Home Forums Am I a Fauxtog? How good is my work? Really? Reply To: How good is my work? Really?


You are off to a good start. Not a photographer yet, but not a fauxtog either. I see a good eye and a lot of potential.

Good art is 10% creativity and 90% knowing how to hold a brush, which if course is the hard part. If you’d like to eventually have a career in photography, I’ll warn you now, it’s hard, very hard. And the fauxtogs only make it harder by exploiting the ignorance of the general public. In order to compete, you must take the time now to learn the craft. In fact, the lack of equipment can work to your advantage. For example, contrary to popular belief, shooting outside with the big light source in the sky is not easier than shooting in the studio. You CAN get studio results with nothing but the sun and a reflector IF and only if you understand studio lighting better than a lot of studio photographers. So if you don’t have lights, you HAVE to learn to work without them. Taking things you do now by instinct and learning why and how they work so that you can make what you want to happen happen when you want it to happen and not by chance.

Here is a quick list of topics you need to master for starters:

The balance (ISO, Shutter, and Aperture and how each affects to other)
Don’t shoot on railroad tracks (not only tacky, but VERY illegal, as in I know a photographer serving time for it)
Single source lighting patterns and their uses
Difference between broad and short lighting (and use short almost all the time)
Framing and composition (rule of thirds, golden spiral, positive and negative space, etc)
Posing and body language
Non-verbal communication (take a mime class if you can find one)
Spend time working with models and focus on getting
Learn the dark room (I know you shoot digital, but understanding the dark room will make your digital work a thousand times better because you can really experiment with exposure, filters, and all kinds of other techniques that will help you)
Shoot everything in camera (my motto is, if it isn’t good enough to sell AS IS, it isn’t good enough to even consider dropping into the computer). If you need Photoshop, it is your worst enemy, if you do not need it, it is your best friend.
Learn to connect emotion to style. Black and white, antique finishes, textures, even the level of contrast and saturation have an emotional component. Don’t choose effects because they look cool, pick them because they either enhance the emotional impact of the photo, or highlight the emotion by offering a counterpoint.
Before you attempt black and white, look at a lot of real black and white photography, and read this. It is one of the hardest thing to do in digital photography (I spent almost 5 years working out a system that gives me consistent and reliable results).

Above all, practice and be your own worst critic. Don’t ask if you’re any good, realize that you suck. And you will continue to suck as long as you are working. Throw away 90% of your work and explain to yourself exactly why you are throwing it away. Identifying why you don’t like one photo and you do like another teaches you do the good things and not do the bad ones.

Now, this isn’t to say that you actually suck, or that you can’t be proud of your work. As long as you are improving over yourself, you’re doing well. I look at my work that I put into my portfolio 5 years ago and am a little embarrassed because I wouldn’t even show that to a client today. But the day you look at your work and say “I’ve arrived” is the day you become complacent and start to stagnate into oblivion.

Sorry for the length of my response, but I hope it will be helpful for you, feel free to contact me if you’ve got any specific questions and I’ll try to answer them for you.