Truth in our Industry

Yesterday, I called out a supposed top photography leader in the wedding industry on a hypocritical statement he made, “The photo industry is full of self promotion and sadly it usually only leads to self destruction.” This is interesting, when this person is all about self promotion and even put a huge photo of himself on the side of a tour bus. Me speaking the truth did not make him happy, or his followers. What was really interesting was the amount of support that came my way in other people thanking me for calling him out. Many said they were afraid to say what I said, but are thrilled that the truth is coming out. If people are afraid to put it out there in public, their honest opinions, now they have a place to call their own.

By the way, I am not a “Grumpy”, a label these supposed leaders came up with to downplay those photographers, myself included, who have been practicing this craft and art of photography for over 20 years with a driven passion. They don’t want us “grumpies’ / experienced photographers having a voice or more importantly an opinion on the state of our industry. As he said (supposed wedding photography leader), “Death to the grumpies”. How dare you try to make us look bad, professional photographers who believe in the art and this is our passion. I have studied photography on the university level, even taught at the same level. I have mentored many, lectured, studied and lived my passion, photography.

So go ahead and self destruct through your vain self promotion. I still have plenty of career ahead of me, because what is important to me is my craft of photography and my happy clients, real clients, that I still shoot weddings and other events and jobs for.

So long live the TRUTH!

Cat - March 26, 2010 - 11:18 am

It is about time someone would give this self proclaimed “celebs” a reality check!

Stacy Reeves - March 26, 2010 - 11:31 am

Carlos, I could not have agreed more with your tweets yesterday regarding DJ, and yes you did say what most of us were already thinking. But then, after slamming someone for self promotion, you retweeted someone who said “I nominate @CarlosBaez for President!” I applaud you for calling someone out on hypocrisy, but be careful about setting yourself up as the Poster Boy for Truth. Most of us are usually guilty of the same things we criticize others for.

Stacie Frazier - March 26, 2010 - 11:33 am

So refreshing to hear someone say this! While I do believe in the power of marketing the photographer as well as the photography, it is apparent that some are getting a little carried away with this. I’m astonished at some of the videos I see some putting out there. Do they really believe that potential clients are interested in seeing them ramble on about their self-importance? I hope that little marketing ploy is one that doesn’t stick around very long, amongst others.

Carlos Baez - March 26, 2010 - 11:38 am

Hello Stacy Reeves,
I re-tweeted the “president” comment out of fun, it’s was someone supporting what I was saying, agreeing with the truth, that’s all.
I am not the poster child for truth, just starting a place where MANY want to speak the truth. Thanks for the support.

Armin - March 26, 2010 - 1:18 pm

I’ve shared similar sentiments about the “rock star” culture in a blog post a while back. Thanks for sharing your POV Carlos, controversial or not, the truth is the truth!

Stephen Knuth - March 26, 2010 - 1:29 pm

Just to let you know… DJ’s tour two years ago was the very first workshop I ever attended. I had no idea who anyone was in this industry. I think all of you are missing one of the biggest things that he created for me that night. COMMUNITY. I paid $99 to attend his workshop and it was totally worth it because in that COMMUNITY, I ended up meeting Sara France. I was then mentored by Sara for over a year and taught me evert thing I knew. During that same time I was shooting hasselblad in my college photo program and I learned how to shoot weddings from there…

I agree with you on the point that there are a few big name photographers who aren’t the best photographers in the world and there will always be a split between those of us who are true artists and those who are alright at taking pictures but regardless, they understand photography and they are helping the community & they are monetizing their brands.

Maybe YOU carlos, should teach a private photography workshop and invite those who you claim are not living the “truth”. ;-)

Mattion - March 26, 2010 - 2:00 pm

Go Carlos!!!

Rick Rosen - March 26, 2010 - 2:00 pm

Historically there has always been a stable national population of wedding photography studios that was around 125,000. Every small town had one or two “Mom and Pop” established studios, big urban populations had many more of course. These established photographers all ran a business with the overhead of such a business. Then digital came along and suddenly the field was flooded with new wide-eyed young photographers. In 2009 alone approximately 100,000 new photographers entered weddings. In the basic truth of supply and demand economics whenever a supply exceeds the demand (needs) for that supply the price of the supply commodity or service drops. The established studios are suddenly faced with very low pricing from the newcomers who have no real business to run and minimal overhead. Along with that massive influx of new inexperienced wanna-be wedding photographers have come a group of opportunistic “photographic carpetbaggers” who see big money from artificially inflating their “buzz” resumes and selling high priced “education” to the masses. Most of them make far more money selling the dream than they do actually shooting weddings. Tens of thousands of new wedding photographers have been convinced by the opportunistic rockstar workshop leaders that there is big money to be made in weddings and they can get a piece of that if they attend their workshops and buy their DVD sets. Unfortunately, along the way these hungry new photographers have come into the business with very low prices trying to buy into the profession. They don’t have the overhead and operating expenses of the established studios but even worse they don’t have the basic knowledge on how to set prices to create a sustainable and profitable business. Most will fail but the rockstars will continue to pitch the dream to ensure that they will always be able to fill their seminars and sell their DVDs. When an established and experienced photographer tries to state an opposing viewpoint, not to criticize the new photographers but to actually help them by giving them real world information, they are called “grumpies” and the rockstars all rise up in anger trying to protect their gold mine. Thanks Carlos for being so outspoken n what is happening to our profession.

Graeme - March 26, 2010 - 2:21 pm

The truth shall prevail. The issue however is sometimes people have different realities of truth. Someone mentioned community in their post and thats spot on. We do need community. Labels and mudslinging never help the industry. Whois Grumpy and who isnt is not relevant. The only truth is we can only grow as professionals if all are tasked with the same big picture. We must acknowledge those who came before us and take what we have to where we need to go, not at the expense of anyone else.

Cat - March 26, 2010 - 2:38 pm

wait, wait..Let me see if I got this right: “…I paid $99 to attend his workshop and it was totally worth it because in that COMMUNITY,…” if by community you refer to other photographers falling in to the trap of believing what people with lack of validity and self promotion to enrich themselves, follow… then, WOW, I guess I’ve got it all wrong.

In that case then anyone can buy community.

I have made many good photo friends with out having to enrich any third parties, or buy their product.

Anna - March 26, 2010 - 3:45 pm

Stephen Knuth is pretty much a prime example of everything that is wrong with the industry. He’s now charging people to “share” his knowledge – which is pretty limited based on his experience level. The people he surrounds himself with are pushing him into the spotlight and they’re all continually lining each other’s pockets with money gathered from the unknowing masses. Eventually people will catch on.

J Sandifer - March 26, 2010 - 5:07 pm

As I have said…it is the wild west! Hold on for the ride and stay true to yourself, everything else will work itself out in time! I commend you Carlos and others who know the shoulders of those that we stand upon as photographers…please continue to feature those people here!

Not sure what a grumpy is, but have sure heard it talked about and don’t think that it has any place in our industry. There will always be those that hunger for information…only hope they seek out those that have the goods to share!

Rachel LaCour Niesen - March 26, 2010 - 5:32 pm

Giddy up, J :) Just kidding! The Wild West is a great metaphor for the state of our industry.

Seriously, though, Rick shared a crucial fact.

Many hungry new photographers enter business with low prices, trying to buy into the profession. They don’t have the overhead & operating expenses of established, brick-and-mortar studios. Dangerously, they don’t have experience or knowledge to establish pricing that creates a sustainable and profitable business. Without proven business benchmarks and education about best practices, photographers shoot blind.

I’m in a unique and uncomfortable position.

On one hand, I’m a photographer selling stuff to fellow photographers.

On the other hand, I’m passionately committed to the art of photography and draw my inspiration from greats like Eugene Smith, Bruce Davidson, Yuosuf Karsh, Larry Towell, André Kertész, and countless others who make my knees shake!

Most of all, I love photographers. I sincerely want photography to succeed as a form of content creation & creative expression. And I want to empower photographers to create purposeful, profitable businesses. That’s why ShootQ exists.

After all, what’s more rewarding than crafting a business while passionately pursuing your craft?

I’m hoping there are bridge-builders who will forge a path to the truth via reconciliation and mutual respect. Together, we succeed.

Cheers folks!

Stephen Knuth - March 26, 2010 - 5:41 pm

@Anna- I really need to correct you on something… I know that we don’t know each other very well but let me tell you that I make very little off “photographers”. I spoke at WPPI for free with showit, I teach at the photog shootout events every month for free to 50 photographers and I walk away with NO money for doing it and I teach photography to Photog Shootout attendees on weekends for FREE. By the way, I started shooting 3 years ago on film and I still do to this day. I’m not a “newbie”. Get your facts straight before you try and yell at someone.

Mark Andrew Higgins - March 26, 2010 - 5:58 pm

Carlos, I love your commitment to the issue at hand. Authenticity and Art,

I’m one of the people that called David Jay out in public on twitter yesterday and he went as far as to re-tweet my post to Jim Collins, CEO at Pictage and asked why I was a PUG leader. (I’m not a PUG leader). I’m assuming the implication of David’s post was that if I was a PUG leader I should be removed for questioning him or as he said I and I quote “ranting at me for being happy”

I was shocked at his posts and could not be silent. Every bit of my training took hold from the military and as a leader your job is to bring the best out of your people/community and to elevate people around you to do things not possible without a group or community behind them. I questioned him on his authenticity and his core beliefs and he did not like that.

David Jay asked who I was and today he wrote on his blog about the people that are takers and tried to prop himself up. I felt that a big part of that was aimed at myself and Carlos and here’s my response to his generalizations.

I shot my first wedding in 2004 and decided to move into this business on a serious level in October of 2006. I’m NOT an old grump, but at 41 I’m a graduate from a military college, been an officer in the US Navy, managed many people in the corporate world, teacher, husband and dad to 5 kids. I have tried to step up in the Boston photographic community and lead by example. I’m not an old “grumpy” and I have open e-mail/ phone call communication if someone needs help or will go to someone’s studio if it’s something I can’t do over the phone/e-mail. I don’t ask for money or notoriety, I do it because I love to teach and truly believe that in this world you get as good as you give and that you have to look yourself in the mirror every night and question your own authenticity and if you gave 100% for the day. My Dad and Maine Maritime Academy/Navy pounded that into me!

We have a wonderful community here in Boston. One of the most giving communities I have seen and we welcome everyone from the person in business 1 month to 20 years. (We don’t call each other Newbies or Grumpies) As New Englanders we may be a bit crusty, but we’re not Grumpy and we look after each other like family. My other Boston area photographers are not my competition they are my friends. Many of them are my closest friends and people I want to associate with whether I’m shooting weddings or not.

Jen - March 26, 2010 - 6:19 pm

I almost fell into the trap but the wonderful, experienced photographers on the Pictage forums brought me back to earth. All these big names like Jasmine, David, Becker, etc seem like they’ve got it all AND then some and they make it easy to buy into but when you step back and look at it, you realize everyone has a destination (goals) and we all have different vehicles that get us there. When I see photogs with workshop after workshop all I see is that those photographers have run out of clients and need to find money somewhere so they play off of their knowledge and sell to other photographers. Maybe these big names do have something to offer, but I think, realistically, you can get the same information with a non-big name photographer that does great work and has lots of experience. As for Stephen’s comments, out of the 15 or so comments on here I have a hard time thinking we all are missing the community part. Go to a PUG meeting, create a photography meeting group, meet for coffee, lunch, etc. Have shoot clubs. You don’t need to spend money on one of the workshops unless you see a benefit to yourself or your business.

Cat - March 26, 2010 - 6:29 pm

@Stephen There is nothing wrong with being a newbie, we all start somewhere. The issue is how other so called “Industry leaders” create this romanticized idea of what wedding photography is. They create LIES and feed them to the masses,they base their teachings on their limited knowledge… it’s the blind leading the blind, and unfortunately the “newbies”, if thats what you want to call them, don’t know any better. You can’t deny the fact that so many “rock-star” photographers take advantage of these people. They are not in it to openly share their “knowledge”, they are in it because if you have a nice personality and you have charisma, people will believe what ever you feed them (cult).

It’s up to you to consciously figure out which type of “teacher” you are going to be, because in the end everyone will see right through you.

Stephen Knuth - March 26, 2010 - 6:31 pm

Thank You for your support Jen. You are making a supporting comment to my words, right? ;-) I completely support your words… You DON’T need to pay big bucks for a workshop UNLESS it works for YOU and if it’s what you really need. I have never paid for a single workshop since the one I did years ago at DJ’s. I found everything I needed to learn from mentors, business college classes, PUGs & shooting groups. It worked for me and best thing of all.. most of them are all free.

Omg - March 26, 2010 - 6:41 pm

The day Stephen Knuth becomes the poster boy for “artist” will be the day I quit forever. His work is amateur at best. Have you even SEEN it?

Rick Rosen - March 26, 2010 - 6:42 pm

Like Carlos and some others I have been a professional photographer for a very long time. In my case, my photography career spans over forty years, the last twenty of which were almost exclusively in weddings. I have lectured internationally and taught at some very prestigious schools like Art Center College of Design and Otis Parsons and taught hundreds of my own workshops. I say this not to brag but to put some substance behind my thoughts. What I know, because I was there, is that this wonderful profession of photography has ALWAYS supported and encouraged the newcomers. We who were more experienced have always given back and paid it forward. Yes, sometimes that was in a paid workshop format but that was not the majority scenario. Unfortunately what I see in today’s world is that while the latest “rockstars” try to make a case for the “new generation” giving back they rarely do so without a price tag attached. “Giving back” is not just offering high cost workshops and DVDs for sale. Hell, I hang out on some photographic forums doing my best to help others. I NEVER see these rockstars who try so hard to “give back” posting there at all. Maybe they are just too busy? ;) Perhaps, but they always seem to find the time to pimp repeatedly on Twitter and Facebook about their new DVDs or workshop. The wedding photographers that want to learn need to learn how to qualify their potential instructors. Do so by not believing their “buzz” but by actually asking them how many weddings have they shot in the last few years or other pertinent qualifying details. Once you have a better idea what their experience is then you can make a learned decision whether to pay for their marketing information. Learn from photographers that have walked the walk and not just talked the talk!

yomomma - March 26, 2010 - 6:44 pm

I’d love to hear how a person can hire DJ as their wedding photographer ($10,000) then decide to become a photographer & plead poverty & say they can’t even afford a 50 f1.8 lens. Those 2 things don’t jive.

Then the “ghetto marketing” solution to not being able to market yourself is an expensive all in one package being pimped by your buddy.

I was there at this talk & couldn’t get past it. Trust me, I wasn’t the only one.

I’m not even a “grumpy” (I was there at her talk because I sincerely wanted to know how her business got built so quickly with average photos).

#WorsttalkatWPPI

Cat - March 26, 2010 - 6:58 pm

@ Stephen I am really sorry, but you talk about how great it is to ( let me quote you) “…You DON’T need to pay big bucks for a workshop UNLESS it works for YOU and if it’s what you really need. I have never paid for a single workshop since the one I did years ago at DJ’s. I found everything I needed to learn from mentors, business college classes, PUGs & shooting groups. It worked for me and best thing of all.. most of them are all free….”

Yet you, yourself, offer these type of workshops:

http://www.stephenknuth.com/#/for-photographers/

I don’t want for you to think that I am attacking you, but IMO unless you have been in business for more than 5 years(actually shooting), and or you have an extremely successful business you don’t have the sufficient experience or knowledge to pass it to your “students”… IMHO

Rick Rosen - March 26, 2010 - 6:59 pm

This new phrase “Grumpies” really offends me. To my knowledge it was originated by Dane Saunders and/or David Jay. As I understand it, it is intended to discredit the older, established wedding photographers who are beginning to be outspoken about the state of our profession. It is also, on a more subliminal level perhaps, designed to draw the new photographers to them by suggesting that the older, established photographers are not going to be welcoming and helpful. “Stick with us because we love you!” is their mantra, always with their hands out reaching for your credit card. Some take it a step farther in their effort to discredit. One major rockstar in my area likes to tell the story of the time, 7 or 8 years ago, when he came to a PPA affiliate meeting and the older photographers were outright hostile and unwelcoming of any newcomer. Well, I was at that meeting and remember the details. The guy walked in like his poop did not stink and anyone who engaged him in conversation was quickly inundated by his diatribe about how incredibly talented he was and how he was such a hot new shooter. Soon he turned everyone off and they began to ignore him. Today the guy is actually a pretty nice guy but I think he has matured quite a bit since his early years in photography. I just wish that he’d stop trying to paint the older, experienced photographers in such a negative light.

