Home Forums Am I a Fauxtog? So what classifies a 'real' photographer?

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    Not a faux but a ‘real’ one. So far I’ve seen plenty of good photographers here who are criticised to the point that they question their own validity.

    and in this forum the two questions asked are this,

    Do you charge?
    How long have you been shooting for?

    These two questions have never come up, unless of course you are training someone and you are scoping their experience. But these two questions shouldn’t be the bar in questioning an actual photographer.
    From experience, the two questions asked are.
    How much do you charge?
    Can you show me your work.

    I for one have only been shooting properly for less than 2 years. I’ve never studied photography nor have I had any mentor to teach me anything. But these two questions completely contradict what some people here seem to think.

    I don’t think those two questions should be what defines what a photographer is. I for one have met incredible photographers who I’ve personally hired to be my assist even though they’ve had 6 months of experience with just a canon rebel and the kit lens. And you know what? With a Fullframe and an L Lense, they produce shots that are nothing short of beautiful.

    I’ve been flown around to shoot fashion weeks, music festivals and have been published.
    I sometimes charge $3000 for weddings because they can afford it – I sometimes only charge them only the bare minimum of gear hire because they deserve it.

    If clients can’t afford me, I don’t blame the rise of slr cameras, instead I defer them to great photographers who charge nearly nothing. This doesn’t ruin my business nor my cliental. Most of the time, even though I charge a significant amount more, those people would still choose me cause they want my style.

    Anyway I can’t show you my website. I’m just rewriting it at the moment so it looks nice on smartphones. But here are some of my recent shots


    would love to hear everyones thoughts.



    I love your shots….. Just love them. The first shot! Wow!


    Youre misunderstanding the point. You can be a real photographer simply by being the person the manipulates the camera and composes the shot. Your motive for taking the photo doesnt matter when determining if you are simply a ‘photographer’.

    Those questions are asked of people to verify whether or not there is intent to be seen as a ‘professional’ photographer. Offering services, products, and experiences for monetary compensation when youre knowledge and experience do not warrant providing such things is the real problem people have.


    I’m not talking about the step from Fauxtographer to ‘professional’. I’m talking about the defining step from photographer to paid ‘professional’ photographer.

    So far I’ve seen three great photographers here who has produced great work. Despite what their work can produce the question is asked.

    How long have you shot?

    When answered, the immediate reply would be, ‘stop charging immediately’

    There was an instance here where a girl, who is creative and talented in her own right, charges fairly for her talent & experience, is told that she shouldn’t call herself Pro and is warned,

    “Not only that, but you are undercutting and devaluing legit pro togs work in your area”.

    I mean if they aren’t good enough to survive against people who would sell short. Then they need to step up their game as a businessman.


    Your first photo…


    UH-MAZE-ING. I am absolutely jealous of it!! I just recently moved and I’m praying for a wedding in Bar Harbor so I may get some shots like these. Yeah, I could hire some models, but LOVE conveys better with people who are actually in it! Congrats.


    And to stay on topic here… I, too, have a problem with the first two questions always asked. When I first posted, I assumed since I was being asked those two that I was being considered a fauxtog. That wasn’t the case for me, but it often is on here.


    Soaring, what do you consider just a ‘photographer’ to be then?


    Soaring, Would you tell us what photographers on this page you feel have been wrongly accused? Just curious i have only seen one or two that i feel could be a photographer but were told they were not.


    @poka my pleasure. To this is all in my opinion.

    http://malulaphotography.tumblr.com/ was told that she is a faux. Which, compared to all the funny photos posted on this site, is an unwarranted call.

    https://www.facebook.com/jvendettiphotography/ was also told she is a faux. Quite a bit nicer than Malula,.

    https://www.facebook.com/photography.meganray was a little bit off. For me too.

    Anyway those were just a few that I can think of for now.

    Though I do agree that they aren’t at the level that some of us are (not to sound real high and mighty) I just don’t think that there is this necessarily a cut off point.

    I think that mostly everyone has the right to charge whatever they want. I think there are FAUX photographers. And it’s so incredibly clear who they are. and none of the people here would ever make it to the front page of this site.

    Then there are the rest. These people have every right to charge whatever they want. It’s really up to you to change your clients mind from making your photography “cost” this much, to being “worth” this much.



    Thank you for bringing it up. To sum up the convos on here:

    OP: Let me know what you think?

    Replies: Comp is off, whats with the framing, ease up on the post, stop using so much back light. How long have you been shooting?

    OP: <1 year.

    Reply: ZOMFG stop charging. You are a fauxtog. Practice for more 85 years and once you can name all the points to lighting outside then come back to the field. Study it till all the passion is sucked out of you. Here is my stuff so you can compose, light and post like I do cuz this is the ‘right’ way to make art.

