Home Forums Am I a Fauxtog? Let's see if this ends in tears……..

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    Even though I have no interest in macro photography, your stuff is pretty cool. Would be interesting to see what you could do with portraits


    @Click It And Stick It & @Malula

    That not withstanding, announcing that there was no charge makes very little difference to me. What purpose is there for including that statement unless it was to deflect the harsh reviews that charging for substandard work produces? By making the statement the implication is that you don’t charge. I have been doing rather a lot of test shooting lately because my semi-retirement has afforded me a lot more time to get out and play. If I were to post my work on here, ask for critique, and say that I didn’t charge for those pictures, how would you interpret the statement. I expect you would assume I was posting as a student. The state of payment is irrelevant to the quality of your work, and therefore it is irrelevant to the content of the review. The state of payment is, however, one of the defining characteristics of what makes up a fauxtog, so if you want to know if you are a fauxtog, the difference is very great.

    I do not know if this is true, and it is my hope that it is not, but you come across as someone who honestly believes their work is amazing with a capital BOO-Yah, and you came here to get your ego stroked. That isn’t what I’m about. If you, as a learner, come to me and ask for my opinion, you will be responded to as I did in my first post. An honest evaluation, encouragement, and simple advice for improving your work. I didn’t worry about the watermark on the images, because it is good practice to put a copyright notice on photos you take when you post them online. But, after IHF’s comment, I typed “melula photography” into Google and her Facebook page was the very first thing to come up. Now your request for evaluation is not for a student, it was for a pro, or more accurately, someone who has diluted herself into thinking she is a pro.

    And people seeing your work and wanting to pay for it has no bearing on whether you should be in business or not. Pure and simple, your clients don’t know thing one about photography. There is no difference between taking advantage of a person who doesn’t know anything about photography by selling them bad photos when they can’t tell the difference and selling someone a bad car by putting sawdust in the transmission and hand turning the odometer. No different than someone who takes high school shop and then starts marking thing themselves as a contractor to people who don’t know the right end of a hammer. I don’t know about how it is in Wollongong, but here both of those things would get you put behind bars.

    This is a simple matter of business ethics. When the client doesn’t know enough about whatever you are selling to make a fully informed decision, it is up to you to fill in their knowledge gap with a recommendation. If you take advantage of that and take their money, it is little more than outright theft.

    I admit that I was very harsh, but I do not regret it, sometimes it takes a hard blow to the ego to get someone to take off their rose colored glasses and see their work for what it is. So I will now wipe the slate clean, and hope that you are listening good and hard to what I say next.

    Kylie, at this point, you have a decision to make. It is a decision about what kind of person you want to be. You see, you have opened Pandora’s box and, to mix metaphors horribly, eaten from the tree of knowledge. You now know, without a doubt, from the mouth of someone who has been doing this longer than you have been alive, that you are not good enough to charge people in good conscience. I will give you the benefit of the doubt that were ignorant of this before today, and so everything you have done up to this point is moot. It is how you proceed that will define who you truly are. Will you, now that you know, go out tomorrow and steal from unsuspecting clients by lying to them about your skill? With the burden on knowledge you now hold, it could be construed in no other way if you did. Or will you accept this bitter pill, realize where you are, hunker down, and start doing the real work? That is a decision only you can make.

    I will offer this one encouragement. Like Pandora, you still have one thing left in the box. The Spirit of Hope. One of the very great things about any part of the human condition is that all things are temporary. What you are today does not define what you are tomorrow, it informs it, but does not define it. Take a good deep look down inside yourself and ask yourself why you want to be a photographer. Is it about passion? Is it for the prestige of being an artist? Is it because of the compliments and the ego stroking? If it isn’t for the passion of the art, you’ll never make it, those other reasons can’t propel you beyond mediocrity. So, if you have the passion necessary to work (and pay) for YEARS without compensation to master your art, go for it. But know that it is a long and hard road and making it by honestly being great, does not come easy or fast.

    Always remember, that true, lasting greatness only comes to those who are willing to toil in obscurity.

    Good luck.