Jim Collins - March 26, 2010 - 7:21 pm

For the record …

Loving the dialogue here and listening. Because of Pictage’s place in the world it is sometimes possible for us to create the rockstar personalities through our own community functions. This is something we’ve been putting a lot of thought into recently and our philosophy is changing. We’re much more interested in putting people out there who you’ve said you want to hear from.

I don’t think David was trying to have me call you out Mark. He probably knows me well enough that he knows that wouldn’t be received well anyway. (I tend to like to make up my own mind about things!) To be sure, David has built a thriving business in Showit! and I have a lot of respect for that. But if you WERE a pug leader and you’d called him out on something that wouldn’t impact your status one way or another.

With all of this said, I’ve noticed a trend, and gotten a lot of emails, from photographers who have grown tired of this industry’s trend toward the promotion of overnight superstars. Perhaps the proverbial pendulum swings… Time will tell. In the meantime know that I’m stopping by and reading and thinking…

Onward!

Rick Rosen - March 26, 2010 - 7:29 pm

Thanks Jim for your thoughts. Great to see you contribute!

Leeann - March 26, 2010 - 7:35 pm

I’m new. Some days I think I’m awesome. Other days I think I completely suck. But I’m here, and I guess everyone has a voice. I’ll share an email I wrote recently:

“I’m a new photographer. I just started last year. Sometimes I feel like I’m really criticized for being new and not knowing about the art and time needed as much as the seasoned photographers. At the same time, I am working non-stop to get my business running, since it is truly what I want to do.

At one point I wanted to start a cupcake bakery. It was a great idea for a day. At one point I wanted to be a professional organizer. It was a great idea for a day. At one point I wanted to be a wedding photographer. And.. the desire grew… and then it grew more… and then I started learning… and then I started reading more… and shooting more… and then I attended a workshop.

And then my money was taken, as I didn’t have anything (save some new amazing friends) to show for my investment. Actually – I got mad. That’s what I had to show for it – a little bit of anger and resentment. Boy, I sound awesome to hang out with. And now I’m really frustrated with a lot of the industry, since I feel like I was totally duped. Luckily, I’m smarter now, and thanks to people like (all of) you am really coming to my senses. I know a lot of other young photographers will fail because they’ll never find that. Hell, I might fail too, but I’m doing everything in my power not to. And since I feel like I was robbed, I wanted to congratulate (all of) you for having the guts to step forward and say something.

The person that held the workshop didn’t plan on sending out a feedback survey – until I requested that it be done because I had something to say!! I feel like that’s exactly what’s happening. “Rock Stars” love us until immediately after we’ve boarded our flight home – and then their ears go deaf to any criticism and everyone who attended either gets mad or continues to kiss their behind! And the majority of attendees? They do the latter, which is a shame.

So, I guess all in all, I kind of just rambled an entire email to you, so thanks if you made it this far. I am not an amazing photographer. Right now I’m just a girl with a camera who is trying to keep a business going for more than a year. I hope one day that I can say that I am both, but being young it’s hard. And now, I feel like I started in a community built on trust and relationships, but came to realize that it’s mostly just smoke and mirrors – at least with anything of “high attention” and an “amazing logo” and “software”.”

That’s all I have to say. I’ll accept criticism for it. I don’t know.

But at least I’m willing to say “I don’t know”

Now give me $100 ;) *totally kidding*

Stephen Knuth - March 26, 2010 - 7:49 pm

@Cat- Your entitled to your opinion but it will not affect what I teach or how I teach OR how many of the other amazing leaders of this industry teach others.

Rick Rosen - March 26, 2010 - 7:59 pm

Hi Leeann, I admire your candor and your drive. If I can be of assistance in helping you advance your photographic art and business please feel free to email me at rick@rickrosen.com. The same offer holds true for anyone else.

Kevin Wynn - March 26, 2010 - 8:45 pm

When someone spends more time promoting themselves than actually producing photography, then their first job is as a promoter not a photographer. Newbies should keep that in mind when they choose which workshop to take. I was privileged to take 2 great workshops at WPPI from leaders with over 50 years of experience. They weren’t grumpies but humble, genuine and open.

Kenzie Shores - March 26, 2010 - 9:03 pm

I’ve been waiting for something like this to happen! Thank you! I started out in photography about 5 years ago and decided to do something about my passion in January 2006 when I finally attended school for it knowing that you can’t start a business without having some knowledge of your equipment or having a little background information on the field one is getting into. I don’t remember there being a lot of these “rock star” photographers around when I started out, in fact a few of them started out after me. But I’ve had the opportunity to learn under a few amazing photographers in my first few years. Then I started to notice that people were charging for this(I’m not saying this is entirely bad)…I’m pretty young, but I feel that doing things the “old school” way is always best. Every year we get a few “newbie” photographers that ask to shadow us at weddings just to get a feel for the industry and we gladly allow them to come along. I’m happy to share any knowledge I can from my experiences, but I no where feel that I’m as great as some of my inspirations (patrick demarchelier, annie leibovitz) one day, one day. ;) I’m glad this “movement” is in place, lets get some substance back in our industry! :)

Chris Cummins - March 26, 2010 - 9:39 pm

This industry is very, very strange.

I don’t know any other industry where there has been such a disregard to the actual experience, qualifications and education of the individuals of the people promoting themselves as experts and educators.

Everyone in this industry needs to be very, very selective who you choose to allow the honor of educating you. We are what we eat.

Photography, especially wedding photography, is a true skill.

Jim Minics - March 26, 2010 - 9:41 pm

Okay, first I love most of what is going on here. I love that people have a place to voice their opinions, so here is mine. Right or wrong, it’s just my opinion. Now that the disclaimer is in place I will proceed.

I have met several of the people who are so called “Rock Star” photographers, honestly, their work has never impressed me, their charisma and marketing ability have really impressed me. It’s what they say in marketing, create a need and then fill it. Do I think some of them should be teaching workshops, even for free, no I don’t. BUT I will say there is a market for these workshops, just because I wouldn’t attend does not mean it’s not good for everyone. But be realistic about what you are teaching and to what level of photographer you are teaching to.

Stephen, I don’t know you, I honestly have never seen your work and I will not tell you that you suck or are great because I don’t know. I will say I disagree with a lot that you say but I am open to hear your voice. I have met your mentor on several occasions, he’s very nice in person but I personally felt as though he was more of a salesman than a photographer or mentor. Just my opinion so I’m sure we will not see eye to eye. But why I bring you up is this, you’ve been doing this for three years, you are new to the industry, embrace it. This doesn’t mean stop teaching, it means you have so much more to learn. Look back at this moment 10 years from now and realize how much more you know and see if you still feel the same way. Just a thought, I’m not bashing you, I’m just saying things change with the time you spend in this industry including the way you feel about them.

And some of the AMAZING leaders in this industry right now are what I would call salesmen. They preach about things that can be read in books but have never really put them into practice. That is why several of us are calling for the “Truth”. I really like what Kenzie said, “lets get some substance back in our industry!” that is all I want, substance, not snake oil salesmen standing on their soap box promising the world.

Chris Cummins - March 26, 2010 - 9:46 pm

And if it is community you need, there’s always been one for photographers that is full of tremendously qualified, experienced and giving individuals:

http://www.ppa.com

Dawn - March 26, 2010 - 10:09 pm

Oh my goodness. I think you (and many of the comments here) have said what I have thought for a very long time. Well done.

Marc Weisberg - March 26, 2010 - 11:04 pm

I came here by way of a Tweet from my friend Greg Bumatay. And, I must say, what a refreshing, civilized and cogent dialogue. A few observations:

Rick Rosen: Gotta say I’m not sure where you get your statistics from {and I do want to know, because they really interest me}. I think you are spot on in your first post in this discussion re: the economic impact and how it has affected the wedding photography playing field.

Rachel LaCour: I follow your twitter stream and have read some articales either from your blog or in print and have followed the growth of ShootQ. You are the real deal and I am constantly inspired by your integrity and dedication.

Leann: Please feel free to contact me if I can be of any assistance or help answer your questions on photography, lighting, marketing, buying a great bottle of wine….what ever. You can find me at http://www.marcweisberg.com. I’ve been very fortunate in choosing my workshops with long established photographers such as: Ken Sklute, Joseph and Louise Simone and Hanson Fong and attending WPPI multiple times. I learned allot and all these workshops changed my life, the way I look at light, the way I see and of course impacted my photography in a huge way. Actually life changing. So, I totally sympathize with you and would be enraged if the same happened to me.

Jim Collins: I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting you yet. I’ve been with Pictage for many years. Pictage has made it easy for me to run my business and allows me much freedom. It’s also very comforting to know all my client’s work is backed up off site. I really like that Pictage is looking at the possibility of implementing a new trend instead of promoting overnight “rockstars.” Just so I don’t open a can of whoop *ss on my self. I need to say this. New blood is important. Marketing is very important. Crafting the image is very important. New blood often has innovative marketing ideas that some more senior (in experience years) photographers may not be up on or have thought of. Possibly because they are out of touch with a certain generation? That being said I think it is very important to look at the total picture here. I think that in being a professional photographer one never stops learning. When I used to practice Karate, we would say that “perfect practice” makes us better. There are so many facets of photography: composition, lighting {and light shaping}, lens choice, gesture, expression, mood, posing, connection with your subject, photojournalism, style, post production, output….the list goes on. There is no way anyone short of being a savant could assimilate all this photographic prowess in two or three years. Let alone, client services, product development, and the development of sustainable and scalable business systems.

IMHO: True, you may be very good at what you do after three years. However, for those that have been in business for ten plus years or even twenty or thirty years, three years is certainly new and still learning.

I applaud you all for keeping an open dialogue on True Photo Talk. I’ve been on some forums that were down right cruel. It is truly refreshing that there is a civilized place to share ideas and differing points of view.

Jen - March 26, 2010 - 11:07 pm

Hey Stephen, I was kind of fighting for both arguments. I was basically saying if you felt it would better your business or photography then you would have to make that decision for yourself but that you don’t have to look to a “rock star” and spend a ton of money for help on improving your business or work. I think if someone steps back from the hype of these “rock stars” and makes sure they can make a clear decision about what is best for them then they can’t go wrong.

I also have to second what Leeann said. I’ve wanted to go to one of these workshops to “better my business” or “better my photography” but I stepped back and realized that I’d pay a lot of money, my work would probably just end up looking more like their work, and in the end I would have nothing to show for it except maybe some photos from a shoot or two which wouldn’t guarantee me any business or bookings. In the end, I decided not to go that route and to look for inspiration elsewhere.

Caroline Ghetes - March 26, 2010 - 11:09 pm

When I had started second shooting about 7 or so years ago, never in my wildest dreams did I think I would eventually be doing this full-time, and to be able to support my family doing what I love. NEVER. But then 3 years ago, with the support of my husband, I said -why not? My whole life I never received support for anything I had wanted to do, and for the first time ever I had someone (my husband) just let me do it. No guilt, just support. That meant the world to me.

I never wanted to see how fast I could become popular. NEVER. At the time, I had seen a lot of “rockstar photographers’” work and I always wondered, based on their portfolios, why they were hyped up so much. I never spent a dime on any workshop. I just did what I wanted to do and hoped that people liked it. When I got a client, I made sure they received not only the best possible pictures that I could give them, but also the best possible client service. After all, like you said -it’s not about us, it’s about the client. I also strongly believe in making the time for personal work as well. I never see these “rockstar photographers” showcase personal work. It seems these days, “personal work” is setting up a fake wedding reception and taking a bunch of fake detail shots with a few shots of the fake bride & groom and then let’s submit it to wedding blogs everywhere, right?

Anyway, I REALLY hate bashing on people, because I’m sure I may have been guilty of some things in the past, however that is not who I think I am nor do I want to be.

I had decided to attend WPPI this year for two reasons. Put some faces to some of the photographers I’d been keeping in touch with via emails AND hopefully learn a thing or two that I might not already know. MANY of the “classes” were uber-disappointing to say the least. Some, I walked out with literally no notes or any info I could really apply to my business. I will say that it was all worth it when I attended Jonathan Canlas’ class. That guy is a REAL photographer and carries a huge heart and a very giving spirit. This “industry” needs more people like him. ANyone agree with me?

Lastly, I have been asked by people “why don’t you do a workshop? do a workshop!” I mean -seriously?? I feel like I am just now barely getting noticed and people feel I should already be teaching. For the record, I do not plan on teaching ANY workshops ANY time soon. I need to have a system in place in order to teach someone, and I feel like maybe teaching to a group of 30 photographers is just not my thing. I prefer one on one. Apprenticeship, maybe? I don’t know what do you all think?

(sorry about the length. I get so lonely after my hubby and kids are in bed and all I have are my pictures to edit, LOL)

Zak Schwank - March 26, 2010 - 11:10 pm

Loving the dialogue here! Definitely bookmarked and will spread the word!

Caroline Ghetes - March 26, 2010 - 11:14 pm

BTW, Carlos, I have admired your work and based on your blog, your family values. I really do think the world of you and I can appreciate someone who just says it like it is and does not care whether or not people will like it. Kudos to you.

Troy - March 27, 2010 - 12:31 am

2009 was my first time attending WPPI and I have to be honest and say that a 10 minute conversation that my friend and I had with Carlos impacted me almost more then anything else I had heard. He gave us practical financial advice on transitioning from a 9 to 5 to full time photography business.

With that being said, I am in agreement that our industry is missing some substance. We have to stop and realize that most of the popular or “ROCK STAR” photographers are only popular and Rock Stars to other photographers. Our clients really don’t care about that to be honest. I have yet had one person that hired me based on my personality alone. It is always about the photography in the end. Yes your brand and marketing can get them in the door, but they are ultimately sold on your photography. I don’t think any one of us want to have a great personality but deliver sub par work.

There are so many tools in the industry that have made photography all about speed and quick turnarounds. I think before we heavily use actions, we should almost know how to create that same affect manually in Photoshop. And beyond that, our images really need to be good out of the camera. We rely on photoshop a bit to much IMO.

I cannot say that I have not gotten any good advice or information from other pros in the industry because I have truly. But we have to be our own people. WHAT WORKS IN ONE MARKET (MARKETING ETC) MAY NOT WORK IN ALL MARKETS.

I am sure that this site will get a lot of negative feedback and that’s good. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. We are sort of stuck in the belief that if you want to be a leader you need to be saying the same thing as the “other” leaders. And if you don’t, you get talked about or blackballed. Not all leaders are going in the same directions. Let’s all commit to being great business people and incredible photographers. People that do come to us for help or information, let’s be honest and realistic with them.

Caroline Anne - March 27, 2010 - 2:51 am

It’s true, I wouldn’t have the balls to say what you did Carlos- I agree with everything you have said. Kudos.

Jay Lawrence Goldman - March 27, 2010 - 3:14 am

Holy Crap! Reading those last 42 comments was amazingly fun. I have made it a point to stay off the forums and blogs lately and stay focused on my business and craft, but this place is going to be a hoot to visit.
So glad to see comments on here from people that I know, respect and admire.

Carlos: When you called me about a month ago, and told me you were launching this, I had no idea that it would strike such a cord in the industry. Bravo my friend.
Just don’t let this take over your life.
Rick Rosen: Great comments from a photographer with many years of experience.
Jim Collins: I so appreciate your commitment and honesty.
Rachel LaCour: You are a class act,’nuff said.
Mark Weisberg: You are a true professional. Peeps, this is a dude you should follow.
Mark Andrew Higgins: Keep up the good work, I grew up in Rhode Island.
J.Sandifer: I miss you.

OK, enough with the ass kissing and ball cupping.

