10 Things ‘People With Cameras’ and Non-Photographers Say and Get Wrong!

1.Everyone nowadays is a photographer.” WRONG!

Having a hose doesn’t make you a fireman. Having a stove doesn’t make you a chef. And having a camera doesn’t make you a photographer. You might be able to put out your campfire, cook an egg and make a picture, but you’re not a fireman, chef, or photographer. Whenever anyone says, “Everyone nowadays is a photographer,” I correct them with, “No, everyone has a tiny-sensor cell phone camera with a wide-angle lens in their pocket–not a professional photographer’s camera–and with it they can take a focused properly-exposed picture due to camera’s technology.” It doesn’t give them any tools of composition, understanding of light, or knowledge of how to take a photo or ideas for what makes a good photograph. The ‘photographer’ part isn’t in their pocket, that’s outside the camera.

2. “I’m an available light photographer.” WRONG!

A flash, a studio light, and light modifiers are all ‘available’ if you have them in your kit. Saying you only shoot with available light tells me you don’t understand how to work with light, how to sculpt it even though there are multiple ways to do that with supplemental lighting tools. It’s code for, “I only know how to shoot with whatever light is there–I’m not very good.”

None of the light for this Philadelphia record producer portrait was available. It’s there because I brought it.

3. “I’m a good editor, I have the best plugins and know all the latest Photoshop tricks.” WRONG!

That’s not even what an editor does! Editing photos is culling photos from a shoot, making selections for which ones are included in the final output and which are out. It’s not about working on the look of the photos, that’s toning! Great photographers are great editors which means they know how to choose the winning shots. It’s the most important part of the edit that many photographers have no clue how to get right. In fact, many go to a shoot and ‘spray and pray’, shooting thousands of images. If you don’t know how to selectively work to find the right moments to shoot during the event, what’s the chance you’ll find the winning photo in the edit?

4. “The best camera is the one you have with you.” WRONG!

I just photographed a school event with a 17-35mm and a 150-600mm lens. The photos are strong and dynamic. The expressions are everything. They’re strong because I had the right tools for the job, from ultra-wide to super-telephoto. When people say, “The best camera is the one you have with you,” I say, “No, the best camera is the one you thought to bring knowing you might need it because you’re a professional.” No one with their phones could ever make the photographs that I did, and having only a cell phone camera with you is a poor tool and a bad excuse for not bringing the proper tools for the job. Chase Jarvis should update this to: “The only camera is the one that you have with you in your phone and too bad if it’s not good for the job, we live in a world of ‘good enough’.”

5. “I don’t know anything about usage rights, so I don’t bother to charge for them.” WRONG!

You understand usage rights when it comes to using recorded music in videos, TV shows, and movies. It’s the same with photographers and all other artists. If a photographer makes images for a website and brochures for one rate, that doesn’t include magazine ads, television, and billboards. Clients have to pay for each one based on its usage and there’s no need for them to ‘own everything’ because they don’t need to get the rights to them all if they’re not planning on using the images in magazine ads, television, and billboards. And the fact that they aren’t familiar with usage rates doesn’t exempt them from having to pay for them. The main reason they may have not heard of them is mostly because of bad photographers–actually not really photographers but people with cameras–who are not professionals, who don’t work like business professionals, and who give away their copyright with “all the photos” and severely damage their own business and the industry.

6. “I’ll shoot for free, it’ll be good exposure for me.” WRONG!

People die of exposure. The client that wants a freebie is never going to hire you the next time they need a photographer because they know that there are hundreds of ‘people with cameras’, aka unprofessionals, willing to give it away for free next time, just like you just did. If they’re making money off your work, you should be making money off your work. If the caterer, the usher, and everyone else working the event is being paid, why are you willing to work for free? Why isn’t it shameful to ask for free labor? No one would be caught begging except for clients seeking creatives who are so desperate to create they’ll do it at their own cost.

7. “Can I use your photograph on our TV News Channel/Newspaper/Magazine? Just reply yes to give consent.” WRONG!

Just because you don’t work as a photographer and have another job and can afford to give it away, by doing so you’re killing it for the working professionals, taking away opportunities for them to sell similar work, and telling the media that they don’t need to create a budget for photography–they can just get it for free by asking for consent and stroking your ego. “Look, I’m published!” All the while you’ve given them full rights to the work. That’s right, your consent means they own the photograph and the right to use it while selling advertising space without ever having to pay you a dime. Again, more begging.

8. “I use the Lightroom plugins from a famous photographer so my photos are great, too.” WRONG!

Professional photographers create a look for each client and each campaign. There is no cookie-cutter, one-button-does-all solution to photographic toning. If you don’t know how to use your toning tools and are paying for someone else to create a formula for you, you have no idea what your possibilities are for finishing a photograph.

9. “I’m a YouTube influencer with a large subscriber count even though I just started photography last year. Guess I’ll lead a workshop!” WRONG

The number of subscribers does not correlate to the quality of photographic skill. It relates to the ability to draw people in as a marketer, often with click-bait titles and paying for subs. The ‘people with cameras’ offering advice are great salespeople but are duping their attendees with a workshop they are unqualified to teach. They aren’t even photographers yet.

10. “Your photos are so good, you must have a really good camera!” WRONG!

You don’t go up to the host after a wonderful dinner and say, “That was a terrific meal, you must have a great stove.” Putting the emphasis on the gear and not the creative is just an ignorant way of saying you don’t understand how things are made. It’s not the camera, the stove or any other tool the artist used. It’s the artist.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: