Home Forums Am I a Fauxtog? Please be kind!! Reply To: Please be kind!!


With all due respect, I have to disagree with IHF… I don’t see very much creativity in your work at all. When I glance through your portfolio, what others (yourself included) see as creativity, I see as a person who has absolutely no clue how to get what she wants out of a photograph. I’m not saying that you are not creative, I’m just saying that it isn’t showing here. Right now the work is a little soul-less.

My definition of an artist is someone who either sets out to say something and effectively conveys it in their chosen medium or someone who sets out to ask a question and effectively gets you thinking about it through their medium. You, my dear, are no more an artist than a pianist who can’t play the piano or a painter who doesn’t know how to hold a brush. The only difference is that photography is a medium that occasionally produces a result whether you know what you are doing or not.

You have some very nice shots in your portfolio, but it is maybe 1 in 100. And that is only 1% of what’s in your portfolio, and considering what you consider to be acceptable, I cringe to think what your rejects must look like. Then you take the bad shots and try to cover for yourself in Photoshop, making them even worse because you don’t understand good editing procedures. (I won’t even talk about the fact that there isn’t a decent black and white photo to be found in 3 years of images.)

Basically, this portfolio is an all around mess, and I actually feel sorry for each and every “client” you have duped into thinking your work is worth their hard earned money.

If you want to be a photographer, I don’t want to discourage you, but I do have to get real with you. It takes YEARS of study and hard work to get to a point that you can see it in your head and then make it come into existence. When I work with a client, I meet with them, get a feel for their personality, their passion, their soul. Then I consider how best to capture that spark within them. I see the shot, then I make it be. I know the rules, but sometimes I choose to break them for the sake of creativity, but I do so with intent, I know that I’m breaking the rules and there is a purpose to that act. And for the record, I never retouch a photo that isn’t work selling to the client exactly they way it is.

Good art is 10% creativity and 90% knowing how to use a brush. So if you want to be an artist and you want photography to be your medium, you have to learn how to take a good photo. If you try to learn by trial and error, you will always be 170 years behind the times, because you will never progress more than one lifetime’s experience can allow. You have to get out there and learn. I suggest reading the London and London text (check used book stores the older editions are more in-depth), then pick up Grimm and Grimm, John Hedgecoe’s photography handbook and Horenstien and Hart’s book is pretty good too. That will teach you the basics of how to work a camera and how to get a decent shot. The move on to studying studio lighting (this will help you immensely in all aspects of lighting, especially natural light). Learn posing, study body language and non-verbal communication. Take a class in being a mime if you can find one. Take some acting classes and learn about darkroom techniques. Then, once your photos are good enough to sell without retouching, you can pick up Photoshop for the first time, because then and only then will it be a pole vault instead of a crutch.

Only after investing all that work and time into your art will your time be worth enough to charge for it, but this is the true test of your passion. You don’t test an athlete’s passion when they are standing on the podium getting a medal, you test it when they have to get up at 4am, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, for practice, for 10 years. If you don’t have the kind of passion to work hard, unpaid, and without recognition for a good long while to get good, you don’t have any passion for it at all, and you would be better off to find something you are passionate about instead of something you enjoy. I suspect from reading your comments and looking at your photos that you don’t really care that much about photography (if you did care about the art, you’d be improving over time), but you LOVE the praise and attention you get when you do it, not to mention the prestige that comes from calling yourself and “artist”.

Here are a couple of good rules of thumb for a professional photographer:

A professional photographer doesn’t need to edit their images to sell them to the client, and if they do edit them, it takes less time than it did to shoot them. If you are spending more than an hour editing a 1 hour shoot, you’re a fauxtog. (It should be closer to 30 minutes, this rule does not apply to commercial clients.)

A professional photographer produces superior quality work on their worst days, not just their best. If you’re charging people and you can’t produce the same quality work on a bad day as you do on a good one, you’re a fauxtog.

A professional photographer never puts their own priorities above those of the client. If you aren’t completely focused on giving the client good value for their money, you’re a fauxtog.

A professional photographer never delivers a photo unless it is exposed correctly, well lit, framed well, in focus, artistically sound, emotionally relevant, and makes the subject look as good or better than they do in real life. If you hand a client an image that doesn’t meet these basic criteria, you’re a fauxtog. (There is a little room on this when shooting events for photos of personal significance to the client, but you should never blow them up.)