Stephen Knuth: You seem like a nice guy. You are taking a lot hits on here. Right now you are an easy target. Hang in there, it’s a good way to build character. OK, here come my jabs.

I know Scarlett, she is a lovely girl and a pretty good photographer. I am happy for the two of you. Young love is so very innocent. It’s also a great career move, she has like 2000 more friends than you on facebook (no offense intended). Let’s keep the twitter mush on the low down though, I may have to stop following Scarlett, I keep throwing up in my mouth when I read her tweets.

Stephen, you have been shooting for 3 years. You ARE a “newbie.” It has been said that it take 10,000 hours to master a craft. Seriously, how many weddings have you shot on your own. You were lucky to have had Sara France as a mentor. She is a brilliant photographer/business person. She could give more workshops, but she is too busy actually shooting jobs
You have positioned yourself well and surrounded yourself with the right people for a career in photography, but not necessarily as a working photographer. Choose your path wisely grasshopper.
I have perused your work. You have a lot more to learn. Your actual photography is very average, somewhere in the middle, and we know what DJ says about the middle. I have confidence that you will ascend to the Rock Star status that you strive for,however,I do think it is a little bit early in your career to be charging other photographers $150 to have a cup of coffee with you, or $900 to spend the day with you.
Scarlett can do it because hot.
I think Becker waited at least 5 years until he started making people buy him his lunch.
May the Force be with you.

Photo Truth Be Told: As far as venting goes-
This is a great place for Newbies, Grumpies, Guppies, Brownies and Panties to Unite, I mean Ignite, I mean…oh WTF, you guys know what I mean.

Peace Out.

jcogliandro - March 27, 2010 - 5:13 am

loving this forum. Educated dialogue. I am a newbie.(four years in business)

Carlos thx for getting this started.

Jim – thx for taking the time to not only read but chime in and be active in your capacity as a leader in this industry. Much appreciated as much of my print money goes into the Pictage vault.

I am just now starting to follow what is going on outside of my own little world and found the whole WPPI celebrity world very disturbing. Happy to see that others feel the same way.

That said I do believe that it is not the sole fault of the people who are doing the selling of the ideas. As any good capitalist in a free market they saw a BLUE OCEAN in our industry and capitalized on it. Maybe out of need, like many of you said, as the pickings are slim in Southern California with so many photographers in such a concentrated area but it is natural for someone who sees ahead of the game to take a place and make the most of a situation, and it is obvious there was a gap in education since the people this blog are talking about filled it. David Jay and many others saw the potential and struck quickly. So you can only respect that he and others were able to do so and change the face of the industry in the direction that favored their businesses and the way they wanted it to go. in contrast it has affected many people negatively.

Whatever may be said of the way in which it was done I can say that I am thankful for the knowledge that was spread as a direct or indirect result (coming from a newbie). We jumped right into our market in Houston because of the knowledge gained from many of these people being disregarded and have been able to grow both as artists and as a business as a result.

I would like to know what the goals are with this blog? For those who do not like the direction this industry is going… what direction would you like to see it go? Is there a vision for it? Is there a place for what you want? just curious.

PS I do not own a showit site.

Cat - March 27, 2010 - 7:46 am

I am very glad to see so many people talk about this very touchy subject, and I want to apologize if at some point my coments seamed a bit harsh. It was not my intention to attack anyone specifically. That being said, I have to give credit to the same people whom I was previously refering to. They are marketing geniouses, they took a simpple idea and ran with it, it kinda took everyone by surprise.

@jcogliandro, I am like you… I have been in business for a short period of time, but I have a deep love for photography (I guess this makes me a newbie and a grumpy… is this even possible?). I believe that people, and I include myself in this group, are tired of the sugar coating and the pretty packaging. I believe, and I want, to see people with substance. I want to hear the truth, I want honesty.

IMO, I think that our industry has been unregulated for way too long, and with any other industry that has had this issue in the past, it is crumbling in.

I do believe that there are some amazing photographers with something to say,and I want to listen. I want to learn from them.

I also believe that there are many photographers that want to, honestly, help other photographers, and that have developed a product that will help others to achieve success (what ever success is of each one of us) with out having to attach their names as a selling point. Rachel Lacour, I think you are amazing and you have been able to do what I just mentioned.

I want REAL knowledge and REAL people!

Carlos Baez - March 27, 2010 - 10:10 am

Now that many have taken their frustrations out and have given their honest opinions, let’s try keep it civil. I, as many others, appreciate the words by many top professionals who have come on here to share. This blog will go in the direction of the ART of photography that should stay prominent in our industry.

Rachel is the perfect example of being able to run a successful photography business, with a great eye for art and photojournalism, and also have a business that helps photographers with ShootQ.

I don’t see anything wrong in someone selling something that has a value to help those in our industry, as long as there is something of substance behind it.
I have been shooting for over 25 years, I have taken workshops from industry leaders, not in weddings but in fine art. What has been going on in the wedding industry is that if you have a camera, and have taken a workshop, then you can give one, NOT.
Too many are falling prey to opportunistic people, with no recourse. For those who feel they have have been taken, what can they do? Yes, they can come on here and and other social media sites and give their honest opinions, but many are afraid to give their opinions, fearing a backlash from those so called “stars” supporters. It’s truly sad that we can’t speak up, but I think just in this post alone, many have changed their minds.

I was taught by and assisted many greats in the photography industry, mostly outside of weddings. I learned to pay my dues. Today it’s not about paying your dues, but paying a price for a workshop, that IMHO, will not make up for YEARS of experience.
There is no quick fix or way to the top, but if some have done so, they will see, it’s just as quick on the way down, when you have no experience or substance to back it up.

People want value and honesty. That’s the way I was taught.

We will be posting some really cool things on this blog in the months to come. Great interviews, great photographers, great ideas.

It’s not about bashing, it’s about learning, the TRUTH.

Alex Rodriguez - March 27, 2010 - 10:17 am

wow, just came across this on twitter.

I think Rachel said it best.

“I’m hoping there are bridge-builders who will forge a path to the truth via reconciliation and mutual respect. Together, we succeed.”

Jason Aten - March 27, 2010 - 10:19 am

There’s clearly an undercurrent in the industry right now, and I commend Carlos for having the integrity to stand behind what he believes. The same can’t be said for everyone right now. I honestly think that if you have something to say about our industry, then you should be willing to put your name on it.

And I’ve noticed many of the anonymous individuals on twitter saying things like “if I get to 2K twitter followers, I have a big story,” and crap like that. How is that any better? How is that not just about self-promotion?

I think that the industry will go where it’s leaders take it. If you’re not happy with the direction, be a leader. Trashing others who are leaders (and whatever you think of them, however they got there – they are leaders) isn’t really productive. You aren’t “helping anyone.”

At the same time – if you are a leader, then think long and hard about your motivation. Think long and hard about what you bring to this industry. The reality is – the market will ALWAYS sort it self out – and if all you bring is fluff, it won’t be long before the market realizes that your sh!$ stinks just like everyone else’s.

I will say this – it’s okay that it stinks – just don’t pretend it doesn’t. I wrote a post yesterday that apparently struck a nerve because over 1,200 people read it. The point was about whether or not you’re seeking approval from the right people – for the right reasons.

Often I think that the impression, at least, is that many photographers are only after the approval of other photographers. There’s no question that we all struggle with this – I know I do. And then I remember that I do what I do so that I can care for my family. I do what I do so I can provide something of value (the memory of their wedding) to my clients.

It’s encouraging to see comments from people I very much respect: J, Rachel, JLG, Jim C, Carlos. I think it will be healthy for our industry to bring back a bit of levity.

David Simm - March 27, 2010 - 11:03 am

What you’re trying to say is “Professor for a day – speak with forked tongue” Sadly this has been known for years, but there are a handful of good speakers on the circuit you just have to learn how to cut the bovine excreta from the fertilizer.

Christie - March 27, 2010 - 11:45 am

on another note related to @stephenknuth… frankly – he’s riding scarlett’s coat tails. no one knew who this kid was until he started dating her. his imagery is ok. but i’d never pay to hear someone talk who is still immature at best. belief in God and your faith is one thing. which is highly commendable. but professional growth is another.

sorry stephen. i would have voted for any other photographer for photographer of the year besides you. you have a LONG way to go before you are to the level of most of the others listed.

jcogliandro - March 27, 2010 - 1:51 pm

But come on people. I agree about truth and honesty but realistically we live in a post modern culture where truth and honesty is subjective (not that I agree with this). So how can you claim a truth about something just because you have been around for 25 years (not disregarding the wisdom of the business sense and the actual knowledge of what you know) but things change and like it or not this industry has changed. there is no going back but we can move forward and shift the direction.

To be honest I am glad that the young and new have stepped up into the leadership in many areas as they have brought a fresh face to the industry and in many ways made this job fun. If I had gone to a photography conference 15 years ago I am not sure I would have enjoyed the culture as much. in fact I did not want to be part of this industry ten years ago. But now I love it. I love the edge and the constant change. Like it or not it will continue to change fast and those who are willing to move it will move it in the direction they see fit. Many will complain that they do not like what is happening but in the end they will do nothing and the industry will sweep by them.

In the four years I have been a part of it is has moved at lighting pace and I in my 30s have struggled to keep up, but If I want to stay busy working I must.

The proclaimed self promoters are both photographer and business men and women. how can you dislike them for using the direction of the industry to make a profit? Do we all not desire to make a profit and if given a choice would we not want to be the ones in their position (whether or not we would take it in the direction they have is another argument) using our influence to make money for ourselves while trying to be something for the industry. Why can’t they make money from those seeking to learn and be apart of the industry. if there is demand for it (which there is) they are going to fill it. More importantly unless you know these people intimately how you know their motives? (not saying you all don’t). Please know that I am not defending the celebrity-ism of the above… but many people included in this argument have been seen self promoting their own agenda in one shape or form, just check twitter over the last few months. (maybe not in the large way someone like DJ has) but kudos to him for taking it to the next level for himself.
don’t like it move in and challenge it.

Just don’t attack someone’s character to do it. regardless of their motive you tell us more about yourself than anything by attacking the character of someone on such a subjective topic.

This is a business and art for many of us.

just some thoughts

Jen - March 27, 2010 - 2:30 pm

One thing I learned when I was 18 (relating to trying to move up in a company) is that you have to toot your own horn and promote yourself when you want something (like a promotion). No one is going to do it for you. The difference here is that they should be tooting their horns and promoting themselves to their clients (of course in a way that isn’t cocky or over confident) and it I can’t stand it when I see some of these “rock stars” trying to be humble and then they turn around and say or do something really cocky, like David Jay putting his face on a tour bus with Jasmine Star. It’s one thing to promote your product and why people should buy it but it’s another to make sure your face is seen with it.

Rick Rosen - March 27, 2010 - 2:33 pm

I wan to thank everyone for keeping this important discussion civil and on topic.

I have been a professional photographer for a very long time. Consequently I have the awareness of our profession to use as a measuring stick. Historically, we all had to learn and turned to recognized professionals for their knowledge. While most of my career has not been in wedding photography, the part (20 years) that has was not taught to me in school. Until recently you could not take wedding photography courses in school. Brooks is just now adding an adjunct on wedding photography to their curriculum. Consequently, myself and everyone else had to learn from wedding pros on the circuit. In the past, the dark ages before digital, those seminars were presented by established professionals with at least 10 to 20 years of experience behind them. We respected them as established professionals and wanted to learn from them because of their experience and for the most part we were rewarded with valuable information. That information helped me and thousands of others build a wedding photography business from scratch.

Fast forward to the digital age. I am puzzled by the mindset of so many new photographers who seem to think that after a few years of shooting they are ready to give their own workshops. WTF? Is it pure ego? Arrogance? Is it a generational issue with that generation? Is it because there are so many thousands of even less experienced photographers who are willing to blindly and without logical evaluation throw their money at these guys? And I may step on some toes with this statement but is it a Christian thing? I notice that many of the rockstars and aspiring rockstars are quick to plug Jesus into their message. The bottom line is that it is very easy to fool a lot of the people a lot of the time when they know less than you and you also toss religion into your message.

Is our profession hurt by this new model? I think we all know the answer to that but I’ll give you one example. I met and got into a conversation at the PP of CA convention with a new photographer eager to build her business. As we talked I asked her for a business card, She dropped her head in shame and confessed that she did not have one. She then confessed that she was very frustrated trying to figure out her “brand” and until she got her colors and her look figured out she could not create her business cards or really get serious about her business. I then asked her what kind of photography she loved ans she said children and family portraiture. She went on to proudly say that she has already photographed a number of families kin her church who loved her work and she had others asking for her services. But she was putting them off because until she figured out her branding she could not move forward! She had obviously been to a few workshops where branding was the topic and drank the Kool Aid that was being passed around.

Here was a photographer that already had excellent work and new clients contacting her but was stuck in neutral because some rockstar had filled her head with crap about how important her branding and colors were. I told her that her “brand” was herself and her work and that she already had an established customer base with her church group and she needed nothing more to move forward. Obviously she had the talent and technical skills to create satisfactory images.

That is just one example of how these rockstars are hurting our profession.

Clark - March 27, 2010 - 2:40 pm

WOW! So everyone on here as some great points. I have been a photographer for 10 years but I have only been good for 4. There are 100s of photographers better than me and 100s that I better than. I love the industry as a whole. I have learned a lot at workshops but most of what I learned was talking to and working with local photographers. I think workshops are great for some people but the industry has made them a get to know the ROCKSTAR as opposed to actually learning any fundamentals of photography. The key is to make the business work for you, become your own person do not try to copy the workshop photographer. I am excited to see what else this forum brings to the table.

Kelly Segré - March 27, 2010 - 2:42 pm

I believe all this needed to be said out loud. Those of you who know me personally, know what I think of so called photographers who sell themselves as successful photographers to pad their pockets. In my eyes the real photographers are the ones who have worked hard over the years to perfect their craft regardless of what anyone thinks of them. From this point on I refuse to put anymore energy into photographer’s I don’t believe in. Right now it seems as if most photographers have a passion to see who can have the most followers whether it be through twitter, facebook, or other forums. Honestly I don’t have a care in the world about the amount of followers I have…. I just want to be inspired by photographers who have a true passion for their craft and try my best to inspire others to see what a great medium photography really is.

Now that truephototalk has everyone’s attention I would love it if “photographer’s” would stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and start putting their energy towards learning how to be true to themselves, whether it be an artist, business person, or both! And ask yourself….what photographer inspires you and WHY?

Chris Cummins - March 27, 2010 - 3:36 pm

We have something to learn from everyone but some have more to teach than most others.

If I wanted to lose weight I wouldn’t take advice from someone who is overweight.

If I wanted to quit smoking, I wouldn’t take advice from people who haven’t been able to quit.

If I want to have a successful marriage, I only take advice from people who have been married several decades.

I want to be in this business 20 years from now therefore I really need to take advice from people who have been successful photographers for 20 years or more.

Monica Reid - March 27, 2010 - 3:44 pm

Kudos to everyone for using real names and speaking from their hearts!

I’m a “newbie” about 2 years (3 years if you count all the practice on my kids and my friends kids ;) ) in of shooting seriously and only a couple months of doing it full time so I know I have tons to learn and my goal is to improve each session.

I never did any workshops but I read EVERY book that amazon has to offer you should see my ‘library’ and I practiced EVERY day on still objects and moving, etc.. I often WISHED I could have time to do a workshop now i’m SO glad I didn’t.

This year was my first year @ WPPI so not sure how it compares to other years what kills me is all the new people and their obsession with the ‘rockstars’ of photography. Lately it seems everyone is obsessed with OR talking badly about certain photographers.
ie Becker, Jessica Claire, David Jay, etc…

I’m not saying all these people are bad in fact, when
I did see Jessica Claire at the Shootsac booth (I love my shootsac and no I don’t work for them ;) ) and I must say she was VERY nice and seemed very interested in what I had to say.
I also think her photography is great so I see why she has a huge following, I follow her blog and love it.

Never met Becker nor Jasmine but I do think Jasmine has a great writing style and I do love to read her blog. She seems real, of course I don’t know her so couldn’t say for sure.

