Home Forums Let’s Talk Photography How to avoid being called a fauxtographer in 10 steps

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    “A man with a camera thinks he’s a photographer, while a man with a violin is just a man with a violin.”

    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.

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

    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.

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

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

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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 of 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.

    The bigger the watermark, the worse the photographer. Nobody wants to steal your shit. 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.


    Here are some hints to making a good composition:

    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.
    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.
    Experiment with different crops. Articulate (state out loud) why one crop is better than another.
    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.


    f you dont mind I am going to repost this…this is great!


    Repost all you want, with attribution to “stef” at this site (https://youarenotaphotographer.com). I might out myself sometime, at which point attribution can either be here or my real site.


    I’m placing it in the Creative Commons: Attribution required, Non-commercial, No-Derivatives.



    Nicely written!



    I agree with Brownie. This was nicely written!


    Brilliant, bloody brilliant!!!




    LOve it!!!  I’d like to add an 11:  Listen to your critics, learn from them.  Criticism about your photography or business practices isn’t personal.  It is not a dig on who you are as a person, it’s not MEAN, despite what your friends have told you, your critics are NOT jealous, or afraid of competition.  Most likely they just actually care about the photography profession.  Criticism  is meant to help your photography/business and in turn it helps the photography industry as a whole (if it’s listened to that is)


    I agree, if I hadn’t had my work critiqued, I would be ridiculously bad YET I would think I was amazing. I think being open to criticism by people in the photography community is a very humbling experience and it can take people off of the “Cloud Nine” where they are the best ever. Good Addition, I Hate Fauxtography!


    Brownie, The way I see it, is if the critic took the time to explain themselves and where they feel you fall short or what they feel you are doing wrong, then listen.  Have a discussion if you disagree, and/or pick their brain for as long as you have them, and learn as much as possible from them.  In the world of photography criticism is a rare gift (at least in my experience, I have to go searching for it) Obviously the critic gives a care, otherwise they would have said nothing at all.  I’ve actually been asked to critique “pros” before, even after explaining that I am in the process of learning and am just a novice.  So I take my time and give them the best CC I am able to give, given my current knowledge, and I get responses that make it look as though all I said was “You suck, don’t quit your day job”.  WOW!  I just spent a half an hour or more out of my day to help you, and this is what I get in return?  I’ve even had people resort to name calling.  Really?  Just because I said “your exposure is all over the place and it looks as though you are using automatic modes, instead of telling the camera what to do?” or the like.  Never would I ever do that to someone who cared enough to take their time with me, especially if I was SEEKING help or CC from them.  If you are a photographer people, criticism and the advice that goes with it, is the very best gift you can receive.  Treat the deliverer of this gift with respect, and thank them, even if you think they are dead wrong.  Chances are they aren’t, and later down the road you’ll wish you had talked to them more and hadn’t burned that bridge.


    And criticism doesn’t have to be all negative, there might be one or two things in the photograph that work, like the lighting or the composition of a certain part or whatever. You have to keep yourself upon to criticism as an artist.


    Great stuff. Not sure about the taping up the pop-up flash bit though: that only tries to pop up in certain modes……. which I guess you shouldn’t be in unless you’re a phototog….


    I couldn’t agree more whole-heartedly if I tried. Excellent post and contribution to the photography world. Of course, this is all lost on those it should help the most.


    Oh the irony.


    I would expunge on #2 a tad- if you can not shoot in manual, don’t know what aperture priority is for, or how to adjust f-stops, you should NOT be charging money.  Directly referring to what Andy said a few days ago, if you don’t know how to use lighting, the on board flash is NOT going to help, and will only make your photograph worse.


    The only other thing I would add to this is; if you are going to become a photographer, be honest. Which translates to, PAY TAXES. Those hacks out there that charge 50.00 for a CD with every image on it are becoming more the rule than the exception and it’s beginning to frost my cookies. Some competition is good for pricing, and some that are charging entirely more than they should are getting exactly what they deserve, but for the great majority of us charging fair prices and basing it off of what we feel is a completely legitimate wage are really growing weary of trying to justify what we charge based on these HACKS charging 1/16th of what should be charged. You can argue all you like with the standard ‘your portfolio should make all the difference’ but the majority of customers refuse to see the difference until it’s too late. Do us all a favor, and if it’s just your ‘hobby’ while you work a 9-5, then stop charging. If it’s something you want to turn into a career, please do so legitimately.




    Gad I LOVE number 10. It’s perfect. I have said those very words: Nobody wants to steal your shit.
    Ain’t it the truth.

    Mrs Woo

    Had to laugh at the one about watermarks.  I have done a lot of creative writing and contributed photography and writing on creative forums before.  Nothing screams “someone without a clue” louder than someone who has copyright symbols and “all rights reserved” repeatedly throughout their work.  Anyone who understands the industry already knows that everything created is covered by international copyright law.  Now, if you do not REGISTER said works with the copyright office your recovery might not be as much, but if you’re an unknown, it is unlikely your work is considered that valuable anyhow.  Registering photos with the copyright office (to me, at least) is as easy or even possibly easier than registering print works.

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