Home Forums Am I a Fauxtog? Needing reassurance!

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 36 total)
  • Author
  • #4246

    Hey everyone!  I am here to make sure im not a fauxtog lol.  I am completely self taught.  I spent about 3 months of staying up till 4am researching as much as I could…..I wasn’t a hobbyist turn professional, I decided from the beginning that I wanted to have a legit business.  I have been photographing newborns since February and before that I have never shot any other subject besides my own kids.  I think my first images were actually pretty decent because I had an understanding of how everything worked.

    Anyway, I am now in my 9th month of business and my 9th month of taking photographs.  I take paying clients.  I guess I just want some real CC on my images and to reassure me that im not a fauxtog lol.  There are many in my area, I recently shot a wedding where the main shooter didn’t even know what a prime lens is!

    Looking forward to hearing from you all!




    Let me see if I understand the timeline correctly… You decided you wanted to start a photography business, studies for 3 months and went pro?

    I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but it is completely impossible to learn enough in 2 years to go pro. Most people who take a 4 year degree program and spend all of their waking time doing photography for 4 years with directed instruction barely know enough to go pro at graduation.

    You’re off to a good start, and you are doing pretty good for someone who has only been shooting a year, but you have only been shooting a year. You are producing the kind of work I expect from first-year students, not a pro. My advice is to stop charging people immediately and get back to studying. Shoot your kids, shoot your friends, shoot your relatives, and give yourself time to really learn what you’re doing. Judging by the progress you’ve made in your first year, expect it to be 4 or 5 more years before you are ready to go pro.

    Don’t get down on other photographers because of things you don’t think they know when the list of things you don’t know you don’t know is longer than my arm. In this case, “prime” is a term that is only used by about 60% of the photographers I know. The rest refer to them as fixed (focal length) lenses. Depending on where he or she learned their stuff, they may have only come across one of the two terms.

    As to critique of your work in a specific way, there isn’t time in a forum post to evaluate an entire body of work. If you would, pick out the three best photos (in your opinion) and post direct links to them, I will be happy to offer a detailed critique of all three and let you know where  you’re doing well, and what you need to work on to start moving forward.

    I know you didn’t want to hear that you are a fauxtog, but if you really want to do this, stop charging people and get ready to put in some serious work. Becoming a real photographer is completely attainable for you, so don’t give up.


    You may not have the experience but that does not mean your images arent beautiful.


    I have been mulling over the first responder response ALL day, it had me in tears and truly questioning my abilities and if I truly AM a fauxtog.  Than I thought to myself….fauxtogs don’t understand exposure,ISO,shutter speed…when to change them for the desired look or as the situation (light) changes….fauxtogs have harsh shadows on their subjects and waaaaaay over edit……I understand the basics of photography and took the time (even though it was 3 months but it was until 4am EVERY DAY) to learn these things BEFORE I ever picked up a camera.

    The first responder said to stop charging immediately.  Im sorry but my time away from family is valuable, hours spent editing is valuable, monitor calibration (which I DO have…fauxtogs have never even heard of such a thing) is valuable and I am not nearly as expensive as those in my area and I respect the industry enough to not undercut the crap out of everyone and charge 50 bucks for 100 images on a CD….hell I don’t even offer CD’s lol, I give finished, printed images.


    I also have no interest in shooting friends,family ect…that’s not my niche.  It’s newborns, birth and maternity….It’s what I love to do.  So I will continue to do what I love and shoot the subjects that are interesting and speak to me.


    If being a fauxtog means you don’t have fancy gear and thousands of dollars worth of equipment, well than I guess I am one lol.  I shoot with a Nikon d5100 and a 35mm 1.8g lens…..I rock what I have.  I didn’t buy a fancy smancy camera up front because I didn’t want to waste accuations while I was still learning.  I will upgrading to a full frame camera and professional glass early next year.


    I appreciate the responses and respect everyone’s opinion….but to the first responder, you really think im a fauxtographer because I’ve only been doing this 9 months and don’t have the education, clearly you can’t say that my images are along the same lines as what is posted on here every day?