    I find it weird that people say photography is 80% business. Then when you are running the business side of it really well they say that you are not becoming a photographer the right way?

    Anyway, just needed to vent on what I also thought was some unfair attacks on some rising photographers.



    P.S. Your work is very impressive


    There are a few things I look at when I evaluate a portfolio on here. Top of the list are technical skill, consistency, and improvement because these are the backbone of actually being a profitable photographer in business.

    I ask two questions normally, because everything else can be discovered by simply looking at the photos, do you charge and how long have you been shooting. The first is important because if you are charging, I will judge your portfolio at the same level I would evaluate any other professional. The second is used only to gauge growth and improvement, it tells me how fast you are learning, and that helps me to advise you on continuing. The reason I ask those two questions is for the reason your pointed out, I am looking to provide a professional review, not secure their services.

    Technical skill is the first test to pass, this is not complicated to pass, if you demonstrate the ability to manipulate your camera without relying on Photoshop and post-processing to get a decent shot.

    Consistency is the thing that causes me to label most photographers who come here for a review as fauxtogs. I believe that if you are going to offer your services for hire, your clients have a right to expect to get the level of product you present to them. Everyone can get a few good shots here or there. What I look for is whether or not each shoot in their portfolio is comparable in quality. We all have good days and bad days, but if you’re not consistent enough to produce high-quality work on your worst days, you’re not ready to charge for your work. Your clients should never be in a position where they are rolling the dice on whether they are going to get good quality work depending on how your day is going. I consider consistently average to be superior to good some days and bad on others.

    Finally improvement. If I can look over a year of work and see that you are not growing and improving, something isn’t working as it should. Growth and improvement are a sign of passion for the art, when I don’t see it, I immediately suspect that the photographer is more concerned with the business than with the art or are more consumed with the prestige that comes from being seen as an artist, and either is a problem.

    Twenty years ago, 9 out of 10 photographers failed within 3-5 years, and one would go on to have a successful business. In the last few years (largely due to the availability of less expensive digital cameras) the number of people starting a photography business has increased a hundred fold but the overall density of photographers who make it past that magical 5 year mark has not increased more than population growth would justify.

    We must ask ourselves why this is. Almost every photographer that I have ever known to make it past the 5 year mark are technically proficient, consistent, and always growing. (Not riding the trends mind you, but actually improving as a photographer.) Look at it this way, if your technical proficiency is poor and you have to fix your photos, even if it takes you a mere 10 minutes per shot, on a one hour shoot with 30 picks, you’re looking at 5 hours of editing, totaling up to 6 hours of work for a shoot. A photographer who is proficient in their technical skills doesn’t need to edit their photos, and if they choose to, it takes a minute or two at most (artwork and retouching not withstanding).

    Consistency is important because the further you get from your normal circle of acquaintances, clients become more and more focused on the product and less and less focused on the photographer. They hire you because they like your work, and if the work you produce does not live up to their expectations, you will end up with a host of problems. Consistency also affords a photographer the opportunity to increase their prices because their clients as you improve.

    Improvement is the reason I so readily encourage photographers to get out of business and grow before they re-enter it. The formula for a successful business is:
    10% talent + 60% skill + 10% hard work + 20% business savvy = profitability
    The percentages represent the effectiveness of each ingredient. If you bring equal amounts of talent, skill, hard work, and savvy, you’ll be profitable, but if you lack skill, it takes 6 times as much talent or hard work to make up for the loss. This is why I stress taking the time to learn before going into business. If you devote your hard work to building skill instead of building your business, it is an investment that pays for itself and then some when you do get into business. Pik mentions that studying can suck the passion out of you, though I contend that if your passion is for photography and not praise it is impossible, being in business before you are ready will destroy your passion much faster, because without a high skill level, you’re working 6 times as hard to get the same outcome.

    In short, being better than the work featured on the blog does not make you a pro. Producing work that is worth the client’s money does. To address the three you mentioned from a more practical and less philosophical point of view:

    Malula has great potential, but her work lacks consistency and she is progressing at a snails pace if at all. (I suspect she knows this because she was careful to present not-for-hire images when she clearly charges most of the time.) She is talented, hard working, and has business savvy, but without the skill to back it up, I’d say the odds are 100 to 1 that the business will kill itself before they get to the point that they can support the business. I and others gave her the advice we did because we’ve been doing this a long time, and we have been around long enough to see a lot more in the images that just the images. Right now, she is struggling to be sure, and this is probably why she sought reassurance here, but her struggles are obvious in her photos for someone who has watched hundreds of photographers get crushed under the exact same circumstances. I’d estimate her current earning potential cap to be about $30,000 before expenses, which is essentially working for less than minimum wage. It would take her 15 years at her current progression to reach a skill level that would yield a living wage, but she would burn out long before she made it there. On the other hand, with two more years of hard study without the pressures of the business, she could easily triple her earning potential and be operating a profitable business within 4.

