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Dear “Real” Photographers, Stop With The Mocking Already…

…it’s really unbecoming.

Added Preface: None of my professional photographer friends have ever done this that I know of. So, I’m hoping the majority of the professional photographer community don’t post public snark mocking hobbiests or novices, but for the very vocal hopefully-minority, I had to write this post.

When my oldest child was born I took nine million pictures of him with a point-and-click regular film camera. I got those pictures developed at 1-hour photo and always got doubles to share with my family. I framed 50% of them. I loved pictures of that kid more than anything and worried for any future children because there is NO WAY I’d take as many pictures of them as I did of him.

Fast forward 11 years when I had my daughter and BAM! Digital photography had changed everything. Now I have 14 bajillion photos of my kids, all sitting on my computer.

This love of taking pictures spurred me to buy a DSLR camera in 2006 or so and I fell in love with it. I didn’t understand a lot about it, but I tried to learn. I got a few fun lenses over the next several years, had another kid and just really enjoyed my hobby. In 2009 or so some friends asked me to take their family pictures, I did and felt honored. It happened a few times like that, nothing exciting, just family shots downtown. I felt weird taking payment so I asked them to donate to a cause I supported. I mainly just took a lot of photos of my family and then I took a lot of scenery photos of non-people. My office at home is filled with my own photography.

For a little while, I thought Wouldn’t it be fun to turn this into a career? How much do I love this hobby?

And that’s about the time I read my first snarky article from a photographer I respected and admired, about how irritated she was at people buying good cameras and thinking they could charge people for photos.

And then I read an article where they cataloged a collection of “bad” photos from people “who thought they were real photographers.” The article mocked bad lighting and scene setting and blurred subjects and shallow depths of field.

And all of the other “real” photographers laughed and mocked and complained.

The first complaints I always see are how it’s jeopardizing the integrity of the industry because novices don’t charge as much. I see the same kind of commentary from writers complaining about other writers who give articles to websites for free. Or web developers who can build a business website with a WordPress theme and only charge $100 for the whole process. (I was interviewed by a guy who was OFFENSIVELY snarky about people who did that.)

Listen, I hate to break it to ALL of you, but this is what being a professional is about. Haven’t you heard about 50-year olds getting laid-off or fired and replaced by fresh-out-of-college 22-year olds who will do the same job for half of the pay? IT HAPPENS EVERYWHERE. It’s part of every industry. People trying to break into the field charge less, THAT IS THE WAY IT WORKS. If you don’t like it, then I don’t know what to tell you. That’s the competitive factor of any professional career. If it bothers you that people hire someone for less than you charge, then complain about the people hiring them, don’t complain about the people trying to break into the field.

But specifically, let’s go back to the mocking or the making fun of “novice” photographers by “real” photographers.

My rage about this has always been there, but this article brought it back up again. This is the part that pisses me off. After discussing all of the gear a “real” wedding photographer brings to a wedding, and comparing it to a “friend with a good camera” the article asks if you’ve carried that gear too:

Have you done all of those things? If not, make no mistake, you are not a photographer — you’re just a person who owns a camera. People might pay you to take pictures with that camera, but it’s only because they don’t realize they shouldn’t.

This is the attitude that pisses me off. Did you “real” wedding photographers wake up one morning with all of that expensive gear automatically handed to you? NO. You bought it, probably with money you earned as a photographer who didn’t use that type of gear. No one walks into an industry with everything they need in terms of gear and knowledge from day 01. Allow people time to ease into an industry without you making fun of them. (Unless you just like being an asshole, then please continue.)

Also – on the other side of the spectrum, you hear “real” photographers snark that they could take good pictures with just a regular camera because they understand lighting/mechanics etc, and I’ve seen them do this: mocking people who spend lots of money on gear, but don’t know how to use it.

So, if you’re starting out, you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. But who cares what people say? If you want to start your own photography business, why shouldn’t you? Practice makes perfect, and perhaps one day you could have a very successful career. People will wish they hadn’t spoken when your business is fully registered by companies like Your Company Formations Ltd and you’re doing better than any of the other photographers who mocked you.

I have never seen an industry more publicly vocal about mocking novices than Photographers. (Most people feel bad about that mocking and snarking and do it more privately.) I no longer have dreams of turning my hobby that I loved into a career, but I’m still proud of my photography even if it was done with a camera I don’t quite understand. My photos are framed all over my house, because I love them, and every time I see a “real” photographer snark or mock people like me who “call themselves photographers” I look at those photos and wonder if I should be ashamed instead of proud.

DO YOU SEE WHAT YOU DO TO PEOPLE?

Your snarky commentary and articles mocking people trying to be photographers makes people like me look at things they’re proud of and wonder, Should I not be proud? You make people doubt their career choices or dreams which – I guess if you don’t like competition – is a good thing. (Or, if you like being perceived as an asshole by newbies in your field. Then you’re golden.) Don’t let my anger change your mind about sharing your beautiful pictures. Share them wherever possible, in places like, linktree alternatives free and on all your social platforms.

