I read an interesting article today. It was basically saying how all photographers can do it all and that even many of the top professional photographers in the industry still make many amateur mistakes all of the time. Honestly, this is partly true, but overall a giant blanket statement about photography.
Here is the main problem. The article was written by a wedding photographer, and honestly a fairly new wedding photographer who, in my opinion, seems to idolize the wrong people in the industry. Here is a little back story for you for me to hopefully make a little more sense of this whole thing. Sorry if it gets confusing, I may ramble on a bit here.
About two years ago, a very successful commercial photographer asked how come we (my wife and I) become “rockstar” wedding photographers? This was coming from someone who shoots huge projects for major companies. I’m talking $200,000 shoots and up! He saw all of these types of wedding photographers charging, or claiming to charge, $15,000 and up for weddings. He thought, wow, and they’re shooting 40 weddings a year? That is amazing, blah blah blah, he went on and on. This is when I really realized how much hype was going on in this industry. Sorry, I do know a few photographers who are booking $20,000 weddings, but they don’t play the “rockstar” roll. They are too busy working and taking care of their clients, because when people pay that much for a wedding, they expect a lot!
This is what is wrong with the industry. You have people who are mediocre photographers but great speakers telling you what good photography is. I’m sorry, most of these people would not know a good image if it was hanging in front of them in an art gallery filled with the most brilliant photographers in the world! Oh, and I say this simply because one of these “photographers” actually asked me if Helmut Newton (while looking at his giant book Sumo) was a wedding photographer? This happened in the gallery with his work hanging on the walls and the work of many other famous photographers.
There is a total lack of education in the photography industry. People are not learning about photography at all, they go out and buy a digital camera and just start clicking away hoping to copy something they pinned on Pinterest! Or they are busy idolizing someone on Instagram “that is the greatest sunset shot I have ever seen, you are amazing, everything you do is amazing” was said to a well-known wedding photographer on a shot of two clouds in the sky with the sunset in the background. It was a mediocre snapshot with a cell phone! Why are you worshiping this mediocre image? Why?
Here is why. The hype. You too can be this good if you take my workshop, buy my book, watch my DVD etc…. It’s the easy way to make a big living. These wedding photographers, and I too am a wedding photographer so don’t think I’m just bashing an industry that I am not a part of, do not really understand the art of photography. They don’t understand the work and effort it takes to succeed in this industry. They don’t understand that the people who they idolize are not household names and are not the best in the business. They have never been on a set where there is a 1st, 2nd and 3rd photographer’s assistant and that they all have completely different jobs.
This article was written by someone who obviously does not know better. But they think they do. The are part of this whole celebration of mediocrity that I talk about all of the time. They all get ribbons and trophies for participating in the event. Go ahead, skip through your golden field holding hands and patting yourself on the back. Good for you.
Me? I’m never satisfied, I don’t mess up my ISO, I know how fast to sync my shutter, I know what an f/stop does, I know how to set up zero to ten lights for studio or on location shoot. But that alone does not make me a photographer. What makes me a photographer is my passion, my vision, the way I can execute the shot. My final product is what makes me a photographer.
This “article” a term I am using very loosely now, also stated that the ratio of keeper images to those thrown away was almost the same percentage as these amateur photographers, sometimes the “pro’s” would have even more throw away images. Well here is something to ponder, take a look at the work of Helmut Newton, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Annie Leibovitz, Ellen von Unwerth…. how much do you want to bet that one of their “throw away” images is far better than any of the keepers of some of these “rockstar” photographers?
Not everyone is equal, and in my world only the winner gets the trophy. This is why I am competitive, this is why I strive to win. I don’t pat myself on the back and tell everyone how good I am. I love what I do, I share work on this site to get clients but to also show what I love to shoot. I keep pushing forward, learning my craft as much as possible. I don’t need nor do I want to be worshiped by photographers. I do this for me. I do this for my clients. I do this because I am obsessed with creating the best image possible for what myself or my client desires. I don’t care if I have a million throw away images. If I have just a single image that makes my client 100% happy then I have done my job. Like Helmut Newton said…. “You only need one.”