    That is so far from the truth. I did not come here looking to have my ego stroked. I do not think I am amazing, I am still learning everyday. I came here for honest opinions and constructive criticism because I don’t 100% trust the opinions of friends and relatives.

    I can’t win. I see all the time photographers bitching about newbies NOT charging for their work and now I have people saying I shouldn’t??? Well which is it?? I don’t charge a fortune and sorry if you think i’m naive but I just don’t think im so horrible that my work isn’t worth a cent.

    Whatever happened to supporting and helping others? I do this because I love it and I want to continue to grow and be the best I can be.




    @IHF  You shouldn’t assume your “standards are obviously higher” than mine simply because I choose not to be a dick when I review someones photos.  I would actually argue that my standards are higher than yours when it comes to portraits.  My photography background starts with film and my first digital camera experience was in 2000 with and camera that shot on 3.5 floppies and I edited in Paint Shop Pro.  Currently I shoot with a D90 and D7000 and edit using Photoshop CS5.  So its safe for me to say that I know a bit about photography.  Even with as much as I know and will know about photography, I wouldn’t assume I know more than anyone else.  You shouldn’t either.


    @Malula You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.  However, if you don’t charge and a photographer is complaining about you not charging, more than likely they are a fauxtog and their opinion doesn’t matter.  Any true professional photographer will tell you to shoot your family and friends and practice, practice, practice.  You shooting for free will not harm their businesses.


    First off, I am glad to know that you didn’t come here for that, but I hope you can understand why it came across that way.

    Your question about charging is a good one, let me try to explain. You are dealing with two different issues, both of which have a lot in common.

    Photographers complain about newbies who don’t charge for their work and market themselves as a viable alternative to a professional. This is an issue of presentation. People who do this basically undercut experienced photographers and dilute the market. This is a problem because they usually forget to tell people that they are just learning. You shouldn’t ask anyone to use you instead of a professional photographer free or otherwise, until you are good enough to be a professional photographer.When you are learning, you need to TELL people you are learning. It’s truth in packaging, and that is what people are complaining about. For example, ask your family member to trust you to shoot their wedding just because you’re learning and you won’t charge them = bad, mostly for the client, and a little for the photographer — ask if you can shoot at the wedding in addition to the photographer they actually hire = good, because they will still get good pictures even if you completely bomb the shoot, this also takes the pressure and stress off of you (but check with the photographer first, and defer to them, some photographers do not allow this because they have a job to do and it’s difficult to do it if there is someone getting in the way).

    The second complaint is similar, but slightly different. This is what I was discussing before, so I won’t go into it length. But there is a big difference between undercutting to get the work when you offer a comparable product, it is something completely difficult to undercut to get the work when you’re not offering them nearly as much in return but tell them they are getting the same thing. When someone hires me, I am offering them something that you just plain can’t, I’m offering them 20 years of professional experience (32 if you include my training and apprenticeship). I sum that up in the word “professional” and if another photographer comes in and use the term “professional” to represent your whole 1 year of training. A client who doesn’t understand photography sees “professional who charges $50” and “professional who charges $250.” This one is tricky, because as a businessman, it does not bother me that you are siphoning off all the cheep clients. I set my prices a little on the high side anyway because I find that it attracts a higher quality clientele and that clients are a lot easier to deal with when they have a little more invested in the process. But it does bother me as a photographer because I believe that any client who pays good money for a ticket deserves to get a seat for the game, not a practice.

    Now, as to your time being worth something… I understand why you feel this way, but let me try to explain this. Due you to you being international, I don’t know about your familiarity with middle American literature, but this is what I like to call Tom Sawyer Syndrome. There is a scene in the book, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” where Tom Sawyer tricks all of the kids in the town into thinking that whitewashing a fence is the most exciting privilege in the world, and proceeds to charge them for doing his chores. If you are still learning, sorry to be frank, but your time isn’t worth a damn thing. There is one simple truth you need to keep in mind. They are doing more for you than you are doing for them. They need pictures, but they can go to anyone they want to get them done. If you are honest with them, they know that you are not a professional, and as such, they are taking a risk by letting you do their pictures. Will you reward them for taking that chance on you by charging them for it? Of course not. They are getting pictures, you are getting experience, this is a fair exchange. To ask them to pay you money for the privileged of doing you a favor is using them. If the pictures turn out and they are happy with them, everybody wins, and if the pictures don’t turn out, no one has lost anything, the option of hiring a professional is still open to them.

