Home Forums Am I a Fauxtog? Please be kind!!

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    .. I consider myself an artist and make sure to tell my ‘clients’ that.. because I am self taught.. I just do this on the side of being a mommy.. I love it so much and every time I try and stop I miss it so much.. haha!.. I LOVE photography and other photographers and I am not trying to compete.. just trying to afford to keep creating, because I love it.

    I just want to know if other photographers would consider me a fauxtog… :/


    Oopsie.. ahhhh.. here goes… here’s my link.. 🙂

    Only contructive criticism please! (I know some of you will tell me I over edit..  I love it that way… ) 🙂 I do want to know what you think.



    very off and inconsistent editing CHECK

    Over use of “creative tilt”  CHECK

    Lack of consistent quality in images CHECK

    Leaves the client to print themselves CHECK

    Charges people for professional services while learning the basics CHECK

    You meet a lot of my criteria for being a faux, BUT I do think you are very creative, and have great potential, with a little guidance, more understanding, and more effort on your part, you could easily lose the faux label.  There are lots of shots that work in your portfolio, they’re just kinda lost among it all

    Bad, inconsistent editing is not a photography style, and it’s not your “style” that bothers me.  It’s the inconsistency in quality both with editing and with your camera work.  It’s almost as though your clients are playing a lotto, never knowing what they might get.  Some images the people are grey, some yellow, then along comes green or pink…. some are focused well some arent, some are composed very well, some dont work at all….

    Editing:  I could be wrong, but I think this is because you use actions, instead of learning good editing techniques and actually creating the vision your mind’s eye sees by individually tweeking and editing by hand, like custom portrait artists usually do.  If I had to guess, I would guess you are using florabella actions.  But again, I am not completely certain on this, I just know the strange editing looks very very familiar and they are used by a LOT of people.

    I think I get what you are trying to achieve when you edit, and I’m going to link to a pro photographer that might help inspire you(she’s not my cup of tea at all, but I just felt that her work might speak to you)


    Notice how even though she “over edits”, there is consistency, and each shot is also able to stand alone? Notice too how skin tones are handled, and that only good, well executed, properly focused, properly composed, technically correct shots are used (minus a handful of artsy extreme sunflares here and there.  I personally love them, but I know they aren’t considered technically sound)

    In no way am I saying you have to be completely perfect before you charge (Geeeze!  No one would ever make it!), but your work should be consistent.  There is no way to achieve that without knowing the basics and getting good SOOC shots, or by using another artist’s actions


    I have to ask exactly what do you mean “Every time I try and stop I miss it so much”?

    Every time you stop shooting?  Why do you stop?  Dont ever stop if it’s what you love to do.

    or do you mean stop being in business?

    If the latter, what do you miss?  Most photogs actually shoot and learn more when they aren’t in business, so I’m a little confused.


    .. Thanks for taking the time to respond!

    Ok, just gonna be totally honest haha.. everything I know about photography I taught myself by trial and error, I started with film … but that was in highschool.. really all that taught me was a little about light and composition, but it helped and I loved it. I was a painter and it was just another way to get that out. I worked at Superstore portrait studio for a while.. but we had no editing there, and they didn’t teach me anything about shooting manual at all, it was just set the person up and snap the pictures.. so again it taught me about posing and working with people.. a bit about cropping and contrast but thats it!

    I’ve read my manuals, watched video tutorials and I play around.  I had a camera because I always just loved shooting.. and I mostly did young kids when I was in highschool.. because my mom ran a daycare and my brother and sister were almost 10 years younger.. haha just made sense.. thats what was avaibable to shoot.. so I practiced like mad…. I liked photographing people.. and then the amount of people that wanted me to do it started to grow and I couldn’t keep up and I am a people pleaser and didn’t like saying no… so I would charge 20 or 50 buck depending what the job was.. and give them a disc. It didn’t even pay for my time or equipment but it kept my boyfriend happy haha!.. He didn’t mind it taking up so much time because it made me happy and I wasn’t doing it totally free. I never lied to anyone.. I am very open about being self taught.

    During that time I was still working at the portrait studio and was saving for school when I found out I was having my first, and after that I had 3 kids in 3 and a half years… So I have taken a lot of breaks and tried to slow down.. because I can’t improve my skills in the speed I want to while trying to raise babies and toddlers at the same time… so I feel a little stuck right now with my learning curve.. I teach myself one thing at a time..

    I try to say no to weddings, because I don’t enjoy them.. so much stress..  but I do still do ones every year! I have a hard time saying no, and I am trying to force myself.. at least 60 percent of the people I work for.. I know..  because I am from a small town.. thats a huge thing… almost all my clients are people I know, or know my family and friends.. so the reason there is soooo many facebook images up is because they all want sneak peeks… I know them… and I know there kids… and I post everything I think they’ll like!… I know I need to stop doing that. Its good to have someone say so.. maybe it’ll make me stop.

    I also tilt the camera… a lot! Guilty!.. I love it.. haha and had no idea it was a bad thing.. and I probably will never completly stop doing it because I still like it but I do it way to much and actually have been trying to rehab myself of it!

    I am inconsistant.. on purpose.. eeeeeek I know that sounds so bad.. but up until now I have always approached every single picture as art.. as a painting almost.. I do each one individually and not in order… I am terribly scatter brained… I am not organized at ALL.. but its always worked until now… I literally have never had someone tell me they were unhappy.. after a session, other than when I agreed to do Dance pictures for my town one year there was a slight issue with the one client but it was more about time schedualing than pictures…  not there couldn’t have been unhappy people that never talked to me about it.. I do think about that. :/

    I know I am not AMAZING.. I know I cant call myself a pro.. YET! I’ve never even been to a photoshop class…

    But I do my best to give the best images I can.. not just ones that look good in a profile picture, but I print my personal work, and strive for clear, sharp images, but I am not all the way there. I would like to improve and become more consistant and I hope within the next 5 years start a full time business.

    I WOULD LOVE advice. 🙂


    I still give a disc with sessions… I charge between 100 and 250 depending on the job and if I am traveling.. I work in a small town between two cities and most of what I do is here..
    I do not consider other photographers competition and I don’t want other photographers to hear about me and think I am trying to undersell them if they see my prices, but I don’t want to charge too much for a few reasons.. I cater to small and new families.. and I have never been to school. I’m self taught. I’d like someones opinion on if that makes sense?

    I LOVE looking at other peoples work.. I do not want my work to look the exact same as anyone elses but I have never been terribly concerned with making mine stand out.. I just work on each picture as its own… I don’t wanna be a fauxtog! I think my images will stand the test of time.. I’d be sad to hear they won’t.


    I have to ask exactly what do you mean “Every time I try and stop I miss it so much”?

    Every time you stop shooting?  Why do you stop?  Dont ever stop if it’s what you love to do.

    or do you mean stop being in business?

    If the latter, what do you miss?  Most photogs actually shoot and learn more when they aren’t in business, so I’m a little confused.”


    If I did all sessions for free.. I would not have had the money for daycare (so I could both shoot.. and process) .. or the equipment I was using.. 😉 .. so I was mostly unable to shoot during those times.. unless it was my own kids…. and I have learned a LOT just doing my own kids.. 🙂

    I try to be fair about what I charge.. so I am making enough to cover daycare, equipment, props and such… and some groceries… 🙂


    … Can I also say… I definitely one hundred percent, individually tweak and hand edit every single image, actions or not. Every single one.


    Sorry I wrote so so much!!


    So… You miss the money when you stop shooting for hire and you don’t feel you are learning unless you are working for others?

    Megan, here’s the thing.  You are calling yourself a pro by being in business presenting yourself as a photog for hire, and offering/marketing your services to people.  Not only that, but you are undercutting and devaluing legit pro togs work in your area by having so little overhead.  You give CDs, most likely don’t pay income taxes or charge any sales tax on products.  You’re most likely uninsured and unlicensed as well, no studio to maintain, no dues to pay, I assume no back up equipment/cameras lenses to maintain, you dont have to maintain or pay for a website or marketing material,  you most likely dont have multiple ways to back up your clients images and just rely on your HD, you don’t have employees to pay, or the many other expenses of being in business.  You have the luxury to aford not make a profit (even though you are),  where others who are in the business legitly count on their photography income to feed their families.  There’s no law against this (well minus the taxes.  You may want to look into what your laws are as far as hobby income, service taxes and what not.  And did you know that your personal property insurance will not cover a camera used to make money?), and there is no need to worry about other togs and how you effect them. Absolutely NONE This is your business after all, And what works for you works for you. But, you asked, and wanted to know how other photographers felt about what you were doing.  This is how I feel about it.

    imagine if you went through the steps of investing years, both in your photography, and your business to become pro, and here’s this semi talented new tog that only invested the very minimum into her photography and isn’t even running a legit business but still turns a profit.  Not only that, but under the table while you pay taxes and struggle to keep afloat.  (YOU may not be competing with anyone, but only because you, like so many others have the luxury not to have to) Now times that new tog by at least 10, and throw in some no talent hacks that are only in it for a few bucks, and you got yourself a mess.  This is the state of the industry today, and I personally feel that you are contributing to it, wether unknowingly or not.