As far as David Jay, I think he’s a marketing genius and I don’t see how that hurts anyone unless you buy something he’s promoting and hate it…but really you should do your own research and not press buy because a ‘rockstar’ says it’s great.
He seems very positive and I LOVE how he started photographers unite.

I did see a few ‘rockstars’ that seemed like they ‘deserved’ better treatment at wppi ie not waiting in line but somehow getting in first, and stuff like that and NO it was none of the above names mentioned but don’t ask me who either I not here to call out by names.

I can only comment on MY experience with photographers and the 2 workshops that I did in Vegas/wppi.

First of all they should have been called SHOOTOUTS NOT workshops just to clarify what I mean workshops are for learning right?!

I did Stephen Knuths he was a very nice guy and right before Vegas I got laid off day job so he sent me a twitter DM that he really wanted me and B to come to his workshop and if we wanted we could come for free. I was in shock how nice he was, but I told him no that I had to pay at least for one of us ( My hubby is my partner) I had all intentions to pay for both but ended up only paying for one. I had no clue he was as young and as new as he is but i’m sure he’ll go far with his drive.
He’s a very nice person and i’m sure will be an amazing photographer if he continues this business.
The ONLY thing I would suggest is IF he had another paid event call it a SHOOT-out, not workshop, but really who wants to pay for a shootout and fighting over the models.
All in All I will stand up for Stephen call him Honest and I truly believe he has the BEST of intentions. I think he’s real and I don’t think he’s out to scam anyone but I think he needs to learn how to do it the right way. Since he is so new in MY honest opinion if he feels like he can/should teach do it for free until he’s established.

OK on to 2nd Workshop AKA another shootOUT this one held by Scarlett Lillian. This was to be held in the Red Rock Canyon with a bride and groom.
I didn’t go thinking I was going to learn I went thinking I can get AMAZING photos of a bride/groom in the Red Rock Canyon. I figured for 214 after fees a piece so 450 for Brent and I to get some great shots AND see the Red Rock Canyon it was worth the money.
Again not sure why called a workshop when it’s a shootout.
I think it should have been free or everyone shooting could have split the bus cost considering the awesome models voluntered and we didn’t even go in the Red Rock since the bus driver said you had to pay, hmmm I think we would have happily paid that what? extra 10 dollars to be IN the red rock canyon so I got some great shots of a gorgeous sweet couple in the desert where you can see some of the red rock canyon. Again kinda hard getting that shot when everyone is trying to get SAME shot. so lesson learned. I wasn’t too upset but had I paid for a whole day or week what some have paid I would have been REALLY upset.

So my advice to anyone wondering about a workshop is ask lots of questions, don’t assume that because they have a cult like following they are better than YOU or even know more than YOU. What do you expect to learn? Ask them if you will be able to learn that at their ‘workshop’ ask LOTS of questions, this is YOUR money. Also if they have held other shoots ask for emails of others past attendees to see HOW it really was get the INSIDE Story, etc.. unless you have money to blow and just want to be ‘best friends’ with someone for the day because you are PAYING them to then please RESEARCH! Study their work what do you think they can ‘teach’ you? Please just ask lots of questions before you fork over you hard earned money!

Also i’ve learned the REAL superstars are the ones who Pay IT Forward and give their advice without charging or making you pay to shoot with them.

Jcogliandro - March 27, 2010 - 4:43 pm

What many people are forgetting with this “you gotta put in your time mentality” is that the paradigm for Learning has changed.  What took years and years of learning with the oversight of someone with 20 years of exp. can be done in much less time and without anyone because of technology. 
I am not saying this is the best way… But that it just is. We live in a free market society and people can with very little effort make themselves a force with a fraction of the effort 10 years ago. And they do not need any ones permission to do so. 

I have never worked with another photographer (though acknowledge I have lots to learn).  And yet have been able to build ourselves into a successful studio in less than five years.  The climate of this wonderful industry has made that possible.   

liana - March 27, 2010 - 9:31 pm

Such an interesting post.

I believe Rick put everything quite nicely in his first post of what is actually going on in our industry right now.

I too am shocked that I may be categorized as a “grumpy” because
a) I’ve been in business for over 10 years, have a formal photography education,

b) I’m sick and of 500 emails asking me to help the 500 new photographers in my market (I’d surly go out of business if I helped everyone that asked!)

c) I teach the ugly truth about what it takes to run a photography business/pricing/managerial accounting and this probably comes off as being “grumpy” about it! And you know I’m okay with that. If that’s the only way I can share the TRUTH about running a small business, so be it.

The truth is most of these newbie photographers are jumping into the market because the work and industry appears glamorous to them. Most have no idea that they need 50,000k+ worth of assets and overhead to get started, nor that they need to make over 10k per month in sales to bring home an income that’s probably less than the day job they just quit.

Many will end up going back to their previous careers once they find out the truth and learned the hard way, often after they’ve dumped way too much money into a very expensive hobby, and gone deep into debt. The influx of photographers is bringing down the standards of the industry as a whole. I do not say this blindly. I had FOUR different individuals tell me that a particular five-star hotel in Atlanta does not have ANY presentable pictures from 2009 because the photography is THAT BAD. It’s a common complaint from venues these days.

I’m glad we have new talent in the market, I’m happy to help those that are serious in investing time to establish businesses based on strong financial foundations and not undercutting the market. It just gives me a good laugh when everyone I know lately is opening their own photo business!

Jen - March 27, 2010 - 11:48 pm

Liana,
I have to say I agree with most of what you said except your 50k start up costs comment. I suppose if you’re running a studio that could be true, however my office is in my home. I don’t do studio portrait work so I don’t need a studio, but if I totaled my start up costs it wouldn’t even come close to 50k.

Leeann - March 28, 2010 - 12:08 am

Amused, please put a name to a comment. It’s the only way that the conversation is legitimate and real.

And instead of pinpointing individuals and saying what you dislike about them specifically, can you name what you believe is wrong on a larger scale? I think you opinions in that arena would better benefit the greater conversation.

That’s my input for now – heading off to bed!

Jess - March 28, 2010 - 12:36 am

I am reading so much bashing about photographers, where is there so much negativity going on in this community? I do share some of the same feelings as those who have voiced them, in particular about charging a ton of money for any sort of teaching process. But, I feel that if the workshop and photographer help others learn something valuable to further their knowledge and business, then wasn’t it money well spent?

However
As a newer photographer, (I’ve been in business 4.5 years), I do feel like my understanding of what it meant to be a part of this industry was definiately on the wrong path. I thought I wouldn’t be “successful” until I was a name that other photographers in the industry knew- like Jessica Claire, Becker etc;…

What I have taken away from this particular post was that instead of thinking “success” was only success when I could have a workshop of my own and have people pay me to learn. But I TOTALLY agree with what was said, we should just pay it forward for free if or until we’v ebeen in business for 15+ years.

So, I commend those who have posted arugments, (however blatantly). That’s really helped to bring my focus back to thepoint it should be…perfecting MY style and art.

Kelly Segre - March 28, 2010 - 1:02 am

@ Amused…like everyone else I agree that you shouldn’t hide behind a fake name. Additionally this blog shouldn’t be about deciding on who is a bad photographer and bashing them. Have some respect, this should be a open discussion on what changes need to be made to our industry. If we truely want to make a change we need to education, not attack.

jcogliandro - March 28, 2010 - 1:38 am

What is all this teaching for free crap. Seriously people why should someone like Carlos who has been in this industry for 25 years who has loads and loads of stories, experience that he has paid for with his time and energy teach anything to anybody for free unless he so desires. You should be happy to give him your money if his imagery is what you desire yours to be. Why not? What is $500,600, or even 2000.00 in a workshop when you can use what you have learned and multiply it by 100. Let me see… Oh I am going to teach 200 new photographers (not that I do workshops) a year how to make money and great images so that I can saturate my market even more. NO. Now will I divulge information and teach at a cost, if it benefits my business, or if I am in a REAL relationship with you… of course. But why should I take time to have coffee with every photographer (or 500) like someone said above to give to someone whom I do not know what I have learned as a photographer for 15 years? seriously. No sorry I will choose to spend time with my family or people who have invested in me and are not just trying to leach off me.

Kevin Swan - March 28, 2010 - 2:30 am

Interesting stuff. Apart for the cowards who are posting without their names, I’m impressed with the sincerity of the posts.

Something that did come to mind as I read, though, was CS Lewis’s comment on pride:

“I pointed out a moment ago that the more pride one had, the more one disliked pride in others. In fact, if you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, ‘How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronise me, or show off?’ The point is that each person’s pride is in competition with every one else’s pride.”

There seems to be a lot of disdain for those in our industry who are teaching classes without having the “chops.” Like JCOGLIANDRO pointed out–who gets to decide when someone’s ready? In a post-modern culture, and worse, in an artistic field, where most things are subjective, it’s a slippery slope to start unleashing criticism.

Is 10 years enough? Is 20? Is it the amount of money they made? Is it the happiness of their clients? Is it their own satisfaction? Is it memberships in organizations? Is it awards for prints and photos? Is it a certain number of friends on FB?

This industry is no different than others in many ways; people define success this way or that, there’s winners and losers, there’s humble servants and egotistical abusers. This industry is made up of people, and as such, it’s broken. None of us are perfect, and the ones who get up and lead–for whatever reason, and at whatever level of qualification–end up being watched, criticized, demonized, worshiped, and all other manner of distortion.

They are all flawed, but they are not all charlatans. Some of them genuinely want to help people, and despite the fact that they may not have the photography or business skills that many of you have, they are succeeding in that goal in one form or another.

So does it matter, really? Do we need to tell everyone who is unqualified, or can we let the market make those decisions? Can we lay down our pride and let people do their thing? This industry needs more leaders, not more criticizers; and if you aren’t satisfied with the leadership that we have, then join or help them. You know the saying, “criticizing is easy–art is difficult.” I think being a leader is a very special kind of art, and it’s a tougher one to learn than photography because the stakes are higher when you make mistakes.

You mentioned, “we would like to showcase real photography and real photographers who have a dedication and conviction to upholding the craft and art of photography,” which sounds like a positive and excellent goal to get behind. I hope that’s what happens–though, even the mission statement has a proud edge in it. Instead of just saying “showcase photography and photographers,” “real” is in there to make sure people knew that you weren’t gonna showcase no poser. I think you can lose the repetitious “reals;” it’s not necessary to condemn in order lift something else up.

All the best to all of you.

$.02

John Solano - March 28, 2010 - 8:41 am

DAMN!!!!
Jay Goldman said everything I was going to say.
jajajajajajajajaj

Carlos – TRUE PHOTO TALK is just GENIUS

Its consumed me for the past several hours, reading it all line by line.

Going to sleep now after shooting events on Friday and Saturday.

Will post when my thoughts are not so HAZY

You all made my night/morning.

Cheers!!!!

Becka Knight - March 28, 2010 - 10:41 am

I’m so glad this conversation has been started. A group of us were just talking about this topic recently and I think it’s a good thing for people to be able to share what they really think without being afraid of being ganged up on. I know a lot of people who feel like they can’t speak out for that reason and that’s never a good thing. No one should get blackballed for disagreeing with a “leader”, especially when the person in disagreement has a valid point.

And @Kevin, I second everything you said. We don’t need it to be an “us” against “them”. And I agree. The market will weed people out who are doing workshops or shootouts and not actually shooting weddings. You can see it easily on their blogs and websites and people will catch on. And if someone signs up for one of those workshops or shootouts without doing their research on the teacher then shame on them.

My friend Liene Stevens said recently on twitter that she believes that most people teaching workshops would go out of the workshop teaching business if they were required to show their tax return from the previous year. ;)

Gary Fong - March 28, 2010 - 11:23 am

There are many great great workshops out there- for business or photographic composition, lighting techniques. It’s the consumer’s job to ask questions before signing up for a workshop. If it’s lighting, or photoshop techniques, look at the samples. But if it touts business success, here are the questions I would ask of the expert at the business of photography. And I think this is very important:

1) How much did you or do you earn primarily from the branch of photography you’re going to help me with?

2) Are you exaggerating?

3) Could we see tax returns? (not harsh, you can’t get a loan for a motorcycle without it)

4) oops I’ll be back

Gary Fong - March 28, 2010 - 11:30 am

okay back:

4) WHEN YOU GET THE ANSWER on what their earnings are/were and a TRUTHFUL explanation, then post it on twitter or your blog or here. For example: “I asked XXXX how much their business generated in wedding photography last year and they said $100,000,000. But I also know their ex-associate photographer who said that XXXX let me go because they couldn’t afford to pay the bills, etc.

True photo talk is very important to bring out something we all need to address. “Fluffy workshops” There are good workshops and bad ones and some that flat out lie. Be vocal because the best way you can pay-it-forward is to save your friends from wasting hard-earned money.

Gary Fong

Mark Coffey - March 28, 2010 - 12:23 pm

People come to us for the experience that we give, not necessarily the experience we have.

As we grow our businesses, we can become much better at providing people the experience that they are looking for.

Melissa Smith - March 28, 2010 - 1:05 pm

I am nobody important! I am by no means some GREAT photographer I beleive my work is good and I beleive my work is always improving. I have been shooting for 5 years now and I still consider myself a newbie. Just let me say I got all caught up in the “ROCKSTAR” fantasy of this industry! And in the process I lost myself because I was too busy trying to be like the “Rockstars” I started following all the popular blogs and I still beleive “SOME” of these photographers are producing great work however I started noticing most of their work was all staged or from so called $800 spend the day with such and such workshops. Ones that at the time I even considered attending. Again I still think “Some” of these people are wonderful photographers. They are for sure great at marketing themselves!

What I hate more than anything though is the people who buy a camera and are all of a sudden considering themselves photographers. Espeically ones who are shooting in AUTO mode on their camera, or ones that don’t even know what the words apature, rule of thirds or even ISO means. They are out here shooting freaking weddings for $500 or $1k giving a cd and calling it a day. That just really freaking pisses me off!!! Again I am by no means this amazing photographer that I hope to become. YET!!!
But I do know how to shoot a correctly exposed photograph!!!

One of the most important things I have learned this year is… STOP trying to impress other photographers and work on always impressing myself and most importantly my clients. For those of you that are charging tons of money to allow photographers to spend a few hours or a day with you, more power to you it’s def none of my business what you do!

just a little side note.. please ignore my wonderful spelling skills!! they suck!!

Richard - March 28, 2010 - 1:18 pm

From everything that I am reading here I think that there is too much focus on making money and who has the best or better practices. Who is the better teacher, who is following who. Photography is an art just like any other art. I think that it is the “ART” part that many are forgetting. Here is a meaning of an art quote, : “Art is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way to affect the senses or emotions. It encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations, and modes of expression, including music, literature, film, sculpture, and paintings”. And yet after reading this page I see very little mention of the word “ART”. It’s funny how when you look at the other artists out there, they are focusing on perfecting their art. They really do not look at the money aspect of it yet. Sure maybe down the road they might be successful at it but in the mean time they put their heart and soul into their work everyday. I think that too many people are jumping into photography to make a fast buck. Art is something that is not for everyone. You either have it or you don’t. This is not a statement to be a jerk or anything it is just fact. Not everyone can be a singer, writer, painter or any other profession for that matter. We all have and are born with different talents and gifts, and we should follow them for the purpose being so good at them. We should not be going into a profession just for the sake of making money. Because you are only cheating yourself and others if you do so. You should be truly passionate about photography inside and out. You should be focused on perfecting your art in all aspects. Know everything there is to know about photography and the equipment as well. Your camera should be an extension of your body, mind and soul. I still live by a quote made from Ansel Adams of which I read many years back, and something which I always believed in even before I read it. “Great Photos are Made, Not Taken”. There is so much truth into this quote. Yes there are the business aspects to photography, but if you can’t understand the concept of what photography is, how it should feel to someone who is passionate about it. Be able to walk around without a camera and still see be able to take photos with your eyes. Then maybe it’s time to slow down and rethink what photography really is.

Donna Von Bruening - March 28, 2010 - 1:37 pm

With a deep sigh of relief…THANK YOU! This is a wonderful place that has given me hope. I have felt for a long time that the industry was being raped by opportunists who are devaluing the art and the blood, sweat and tears that go into building a solid, profitable business from your art.

And I believe it is the experience you have that enables you to create the experience you give.

In the end, what motivates me is how my photographs touches my clients…bringing them joy at the purest level.

Kristine Paulsen - March 28, 2010 - 1:59 pm

This has been a very interesting discussion (minus some of the bashes going on). I am amazed at how civil the posts have been – that’s fantastic!

I’m new to the business. I started about a year ago. However, I have years of formal training in photojournalism (have a master’s degree in it) and several awesome internships and wedding apprenticeships under my belt.

I am the first to acknowledge that I still have much to learn, both on the business end and shooting end. I don’t begrudge newcomers, and I don’t ignore those who have been successful in this business for many, many more years than I have.

So, because I know I still have much to learn, I am constantly trying to educate myself. I’ve heard of these rockstars, I’ve researched them, and I’ve decided that at this point in my career, I can’t afford what they’re offering (workshops, DVDs, etc.). I’m not invalidating what they’re offering to others – it’s just a personal choice of mine.

I read books and forums, I gain valuable advice from Twitter friends, and I’ve got a great group of local photographers I socialize with as well. Plus, I’m always shooting!

In my opinion, doing my own research (whether it’s research on a book, on the people I follow on Twitter, on one of these rockstars, on even what my local friends are saying) is what’s going to benefit me the most. I’m not one to blindly follow or blindly listen to what another is saying. I’m going to listen to you based on the merit of what you’re saying, not on who you are.

I’m all about hard work, research and learning from one’s own self. I also believe strongly in being positive and spreading that positivity to others. (This is one of the major benefits of a local event professionals group of which I am a member…by the way, anyone can join our group. It’s totally free, and we all support one another – it’s completely wonderful.)

Perhaps this positive energy is why people are flocking to these rockstars’ workshops – and who’s to say the people attending these workshops are wrong for doing that? If they need that push, if they need to be amongst that group of people to be inspired…well, that’s great – if it benefits them. It’s just not my cup of tea at the moment.

Personally, I’d like to think my business will grow quickly, but I’m not blind to the fact that it may not. However, I know this is what I’m supposed to be doing, and gosh darnit, I’m going to do it – no matter how long it takes! I have no desire to be a “rockstar”…(basically, I’m not a delusional newcomer as some people are quick to assume newcomers are)…I just want to be respected in the industry, and be respected by the people whom I have the pleasure of photographing, and always, always do my very best work.

In the meantime, I’m just going to keep plugging away, and keep on bettering myself and my photography through research, continual shooting, and a plethora of wonderful, experienced individuals who value friendships first, and business connections second.

Cheers, all! Keep up the great discussion.

kay - March 28, 2010 - 2:12 pm

what an unfortunate turn of events for what looked to be an interesting concept for a website.

this whole process of “calling people out” in less than 140 characters is foolish. what ever happened to having a conversation and addressing issues with an individual? dane sanders is not david jay is not becker is not jasmine star is not… on and on. social media has made us all far too bold and self-important and far too prone to generalization. the culture of our industry will not be changed via mob-mentality with some anonymous twitter bully at its helm. carlos, i respect your work and your experience, but your methods are disappointing. why the vitriol?

GRUMPIES: this needs to be addressed, as a lot of unnecessary, undue hate is being shown to Dane Sanders around this idea. avoiding the “grumpy” trap (and the fast track philosophy as a whole) has nothing to do with ignoring the work of the masters. it has nothing to do with diminishing the incredible hard work and accomplishments of long-time professionals or trying to push them from the field. in fact, the length of time one has been in the industry or the level of skill or success is not even a part of the equation. you (and other respondents) are taking offense to something you clearly haven’t made any attempt to understand.

in his book, Dane defines the GRUMPY FACTOR as: The degree to which you measure your success relative to how others are doing (e.g., if others are flourishing, you feel as if you’re failing. If others are struggling, you feel as if you’re gaining ground)

grumpies are people who aren’t open to change – who aren’t open to dialogue – who aren’t open to community – veteran pro or fresh out of the box newcomer. grumpies are people who put others down to raise themselves up.

is the “rock star” culture silly and unproductive? of course it is. but the hate that’s been flying this past week is far more destructive. we can be champions of change without resorting to such shameful tactics.

Gary Fong - March 28, 2010 - 3:16 pm

Leann- which workshop did you go to – that made you cry?

With regards to this being a “grumpy” vs “newbie” war, the definitions are wrong.

Dane uses “Grumpy” as a cute euphemism for the attitude when somebody spends their time being jealous of others and not invigorating their own businesses. This has nothing to do with if you are experienced, or new, or decades of business behind you. It’s just an attitude.

What I’m seeing as the uprising here isn’t “grumpy” it’s BUYER BEWARE. And I am all for that. If you thought your seminar was a rip off – tell others! It is a far more helpful discussion to pass the word on with regards to good or bad workshops rather than goof on somebody for their “sudden” expertise in a field.

If I were to go to a fly-fishing convention, I would look for the big names because I know nothing about fly-fishing. But I certainly would seek deep into the credentials of the person. So when signing up for a workshop – ask tons of questions.

If it’s about business: ask:

1) what do you/did you earn in photography? in the last 3 years? Can I see your tax returns?

2) are you exaggerating about your average sale? Your income? You sure?

I don’t hear grumpy, I hear beware!

G

Lainey - March 28, 2010 - 3:16 pm

It’s kind of scary around here but I might as well give it a shot. I’m a new photographer in the midst of the chaos of my first year. I started shooting professionally around November of last year. It all started rather organically. A friend saw pictures that I took for the love of photography, for the love of the city of New York. She saw these and asked me to shoot her. I did for that same love of photography. I was nervous and was very aware of all that I did not know. Slowly I started getting requests for pictures and this idea of a business emerged. I still find it hard to consider myself a professional photographer because I’m still aware of all that I do not know. My best education has been trial and error. Shooting, learning my camera and learning my clients. In the early months I found myself looking through what you call “rock star” photographers. I wondered how they got to be there. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the glitz and glamor. I even toyed with the idea of attending a workshop but don’t have the financial means.

I think what’s lost in this back and forth, and I can only speak for myself here, is that a lot of newbies do start because they love photography. I love being entrusted with documenting a person’s life whether it be a simple day with family, a milestone birthday, or their wedding day. I shoot for them. I know a workshop can’t teach me to listen and to see who my clients are (in my case they are kids, families, couples, the sunset, graffiti, anything the lets me tell a story).

I am in no means out here to make a fast buck. I’m basically working two jobs while building this business. I know that I have so much to learn. I am constantly humbled by photography. I bust my ass daily to learn as much from the masters as from myself. I see all that is going on in this industry and try to take care of what I can. All I can do is make myself better, continue to learn as much from my surroundings, my experience, my clients and myself as from others in the industry and those who made photography what it is.

Not everyone who is new to this industry is out here to become a rockstar. I couldn’t care less about that. All I care about is making my clients happy, taking good pictures that garner an emotional response (hopefully not gasps of horror!), that help people remember, that will be treasured for years. Everything else just falls by the wayside. You’d be surprised at how many newbies feel the same way.

Barb Cameron - March 28, 2010 - 3:56 pm

you know what I am sick of? All of these supposed great photographers and leaders in the industry who try and shove GOD down our throats. They take a good picture and what do they do? They thank Jesus. Really? Jesus? How about you thank your skill or your experience or your clients for trusting you or your camera. But please, don’t thank Jesus. And yes, if I follow you on twitter and facebook and ALL you do is thank Jesus, then I’m dropping you like third period French. I dropped DJ and all of his followers for that very reason. Plus the fact that I finally woke up and realized that they don’t inspire me as a photographer. You want inspitation or knowledge? Take a Ghionis workshop or a Cantrell one or SOMEONE ESTABLISHED! Any freak can call themselves an expert and give workshops but it takes a real freak to sign up for one.

I’ve been waiting a long time to get that off of my chest! By the way, I’m not a “grumpie”, I’m just a Canadian who is sick of self righteous people tooting their own horn. Take off eh!

mjgillespie - March 28, 2010 - 4:56 pm

It’s unfortunate that there are so many splits in this community but it doesn’t surprise me as it’s common in any industry. I think that there is no right or wrong answer to the situation; only mere opinions.

How can you fault someone who has a heart to teach and has followed that passion into a full time basis. I think a similar term for those types of people are called consultants and there are consultants in every industry.

But then again how can you fault someone that values photography as true art and is disgusted with seeing their trade being hoisted as the next big “freedom” job with easy access to replicating someone else’s success.

I’m with Kevin on this though… The market will decide who is qualified enough… The only other option is have the gov’t step in and create regulations for us… I’m sure they’d LOVE to do that since they are so good at it. :-\

note to knuth… don’t know you but you seem like a good kid… I don’t blame you for taking advantage of your situation… heck, I would. But dude, arguing or defending yourself shows that you aren’t confident in what you’re pursuing. Do your thing and don’t sweat what people have to say about it. it’s kinda like having to explain to someone why your picture is good… some people just don’t care cause they already have an opinion. Witness with your life and nothing more.

by the by, I’m only in my 3rd year.. I know I’m a newbie… but I don’t ever want to consider myself a know all master of my craft b/c that means I’ve become content with what I do… and I personally don’t think I could learn everything i want to learn in just one lifetime… Here’s to ALWAYS being a newbie and ALWAYS continuing to perfect my craft. :-)

Oh and I also had the pleasure of sitting in on a talk that Z. Arias gave and to summarize in a few short words: Practice your craft and figure it out. Don’t rely on copying a workshop presenter’s work or success. Be your own person and develop your own style with your own creativity.

My .02 as well… please don’t hate me. :)

kay - March 28, 2010 - 5:02 pm

wow barb cameron. that was just flat out offensive. good luck to you if your clients find that post.

i’m not a christian – but please tell me how anyone is “shoving God” down your throat. are they demanding you profess a belief in a deity before buying their products or viewing their website? are they dragging you by your hair to church? no one is targeting you by simply tweeting about their faith as it relates to their craft or their life. if you don’t subscribe to a religion or someone annoys you, fine, unfollow them, but ranting about how others choose to profess their faith is just juvenile, hateful, and quite frankly, ignorant.

Jess - March 28, 2010 - 7:28 pm

While I agree with some of the arguments throughout the last few days, I don’t really see how this is being productive for us as individual businesses or for our industry as a whole. Those of you who are knocking on the “rock stars” what have YOU been doing to further the idea of community and thus our industry? Because I don’t think sitting on an open forum and pointing fingers at those who have become successful (by whatever means) is really all that productive.

Do they DESERVE to be where they are? Some, probably not. But they are there. So are you going to choose to be pissed off and name-call and point fingers, or are you going to use that frusteration with the current “rock-stardom” status and push yourself above their level?

Are you jealous that you aren’t well known like these other “rock stars”

HOWEVER.

When I first started out as a photographer, I wanted to be a child photographer, unitl I realized I don’t like other people’s kids. Wedding photography fell in my lap, I didn’t plan on being a wedding photographer. Until June 16, 2007. It changed my life. I was HOOKED. I read, practiced, watched, whatever I could get my hands on to make myself better.

But I’m gonna tell you, I’m SUPER frustereated right now. My business is not growing like I had hoped. I went to Scarlett’s workshop in February and while I might not have learned much from a technical standpoint, I did learn that marketing yourself is just as important as the photographs you produce. And so I went on a soul searching journey trying to figure out my branding, my logo etc etc. yet, I’m still stuck. I have eight weddings for the year. EIGHT. What am I missing? What am I not doing? Am I priced to high for my area? I’d like to think not. I’m about $1500.00 less expensive than some other photographers. They are amazing though, so I think they are worth the money they are charging.

I’m frusterated beyond belief. I think I’m good at what I do. I LOVE what I do. I’m different than most of the photographers in my area, and yet…the clients are not coming. So this”fast track photographer” or the “rock stars” out there are seriously bummin me out because I look at some of them and I think, “eh, I just don’t think they are that great” or “what do they have that i don’t?”

Does anyone have any thoughts? Any suggestions? At the moment, I’m the only one bringing money into my home. My husband lost his job in August. Last year I did 15 weddings and this year I have 8. Actually 6 because I had a couple cancel for various reasons.

I have NEVER sold prints after a wedding. yet friends of mine from Fort Wayne have sold THOUSANDS. Any suggestions? Most of the clients have either purchaed the DVD later, or it has come with the collection they purchased. Is that why they aren’t buying prints?

My top end package is $3200.00, of that $1300.00 is in product and paying my second shooter, so I make around $1900.00. Is that an acceptable rate? I wish I could charge more for the amount of work I do for each wedding. I totaled up the hours I spend working on a wedding from start of contract to delivery and it is about 40 hours give or take. So that ends up being about $47.00/hour that I get paid for one wedding. Which isn’t bad, I’m ok with that. IF I had a lot of weddings.

Sorry for the long response, but the “venting” I just did is what I hope will be hlped from this forum and not the consistent bashing of others in our industry who are successful whether because they are truly talented photographers or they just marketed themselves to be.

Thanks for any advice and/or suggestions.

Caroline Ghetes - March 28, 2010 - 7:51 pm

I agree with Kay. No one is “forcing” you to believe in God. There are many photogs that profess Jesus for the sake of show and favor but do not live what they profess. But there are many that live what they believe in Jesus and believe that the talents they have been given were given to them by God Himself. If they choose to give the glory to Him and not themselves, what business is it really of yours? If it bugs you, by all means stop following them on Facebook & Twitter without having to publicly curse their faith. Generalizing & stereotyping is quite frankly, a low blow IMO.

Caroline Ghetes - March 28, 2010 - 7:52 pm

BTW, I meant to direct that last comment towards Barb.

Beth - March 28, 2010 - 8:06 pm

@Jes – If you’re looking to improve your business I would go to a workshop given by someone who can actually help you with improving your business. No offense to SL but how long has she been shooting? How successful is she really? Yes, girlfriend has learned the art of marketing herself. But to who? Photographers. I would recommend the SMS workshop through PPA or really shop around to find an established photographer especially someone who has weathered the storms and remained successful. Even ask a photographer who you respect to mentor you for a day.

As far as skills go can you tell us why you chose that workshop? There are so many incredibly talented photographers out there who can teach you lighting (real natural lighting or off-camera), true posing and also fantastic marketing ideas that actually work for them.

I think this is what frustrates me the most about this industry. We have a few very talented photographers in this industry who are offering workshops yet so many people choose to go to the names they first hear about when entering the industry. I don’t need to go on and on about this because it’s been covered on this forum.

My point: Go to workshops taught by people who truly are skilled in certain areas and are successful. Just a simple glimpse at their blog should tell you if they are successful or not.

Be smart. Open your eyes and learn to recognize true talent.

Stephen Karlisch - March 28, 2010 - 8:13 pm

this blog and posts just reminded me how much I love wedding photography, and how much I hate wedding photographers.

Jim Minics - March 28, 2010 - 8:20 pm

Kay, Barb, Caroline and anyone else who wants to bring religion into this. This is way off topic of where this started. I think maybe we should all step away from the religion card no matter what side you’re on. Just my opinion but this should not become about religion!

Lets get this back to what we were originally talking about. How some members of our industry say one thing and do another. How about we do some research on these people who claim to be something that they really are not.

Just an opinion but I really think we should keep personal religious beliefs out of this discussion.

kay - March 28, 2010 - 8:35 pm

that was my point, jim.

Caroline Ghetes - March 28, 2010 - 9:36 pm

Same here.

Caroline Ghetes - March 28, 2010 - 9:38 pm

Stephen love your work, but… you hate ALL wedding photographers? REALLY? Hate’s a pretty strong word and you haven’t even met ALL wedding photographers to really pass judgement on each individually. Anyway.

Jess - March 28, 2010 - 10:08 pm

@Beth…I chose to go to Scarlett’s workshop for a couple of reasons. One…she’s one of the first photographers I started following when I started in photography. 2: she and I have been email friends for the last few years and I hadn’t met her in person and was excited just to meet her. 3: I wanted to see what Scarlett was doing differently that I wasn’t in hopes I could grow my business at least to the point of being a well known photographer in my city. 4: I admire her conviction for the Lord and not being shy about that in her business. 5: I personally think she is a talented photographer.

What I learned from that workshop, since it was my first, is that I DO need to do research on t he workshops and go to one specicially for what I want to learn. Her workshop was really geared towards the brand new photographer who was JUST getting started and I am pretty knowledgeable about my camera and photoshop etc; so from that aspect I did not learn much. What I took away from it in terms of workshops from that point forward is that I want to go to one specifically for lighting. I feel that is my biggest downfall as a photographer. I see other photographers whose pictures are AMAZING either because of off camera lighting or their use of natural light etc; and they blow me away. I CRAVE to be able to do that.

What I think Scarlett has mastered is the way she markets herself. Clearly she is doing something right or she would not be as busy as she and making the money she does. Some might disagree with this next point, but…in my opinion it matters where you live. I live in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Home of the budget bride. Our economy SUCKS right now and every bride I have come in contact with has either asked for areduction in price, an all digital package or went to a cheaper photographer. (well except for the few who have actually signed with me).

What I want are clients like my June 5 bride who kenw she wanted me to be her photographer BEFORE she was even engaged. And then when she finally did get engaged, she called and said they would plan her wedding day around MY schedule because they wanted only ME as their photographer. Why can’t we have more clients like that?

It’s so frusterating to me in my city because there are so many new photographers who have come with a SLR and said, well I can be a photographer. Charge $700 for all day photography and the DVD and end up getting a crazy amount of bookings. I don’t really want a client like that, a client who is just happy with a mediocre photographer and a disk. I want the clients who HAVE TO HAVE the albums and the canvases etc etc.

In Fort Wayne though, the average photographer is around $2500 give or take. That’s just for a single photographer and maybe a second shooter. The husband/wife teams around here are about $5000 for a collection with an album or product credit.

I KNOW I have the capability to be an amazing photographer. I have a style that is so different from most in my area. I lean towards the sexy/vintage and most here are classical/romantic/pretty etc; etc;. I like images that are provactive. So I don’t know if it’s just my style is a little to abrasive for this area or what. But it drives me nuts that I lose a potential bride to photographers whose work is complete and utter garbage. Or, its only good because they are good with photoshop.

Like most new photographers, I relied heavily on photoshop for fixing lighting problems and color. But now, I am so happy with the images when they come straight off the camera. So I think that’s a good sign right?

uuuugh! sorry for the super long response. this is just weighing so heavy on my heart right now because I love love love what I do, and I can’t imagine doing anything else and I am beyond bummed out that I can’t seem to get the client base.

Thanks for letting me vent :)

Matt Radlinski - March 28, 2010 - 10:09 pm

“this blog and posts just reminded me how much I love wedding photography, and how much I hate wedding photographers.”
Quote de Stephen Karlisch

Okay, now THAT’S funny.

Yes, this is all very silly. Picking a big fight to tell everyone that people who are not relevant in the photography industry are….not relevant in the photography industry. We all already know this. It reminds me of a few years ago when a bunch of kids on the Internet decided to have protests against Scientology to tell everyone Scientology is a cult. Really?! What’s next, do we need an angry tirade about how the clowns on The Hills aren’t good actors?

David Jay is a software vendor, and his software works well. I bought ShowItWeb to put slideshows on my blog. Works great. Thanks DJ! But I don’t think anyone is going to DJ for photography advice.

Do we really need fake twitter account insults to let us all know it might not be a great idea to pay for photography lessons from people whose warranty on their first SLR hasn’t expired yet?

The only real problem is that some new photographers get off to a bad start by following poor advice, and the way we fix that isn’t by personally insulting the reality show photographers, it’s by guiding new photographers into worthwhile educational opportunities and sound business practices. Lead by example, and spend more time building a repository of good advice and inspiration than…I don’t know…making fun of clowns because they have pointy shoes and Ed Hardy shirts.

Greg Germaine - March 28, 2010 - 10:28 pm

@Jess

You got exactly what you should have out of Scarlet’s seminar. Looking at her blog, she only shoots 8 weddings a year, so I think you’re right on track.

I also don’t know where you got the idea that she “makes a lot of money.” For instance, she’s bragged on her blog before about “paying off her house” with photography when she bought her condo from her father for $100.

Here’s the property appraiser’s report for her condo. Click on the 2007 sale for the full details.

http://apps.coj.net/pao_propertySearch/Basic/Detail.aspx?RE=1541665170

So that might actually be true that she did pay off her place with photography, as she’s probably made $100.

You got had :(

Not a fan of SL - March 28, 2010 - 10:56 pm

Jess, Scarlett is bad at business. She started life as a videographer and then switched to photography with a bag full of gear that her parents bought her. Her condo wasn’t bought by her. Neither was her car. It’s not hard to “make money and be so fab successful!” when you’ve never in your life had to pay for a single thing yourself.

If you look at her blog posts from the past few years note how many of them were for friends from high school, people she knew already, etc. Note how many weddings she has NOT been blogging lately while she’s been running around the country trying to find someone to marry her.

How can you learn business from someone who has never had to support themselves? How can you learn business from someone who only books weddings of friends? How can you learn business from someone who DOES NOT KNOW WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT?

Monica Reid - March 28, 2010 - 11:06 pm

I think EVERYONE has great points here and besides a few I don’t see any bashing, like Gary said above, we SHOULD name what workshops we attended and give reviews so the “newbies” KNOW what to ask.
Like Jess above said she went to the SL workshop didn’t really learn anything but she’s happy because she met her friend. As long as SHE is happy about that that is GREAT! The only thing I don’t understand is say she says was for newbies, you really didn’t learn a thing to grow YOUR business so basically you spent lots of money on a workshop,plane ticket and I am assuming a hotel? So basically how would you review the workshop? and How would have that workshop have helped a newbie? Was Iso/Exposure/White Balance etc.. all the ‘newbie’ stuff taught?
You HAVE to learn your camera inside and out before you learn HOW to brand and market yourself.. I’m just trying to make a point on these workshops that are out of control and it’s NOT just SL of course that is just one I personally did in Vegas so I can speak from experience. I’m not speaking badly about her personally ONLY the workshop experience.

I agree we can make wonderful friends via email. I have met many but I wouldn’t pay them unless they could teach me. I would pay a plane ticket to visit my friends then I would crash at their place if they were my friend and vice versa if I had a friend they would stay with me, do you see my point? All that money spent just to meet a ‘friend’? I’m NOT saying it was money wasted as long as you think it helped you but you seem to be stating it didn’t help your personal business in a smaller town.
I hope your business grows I too am from a tiny town and the economy here and unemployment rate is horrid, but don’t give up and sell yourself short if you are worth it they will find you and pay what you are worth!

Monica Reid - March 28, 2010 - 11:10 pm

Not a fan of SL please USE Your real name and don’t personally bash this is for the TRUTH and to be CIVIL also the above poster
I don’t think who paid for her condo has ANYTHING to do with photography and workshops and posting records here is just wrong, Please keep this on topic and NOT personal if you have a personal problem email them directly. I don’t think Carlos opened this forum for posts like that.

David-Nicholas - March 28, 2010 - 11:25 pm

Here’s something to think about for all you folks wondering what the so-called “photographer rockstars” have that you don’t…

Since we’re talking about “photographer rockstars” — and I use that term somewhat loosely… I can’t help but recall an interview I heard a couple of years ago featuring Dennis DeYoung, former rock star with Styx. Now grant it, Styx hit its prime as a rock group before some of today’s so-called “photographer rockstars” were even born. But nevertheless… in the interview, Dennis talked about a dream he had while growing up in the south side of Chicago to one day be part of a big famous rock ‘n roll band — a dream he viewed to be nearly impossible, probably can’t happen, and couldn’t possibly come true. But guess what, it happened. And when asked HOW something like that happens, he just said “I don’t know” — only that (in his words) “you have to work your ass off, no substitute for it.” And if there were a shortcut, he (and a bunch of other people) would have figured it out years ago.

He went on to further say in the interview that “winners” are simply losers that got up and gave it one more try.

So there you have it folks… no “fastrack” gibberish, no slick marketing gimmicks… just hard work. Surprised??? Whether you like his music or not, you can’t help but admire his candid comments — no pretense whatsoever — whether you’re 22 or 62.

Not a bad work ethic if you ask me. And probably one we’d all do well to adopt in our everyday-approach to doing things we’re so passionate about. From that perspective, all this talk about self-promotion, fast-track, and overnight success stories is largely overrated. Sadly, it always seems to take a few years (and one too many seminars) for folks to realize that the emperor is often wearing few if any clothes.

Amanda Platt - March 28, 2010 - 11:33 pm

I think there is nothing wrong that saying that Scarlett Lillian is “bad at business”. In her workshop she promised to teach photographers how to market themselves and how to run a successful business.

First of all, marketing to photographers is not the same as marketing to brides. Who cares how many photographers think you’re cool? That doesn’t mean anything when it comes to booking actual paying clients, of which Scarlett doesn’t seem to have many. Saying “Oh get on Facebook!” doesn’t do ANYTHING for your business. Nothing. “Oh, get other photographers to know you!” doesn’t help you book a dang thing if those newbie photographers have no work and no influence of their own. It might make you the queen of popular-in-your-own-mind-town but won’t have any relevance on booking brides.

Scarlett clearly has no idea what “making money” actually means. Her dad bought her all of her gear, her home, her car, etc. How can you know how to be profitable when you have never had to really work a day in your life for anything? I would never want to take a real business class from someone who doesn’t run a real business….shooting weddings for friends so that you can have the money to buy lots of pink headbands from the toddler department of Kohls doesn’t a real business make.

If you REALLY want to learn to run a real business take the PPA SMS workshops. Go learn from Jeff and Julia Woods in their real studio that makes real money. Or at least put in real time to figure out if your “teacher” is a real businessperson or someone with no knowledge, clients, or actual photographic skill.

Shawn Richter - March 29, 2010 - 12:32 am

We have been in business for about 7+ years, I’ve never been to a single convention, etc. My Wife and I attended a “seminar” a few years back, put on by a VERY big “rockstar” who is in her third year of touring this year.

I think it was $49 after the very accessible discount code. Three hours for 50 bucks, and there were probably 200+ people in the room. $10,000 for three hours of work, not too shabby (I know, it’s like saying a Photographer charging $2,000 for four hours of wedding coverage is making $500/hour but still….)

Anyway, it was your typical “learn everything you need to be a photographer in three hours” workshop – posing, lighting, markeing, you name it.

One helpful tip was this….to get your newborn photography out there and seen by a lot of people, have a friend of yours call local hospitals and pretend (ie. LIE) that they were working for you (in order to make you look like a Rockstar). This friend would tell the hospital that you (Rockstar) are interested in donating thousands of dollars in free large prints/canvases to the Labor & Delivery / Family Birth areas….people will see them and hire you to shoot their newborns.

I was so put off by the idea of lying to make yourself look biger than you really are, I haven’t been back to a Rockstar workshop since.

Today I wonder how many of those 200+ who attended that workshop are now doing their own workshops? LOL

Daniel J. Watkins - March 29, 2010 - 12:46 am

I have nothing substantial to contribute…I just want to put my name in the thread that all the cool people are in… ;)

GARY FONG - March 29, 2010 - 1:32 am

Dan Watkins you crack me up all the time. How do you do it? So silly haha.

Anyway seeing that $100 quit-claim property record was pretty shocking. Shocking as to how do you people find this stuff?

If SL shoots 8 weddings per year and for friends, then that’s ok as long as she disclosed that, and since you know that, it sounds like she disclosed it. Yes?

Gary

Greg Germaine - March 29, 2010 - 1:42 am

I don’t think she disclosed it. I discovered it by thinking who is this person with these terrible photos claiming to make lots of money and asking people to give her money for a seminar? I looked at her blog and counted the number of wedding posts instead of just posts about her and jesus and it does not compute. There’s no way to make a full time income for as little actual work as she appears to do. Then, an internet search for her name brings up her property records.

It’s pretty simple…she’s just a fraud. Pretends to be rich and successful when she ain’t. Like you said, ask for tax records.

b - March 29, 2010 - 4:41 am

loving all of this. thanks for making me pay closer attention and making me think about where i tread. that said:

i don’t see why we’re getting all worked up over the “rockstar” fad however. it’s just that. a fad. social media gives access to millions of people on a minute to minute basis and unfortunately not everyone is truly who they say they are. we already know these people aren’t making any money as a photographer, so it’s not like they are taking your clients. i love the idea of calling people out for what they are. that way less people get taken and the quicker the fad fizzles out.

i’m a part time photographer, my wife shoots with me, who primarily shoots portraits, but am extremely passionate about the huge impact we have on peoples lives by capturing such a special time in their life. i shoot a handful of weddings a year because quite frankly as much as i love wedding photography, i’m just not sure it’s for me, so i gladly offer to assist in finding someone who may be a little better suited to fill their needs and pass on their info to some spectacular wedding photogs in the surrounding areas.

when i first started, i’ll say i wanted to get caught up in all the hype. i didn’t have a style. i wanted to be like some of the “rockstars” out there and quickly realized i was not only becoming something i wasn’t, but also spending more time figuring out how to make people pay attention to me then learning how to make an even bigger impact on our clients.

there are some amazing photographers on here that i highly respect. especially since you’re not whoring yourselves out there to also become something you’re not. youre better by it. potential clients know it. and so do your bank accounts.

don’t get discouraged by what’s currently happening. time will change. you’ll continue to remain with your heads above water. continue teaching us newer photographers how to walk in your shoes yet also make it our own.

as far as stephen goes. have any of you looked at his work? it’s laughable at best for who he claims he is. the kid will ruin himself. just look at the slide show on the top of his blog. have any of you seen these?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SB5lt1pbW2M

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUJVcz9ea_8

scarlett i’d like to say i feel bad for you, but you brought this upon yourself.

i loved the mtv reality show comment. we don’t see oscar winners getting all bent out of shape over paris hilton. people are smarter than we give them credit for.

to the legends (you know who you are) keep being you. keep making the impact you do. it’s much larger than you think, regardless of how many fb friends you may or may not have or how many people follow you on twitter. people know. continue making them know by the photographs you make.

AMS - March 29, 2010 - 4:49 am

Hmmm… Very interesting discussion… my opinion on what is happening: the introduction of digital photography, facebook, & twitter has made the “business” of photography specifically wedding photography easy & cheap.

Digital photography has cheapened the art of photography – PERIOD. How many photographers have shot film, developed film, and learned how to produce color and B&W prints by hand? To know film is to really know photography. How many photographers know what a printed picture should really look like without action upon action applied in post production? Can you actually get the shot without executing the hold the finger on the trigger technique rapid machine gun fire will definitely get something sooner or later push & pray? Do you actually think about your shot? My fav is the new guy on the block who steals your pricelist and makes it his without even changing anything…. LOVE IT!

Any yahoo can go out and purchase a expensive digital camera and all of a sudden become a photographer. Facebook & twitter are disgusting – it is now all about how cool you are and what a fab life you are living, what cool place you are traveling to shoot the kings wedding, blah blah blah look @ me I am so fabulous!

As far as the “rock stars” go – don’t believe the hype. I have looked at the websites and also heard a few speak and have walked away scratching my ass in confusion wondering how the heck they are an “industry leader” & really not all that impressed. So whatever. Stroke your egos make your $$$ and get on with it. DS is a joke.

There are a lot of amazing talented photographers out in the world and there are alot of people that are good at creating an image but not neccesarily captureing an image. Which one are you?

b - March 29, 2010 - 4:51 am

ps: stephen, you’re not THE photographer of the year like you claim. you are the showit sites photographer of the year. last time i checked that’s a pretty huge difference. you misrepresent yourself on the first thing you see on your website and blog. book as many of those over priced lunch dates as you can. you’re quickly running out of time. good thing your house was paid for by collecting pop cans.

pss: now that i see that scarlett shot the snapshots of stephen for his site only further proves everything y’all have been saying.