    I worked for five years after my training before I went pro and in that time I never once charged a client. I was willing to accept a tip if they offered it, but never until after they had seen their photos, I made sure they knew full well that they didn’t owe me a thing, and if they insisted on paying me, I never allowed them to tip more than the cost of film and processing. There is nothing wrong with that, if they are thrilled, since you don’t have film and processing costs let them reimburse your petrol. But let it be their decision. This is actually my best advice for knowing when you’re ready to start charging. Do the work for them for free (just the cost of time) and when 90% of your clients are happy enough with the work that they insist on paying you once they have seen the finished results, even though they don’t have to, you are giving your clients enough value to go pro.

    Your time isn’t worth anything until you’ve invested in it. On the road to being a professional, you have to go through the stage where you aren’t giving them any value for their time and should probably be paying them for their time, to providing them with a small compensation for their time (where you are now), to being worth the time they are investing in you, to the point where they are getting enough more than their time is worth.

    The most important thing to remember in all of this is that when you shoot for someone, it isn’t about you in the slightest, it is about them. To be a good photographer, you have to remember to always to right by your clients.

    I hope this has helped you to understand where we are coming from?


    @MBC  Photography for me is a very serious hobby, almost to the point of obsession.  I agree so much with your last post.  Im currently in this stage where people always tell me they love my pictures and I should charge, but I still won’t.  Im not willing to charge for good when there are so many great photographers out there.  I am extremely critical of my own work and I am always looking to get better.

    BTW, I love this

    “But it does bother me as a photographer because I believe that any client who pays good money for a ticket deserves to get a seat for the game, not a practice.”


    Click it,
    My high standards have nothing to do with experience or lack there of, or about what equipment anyone uses, or doesn’t use.
    People should be honest and forthright.
    People should become photographers before they become professional photographers and offer and/or sell professional services.

    Professionals should price for profit and offer finished work

    While I admit when a tog comes here asking if they’re a faux (or for CC) when they’re already a pro, it immediately puts a bad taste in my mouth, and it may come across in my words.  but how is being honest, answering questions to my best ability, offering links to good information, and offering my truthful opinions being a dick?!  Should I not elaborate, and keep it short and simple “You have no business being in the business”.  How do I word “I don’t think you understand proper exposure.  You aren’t paying enough attention to light.  Full sun and full shade doesn’t work.  Your subjects look to have jaundice”, etc etc  in a nice way? Have I ever been inaccurate when posting?  If so please correct me.  Not only will I learn from it, but togs who are listening will as well.  MBC has corrected me in the past, and I’m grateful he did.  I’m still pondering the thought of high key and Rembrandt outdoors 😉

    Should I have said to this poster? “Wow!  Love it that you mislead me to believe that you were a student of photography and amateur like me, and wanting to learn as much as possible and get input how you can improve your work, when you have in actuality been in business for over a year.  LOL you got me 🙂 It’s so cool that you are  a professional while learning, and making money.  Isn’t photography great that way?!”
    Then why bother even being here?  Why bother even creating this site?  Why does it even exist?
    How do I say “I think what you are doing is a pretty crappy thing to do, and there is a better and more honest way to go about this”  Softly?

    I think it’s a heck of a lot meaner and less productive, to tell people “Hey!  you’re doing great, and if people are willing to buy your services, you are already good enough” and the like, when they are seriously lacking in skill, paying too much attention and working too hard on the business end of things, and doing others and themselves a disservice by not going through the learning process that always involves shooting for yourself first.  Giving people a false sense of validation/approval when what they are doing isn’t validated at all?  It’s setting them up for sure failure!  It’s encouraging them not to discover what their true potential is!
    Look, I thought my instructor was a dick too.  There was no pleasing that man!  URGH!  but I now see what he was trying to teach me, and if I can help people get out of the faux trap of doom and become the best photographers they can, while risking being labeled a  “dick”… I’l do it.  Unless you have a better way.  If you do, please instruct me.  I’m being sincere.

