Home Forums Am I a Fauxtog? So… Craigslist…

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    I’m terrible with thread titles, I know.
    Basically I am curious about an idea I had.

    Lately I’ve seen a lot of the posts from Fauxtogs Who Should End Up on the Main Page come from craigslist. Due to this, I started poking around the local craigslist here and I have seen some bad ones pop up (and then the disappointing ones who won’t post photos! Boo!) and some that were ho-hum for inexpensive. I can understand someone paying for the latter, though I wouldn’t personally, I get the mindset of the everyday bargain hunter.
    Since, due to some of the things I’ve read on this site, I have decided to stop charging (Is it wrong to accept money if someone wants to pay me though?). I would like more experience and photographing friends over and over and over can get a little uninspiring. I’m not one hundred percent sure that’s even the right word for it because I love my friends and it’s always fun, but I think I’m just wanting to spread out a little more.

    Essentially what I’m getting at is this:
    Should I go to Craigslist and ask if anyone would like free portraits done?
    I would be sure to clarify that I am learning, I would post some of my previous work, and I would let them know that I will provide them with a few edited images.

    I am worried about how this may effect pros in the area if I’m not crystal clear enough. I’m also concerned doing this may be a little too fauxtog-y.

    Should I start seeking subjects in a spectrum so wide? How do I tell people I’d rather not work with, “No”? (The rude, the overly expectant, those likely to sue, etc.)
    I trust the judgement of the people here, so I wanted to get some opinions before just jumping in and doing something really dumb.
    I appreciate it, thanks!


    well, no one can sue you for anything that is free and for your portfolio! Just post on fb or craigslist that you are a photographer looking to add some faces to your portfolio as practice for new techniques. Ask them to email a headshot and maybe a short bio to you, and say you’ll email back if you select them for your project. That way, you aren’t turning away paying clients you don’t have an interest in shooting at this time. Say in exchange you’ll provide a few edited images that they can use on Facebook (but if they want prints, charge a small fee so you’re not losing money.) Win-win and you won’t be failing any expectations.


    Thanks so much dear! I appreciate the recommendation about the bio and head shot. That’s an excellent idea!
    I wonder if I’ll get any angry emails about how I’m “cheapening the market”. If I do, I will probably share them if they’re particularly humorous.


    A couple of 4×6 or 5×7 aren’t going to cost much for you and would be nice for people who volunteer their time for your training. If they want bigger prints by all means charge them what the prints cost to get done. I would say though that you should use a professional quality printer which means five 4×6 are going to be a couple of dollars. Sending them edited lowish res pictures would also be a nice touch, 1536×1024 is a good size that is big enough for viewing on full screen on a computer and certainly big enough for facebook. Oh, and add a nice little watermark on good shots so if someone likes your pictures they can find you.

    If someone then wants to give change for gas it wouldn’t be wrong to accept it I think. See it as donations




    Has anyone here used Simply Color as a lab? They were originally based out of Texas and now are in Colorado. I’ve never had photos professionally printed, so I’m up for recommendations.


    Okay, to set up with a little background, I am NOT a pro tog. Never been one. I was however a video producer. I learned video the same way a lot of pro togs learned photo. I worked with masters, learned all I could, recorded anything that moved, read every book, and watched any “motion picture” I could find with the perspective of “what did they do that I like?” when I watched. After 15 years doing it, I was pretty good. No Spielberg, that’s for sure, but my clients included several fortune 500 companies and even a fortune 100 company, so I must have been doing something right.

    That said, Craigslist isn’t awful, but I don’t know if it should be anyone’s primary marketing stream. It’s not a bad site. I cruise it all the time looking for parts for my car, garage sales, and photography gear. The thing is, the services section is really hit and miss. In my industry, the vast majority of “videographers” (I never liked that term) shoot weddings. A good friend of mine was a full time wedding videographer. He advertised on CL, and what he saw was that the CL types were often the biggest penny pinchers and the least appreciative of his skill (which was pretty impressive). Ultimately, his opinion was that it’s good to advertise everywhere, but there were many better places to find clients.

    I guess what I’m getting at is that no pro photographer out there should be building 100% of their business from CL, so someone offering free portraiture shouldn’t seriously cripple anyone’s business. As far as whether it will lower the bar for everyone else; it’s craigslist. There’s a reason most fauxtogs are found there. Free advertising with no content control. Anyone who can manage to punch keys on a keyboard can post an ad. You will find in your local photography section the following ratio:

    1 Actual quality pro who knows what he’s doing but keeps advertising on CL because he believes in marketing everywhere
    4 people who tell you they are a pro but really just get lucky sometimes, and have lots of supportive friends who tell them their work is great
    30 full force fauxtographers, claiming to be pros while shooting on inferior cameras, using inferior glass, and possessing inferior technique. Their friends are all too afraid to tell them what they really think of all their pretty pictures.
    MAYBE, just maybe, one student, looking for free subjects to shoot.

    At least, that’s what the demographics look like in all the cities I’ve ever gone to. I honestly don’t think you’d do too much damage to any pros. Besides, you’re not charging, which is clearly distinguishing you as non-pro, so you’re not even trying to play on the same battlefield with the pros in that sense.

    I say go for it, but I’d stress caution in choosing locations to meet people. There are a lot of creepers out there. A recent double homicide was committed in my town, and while no culprit has yet been named, it was brought up that this couple had people from craigslist coming to their home to buy stuff all the time. Meet clients in public places, like parks. If they want an indoor studio shot, meet at their place, let people know where you’re going, and take a couple “assistants” with you. Most people have a camera on their phone. Have the client take a self shot, so you “know what you have to work with”. This way you can politely inform the heavily tattooed 6’11” 345lb. guy who’s pure muscle and looks like he recently escaped from prison that your calendar is actually full and you’ll need to get back to him.

    In closing, I’ll share a belief that is likely to get me shot here, and not in the portraiture sense. I actually don’t have a problem with people who are established enough to take a photo (or video, or whatever) that doesn’t totally suck asking for a small fee for their services. I think if you’re honest about your work, show them a portfolio that demonstrates what you are consistently capable of doing (meaning, don’t put those amazing “I got lucky” perfect shots in there – keep it to what you know you can reproduce all day every day), then if they see that and understand that you are not a pro, and agree to pay you anyway, that’s totally acceptable. You’re being upfront about what they will get and not pretending to be something that you’re not, two things fauxtogs don’t do. Just because your time isn’t worth $100 an hour yet doesn’t mean it’s not worth $20 for an entire afternoon, either. Every time you take your camera out, you’re putting wear and tear on it. The batteries are being used, the memory card is getting one step closer to death, the  gas gauge on your car goes down a little. When I go to McDonalds and pay .69 for a burger, I don’t expect the same quality as the $10 burger at the premium burger restaurant down the road. I expect a floppy patty, rehydrated onions that taste like crap, and a smooshed bun that feels like it was dipped in grease. But just because it’s a crappy, wholly unfulfilling burger is not justification for me to insist it should be free. They probably put about .69 worth of effort into it, so it’s a fair price. I’m not saying don’t be willing to work for free, or that it’s not a bad idea to do so from time to time. If you can find a pro that will let you run as a second shooter for free, it’s totally worth the experience! But again, if someone is willing to pay you a few bucks, take it as long as it’s fair. Shooting for free costs you money in the long run.


    @JimC     I am very grateful for your input! Thank you for mentioning the safety aspect, you think about that kind of stuff every now and then, but only when reminded. I’ve purchased camera equipment on craigslist before and have always met in a public place. I like to recommend coffee shops, as they tend to diffuse tension and if the client is particularly nice, I’ll buy them a drink while there during our consultation. My boyfriend is always with me for the meetings too, plus he helps haul the gear and hold the reflector (he’s so awesome 🙂 ). 

    I have never posted anything on craigslist like this before so all the advice is so helpful!
    Do you think I might actually get some decent “clients”? Not to say that just because someone is overly frugal doesn’t mean they aren’t good clients, but some stereotypes exist for a reason… I’ve already had a bad “client” experience before with my supervisor’s father, but honestly they weren’t my ideal clients either, so it was just rough all around.
    I feel almost obligated to say yes to everyone for experience and practice’s sake but I keep trying to tell myself it’s OK to turn people down…



    It’s ALWAYS okay to say no. Real professionals know that they don’t jump on every lead that walks through their door, and they know that you can even fire the client, if need be. I was very selective about the work I took. If I weren’t, I’d have been videotaping weddings and dance recitals and 8th grade graduations every day of my life instead of doing what I liked and what I was most experienced with.


    Even for paid stuff, you can turn down clients if something about them makes you uncomfortable. Most of the time, you can try the excuse of it not working out in your schedule, and they won’t know the dkfference. There are certain demographics I just don’t want to work with. I’ve mentioned before how my town has a few local buy/sell groups on facebook, with one in particular being very popular. People are always posting that they’re looking for a photographer, and most often they ask for one that is “good and cheap.” Clue right there I don’t even want to waste my time. I’ve had friends suggest my name but when the people view my prices they don’t email back. One girl asked me to do her engagement pnotos last year. We set up a date/ and a week or two before I emailed to do a final consult. She never emailed until two days before and said “Sorry I have to cancel because I have a funeral.” I suspected that was BS and looked at her fb profile and saw she and her fiance broke up the week before. She could have been honest but she was kind of trashy to be honest. Well, they got back together and this other photog I know was scheduled to do her wedding photos. She gave her the deposit and the check bounced and then she refused to meet her to pay the $20 overdraft fee that tge photog ended up being responsible for and then blocked her and refused to answer calls or texts. then she was right back on that site asking for a photog to shoot her wedding for $300! If we knew who ended up taking her up on that, myself or that other photog were going to warn them. I don’t want to deal with crappy clients like that, so I am staying away from advertising much on that site anymore. Most of them are bargain-hunters.

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