No one likes finding out that someone else might can do their job cheaper and/or better with less time and less investment. But that is part of being a professional. If you work for a company for 10 years, chances are you’re getting paid more than the guy they just hired. So, you have to make yourself valuable in as many different way as possible. There are new people coming up in every industry willing to do more for less and all of us old people have to compete with them. Photographers are not the only ones who have people trying to sneak in charging less for more. But no one else publicly mocks their younger/cheaper competition as much as “real” photographers do. I see comics and blog posts and articles about it constantly, and it makes me angry every time.

And photography is also ART. Check out this useful site Olga Topchii and look at her work, it’s beautiful! Her pictures are definitely art in my opinion! You are mocking someone’s attempt at making ART. Which makes it even worse. I find art snobs the most annoying. People who look at art and laugh at it. That is someone’s SOUL you are laughing at. I have a picture of a dogwood tree in my office that I took and I have no idea if it’s “technically” good or not but it is my heart. I have a lot of emotion invested in that picture and if a “real” photographer looked at it and mocked it I would be devastated. I thought about selling prints of it once (the tree has historical value here) but one of those damn articles turned me against it because – what if it’s not really as good as I think it is?

YOU PEOPLE DID THAT. You people who laugh at people openly trying a new career or hobby…You people make me look at a picture I adore and wonder if I should be embarrassed to have it framed.

PLEASE STOP.

(Unless you just like sounding like an asshole to everyone who is not a “real” photographer. Then, by all means, continue.)

17 thoughts on “Dear “Real” Photographers, Stop With The Mocking Already…”

  1. Amen

    Incidentally, every photo we’ve had taken by a real photographer (not Sears or something, real studios) we hate. They are over-posed, over-styled and we look awkward in them because we felt awkward. The photos we love were taken by people with a good eye and the patience to wait for a good moment.

  2. And I just realized that sounds like I don’t think any professional photographers are good. And that would be ridiculous of me. Skill, practice and good tools do result in excellent professional photographers. But, unless you know of a local one, just hiring a professional doesn’t guarantee anything. The ones we’ve hired definitely knew the theory of what looks best (tilted forward, etc), but were terrible at making it natural.

  3. Yes. I know some really good professional photographers which is why I have hired them to take pictures, instead of doing it myself or asking a novice/hobbiest. HOWEVER, they don’t go around posting comments/articles/blog posts snarking or mocking beginners, either. As a matter of fact, the local ones I know hire beginners as interns and then publicly support their following career.

    On the other hand, there are a BUNCH of local professionals who I would never hire, even if they were cheap, because they over-photoshop their pictures and style them beyond recognition. I saw a family portrait done by a very expensive professional once and I swear to GOD, I didn’t recognize the Mom who is my FRIEND because they over-styled her. Maybe she wanted that makeover for the photo, but I would not want to pay that much for a photo that might have been gorgeous, but didn’t look a thing like me.

  4. I completely understand where you are coming from here. I took a photography course and decided to start a part time business. I studied and practiced all the time. I built my portfolio until I felt ready to start charging for my services. I ended up closing my business after realizing it was not a career I loved. I adore taking pictures of what I want, not what I’m being paid to shoot.

    Anyway, I came across so many of those articles and some were from photographers I greatly admired. I found myself feeling embarrassed because I knew my pictures didn’t look as good as theirs. In the end, I left with a very bad impression of the photography field. I know not every photographer is this way (because we have some amazing ones in Huntsville) but I got sick of the negativity and meanness. I’m sorry you also had this impression and I’m glad you wrote about it!

  5. Yes! The first one I ever saw was from a photographer I followed, I even bought some of her PS Action packs and used her tutorials, and then she posted that snarky/mocking/mean-spirited blog post and I felt hurt. It was so frustrating.

  6. Thing one: your photography is beautiful. If you want to read positive people supporting newbies, check out Iheartfaces.com. I love that website so much and it really helped me grasp the different settings and understand/feel comfortable taking pictures in manual mode.

    Thing two: I have felt the exact same about people claiming to be photographers snarking on moms with cameras. One person posted a pic of a newborn baby on a fluffy bath mat in a disposable diaper next to a professionally taken picture of a newborn on a sheepskin rug with the comment “This is why you should hire a professional” and it made me so damn mad. I was almost irrational in my rage. I don’t get my feelings hurt but I don’t like people making fun of new mamas that love their babies. Not every new mom can afford a $400 newborn session(hell, I certainly couldn’t back when Declan was a newborn and I flat out won’t pay for them now that I have a working knowledge of photography/light/manual camera etc) but that doesn’t mean she won’t treasure those cellphone or point and shoot images of her baby in those very fleeting moments of newborn-ness. I found it interesting that the “professional photographer” that posted that mean-spirited meme had no grasp of light and the eye presented in her images was visually tone-deaf. I kept my mouth shut because being mean is not my jam but I could have thought of a nice way to suggest that 15 minutes reading through a free on-line dslr tutorial about the rule of thirds/Fibonacci’s snail shell (or whatever it’s called) could do wonders for the photography she was calling an “investment” but I was so mad about the newborn photography snark pictures that I had to step away. I know this sounds mean but I can’t with the meanies.