    OR are you saying that my lack of experience, my lack of pro status, or lack of some sort of equipment or my lack of photoshop software makes my opinions and observations worthless/invalid and I should just stay out of it?

    “Malula You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.  However, if you don’t charge and a photographer is complaining about you not charging, more than likely they are a fauxtog and their opinion doesn’t matter.  Any true professional photographer will tell you to shoot your family and friends and practice, practice, practice.  You shooting for free will not harm their businesses.”
    I think I need to elaborate on this great advice to add, that when shooting for yourself and practicing, there’s no need for marketing.  There’s no need for millions of different faces to learn the foundations you need to eventually portfolio build and experience build and get your ducks in a row to go pro.  No need to take on important events, or portraiture work when you feel uncomfortable doing it, and know that they would be better off hiring a pro with more skill or expertise than you.
    Example:  I was taking on lighting for the first time, and my neighbor had been on me about doing a stylized shoot with her (she worked in fashion in Hollywood films briefly, modeled quite a bit and was very comfortable in front of the camera, and wanted to get creative, unlike my usual live model, my daughter, who is into self sabotaging photos and teaches me more about proper direction than lighting lol bless her).  Instead I told her “Actually, I just need to do a few head shots to work out this lighting problem I’m having and not completely understanding.  I’d love it if you’d help me with that instead.  She said that she could use a good head shot for work (she’s currently a dance instructor).  I went on to say that she may not get a good usable head shot from me, and I wouldn’t be able to pay her for her time, but if she got nothing usable out of the deal I would help her find a good photog in the area.  Turns out, I got her head shot 🙂 and it was really nice to have a model that knew how to pose so I could concentrate more on my real task at hand.  but even after the shoot and some success, I still didn’t understand what was going on with the lighting, so I asked her permission to post her image for critique and help.  My next sessions were with my daughter, and with stuffed animals, and with my vacuums and they continue to be my usual subjects.  Yes, my subject matter isn’t exciting at all, but I finally have a grasp on how it all works, and can move on to create different lighting patterns and moods while understanding how my lights effect everything.  I’m no longer stuck, and no one had to invest in my learning process but me.

    There’s no FB likes or any sort of attention while doing this, but there is a lot less pressure, and my learning process is going much faster now that I say “No” and the quality of my shots instantly got better.(very very briefly I shot for others for free, and after only 4 “sessions” found that I wasn’t learning what I needed to from it)

    Shooting for free does not mean being in business and offering your services for free.  That WILL make fauxs angry.  It’s easy to say “Don’t worry about them”  when you aren’t living your life with them.  I think this is where male togs lack understanding.  We have to see these ladies everyday, not just online, but real life.  Our children play with their children and go to school together, we shop at the same grocery stores, and have joined the same play groups, ect.  I don’t know for sure if this is your situation as well Malula, but if it is, I whole heartily understand.
    Being in business and marketing yourself as free will also attract lot’s of people that don’t value good photography. It will harden you to the point you want to scream “FORGET THIS!  I’M DONE!”  but, shooting for yourself, and only seeking out models outside of your family and your very close friends when you are needing something in particular to learn the technique you are trying to master, will free you.  Ideally, assisting a pro would be the best option, but a lot of us don’t have the luxury or opportunity to do so.  By not having a business page/website/and not constantly posting your shots to FB, and announcing “hey, everybody!  Free shoots!” all over your wall, you’ll find that the demand and pressure dies down, fauxs won’t even notice you, and you can go about doing what is important to you.

