I am usually not one to rant . . .well at least online . . . but several things have happened lately to put me over the rant edge. So I apologize even before I begin. But not really.
Back in the "day" (heretofore known as BGP - before digital photography), photographers actually had to know a little bit about - well photography. F-stops, shutter speeds, depth of field all meant something in relation to the quality of your photo. Now there is auto exposure, and autofocus, and, photoshop. A photographer friend told me the other day that she was told by someone that "with digital cameras the way they are these days, even a monkey can shoot a wedding!" This monkey has real issues with this way of thinking.
It's not hard to see the huge crop of "photographers" getting into the business. It is so awesome to be doing something that you love, and I don't think there is anything greater than the satisfaction I get when I am behind my camera. In just about every profession, there is some sort of training, or learning curve before you can go out and make a living at it. Owning a digital camera does not a photographer make . . .sorry about that. Let me tell you some of the most frustrating things we hear:
"Wow your camera took a great picture!" Cameras don't take pictures - people take pictures (now I sound like the NRA)
"My friend is getting married, and I just got a new camera. She asked me to shoot her wedding. Can you give me a few tips before I do this." Seriously? If I have had a dime for everytime I heard this. . .well I may not worrying about making a living as a photographer. My usual response to this is "Just say No!" I have had people come back and thank me for that advice.
"Wedding photography is a rip-off. You get all that money for just a few hours of work" The average wedding takes at least 50 hours of work, most of it doesn't involve taking pictures, and does involve many bottles of Advil.
"Our special mini-session, come and have your photo taken for $100 and get all your digital hi res files on disc". Really - how do photographers who do this ever expect to make more than $100 for a job that they are working many hours on. This is perhaps the most frustrating. i am do get it that clients want their digital files. But giving them away for nothing devalues your work - and WILL make you extremly busy, but put you out of business in no time at all. Wait until you see your hard work printed with really bad color huge on a clients wall. How does that inhance your artform? I think there are solutions for that could make everyone happy . . .but that's for another blog.
"You look like you're having a really good time doing this" - Okay that's not a frustrating thing. . .I really am having a really good time, but I studied about taking photos, and part of what is fun, is knowing what you are doing.
I love to study the work of other photographers. There are some really amazing talent out there. I also love mentoring and teaching what I know (like I said - still much to learn) to aspiring photographers. I admire those who waht to learn. But what I have been seeing so much of lately are more really bad photographs. Here's the problem. I am afraid that much of the issue is that the consumer doesn't often know the difference. I am fearing that Photoshop and Photoshop actions and "special effects" are overcooking and overpowering the photo itself. Instead of learning about lighting, I see people Photoshopping the heck out of their work. I once had the dad of one of the bridesmaids at a wedding I was shooting acually tell me, as he was taking photos with the a digital SLR with his pop-up flash, "I don't care, I'll just get the red-eye out on the computer later on". That was right before he kept getting in front of me to get his shots, as I was taking my photos...the ones the bride was paying for. Again, something for another blog.
Photoshop is a really learning intensive program,and without proper knoweldge of it you can really make a mess of a photo. I use Photoshop all the time, but I pay more attention to getting it right in the camera, not trying to fix bad photos in Photoshop. It is a great program and so much fun. It's easy to see why everyone gets carried away...it does so much.
When I first started shooting, I thought I knew it all. The amazing thing is that the more I learn, the more I realize I need to learn. I think part of the problem is that the average photography client out there has lost sight of what a good picture looks like. I guess what I would like to see, it our profession, brought back to that level again.
Like I said, I will always have a lot to learn, but I am going to dedicate some very near future blogs to what to look for in a photographers work. Maybe if folks understood a little more, they would "get" it and the importance of getting your memories captured in the best way possible.