  7. It’s that EXACT type of comparison/comment that got me flared up last time. And I was so angry for the same reason. This was a family shot and photographers was critiquing everything about the photo and comparing it to the ones she does. Made me SO MAD.

  8. Yes, yes a thousand time yes. Thank you. I was reading that same damned Cracked article last night and had the same reaction but the comments actually made me feel better. For every snarky “professional”, there were twice as many “amateurs” defending those of is who love to take photos with beginner DSLR’s. Granted, there were some jerks on the other side too but this is an area I am super sensitive about. I love photography and yes, some people pay me to take photos. I almost feel guilty about that and then I feel guilty for feeling guilty!

  9. You posted a picture on your site years ago of a covered bridge in autumn that I loved so much I wanted to ask to buy a print but was afraid to look like a weirdo. I think your pictures are great!

  10. Well said. I still stand on the edge of thinking of taking my photography hobby on as a business. Just the week I went out to do some portrait practice at a local park and it was so full of people doing the same that I had to laugh. I’m sure it’s frustrating as all get out to someone who’s been doing photo sessions at that park for years to now have to jockey for space during the Golden Hour to do their work – but it’s no excuse for being rude or demeaning.

  11. I’m a photographer who makes a tidy little income from my side business. I do portraits, families, and newborns, and I love it. Becuase about 4 years ago, I decided that feeding my family was more important than pandering to my ego, and I just stopped reading those articles and blogs and just did what I knew I could make work.

    I work every weekend. I’ve built a business because my prices are really reasonable, and I don’t charge an obscene amount for the actual prints. I don’t charge for prints. I just GIVE people the digital images, which APPALLS ‘professional’ photographers. I have a friend of the family whose work is unbelievable. She’s a freaking brilliant photographer. But I work a lot more than she does, and I refuse to be ashamed of it. I’m proud of having taken something I’m good at, and turned it into something that allows me to support my family.

    Those articles used to make me so mad. Now I just don’t care, because I love that I created a small measure of success for myself.

  12. Yes! Cara said exactly what I was thinking.

    A few years ago I had pictures taken of me & my dogs (3 of them … they are my kids) by a professional pet photographer. The proofs were great! That’s exactly our lives. After I paid for & received the final prints, I wanted to puke. OMG! Way too much Photoshop… didn’t even seem like us & I have never used the pictures.

  13. I love photography and love to take pictures and am any given event our outing with a camera in hand about 90 percent of the time. I am by no means a professional- I do it because I love it for the art form and the creative aspect. ART form…which to me is subjective. I remember I took a photo I love of a flower in my backyard that I adored (the picture and the flower) and someone commented on the picture and said- well that’s really not the right lens to take that kind of photo with. Then why did my photo come out fine?! Ooh that made me mad because 1. my photo came out exactly as I wanted it to which is rare & 2. I am not made of $ and can not afford every lens out there. I have what I have (most of which is hand-me-down from my father once he’s upgraded because like me he loves photography).

    That said- I absolutely adore your picture. I would totally frame that and put it on my office wall proudly if I had taken it- heck I would buy it and put it on my wall if I saw it at a store! It’s beautiful (I am a huge fan of tree/flower pictures and take TONS of those myself).

    Like anything there are good photographers and bad photographers just as there are good pictures and bad pictures. What is beautiful in the eye of one person isn’t always so in the other. But poking fun at what one person thinks is a great picture and what is not is not cool. I certainly have favorite pictures that are technically not the best photo but are favorites because of the sentimental reasons of it. It’s about the emotion around the photo as it is the technicality of it.

    Wow I always read and almost never comment and then I post this huge diatribe. 🙂

    **completely off track- thank you for your comment on my facebook post! It was exactly what I needed to read this morning!

  14. I have a photography shop on Etsy and I see a lot of beautiful photos both posted and sold by fellow Etsians – many taken by people who “real” photographers would snark on.

    I also see a lot of photos I don’t like on there too, but guess what? These also sell. My personal taste does not dictate what is “good” photography, any more than the taste of these crabby complainers does. Art is subjective and my not liking something doesn’t make it not art, it just means that I personally won’t buy it. I think it’s awesome that no matter your art, it will speak to someone and they will buy it and love it.

    And who cares what equipment produced an image? I do have a great camera, but one of my best-selling shots was taken with my point-and-shoot.

  15. I love that dogwood shot! And I love your pictures too. I’ve got more cameras and lenses and tripods and…. all that stuff, and I love it and use it all. I take pics for me and mine, and because I enjoy it.

    I love this post. It reminds me of a city where, when you move there, you want to stop other people from coming in and “ruining” it.

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