    Malula, I thank you for looking and for your compliment.  I haven’t been able to experiment with my lighting in months due to a long crazy move my family and I have just made.  But, soon things will get back to normal, and I can have at it again.  My portraiture is pretty basic and straight forward at this point in the game, but I can link to my headshot and all the help I received, that I was talking about earlier.  I keep the link on my desktop so I can refer back to it when I need to.  I’d let you in on more, but it’s seems pretty creepy to post my family shots, and shots of my kids here on YANAP.
    BTW  Photo.net is a wonderful resource!  I look up info and read everyday and learn so much.  Book mark it! 🙂


    I also feel I should explain in case this conversation continues.  I have a busy few days ahead, and will most likely be unable to reply for awhile.  I haven’t left the conversation, nor do I want to.  I’ll be back


    What’s really scary is that the more successful photographers are those with the strongest business sense, not necessarily the strongest photography skill. (This is ignoring those who shoot for things like Nat Geo.)


    @IHF I have to agree with Click It about you being vindictive. It seems you’re all over the board with your comments and yet you’ll write lengthy comments all while “having no time” to do so. Commenting as “honestly and as accurately as I possibly can” does not mean completely trashing everyone in sight. Having your link requested seems like those you put down are thinking “Just what makes her better than me?” I came across this site a couple weeks ago and I must say this is not the best place to get helpful advice, but there is such a thing as having some tact, which obviously you do not possess. You replied to one person that she was not a fauxtographer because she does not charge for her work, but you claim you’re not a pro but still sell prints, cards, etc. Does that make you a faux as well? Perhaps a bad experience with not getting decent family photos and losing your sight has made you vengeful?

    I’m not about to make this into a war of words, but if you feel you have to lash out at me for expressing my opinion about someone who is in the top three for negative posts on here, then by all means do so and I’ll move on. Malula’s thread is not the place to continue this “discussion” (it could have been added to any thread) but having it here with Click It’s opinion keeps both our thoughts in the same area. Lastly, if you wear your “amature hat proudly”. at least spell “amateur” correctly.


    Oh god, these responses almost have me wetting my pants. Im only a new member to the forum so I didnt really know what I was in for but now I know not to listen to most of you people (note that I said most, not all).

    @IHF, yep, you are a dick. You’re coming across so insanely stuck up and a miss know it all when really, you have no place putting people down and calling them fauxtographers. Sure your macro is great but who are you to judge me on my portrait work when the one example you could provide me is SHIT. Yep, I said it. Its flat, its boring, its crap. Im not going to apologize for trying to push myself and getting outdoors and working with light that I cant control.  I may not be perfect, but I never claimed to be.  Please bugger off and focus on yourself before dishing out negativity. Incase you’re yet to notice, nobodys too keen on what you have to say. Cheers.


    Oh and after reading one of your posts more thoroughly IHF, I NEVER SAID I WAS A STUDENT!!!! I wouldnt have been so dumb and put watermarked images on tumblr if that was the impression I wanted to give everyone you KNOB. The reason why I said they were not paid photos ( which is true) is because i wanted honest opinions on just my work on that page not who I am as a photographer


    O.K. seems I need to MAKE time to reply

    You DID receive honest opinions on just the work posted on that page
    “As long as you aren’t charging people you’re fine by me. Your work has some glaring technical errors that would be unforgivable for a pro, but since you’re a student, it just means that you haven’t progressed that far yet.”

    “You will get better with time as long as you keep trying to learn.  I wouldn’t be charging at your skill level yet, but if people see your work and are willing to pay for it, go right ahead.”

    My opinion as well was based off the work on the page you provided, like I said I did not go through any of your photos on your Facebook page.  And based on the photos you provided and the fact that you were in business you meet my criteria for being a faux. I’m so sorry you didn’t hear what you wanted to hear, but you needed to hear it just the same.

    I may be a dick, but I have never felt the need to name call, or point out typos to get my point across.  OF COURSE my portrait was SHIT!  Like total *yawn* I’m a beginner, and it was my first time attempting studio.  I do believe I was aware of that when I posted to a forum desperately asking for help because I had no idea what I was doing.  This would be why I am not in business and have not yet started to build a portraiture portfolio of work.  Knowing what goes into a good photograph/portrait and actually being able to achieve it consistently and reliable are two completely different things.

    While I agree I was very active on the boards since they started, and had no life, but complete and utter limbo during this looong and horrible move that began in June and hasn’t ended until now, I don’t agree that I was vindictive.  Completely trashing everyone in sight?!   Really?!