Terry Clark - March 29, 2010 - 6:55 am

Great blog Carlos, you obviously came out of the gate hitting some people’s nerves. Well done!

I don’t consider myself a “grumpy” even though I’ve been a professional photographer longer it seems than most of my young “colleagues” have been sucking air. I came into this profession as a wide-eyed, not-knowing-a-dang-thing, full-of-spit-and-vinegar newbie some 35 years ago. Today my eyes aren’t quite as wide; I think I know a thing or two, maybe, some days; but I’m still as full of fire, spit and vinegar as the day I shot my first assignment.

Decades ago, thanks to an older photographer who took me under his wing, I learned a few simple rules to live and work by.
1) To be a better photographer shut up, put your head down and work hard.
2) Find a mentor who will take his/her time and help you grow.
3) Awards and honors are nice, but you’re only as good your last picture, so get back to work.
4) When you truly have learned your craft, pay back to your profession and become a mentor to others.
5) Be humble. Always.

Those were the rules back then, but today the book has changed. We’re now living in the Rock Star era where anyone with a year (or less) in business and five weddings under their belt can hold a seminar to teach from their “experience,” have a newsletter for “beginning” shooters and charge really newbie photographers for the honor of buying them a cup of coffee.

This all reminds me of a warning I learned long, long ago — “Beware of false Prophets.” Or if that isn’t to your liking, “Beware of the snake oil salesman.”

There is no fast track or easy road to a successful career. The path is long, winding, full of pot holes and detours.

In closing this meandering post, let me just pull a piece from history. In the fall of 1976 I sat in a meeting of professional portrait and wedding photographers in Michigan listening to the “old guys” proclaim the end of their profession was near! They were bemoaning all of the “young people” entering the wedding market with their new-fancy automatic Canon AE-1 cameras where all they had to do was show up, focus and take a picture. I vividly remember one particular very senior German fellow cry out “how dare they photograph a wedding without a Hassy!!”

Digital has been a game changer for our profession just like the acceptance of 35 mm film was a game changer at a time before us. Every advance of technology brings more people into the ranks. The easier it gets to take a picture the easier it looks to be a photographer. People will come and people will go. Some will forever be weekend warriors while others who are more brave (or foolish) will hang out a shingle and try to make a go of it full time. Wish them luck, or better still, become a mentor and coach them along.

Peace.

kay - March 29, 2010 - 9:13 am

not shocked to read more misconception and assumption.

all of the digs on “fast track” are getting old. have you read the book? don’t want to pay for it? i’ll gladly loan you mine.

the “fast track” in dane’s book isn’t about skipping all the important steps, hanging your shingle, and calling yourself a pro. he doesn’t promise that you’ll be raking in the dough. in fact, he reiterates at several points that this whole photography thing may not even be for you!

is he teaching photography? no. that’s not the purpose of the book. and he never claims it to be. is he giving you a tool to figure out where you fit in the photography world and what skills you’ll need to go out and learn before you can make money at it? YES.

here you sit and disapprove (and some of you create false usernames and get vicious and vulgar on twitter) – yet you actually agree with the entire premise of the book. the fast track isn’t a shortcut to success. you can’t buy a gym membership and expect the personal trainer to do the work for you. fast track gives you the tools to address a certain segment of your business and you have to put them to use. it’s no different than buying a scott kelby book if you wanted to tackle lightroom. what’s wrong with that?

ps. there’s no koolaid involved …and that offer to borrow the book is still on the table.

Jenni - March 29, 2010 - 10:44 am

This thread just makes me realize more that for me it has to be about making my clients happy and being happy my self in the process.

I have definitely payed for workshops in the past where I have not learned what I expected to. If I think back though, there were nuggets of truth that I took from them and they have helped me become the photographer that I am today.

I think in this community destructive criticism is our catalyst. I think that everyone in this industry deserves to have creative and positive criticism from their peers, because it is our art. Everyone is not going to like my direction or my photos, but if they make my clients happy in the end that is what is important.

I have definitely had emails or comments in the past about my work on my website. That the eyes weren’t bright enough in a photo or the editing was not to their liking. Its an eye opener to me to just see that people take time out of their lives to criticize others.

I just have to continue to live my life and run my business in the way that I have been. I will most likely never be “cool” and I will most likely never be a top ten photographer, but I hope I am at least one of those things in my clients eyes!

Leeann - March 29, 2010 - 10:58 am

I do believe that there are a lot of new photographers out there with passion for photography and their clients.

I do not believe that you need to have started with film in order to be a photographer. I believe that the medium for photography is now digital, and it is about being able to do your best with a digital camera.

I do believe that in order to be a good photographer you must know, understand, and master the basics.

I do believe that the learning curve with a digital area is steeper than ever, and that it may no longer take years and years to run a business.

I do not believe that young photographers will (or should) automatically be overnight successes due to the steep learning curve and accessibility to digital media.

I do believe that there is room for both young and old in the market, and that the market will decide based on talent, ability, drive, motivations, and perception.

I do believe that young photographers should FULLY RESPECT those with years of experience.

I do believe that those with years of experience should fully respect the younger generation and their abilities, drive, and new forms of media.

I do believe some workshops suck.

I do believe that there are workshops that can rock your world.

(Note that all of these comments were stated as my opinions. And I think this is the key to the above posts. They are all opinions. There is no way to tell who is right and who is wrong. There will only be actionable items that can be taken from the commentary. Should some sort of workshop review be available? Should there be a product review blog/site? I think Gary is correct on this. Research should be done (both by photographers and clients), but there is no way to regulate without having photographers pass some sort of board exam, like medical or engineering professions.)

Matt Radlinski - March 29, 2010 - 12:32 pm

Hi Kay,

I have read the book, and Dane has some good ideas about marketing and branding. However, it also has some very bad advice on the right way to start a business. It really does encourage people to pick up a camera and open a business, learning as they go. That’s what the “fast track” is. That’s not a path that leads to long-term success. New photographers would be much better served taking a year or two, reading, practicing, learning, apprenticing, going to a photography school or taking advanced education classes from qualified instructors. Paying their dues and putting their work in to really learn their craft, and then use the marketing and branding ideas from Dane’s book (along with the sound business practices taught at the PPA SMS seminars) to establish themselves as a viable business.

What’s happened instead is people started too soon and went nowhere (but they got there fast, I guess). That’s why OSP is all but dead. It was a thriving community about 2-3 years ago when the “fast track” ideas became popular. Everybody focused on their “brand” (although usually getting it wrong and thinking their “brand” is their name in a script font on a template website) and forgot the part where you need to learn how to take a picture. These businesses have largely failed now which is why if you log in to OSP today, you see a half-dozen posts a day instead of hundreds back when the fast trackers were starting off with their big dreams. It really is about the work, and these people didn’t have it.

This is another reason why I think this whole thing is much ado about nothing. The ideas don’t work, these new businesses fail and have no impact on established studios like mine, and the leaders of these movements will drift away, too. There will never be a Dane Sanders exhibit at the MOMA, and David Jay will never be an affiliate judge for the PPA, or…I don’t know, pick any other meaningful accomplishment in the photography world. No one needs to go tilting at windmills to “call out” people who don’t have the chops. Time and the marketplace of ideas will do that for us.

Caroline Ghetes - March 29, 2010 - 1:33 pm

Daniel that’s hilarious :) Terry I REALLY like what your photographer mentor from a while back said with that list you wrote. Pure awesome. WHat was his/her name? I’d love to view their work of possible. Thanks for sharing!

Rick Rosen - March 29, 2010 - 1:46 pm

Jess said:

“What I want are clients like my June 5 bride who kenw she wanted me to be her photographer BEFORE she was even engaged. And then when she finally did get engaged, she called and said they would plan her wedding day around MY schedule because they wanted only ME as their photographer. Why can’t we have more clients like that?

It’s so frusterating to me in my city because there are so many new photographers who have come with a SLR and said, well I can be a photographer. Charge $700 for all day photography and the DVD and end up getting a crazy amount of bookings. I don’t really want a client like that, a client who is just happy with a mediocre photographer and a disk. I want the clients who HAVE TO HAVE the albums and the canvases etc etc.

In Fort Wayne though, the average photographer is around $2500 give or take. That’s just for a single photographer and maybe a second shooter. The husband/wife teams around here are about $5000 for a collection with an album or product credit.

I KNOW I have the capability to be an amazing photographer. I have a style that is so different from most in my area. I lean towards the sexy/vintage and most here are classical/romantic/pretty etc; etc;. I like images that are provactive. So I don’t know if it’s just my style is a little to abrasive for this area or what. But it drives me nuts that I lose a potential bride to photographers whose work is complete and utter garbage. Or, its only good because they are good with photoshop.

Like most new photographers, I relied heavily on photoshop for fixing lighting problems and color. But now, I am so happy with the images when they come straight off the camera. So I think that’s a good sign right?”

Jess, it may be time for a reality check on a number of points.

First, lets look at your market, which I presume is Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Here are the hard statistics:

Number of weddings projected for 2010:

Indiana: 35,377
Ft. Wayne: 3,340

Total wedding budget: $15,608 (2009) and $16,288 (2010)

Incidentally, the average wedding budget nationally has decreased by 1/3 from 2007 ($28,732) to 2010 ($20,088).

Average fee paid for photography services in Ft. Wayne in 2009 was $1,141.00 which was 7% of the total wedding budget. That number is for photography service only and does not include fees paid for products like albums, prints, etc. The number for 2010 is projected to be $1,166.

Note: The average fee paid for photography ANYWHERE in the country is in the range of 5-10% of the total wedding budget. Obviously there are exceptions, but that statistical average never changes.

How can you use those statistics to your advantage?

First, keep in mind that the higher your base fees are the fewer weddings you will book. That results in fewer weddings booked but at higher profit margins. Of course it can be said that the higher budget weddings with the resulting higher photography fees are what we all need to go after. The other side of that formula is that is you keep your base fee in the $1000 range you will find a much higher percentage of potential clients. Unfortunately you will also find many more photographers fighting for those clients. That mid range is where most photographers are battling it out.

So, how do you get to the point of being able to raise your fees and be successful in that rarefied market of “the high end bride”? Not by hopes and dreams or some bull crap cold to you at a high priced workshop. Like any business, to be successful you need to study the market and position yourself for success.

Points to consider (the facts may be a little different in Ft. Wayne, I don’t know):

1. The higher the wedding budget the fewer the available clients.

2. The higher the budget the more the bride relies on a wedding planner to help her.

3. The planner can be an independent business or an inside coordinator at a venue.

4. More affluent brides rarely go to bridal fairs.

5. More affluent brides rarely read wedding magazines.

6. Unfortunately, the other factors related to the proliferation of digital and the downturn in the economy also come into play. With the decrease by 30% of their budget the bride is going to look for places to cut corners. Unfortunately, photographers are an easy target. This is because they all feel we are over-priced to begin with (and they are usually correct in this instant rockstardom world) and they all know someone with a nice camera who is more than willing to shoot their wedding for free.

So, keep your base fee for services in the $1000-$1500 range and have other items as ala-carte. Then find ways to network with other wedding vendors with the ultimate goal of getting to know the wedding coordinators in your market. If most weddings in your market do not use coordinators then market to the other vendors like florists, DJs, caterers, etc.

I have built a strong 100% referral based wedding business over time but it takes time. Like any business, the first few years are going to be hard and not profitable (so watch your outlay of funds very carefully) but if you stay on a path that is based on factual research rather than some crap message from a workshop you will be able to build a good business.

Here’s the key to the kingdom: THINK LIKE THE COORDINATOR OR OTHER VENDOR and NOT LIKE A PHOTOGRAPHER. Understand what they need to build THEIR business (not your business) and fulfill that need for them. They need pictures! But not pictures of the couple kissing in front of the fountain or any other image that “sells” the photographer, they need pictures that sell THEIR services. The florist needs great pictures of the florals, the venue or coordinator needs great pictures of the room set up and the details. Make a point to shoot those and then make an appointment to visit the vendor or venue and deliver those to them for free and without your name and logo watermarked all over the images.

Now, go out and build your business!

Rick Rosen - March 29, 2010 - 2:01 pm

And I should add:

DO NOT believe all the claims made by other “rockstar” photographers or others in your market as to their fees or how busy they are.

I don’t know any photographers at any price point that has not seen a substantial downturn in his business in the last few years. Why do you think that so many photographers are now pitching workshops?

How many weddings can you actually book (meeting clients) and shoot if you are traveling the country on a bus with your face plastered on the side of it?

I know of two rockstars that claim their minimal fee is $20K and yet they frequently shoot (when they actually do shoot a wedding) for fees that are far less than that.

Lets face it, if I wanted to sell high-priced workshops and was willing to “embellish” my own resume would I sell more seats by claiming my average fee was $4K or $20K?

Hmmm, OK, I’ll play that game. I shot a wedding in Paris and the total studio revenue from that wedding was just under $50,000. Does that make me a $50K wedding photographer? Nope!

Stephen Karlisch - March 29, 2010 - 2:22 pm

@CAROLINE GHETES, you are correct, Hate is a bad word, I tell my kids that all the time, I wonder who they heard it from(hmmmmm). Should follow my own advice.
I’ve been shooting since ’91(guess that makes me a “grumpy”), and have seen this industry turn and turn and turn. When I started out, a career-minded photographer had to proceed along a path, pretty straight-forward, to become successful. Now the path is skewed in so many directions a lot of dont know what to make of what is right or wrong. So what if some 23yr old kid with no experience wants to have a workshop? I’m not going. And I shouldnt even have a comment about it. Not my business. do I care if they are in business in ten years, nope. Do I care if I lose a bride to them, nope. None of this matters because I am on my own path, and not someone elses.

David Victor Leung - March 29, 2010 - 2:38 pm

You have scrolled through a LOT of comments! Are you tired? Don’t forget to stretch, stand up for a bit… and smile :)

whois - March 29, 2010 - 6:37 pm

I just did a little research on StephenKnuth.com Website. His site was created on June 8, 2009 and yet still managed to be “Showit’s Best Wedding photographer of the year” ???? hmmmm….

Unless he completely made a new domain name, his website has only been on for about 9 months.

All information found on whois.com

Domain Name: STEPHENKNUTH.COM
Registrar: GODADDY.COM, INC.
Whois Server: whois.godaddy.com
Referral URL: http://registrar.godaddy.com

Updated Date: 08-jun-2009
Creation Date: 08-jun-2009
Expiration Date: 08-jun-2010

Im just sayin’, you had or have another website Stephen?

Gary Fong - March 29, 2010 - 6:52 pm

Stephen and Scarlett, you two are taking some hits here. I think you should stand up to these comments. It takes a lot of time but monitoring and responding to negative criticism is positive for your brand.

B - March 29, 2010 - 7:10 pm

Show-it Photographer of the Year has nothing to do with Photography. It is a simple “Vote for Me” popularity pole. If you check on both Stephen and
Scarlett’s blogs they pushed hard to get the votes. Even using the promise of an engagement ring if he won.

Stephen Knuth - March 29, 2010 - 7:51 pm

@whois:

Hey dude! Thanks for letting me know all that information. I’ll be sure to copy & paste that into my records for safekeeping! So nice of you. :-)

I started my first business (redhawkmedia.com) years ago and I provided video services to CNBC & did music videos. I also created a military documentary that also went into 3 film festivals and won “Best Documentary”.

CNBC: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5y9OvH3y5g

Music Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EauetSlsRrU
I did all the production to that video btw

After that run I changed my company name to Knuth Imagery and continued to provided commercial videos & started with Wedding Videography.