    You say that you print/finish your personal work, why then, don’t you take pride in your clients images the same way?  I’m just trying to understand.  If you understand the work involved with printing and the value of it, why then do you make your clients take on the task, and then most likely only end up with some images for Facebook when all is said and done?  Is it because you make more money by not finishing your clients images, or is it because of the effort and time it takes?  Would you expect a pro tog to finish your images for you if you hired them?


    if this inquiry was more about how to improve your photography and not your business :

    the very best thing you can do to help your photography is to shoot for yourself. turn off that people pleasing unable to say no person, and shoot for yourself.  You already love your personal work, why not expand on that.  Take time out for yourself and your photography, say”no” and see how quickly your photography improves and develops without the extra pressures of being for hire and shooting for others.


    I claim what I make . I have a back up camera.. and a back up computer, and I save originals to external hard drvies after sessions and loading them on m y computer… we also rent a space for me to process out of and store props and lights because our house is small. I do NOT have employees but I do have an assistant (my sister) who I pay to come to newborn sessions as a poser and spotter…


    I have a Nikon D50 and a Nikon D90 and I use primarily a 50mm 1.8 and my 18-200 VR… I just ordered a 35mm 1.8 and am sooo excited for it to arrive.
    My husband makes enough money that I don’t have to work.. but I enjoy it.. so getting rich, or under cutting other photographers has never been my goal.. I am not trying to take anyone elses clients, I work for the same people most of the time, and do not think my time and work is of no value.

    I very very very much would like to start printing for my clients… I have always wanted to offer the disc, but because I am learning the importance of printing and have learned so so many people never print their images!.. I always figured people printed… but so many just keep the disc and the thought of images never being printed does break my heart… I would like to start including a disc after prints have been purchased.. the reason I have not yet is because we live an hour from the nearest city… or any printer!.. and with three young kids, and no real organised set up I just didn’t feel ready to do it yet… I dont have the time.. but I agree its important and like I said I do hope I can build up and when my kids are in school work full time… and really make all this legit…

    I really do appreciate everything you said… you were very upfront and polite about it and I thank you for that!! You reaffirmed a lot of things I was already feeling…

    I have been intending to slow down.. but not quit… but I really do want to improve and I do NOT want to be a fauxtog!

    I do welcome advice on both business and my images. 🙂 I do like my work, and I do not agree that every photograph needs to be technically perfect.. I do work a lot by feelings and how an image touches a person too… but I want to improve in all aspects if I can. 🙂

    I do hire other photographers, and I do always buy the digital copies and print for myself.. but I understand what you mean.. I realize now not everyone realizes the importance of proffesional printing and not just leaving pictures on disc.. I do take my work seriously … I agree I learn a lot more about my camera.. and I do love experimenting and I get what you mean about pressure and stress..


    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.)


    … I just feel like saying.. every session I do.. I see it in my head and try to bring it out….

    I also very much enjoy processing the images, and am not going for natural, or certain styles… I work on each image individually and I am not trying to impress other people.. only myself and the person I am working for at that time…


    ”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.)”


    I do appreciate the art.. and I refer to myself as an artist because I have drawn and painted my entire life and this was just another branch of that.. I do not because of the ‘praise’

    This is what confuses me… I am not trying to fit a certain mould.. I enjoy processing and am NOT aiming for straight out of the camera images everytime… there are a million other pro’s who do that… why do I have to be the same? I am offering something else.. its not the same, and it may not be for you, but I assure you.. its for a lot of people.. and they are happy.


    I have never in my life advertised myself as a proffesional photographer… only a photographer and an artist… I have been photographing for myself for more than 15 years.. since I was a little kid… and people ask me to for them ALL the time… I enjoy it.. and I am proud of it.

    But I do appreciate you responding… and I agree… I NEED to clean out my portfolio :// .. .and stop posing just what I know my friends and the kids moms will like!! 😉


    … is there specfic images you guys DID like?? I just want to know what the ‘1%’ was!! haha!


    I am sooooo sorry for writing 6 billion times…

    Lately I am aiming for 95 percent of my images to look more like a painting or almost animated than natural… always have.. I am not aiming for natural so I think judging them as if they should be straight out of camera is a little off base.. But I do know a lot of other photographers feel that way…

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