. Post processing gimmicks are just that. These gimmick actions will hold up to the test of time just like wearing a nylon shirt from the 70′s with a mullet … looking back it’s just embarrassing. When you post a picture with spot color, Jesus posts a picture of you wearing an unbuttoned nylon shirt and skinny jeans with a muffin top and camel toe.

10. The bigger the watermark, the worse the photographer. Nobody wants to steal your work. Learn some humility; you’re joining an industry that’s older than your great grandpa. And if you put crappy watermarked shots in your portfolio,  you might find them reprinted here.


4 Quick Hints to Making a Good Composition:

1. Rule of thirds : The eye is usually drawn to the intersecting areas 1/3 in from the edges. This is a really good place to put the main subject or horizon line. It gives dynamic feeling to images. Centering the subject like a bullseye gives a peaceful or static look, which might be desired. Let your eye wander and see where it goes. If it does not go towards the subject, then you should rethink the composition.
2. Lines are very powerful : While horizons should always be level (or tilted with a specific reason), leading lines are one of the most powerful elements. Use them to your advantage – ignore them to your peril.
3. Experiment with different crops : Articulate (state out loud) why one crop is better than another.
4. Draw attention to the subject : The entire purpose of a portrait is to draw the viewer’s eye to the person, especially the face. Compose to do exactly that.

Learn this info and practice it, combine it, extrapolate it, and own it … and nobody will call you a fauxtographer.

Written by Stef

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  1. Recycling? Recycling is *good* – as long as it’s not spot colour or grunge HDR 😉

    This site is pinned on my browser – I check it every morning, right after my emails – brings a smile to my face.

  2. “10. The bigger the watermark, the worse the photographer. Nobody wants to steal your work.”

    Maybe nobody wants to steal YOUR work.
    And the biggest thieves are those who yell the loudest that the watermark should be left out or be very small in the corner of the picture (where you can easily crop or clone it out).

    Obviously you’ve never been in a court case or settlement case over stolen images.
    And you’re probably not a photographer who does it for a living. You’re clearly just happy when someone takes your image because you can then say “Hey, my image was used there and there!”

    • cameraclicker

      The best watermarks are the ones you can’t see. If you are in the photography business, pay for an invisible watermark, instead of defacing your photo.
      If someone wants to steal your photo, they will. Anyone with Photoshop experience can remove a watermark. Those with little experience may ruin your photo in the process. Those with more experience can make it disappear without a trace in very little time. The worst case is when someone destroys your photo while removing the watermark, then gives you credit for the photo.

      Some websites like Facebook remove EXIF data, so for sites like that, include a small, unobtrusive, watermark where it will not detract from your photo. That will allow others to report the image if it appears to be misused.

      • How does invisible watermarking work? I know at one time there was such a thing available for Photoshop users, but in all honesty I never looked into it because I really doubt anybody would be stealing MY stuff..at least not anytime soon.

        Hmmm…wonder if there’s a way to tag a nasty little virus onto EXIF data. 😀 …a virus that crashes the thief’s computer every time they try to open Picnik or upload to Instagram.

    • I am a photographer that does this for a living.

      I’ve had people remove my small watermarks, too. Want to know how I solved it? I raised my prices, and started placing lower resolution stuff in the creative commons. More people repost, and link my name when I tell them that’s part of the license to freely use the image. If I don’t have to depend on selling prints as much, I get a lot more advertising by allowing free use of the low rez images.

  3. 11. shoot film. When every frame counts, you may think twice about putting a cowboy hat on a baby’s ass.

  4. creagray

    When I first started taking classes my professor would not allow ANY editing. Our assignment would be to go shoot the same photo with your largest aperture and the smallest. First 20 photos, good, bad and ugly. You learn a lot about how to properly take a photo when you do it that way.

    • I wasn’t allowed to operate a camera until I sketched what I was going to shoot. Even had me put in where the shadows would fall.

  5. Areal photographer.

    I love this site fauxs telling other fuaxs how to do proper photography. It’s like a never ending joke.

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