Home › Forums › Am I a Fauxtog? › Vary New to Photography…But I welcome constructive criticism › Reply To: Vary New to Photography…But I welcome constructive criticism
Allow me to clarify my statement about your passion. When I read your bio, you talked about your passion for photography, but most of your bio talked about your other roles in life, your dad, etc. When I said it seems like an afterthought, I was saying that if you’re going to talk about yourself on a bio page, talk about yourself as a photographer. Don’t talk about yourself and then say “oh, and by the way, I’m passionate about photography.” It just didn’t read like someone who would like nothing more than to take my photos. And as I said, I’m not saying that you don’t have passion, but if you want to be successful, it has to be in your pictures.
When it comes to charging for photos, and I know this is blunt, but neither of you two should be charging. If you can afford a wedding, you can afford a photographer. On your site I seem to remember that you were charging $100 per hour. I don’t charge by the hour, I charge by the package, but when all is said and done, that’s barely less than I charge. In the off season, I’ll shoot just the ceremony, portraits, plus cake, bouquet, and getaway for only $500. That takes me about four hours. My packages then go up from there, and I’ve designed packages as high as $25,000 (5 day Indian wedding in India with 3 assistant shooters). You are not doing them a favor by encouraging them to hire you so they can spend a little more on the decorations, the invitations, or the band. You are robbing them of having a quality record of the most important day of their lives.
Besides, you have to remember that your clients don’t know any better. If you tell them you are a photographer, then show them bad photos, they will assume that those are good photos. By teaching people that bad photography is good, you cheapen it, and not just for yourself, for all of us. The same applies to giving them a CD, you give them that and they will think that is what professionals do, after all, you are a “professional” you have a web site. When potential clients ask if I will give them a CD, which thanks to the fauxtog habit of handing them out like candy, I calmly say no to a print ready CD, but I supply a low res (500 pixel long edge 4×5 crop) set of images for them to post on Facebook or blogs, if they question me, I show them prints I keep from my supplier and the major photo chains in the area, all of which have been exposed to 5 years of UV light. I ask them how long they want their prints to last, and they can see exactly why I insist of providing all prints myself.
Usually no pro would ever do what I’m about to do. We tell these stories to each other, because to have the common frame of reference to understand it. We know that if we say what I’m about to say to a non-pro, it sounds like we’re just bragging, or playing the victim, or any number of other generally reprehensible things. But since I’m trying to explain what it means to us to be a pro in a world where the term pro has become distorted, I hesitantly move forward. Here is a brief explanation of my early years as a photographer.
I didn’t pick up a camera and start shooting gold at the age of 5. But I did the long hard work, just like very other real pro right up to today. My parents were not well off, but they bought me a toy camera when I was young and I loved it so much that I mowed 150 acres of lawn with a push mower and shoveled almost 20 miles of driveway in Michigan to buy my first real camera (a Pentax K-1000) and some decent glass, just so I could start to learn and my dad who had done a little photography taught me some of the basics. I volunteered with a master photographer 20 hours a week almost the entire four years of high school just to have the opportunity to observe someone of that caliber and learn from him, and that doesn’t count as time I was shooting, back then, I was learning. For the next five years, I read dozens of books on photography and thousands of magazine articles, I logged 5,000 hours shooting and 10,000 in the darkroom, shot and developed 45,000 frames of film at $.50 per frame. Then, finally, after 7 years of learning, 5 years of shooting, and $50,000 of personal financial investment, I finally got my very first client, a senior portrait shoot that I made $150 profit on.
That is what it meant for me to call myself a pro, and that means more to my identity as a photographer to this very day than how many countless millions of times my images have been printed or what clients and jobs I’ve completed.
In short, it is a demonstration of my passion for photography. I hope that now you can understand that this means to us, and that should hopefully help you understand just why we look at inexperienced photographers trying to “break into the biz” and are insulted by the gall they have to charge for their work when they have barely even begun to learn. It is tantamount to hiring a personal chef and having them make hamburger helper or hiring a pianist who shows up and plays chopsticks.
And before you ask, “isn’t my time worth something?” The simple answer is, no, no it isn’t. Your time will not be worth anything until you have INVESTED in yourself. It takes every bit as much work to become a great photographer today as it did 20 years ago and in some ways, it takes more, because the knowledge base has grown since then. So are you in for the long haul?
As I stated in my last post. Don’t measure your passion by how much you like photography or how much you enjoy doing it, measure it by whether you are willing to put in the kind of work I’ve described here. It’s hard, working without pay is hard, shooting the same things over and over until you get it right is hard, shooting a hundred pictures you’re proud of and having someone who’s been doing it a long time sit there and rip every single one of them to shreds is very hard. There are no shortcuts, there is no way to excel without doing the work, and what point is there in doing it if you’re only gonna be average?