    My editing techniques are slowly coming along but I feel like my SOOC images are quite good

    I will continue to bring joy to my clients and they believe in me.  I still have the same clients as I did 9 months ago, they have stuck with me and will continue to do so because they love what I do…regardless of what others think.

    I may not be a professional, but to me, I am NOT a fauxtog


    I applaud your understanding of the exposure triangle… you now have the exact same mastery of photography as the senior citizens who have taken my afternoon long course on taking better snapshots down at the senior center. Heck, you have the same basic understanding of photography as my 8 year old nephew, who has been able to manipulate the exposure triangle since first grade.

    You garner so much confidence from all the things you think you know.You’re a second grader who looks down on the kindergartners because you’re smarter than they are. Unfortunately being a pro photographer takes a college degree (in this metaphor).

    You advertise yourself as a natural light photographer, but I’d be willing to bet quid to quai that you couldn’t name the 7 basic single source lighting patterns off the top of your head. And if you can, that’s even worse, because you know them but haven’t got a clue how to make them work. I can even use your own examples. It’s been less than two weeks since you’ve posted an image with harsh shadows, and you posted over edited images TODAY. I can’t believe I even have to mention that sometimes harsh shadows are a good thing (not in those photos though).

    But what really bothers me is that you came here because you wanted to be sure you weren’t a fauxtog, but now you’ve talked yourself into believing your own hype. You asked for the truth, and I gave it to you.

    I know this for certain. When I look at your work from 9 months ago and your work from today, I see at most minimal improvement.

    Oh, and I can’t believe I have to write this AGAIN, but:

    No, it doesn’t matter what you’re missing, that does not make your time valuable. When it comes to providing a service, you cannot judge your worth by what you’d rather be doing. You can only judge the value of your time in whether or not you are giving your clients good value for their money. I don’t know what you charge, but whatever it is, it is too much. Your photography is no better exposed than a photographer who shoots on auto. Your lighting is abysmal, your composition is weak, your color is dull, your framing is poor, your direction is absent, your consistency is non-existent, and to top all of that off, you think you’re more important than your clients. I know you don’t think you do, but you see fit to charge them money, lie to them about how good their pictures look, and waste their time all at once. Your time doesn’t become valuable until you have invested in it. It takes roughly 7 years or 10,000 hours to master any skill. Photography even more, because it is a set of skills.

    Are you better than the work featured on YANAP? Most of the time, yes, although you have some really really weak stuff in your portfolio. But it isn’t the 9 month thing that makes you a fauxtog in my eyes. What makes you a fauxtog is that you admit that you are not a professional, and yet you still see fit to charge people for your unprofessional, technically weak, artistically uninspired “work.”

    Now, I understand that this is harsh, but I truly hope that you will take this to heart. I hate to see as much potential as you have go to waste because you can’t fathom the possibility that you’re not as good as you think you are. I assure you, you ARE a fauxtog, but you don’t have to keep being one. It’s up to you. If you decide to accept it and seek improvement, my offer to evaluate your three best photos stands.


    I have a thick skin and appreciate the time you took to respond to me, I truly do.  I have taken everything you said to heart and I am so glad that I know that I have sooooo far to go and that I will never stop learning.  Here are what I think are some of my best photos, please CC them

    these are FB quality so keep that in mind




    fire away!



    May I have the link to your website please



    Link to my web site is on my profile… I’m off to bed now, but I’ll try to get to your image critiques in the next day or two. This will be of interest to you as a natural light photographer, all of the outdoor images in my portfolio were shot with nothing but the BLS and a reflector. It takes a very in-depth understanding of studio lighting, but you can get studio quality lighting in the field with a little extra work.


    Okay I look forward to it.  I have been using a reflector the last few sessions, just haven’t quite figured it out yet


    Out of the samples on your page, I prefer your male subjects over the females….lol not that it matters but for what it’s worth



    I think you may have a case of Beautiful subject matter = Great photography.

    To me your shots look like anyone with an interest and a basic understanding of how a camera works could have taken them.  No, you would never find your photos here on YANAP, but that doesn’t mean your photographs are of pro quality.  Just nothing in your face wrong and funny, like those featured here.  Believe me you don’t want to compare your work with what is seen here.  Doing that will get you no where faster than fast.

    I also don’t see much progression between your earlier shots and more current work.  This is most likely due to the fact that you are in business.  Taking on so much at once can stunt your learning process, and so can thinking “I’m already good enough”.

    Fauxtog timeline

    Go into business before learning

    Have tons of fun taking pictures for people for money

    Realization sets in: this is starting to become work.  Dont people realize how much work is involved with what I am doing?  So much time is spent away from my family.  I’m working really hard for these people.  I just researched and realized I’m not charging enough.  I’m only making less than minimum wage!!!  I have to raise my prices, or do something to make my time spent away worth somthing.

    New prices bring a drop in business.  Your clients start going to a cheaper tog, and you have no argument against it because her work is the same quality as yours because you haven’t taken the time to improve your product.

    Flounder about for a few

    Outta business

    (this all takes place within 2 to 4 years depending on how long it takes to realize that you are putting more money in than you are getting out)

    How can you stop yourself from falling into the classic faux timeline of burnout and failure?

    Listen to MBCs critique, and take the steps needed to improve.  I can see you have potential, and just lack understanding, and direction.  You can do this!  and you can do it well with just a little motivation and drive.  It’s important to build your foundation first and leave the decorating for last when building anything.  Good Luck!  I hope you go far, and this becomes the moment when your photography really takes off and becomes something wonderful for you.


    I agree with IHF. Listen to MBC.


    I apologize for the delay in getting back with you, but I had some unexpected work come in that needed completing and I wanted to make sure I gave your critique the time it deserved.

    The first image is one that I would have selected if I had picked your three best, but only for its emotional impact, not for its quality as a photograph exactly. Be very careful when shooting in the shade, it causes as many problems as it solves. The biggest problem in this image is actually the expressions, the young lad is expressive and connecting with the camera, but a photographer has to be able to pull that same emotion out of the mother as well. Her face is a bit dead and here eyes are looking at the camera instead of connecting with the viewer. The lighting is extremely flat (one of the problems with shooting in the shade) which makes the mother’s face look puffy. It really needs either a light source or a reflector to bounce sunlight into the shaded area to give the faces a little definition. The pose is also straight on and the framing is a little awkward. Shooting face straight into the camera causes a flat wide look whereas good lighting and a good angle can flatter the curves of the face and really bring out the beauty of the woman’s bone structure. If you had been at forehead level or slightly higher, rather than at nose level, you would also have hidden her very slight double chin which would have flattered her as well.

    When shooting maternity you have several things working against you, almost all women gain weight when they are pregnant, and you have to minimize that as much as possible. Seeing photographic evidence of that fact, especially knowing that it is a permanent record, is not a good way to garner repeat business.

    The brightness in the background is a bit distracting, the DOF is at least shallow enough that it doesn’t feel like there is a merging problem exactly, but the slightly higher angle would have allowed you to eliminate all of that as well. The background of an image should always add to the image, not detract from the subject. You should also avoid letting your clients wear short sleeves for head and shoulder’s portraits, the skin showing under the boy’s arm and on her back arm are both distracting. I would also prefer this image be cropped in such a way that they are off to one side or the other, but I’d slide them left and have the boy drop his shoulders to eliminate the hunchback effect you’re getting from him. I also recommend avoiding stripes in clothing for a shoot. I also recommend my clients not wear white if they have dark complexions and hair or black if they have light complexions and hair. Contrasting shades cam be almost as bad as contrasting colors for getting a good solid exposure. In this image, the white stripes on the boys shirt draw attention away from their faces, and that isn’t a good thing.

    On to the second image, all things considered, this is not a good shot, I would, however, include it in a shoot portfolio for one purpose and one purpose only, the expression on the baby’s face as the mother kisses him (I think him anyway) is lightning in a bottle, and that makes up for all the technical failings of the image. It is one of those rare cases where something happens that makes up for the technical deficiencies.

    The background of the shot is extremely busy and distracting, as mentioned before, no short sleaves, and I think that’s her arm on the left hand side, or maybe it’s a pillow, either way, it’s distracting. You have somehow managed to give her neck wrinkles and a double chin even though you can’t see her chin. This photo would be a hundred times better if you cropped it down to just her face and the baby in a square crop though.