    JVendetti’s work is, quite frankly, amazing for her level of experience. The problem I see in her work is mostly in the fact that she is wildly overconfident. I was extremely hard on her, admittedly, but I reacted that way because she was heading down a different bad road than Malula. She learned a little bit, and without understanding what she didn’t know, jumped into the deep end. I accept that the growth process is different for everyone. I’ve seen photographers become masters in 5 years and I’ve seen 20 year hobbyists who couldn’t shoot their way out of a paper bag. But it is impossible to go pro in less than a year, and in her case, she tried to do it the first day she picked up a camera. In 9 months of being in business, there hasn’t been any improvement at all, and at that rate, she will fail within the year. Again, the only way to prevent this is to stop, step back, and really put some time into learning. If she were to do that for 3 years, with as far as she has already progressed in so short a time, we’re looking at a photographer who could easily turn $250,000 per year.

    MeganRay I believe is a lost cause. After gauging her reactions to critique, I judge that she has no concern for photography whatsoever. She wants to be an artist, has convinced herself she is one, and firmly believes that the best way to be an artist is to avoid learning anything about photography because it would “spoil” her.She’ll lose a few thousand dollars a year doing what she does and convince herself she’s made a profit.

    I do not set the bar high because I’m an elitist or a snob, I set the bar high because there is a LOT of competition out there and photography is a very rough business to the point that even a skilled photographer can’t guarantee success. I hate to see potential wasted and so I work to push people to better things, usually through harsh honesty because they are getting more than enough encouragement from other places. If someone is gonna take the risk and go into business, I want to tell them how to stack the deck in their favor, and the best way to do that is to master the art. I am the first to admit that I am a very hard teacher, but I am much, much nicer than the completely unforgiving world of running your own business.

    I will use your work as a final example to hopefully make my views a little clearer. Normally if I spotted a few images that look like yours littered in someone’s portfolio, I would label them a fauxtog. In your case, though, it is clear that you are not. When I look at your images, I do not get the impression that they look that way by accident. Rules broken by accident detract from an image, but you clearly know the rules and choose to break them because you desire a certain effect that adds to the image in each case. What’s more, you’ve defined a style for yourself and established a range within that style.


    Thanks for  replying and thanks for not taking my post the wrong way.

    Anyway I was extremely open to why those two questions (not asked just by you) come up often. I was intrigued as to why this was the primary focus and, admittedly, I was annoyed that it seemed as though that people here are capping potentially new good photographers.

    I agree with your comment on how Megan didn’t take critique very well. I think she’s riding on the fact that she has quite a few thousand likes on facebook which means that she’s made it big in the industry. I actually had quite a bit more than her on facebook but I deleted my account because, well  I was entering a new chapter [heading towards video work] and I ended up becoming too arrogant and concerned about the social media that I ended up taking photos to simply get more likes. I was shooting at this big concert event this year and after having won a competition in NZ Fashion Week, I was feeling quite proud of my level but I met the rest of the team. 7 Photographers who were just incredible. Sure I might be the best photographer in NZ for my level but I was the best in the measly Welterweight division and they were heavy weight boxers here. I  knew I had a long way to go. I was extremely humbled and honoured to be working with them.

    However in saying that, I do agree with pretty much every commentary that you made about them but calling them faux. I understand that your concern is for the clients but i think that they are fantastic in their own right.

    Lets use Megan as an example. Yes I do agree that she has a lot to work on, mainly her attitude on shooting. I haven’t met an artist who changes the style of their piece ever photo and hopes for the best. In fact there are two things that concerned me with what she said.

    “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”

    ” but my focus is slightly off.. I should hold back from publically posting… you have said a pro would NEVER show someone an unperfect image.. well then I am not sure I want to be that kind of pro”

    But based on those comments alone, I don’t think calling her a Faux is warranted. She stumbles on great photos but i don’t think  shes a faux because of it. I just think that she won’t mature which is really her loss.


    Anyway. I’m getting really sleepy. I’ll wrap up.

    In short I do agree with what you said and most of the commentaries that you made. I do agree that you can be real and be soo critical in doing so. I mean it’s a troll website anyway, people should expect to be burnt a little. But i just think that you’ve set the bar too high in being a “prof” photographer and if they dont’ reach that, i don’t think they are faux because of it.