    Of course that’s the reason they ask for my my portfolio.  I get no requests for it when I feel only the need to encourage someone to “keep doing what you are doing”  or “I’m impressed”  It’s only requested in hopes to find a way to criticize my work, or find fault with what I am doing with my photography, after I critiqued their work when they asked.  I personally have never felt the need to look up anyone’s work here at YANAP after they were critical of someone’s work.  Instead, I listen to them intently and learn from them.  But maybe that’s just me.

    “you claim you’re not a pro but still sell prints, cards, etc. Does that make you a faux as well?”

    No, I do not sell a professional service.  I do not sell photos that were wanted by someone as soon as they were clicked because it is of themselves or their loved ones.  The only person personally invested in what I sell, is myself.  Comparing selling art and selling a professional service is like comparing apples and oranges.  No one ever feels obligated personally or otherwise to purchase my work.  This is why its pretty rare and incredibly special to be successful at selling art, and for the most of us, it’s has to be more about self fulfillment.
    “Perhaps a bad experience with not getting decent family photos and losing your sight has made you vengeful?”
    Losing my sight, no.  But yes, I am angry about fauxtography ruining something so important to us.  Does this reaction seem strange to you, or invalidated?  I’m pretty sure we all agree we hate fauxtography and want to do something to stop it.


    For crying out loud! This is not productive in the slightest. Getting riled up and losing your temper just doesn’t get anyone anywhere at this point.

    Malula, I completely understand. You definitely didn’t hear what you thought you’d hear, and you didn’t like what I and others had to say. You are allowed to be upset and even to get a little angry at us. I again apologize for the harshness with which I had to approach you, but I’ve been teaching long enough to know that it is usually necessary to start the constructive criticism with the criticism. This is often the only way to break through a person’s perception of their own work so that you can start to construct. I know it’s painful, it was painful when I was dressed down for the first time by my mentor. I even feel like a jerk every time I do it, but I just have to keep reminding myself that it is all for the best. It also tells me if the person is teachable, and if not, I know not to waste my time. I have yet to meet a good photographer who did not view their own work as complete and utter garbage. I know all that I have said is hard to hear, but I can assure you that it is also true. It is my sincere hope that once you’ve had a little time to cool down, you will take it to heart, although it is unpleasant, that pain is a necessary step toward being a better photographer.

    IFH, please learn to control your temper better. There is no reason to react in anger to anything anyone has said. Many of the people who post here looking for critique have never had an honest evaluation of their work before. It is easy to accept positive reinforcement, but the natural reaction to negative feedback is “and who do you think you are.” To react in anger to these situations cheapens you. If you react in anger, others will get angry in return, and that is counterproductive. The only person on this thread who has good reason to get angry is Kylie, you should expect it and you should expect her to lash out a little, and you reacting in anger will only make the situation work. Once a little time has passed, she will cool down and take things to heart, the shell of defensiveness will crumble and hopefully she will move on to better things in her photography. If it is our desire to help her, that should be our goal. Fueling the fire of anger in her will only temper her defensiveness and create an impenetrable shell that will not only make her immune to criticism in the future, it will wall her in and make it impossible for her to grow beyond it.

    Stef, that is true to a point. Success as a photographer depends on two things, photographic skill and business savvy. It will forever be the case that those with savvy will surpass those of equal, and to the extent of that savvy, greater skill. However, business skill can only get one so far. Success attracts higher level clients, and higher level clients have higher standards. These standards can only be accounted for by photographic skill. So there is a ceiling for those who rely on their business skill to propel them upward. This is one of the great burdens for many photographers, they are artists and have little concern for the minutia of day to day business. This is one of the most common complaints I hear from other photographers, but I find it moot. Like most skills, business savvy is learnable, though it tends to run contrary to the artist’s natural tendencies. Or you can always go the route that I have taken, I have a guy who is great at business as a silent partner. I do the creative stuff, he handles the business stuff, and we both profit from it.


    IHF is not vindictive. If you think she is, maybe you don’t know what that means.


    She might be a little harsh, but I’m not convinced.

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