    The butterfly lighting on the mother from this angle isn’t working well, especially since the shadow on her lip makes her nose look absolutely enormous. All around, this photo is extremely unflattering to the mother. The skin tones are a bit off and the entire area between her cheek and shirt just looks off to me, I really hope I’m seeing it wrong, but, there is not delicate way to put this, it looks like she’s extremely deformed. Just take a look at that area and ask yourself what is what and were everything is coming from and going to and you should see what I’m talking about. Let’s just say laying down requires extra, well, support… and that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

    On the third image, the first thing I noticed was what looks like a serious math error. I certainly hope her pregnancy doesn’t last 18,118 years. You’ve covered up the all important dot under your exclamation point and those kind of details are important. That isn’t even considering that the chalkboard thing is extremely cliche. Shooting into the sun at sunset is a very tricky proposition. If you don’t use supplemental lighting, you blow out the sun and sky like you have here. If you expose for the sky, you silhouette your subject. Either way, it looks amateurish. The use of no sleeves works here to show off her tattoos, if that is your goal, but using a short skirt like that and showing her knees and legs underneath it makes her look bloated, and even more because she has locked her knees.

    The dutch angle is a little off-putting for me, and it definitely looks like she’s got a tree growing out of her head. The color also lacks any of the warmth that I associate with sunset. It looks more like you white balanced for the scene instead of white balancing for daylight so the natural colors of the evening would shine through. The way she is looking down makes her neck look very fat, and I assume that since you posted this in October with a due date in June she isn’t showing yet. The way the chalkboard is posed and your choice of outfit makes her look like she’s already 4-5 months pregnant, and that isn’t what you want to convey with 8 1/2 months to go. The angle of the shot has her nose breaking her cheek, and that makes the nose look quite a bit bigger. This image just isn’t becoming to the subject at all.

    Those are the biggest issues with these images, but they are common in a lot of your shots, so hopefully that will give you something to be going on with.

    Remember to keep learning and working hard to improve, you’ll get there.


    I will continue on a subject which I have posted on many times: professional presence: i.e. your logo.

    I can locate a million of these ‘hand-drawn-like,’ cutesy, popular, trendy type logos. I know of entire resource sites that have generic logo elements just like this. Why the owl?

    I actually like the whole logo — just not for professional photography. Looks more like a kids clothing store, toy store or ice cream business. It screams juvenile. My impression is that the business is not creative or sophisticated. I’m sorry, but that is my true impression of the logo.

    My thought is that ‘juvenile’ is not necessarily the image a professional photographer would choose. I would consider something with a more serious feel. Unfortunately this looks like many of the momtog logos I’ve seen and it is an indicator that I will see a portfolio of washed-out newborns, ‘creatively’ posed and lightroom-retouched glassy eyes…technically able to produce an average, publicly acceptable & common product.

    And many of your photos are very beautiful and fit right in with the common element. Keep in mind, that as a professional, you do NOT necessarily want common. You don’t want trendy. You need your own style. I know there are even national competitions for shots just like these. What we are trying to do in this forum is to get you over that level and become more original, exclusive and, well — professional. Hopefully you will find encouragement from our comments as well as specific tips and ideas.

    As professionals, we all have our imaging battles. After 35 years, I am again in a personal battle with shadows. I am trying to use shadows as a growth subject; learning, absorbing, practicing and trying my hardest to see them in a new light (so to speak). I’m seeking out advice and info from my experienced colleagues — I am learning from them. Sometimes at night I dream of shadows and think about how to manipulate and use them. I wake up and go play with them. It is part of the documented process of learning to think creatively.

    Right now, you seem to be at a comfortable level where you are producing a product many people want. Don’t take the easy road and stay there; move on away from the crowd and blaze your own path.

    At your level (sorry if I have missed some information) I would strongly recommend any of the books available on photography composition and to start really reflecting on your work and contemplating how you can become better. New and Insightful Photography is NOT sitting a family in front of a tree; the same tree you used last week. It is not changing lightroom filters. Professionals are often so technically inclined, they are terrified to try anything creative. But you must have that technical education and ability before you grow. I think you have a bit better technical ability than most of the people who come here asking for a critique and I hope you won’t consider that technical ability “done.” It is never done, professionals are always growing technically. Are you? If you know the exact f stop to use, are you able to NOT use it and succeed with something else? Can you overcome technical limits?

    This like breezing through an easy, multiple choice test. It is interpretive and contemplative and will take many years. Try the tips from MBC — he knows his stuff. Then try them again. Then alter those tips, play with them and then try them again. Experiment and grow. And through it all you will discover your own style. Then you will be developing your consistency and can grow from there.

    I hope all this helps you to sniff out better photo technique and inspires you to rise above the common.


    MBC….  stop being a damn snob.    Horrible!   I think your comment on how she should stop charging to take photos is ridiculous.  I am not a photographer…I’m a hobbyist, and I am more of a consumer who has a good understanding of photography and the elements that go into it…      If I looked at her portfolio, yes  I would consider her to take my family pictures.  Sure there are other photographers out there with years of experience, who have been to workshops, who may be award-winning photographers and they take beyond stunning photos, but 99.9% of the time to book with a photographer like that it’s going to cost some serious $$$$.  As the OP said, she’s affordable… so yes I would choose her over the more experienced photographer.

    Also, for the other snob complaining about her logo…. her logo makes her business more approachable.  I can tell without even knowing who this person is that this is a fellow mom like myself who loves kids and would be pleasant to talk to if I called her on the phone.  She probably doesn’t struggle too hard to get clients because of her friendly inviting logo.  And really it’s an annoying thing to tell photographers… about their stupid logo/watermarks… it’s none of your business.  It is THEIR BUSINESS!   Your not liking the logo is your opinion and it is subjective.  I love her logo.  She’s marketing to moms!

    I looked at most of your work and for a photographer who’s only been working for a year, you do awesome work.   I would hire you.  My favorite album is the birth album!  BEAUTIFUL!   You definitely need to work on getting the best expressions out of people…. A lot of your pregnant moms look sad or don’t seem very engaged… they’re just there, you know?.  Definitely when you’re photographing them, talk about the new arrival… what they’re going to name the baby, talk about your own birth experience and your newborn experiences and you’ll see that motherly glow come right out and catch it!   You definitely need some better angles and you need to work on your composition to make your pics really stand out.   Also, don’t become a “natural light” snob… artificial lighting is a wonderful tool and it will cut your PP down in half if you really learn how to work with it properly.  In fact, you can work better with natural light if you have a better understanding about studio lighting.  Just keep that in mind…  don’t limit yourself.  Exception would be your pop-up flash…. the pop-up flash is the devil!  Even in daylight it fucking sucks… do yourself a favor and get some strobes.  I actually got a few manual strobes from Amazon for like $28 each and they work just fine.  A little more work than if you would use Nikon’s flashes, but the cost is like a very small fraction of what the Nikon flashes will cost you.

    I agree with some of what MBC says about your pictures… they’re definitely good things to keep in mind.  However, these things do not make you a fauxtog… these are just things that you need to work on.  That’s all.   Things you should listen to, absorb, and make your next session all the more better.  Should these mothers have paid for these shots… ABSOLUTELY!  They are photographs that they will cherish.  To the critical photographer’s eye, your photos are full of technical problems, composition problems, posing problems, etc.  To your clients, these are great pictures.  No, grandma could not have done a better job.  They’re really good.    Also, please remember that WB can be a bit subjective!   For instance, the photo of the mom with the tats that MBC pointed out should have been balanced for daylight… no… the WB is fine. Her skin tone looks natural and the light is warm enough.  I’ve looked at MBC’s own porfolio and I do not find the skin tones of his subjects very appealing…. and for someone who likes to pick apart a new photographer’s work, sir,  your own work after 20 years is mediocre.   I would never pay you to photograph my wedding and no HARSH shadows are NEVER good unless you’re Terry Richardson which sir you are not.    I really looked through your portfolio and back at this forum, and back to your portfolio and did not believe that those pics are actually yours.  You have some pics on your site that actually DO belong on YANAP….



Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 36 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.