    I do appreciate what you said.
    “If you want to be a photographer, I don’t want to discourage you, but I do have to get real with you. ”

    thanks for your comment too. Yeah the only thing that I do change with my photographs are the colour grade. I’ve worked in lots of environments now and the most important thing is that you are consistant in your work. I would rather come out of a shoot with 100 above average photos than coming out with 100 average and 1 great photo.

    anyway. sleepy time. me no making and sense anymore. sorry!! I’ll check up on this when it’s not 1 am.


    People seem to think that me calling them a fauxtog means that I think they are bad photographers or bad people. Some of them are quite good photographers in fact and if they were not charging people, I would be complementing their work.

    I apply the word fauxtog to refer to them as imitation pros, not imitation photographers. I think it is rather presumptuous to ask people to pay them for the privileged of helping them learn, but I at least have respect for those who will do that and state categorically that they are still students. You are correct, my concern is for the clients when you start charging, but that is because everyone has a responsibility for the client.

    I think that is probably the best answer to your question. A “real” photographer comes down to my definition of a photograph: “The snapshot allows you to gaze dimly on a memory, the photograph allows anyone to experience it anew.” There is no real bar for that, if you can perform that single function, you are a photographer. On this site, however, it’s the question of faux vs pro, and that is a completely different discussion. To be a pro, there is a bar, and it is very high, but not because I’m setting it there. When you go pro, the bar is set by reality. There is a level you have to be at to make it in business, and getting to that level only comes through study and experience.

    I’ve worked with a lot of photographers who jumped into business too soon, and their reactions are almost always the same, “I had no idea that business was gonna be so hard.” In every single case, there was the same problem, they didn’t have a high enough skill level to support the business and they were having to make up the difference with hard work and sheer force of will and that was crushing them. I encourage them to stop charging not to crush them, or stifle them, but to save them from being destroyed. Don’t get me wrong, it takes a huge amount of humility to admit that their business was a bad idea, and their pride will take a huge hit to do it.

    I will never quite understand why everyone always seems to think that they are immune to the forces of life. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame them for it, but to the person, they always think that they can beat the odds and make it by learning while charging. I’m not kidding or exaggerating when I say this, but when a photographer chooses to ignore my advice and continues in their chosen path, I write their name down in my calendar in the month that I predict life will catch up to them based on their skill level and tenacity. To stress how consistently this happens, I pick the right month better than half the time and have only been off by more than 3 months twice. I’m not screaming “hit the breaks!!” because I want to stifle them, I do it because I can see the cliff.

    This is the area where experience comes into play. The thing about experience is how much time you’ve had to make mistakes and learn from them. You will understand this better as you progress in the industry, but photography is like a trail to the summit. Every time there is a break in the treeline you can look down and see how far you’ve come and how high you are and it is tempting to believe that you’ve reached the peak. Around the corner, though, there is more trail. Going pro is like reaching the summit, looking around, and finally having a clear view of much bigger mountains to climb.

    Does this better answer your question?


    I see where you are coming from and fundamentally I do agree with you. But there are some factors that separate us and I guess it’s not something that neither of us is right or wrong in a situation. We are just both birthed from different worlds.


    I agree that although you should learn from your shoot. You shouldn’t look at the shoot as a lesson. I think it’s unfair for the photographer to assume the client will be okay with you learning from making a mistake. In fact I saw what I accomplished last year and decided to take a break this year. I wanted to focus on my film career and bring photography to a bare minimum. I did this because I wanted to get myself ready for the next goal and prepare my photography to reach the next level. I think I probably lost quite a few potential paying clients but in doing so, in honing my skills in private, I think I can start climbing the next hill.

    But what I don’t agree with is that the bar should be set so high and in failing to do so they fall in the faux zone. I honestly don’t think that they will fail. I think that they won’t ever get to the point of having a solid income stream from it but for most of them that’s okay. The way I see it is that they are charging fairly and will reach their desired goal. They are great photographers for the target they market to. Do I see them getting published? Well I hope one does. I hope JVendetti becomes successful but reaching out further than their talents and investing more than they can chew is the only time I see them perhaps failing.

    More and more do we have photographers who will have this set bar of ‘good’ photography. And I think that’s okay. They will have a good eye and will have lots of popularity on facebook. They will be affirmed by their peers and every soo often will get given a gig that they can charge over 1k for. If they ended up handing their portfolio in to say a National level gig, I don’t think they will get in… but that’s okay. That’s their level that they aim for and i don’t think we should criticise them for that. More and more photographers like this will come in because thats the time we live in. We are in the era of the SLR revolution. Decent Cameras are soo dirt cheap. But calling these people faux is I think a little unfair because they have the clients that see their wage fair.


    Boom. i’m a way better commentator when I’m not half asleep lol. Anyway what are your thoughts?

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