Mystic Tan employed me to do their national sales video for their new product the FIT Body Wrap: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iY5eD81gNwc

I found b&w film in College two years ago, changed over to photography and sold my domains from previous websites and started http://www.stephenknuth.com. You won’t find my previous domains, well actually maybe you could because it seems like your smarter than Doc from Back to the Future. Let me know if you do find my previous dns records! I’d love to read all about it. ;-)

Hope you enjoy reading about my past. Thanks for asking! :-)

God Bless,

Stephen

Lacy - March 29, 2010 - 8:02 pm

OhhhhMyGosh. Really? Who cares? Apparently a lot of people do… Sadly. Is there a DEEPER issue? If we were being COMPLETELY honest with ourselves…we have all taken bad pictures and we’ve taken good pictures… we’ve all been dumb, we’ve all been smart… So all of this… who is good and who is bad…who is worth something and who is worthless… and who shouldn’t be teaching this, that, whatever… It doesn’t matter… It’s kind of subjective (No doubt, there are those who we might ALL agree are pretty terrible). I get it. But would it be fair to say this might be a SELF WORTH issue? Personally or professionally? We need accolades from people for what reason? Or… we need approval from people in this industry or popularity for what reason? Does it make us FEEL better?? Why is the focus on US and who WE are? When did it stop being about our clients? I guess I feel like a lot of people here feel sort of threatened… Are we forgetting that this is a gift… an art. You can’t LEARN it… you have *IT* or you don’t. You can learn lighting, you can learn composition… you can learn how to photoshop the mess out of something… but it takes a special “something” to be able to capture that undeniable breathtaking MOMENT…whatever it may be… blah blah… you get my point. :)
(Terry… really like your 5 steps up there… BRILLIANT. I might print those on a wall decal and plaster them all over my office as a reminder) :)

Caroline Ghetes - March 29, 2010 - 9:03 pm

Ok, whoever is actually taking the time out of their lives to go and research property statements, GoDaddy, etc. in order to prove things about people. I mean come on. Seriously?? That’s taking it too far. I can understand people giving reviews about workshops they’ve taken, because it’s all personal opinion in the end. But to go so far as to say that someone’s daddy paid off their house/condo, camera equipment or whatever, even if it were true…who cares??? There are many amazing photographers out there coming from all kinds of backgrounds whether their daddy paid for their equipment or they starved their way to the top. In the end, it’s all about whether or not the photographer has “it”.

Liene Stevens - March 29, 2010 - 9:10 pm

Thanks for starting this blog. The commentary on this post alone is a conversation that has needed to happen for a long time and one that goes far beyond the photography industry and applies to the larger wedding industry as a whole.

robert madrid - March 29, 2010 - 10:06 pm

Wow :)

I will write more soon, but all I have to say is this….

two videos you have to watch !

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBG8RhmW_N8

&

This is a film made by a friend of mine. It’s about filmmakers but you’ll get the point.

Watch Odie and Troy: A Filmmaker’s Odyssey on Vimeo! http://vimeo.com/1504006

robert madrid - March 29, 2010 - 10:34 pm
julia bailey - March 29, 2010 - 10:44 pm

I think the deeper issue at hand here is an art form and its craftsmanship being debased through the exploitation of photography by bigger business. Take a look at the downfall of the music industry. Granted, the music industry has been corrupt for a long time, but it is getting worse as time goes on. Pop Stars are manufactured by the corporate identity of the music industry. True talent and artists with a voice outside of mainstream advertising generally exist on independent labels, underground.

People like Stephen and Scarlett are set up by a handful of industry leaders who all happen to be interconnected to each other through friendship and the products they have each created. The leaders are businessmen and salespeople, not photographers. Scarlett and Stephen were set up to be salesmen for these products at their personal workshops. If you have watched the series Breaking Bad, consider it like the networking of crystal meth sales. The problem became worse when this circle of people decided to package and sell something as simple as facebook/twitter marketing, which doesn’t work so much for gaining clients, it works for marketing a product. (Namely, the leaders products, as photographers give shout outs for the website company, editing warehouse, album designer, camera bags, etc. they were told to use or peer pressured into buying via facebook/twitter and various workshops.)

Ultimately, it is the photographers own passions and dreams being exploited and abused by the people seeking profit from selling their products to the photographers. The leaders, in trying to push a new product and find profit, often create the problem (a need that doesn’t necessarily exist until they suggest it exists) and then offer you a solution to that need. How many of us really believe a camera bag can make us shoot better, that a website change is vital, that we are wasting our time by editing our own photos? Did you not get into this for the love of photography? If you did, why on earth would you want to do away with the photography part of your business so you can focus on the business part? It makes no sense to listen to the “leaders” tell us what we need. The fact is, what they have been selling is not what we need. We know it and now they know it. What next? Next came the photographer feeling isolated and alone being trapped behind the computer, running their own business all day. Bingo! They can sell us a sense of friendship and community. This new concept spawned a whole new level of workshop, blogging, faith based group think, movements, etc. And now here we sit, arguing back and forth about who the good photographers really are, what is the right lens to use, so and so is lying, this person is just hating, etc.

If you want to protect photography, don’t allow big business to corrupt a vital art form by debasing its value and importance. The people can take back their power by learning to vote with their wallets. Do your research. Be an intelligent, informed consumer. Vote with your money. If you do not buy the air they are selling, they can not profit and the business dies…until they come up with a new method or product to sell. Stay informed.

Stephen Karlisch - March 29, 2010 - 11:07 pm

So Carlos, where do we go from here?

Carlos Baez - March 29, 2010 - 11:19 pm

We move on. Look at the other posts I just put up, and delve into the work of Kim Weston, Edward Weston, the history of Peter Gowland. Learn, grow, breathe, and feel the TRUTH movement coming.

A lot has come out already. A lot has been hot air, venting, but all and all, a learning experience for all.

So move on up the blog, and be inspired.

Let’s try to keep things civil, enough of the attacks. Base things on facts.

Stephen Knuth - March 30, 2010 - 12:01 am

@Julia Bailey- Do you have evidence of your accusations of me or is that just your thoughts at this moment?

To clear this up for you and those reading this now and in the future. Not once have I tried to be a salesperson. I don’t have any product to sell other than my art to my clients. There are a lot of other photographers who are really good at that & I’m not one of them. In 2008 I received a phone call from a recruiter from Brooks Institute of Photography. They had been following me and they offered me a spot in their future alumni. I was going to attend and I was humbled by their phone call. I knew I wasn’t the only photographer getting a call from them and I would have attended but I didn’t have the money to pay them for it.

Where I’m going with this is that I have wanted to be an artist from Day 1. The only reason you may think of me as a “salesperson” is my ties to showit & pictage. The only reason I promote them both heavily is because from the moment I started in this business I was with them and their services have worked great for me.

The brand of camera you shoot, it works great for you, Yes? Then don’t you talk great things about it to all your photog friends? It’s the same with Aperture vs. Lightroom, Pictage vs. Smug Mug, KISS Books vs. Leather Craftsmen. Well, thats the only thing that I have been doing for the products & services that have worked well for me in my drive to be an artist.

By the way, my work was on the walls of the Museum of Photographic Arts this past winter. Does that make me more of an artist to you or not?

If you disagree, well then Julia, maybe we just have different views on business & art.

One final thought… I forgive each and every one of you that has written bad things about my fiance & I. I have no bad feelings against any of you. Now, lets take our evil halloween masks off and go back to what your great at doing… Photography.

God Bless,

Stephen

julia bailey - March 30, 2010 - 12:10 am

oh Stephen, really? You want me to pull out the evidence of your experience? In public? Ok, give me a few moments….

Scarlett Lillian - March 30, 2010 - 12:17 am

Thank you Carlos for encouraging others to move on to the real reason you created this blog. As I told Carlos in a personal email today, I don’t know how a blog about he and David Jay got turned into a blog about me and Stephen.

Because this is a blog about truth, I thought I would take a break from editing to clarify the truth about some things.

I’m impressed you guys took the time out of your day to look up personal info about me. You are quite the detectives! I’m always an open book if you want to email me questions personally. I have nothing to hide.

But yep, you found it, my now dead father bought me my condo in 2005, a year before I even started a photography business. He also bought my car in 2001 as an early college graduation gift because he believed in rewarding kids for good grades and academic success. And yes, he even believed in me enough to invest in my first camera. If anything, because of his generous gifts, that motivated me to work harder to thank him and make him proud. An entrepreneur himself, he was my greatest business mentor. As he got sicker with cancer, he told me how proud he was of me and how much it comforted him to know he could leave this world knowing I could now stand on my own 2 feet financially. I wish everyone could be blessed to have parents in their corner believing in their dreams and helping to turn those dreams into a reality the way my parents did.

One of the first and best things I did starting out when I was researching how to run a photography business was buy Gary Fong’s DVD “Get Rich” which taught about how to make a greater profit on weddings through selling albums. I would like to say a huge public thanks to Gary for equipping me to now be able to make over $10,000 on a lot of my weddings (in a budget bride area) through the methods he taught in the DVD, something which I shared with the girls at my workshop. Gary, do you still sell that? I highly recommend it to everyone!

My personal goal from the beginning has been to free up my life to shoot less weddings per year, but make more money per wedding. My ideal for me and my lifestyle is 10 weddings per year, especially now with my own wedding to plan to my hot awesome fiance Stephen Knuth! I’ve never wanted to be the photographer who was booked every weekend, and that’s why I keep my price high for my market rather than lowering just to get a ton of bookings. But for those who didn’t dig deep enough and are claiming I’ve only shot 8 weddings total for friends, I thought I would make it easy for you to find most of my weddings on my blog, which I might add, only about 3 of the weddings I’ve shot in my whole career has been for friends or family, most of which paid me like a regular client. I do advise new photographers to shoot for free temporarily though, or for a tithe here and there, because my free work has always lead to referrals for paid jobs.

http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2009/12/teresa-nelson-are-married-casa-monica.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2009/12/lindsey-jonathan-are-married-palm.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2009/11/trisha-wedding.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2009/10/samantha-derek-are-married-salinas.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2009/06/rosanna-jared-are-married.html (This one was fun to tag along with my buddies Mike Colon and Luke Edmonson!)
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2009/09/rachel-mike-are-married-ponte-vedra.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2009/08/wendy-jamal-are-married.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2009/07/rachel-andrew-are-married.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2009/07/lori-jason-are-married.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2009/06/sarah-zac-are-married.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2009/06/sara-andrew-are-married.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2009/05/emily-ryan-are-married.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2009/04/danielle-jay-are-married.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2009/01/lynsi-jim-are-married.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2008/12/shayla-kyle-are-married.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2008/11/angelique-matt-are-married.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2008/11/amy-and-joe-are-married.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2008/10/rachel-ariel-are-married.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2008/09/caryn-jonathan-are-married.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2008/08/alexis-gerardo-are-married.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2008/07/congratulations-katie-garrett.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2008/07/congratulations-cara-drew.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2008/06/congratulations-tracy-chris.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2008/05/congratulations-sarah-brian.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2008/05/congratulations-stacey-ted.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2008/05/congratulations-jessica-ryan.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2008/04/congratulations-amy-howard.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2008/04/congratulations-michele-jeremy.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2008/02/congratulations-you-know-who-you-are.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2007/11/congratulations-julia-hugo.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2007/10/congratulations-claudette-rob.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2007/09/congratulations-tara-robbie.html
http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2007/09/congratulations-debbine-mike.html
http://captivatingstudios.blogspot.com/2007/07/congratulations-jenny-jason.html
http://captivatingstudios.blogspot.com/2007/06/congratulations-susan-and-matt.html
http://captivatingstudios.blogspot.com/2007/06/cory-bobby-viva-las-vegas.html
http://captivatingstudios.blogspot.com/2007/04/jessi-and-daniel-trashy-beach-wedding_18.html
http://captivatingstudios.blogspot.com/2006/12/congratulations-jessica-jason.html (whew, how far I’ve come!)

In between all that, I fulfilled videos assignments, shot engagement sessions, portrait sessions, fashion sessions, second shot with friends and more. If you would like me to also take a picture of wall in my office that has collected Thank You notes from my clients who loved my work and were satisfied, I would be happy to come back and do that as well. In the meantime, thanks for checking out all my weddings on my blog! If my clients are happy with my work, that’s really the only opinion I’m concerned about.

Additionally, I don’t want a ton of weddings for the future because I’ve found out that I also love teaching and taking time to do that! It’s the most amazing feeling getting an email a year later from a photographer I taught who told me I helped her triple her bookings. The words she wrote are all there at http://workshops.scarlettlillian.com. I love taking what I know and helping to empower other photographers to follow their dreams and yes, like any industry, I charge for my consulting time. No, I’ve never claimed I’m the richest photographer or that I know it all or that I’m the best photographer, but as my friend Mike Colon told me, whatever level you are at, we all have something to share to help someone else. My inbox gets flooded with a ton of photographer’s questions daily, so I’ve opened up workshops to help answer how I do what I do. I’ve never claimed it to be the right way, simply my way. And naturally, no, not everyone will be happy in the end, but 95% of the results from my feedback survey after my workshop was full of great things about how much I helped them. And what Leeann forgot to mention in her review above is that she emailed me shortly after the workshop saying thanks to me for helping her book her top package! I was super excited for her, and as I pulled her aside and told her at the workshop, I see a great potential and saavy in her to really rock her photography business. Have you checked out the cool video blogs she does? And with Monica too, having recently lost her day job, I think she’s in a great position to really take off with her photography business now!

As far as the research you’ve done on Stephen, he’s been doing media for 8 years whether through photography or video. What he doesn’t put in his bio that I think is super cool is that he won a few awards in independent film festivals at like 16 years old. What an accomplishment! He turned down the opportunity to go to Brooks and study photography elsewhere to save money. He had previous websites for video and photo, but last year was when he got his ShowItSite that you found the registration for. He actually knows a lot more about film than I do, and has a lot of great artistic conceptual film photos around his house that he took back in the day before he ever got paid to be a photographer. He is a true artist first and foremost. And yes, now he’s been voted ShowIt’s Photog of the Year. Maybe it was because of a silly video we put on my blog, maybe not. We honestly did that just to be goofy for a big laugh, we didn’t actually think it would work. Regardless, people chose to vote for him. Love him or hate him. I choose to love him. :-)

I know it’s a hard time right now in the industry, and the cat claws are coming out due to a lot of frustration in slow times and people defending the art. Instead of everyone tearing each other down, why can’t we all CELEBRATE the fact that we have the coolest job in the world as photographers? Whether you are shooting 1 wedding or 100 a year, have had 1 year experience or 25, how awesome that we all see the world a different way through our cameras and get paid to create art that our clients and future generations will cherish for years to come. I choose to believe the best in others and focus on the positive. I love my job!

Lastly, Carlos Baez was one of the very first people to see a potential in me and believe in me before I believed in myself. I love to tell everyone the story of how he pulled me aside at my first PartnerCon in 2007 and told me encouraging words about the great future he saw ahead for me. He has a kind heart and as an experienced pro, he wants to see great things for this industry. I love the concept of the truth movement, celebrating the ART of photography. God bless each of you! I sincerely wish each of you nothing but great success in your photography careers too! :-)

“I pray that the God who gives hope will fill you w/ much joy & peace while you trust Him.” -Romans 15:13

julia bailey - March 30, 2010 - 1:00 am

The earliest portfolio would be your school years. Your flickr account pretty much explains everything before your website creation in June of 2009.

http://www.flickr.com/people/stephenknuth/

I think you have some nice images in there, dont get me wrong. But, not at all a strong portfolio for going directly into calling yourself a full on professional wedding photographer.

I did manage to find the photography school you attended. Again, not a strong educational background, but kudos to you for attending an actual school, regardless of how weak it looks. And hey, I never went to school. I learned through work experience.

http://www.design-training.com/moreinfo/photography-schools/san-diego-city-college.php

I am guessing you spent 2 years at the above school 2007-2009 spring. Flickr being your portfolio from school.

This brings us to your website, as was proven in a comment above, you created June 8, 2009.

http://who.godaddy.com/WhoIs.aspx?domain=stephenknuth.com&prog_id=GoDaddy

The only wedding blogged on your website is a wedding of your aunt and uncle in Miami, June 16, 2009

http://www.stephenknuthblog.com/?p=21

I can find no other weddings blogged. I’d say you did a nice job with the wedding, definite potential for taking on wedding photography. However, this was the wedding of a relative and I would have to assume you were not paid to do it. I would certainly not charge my own family to shoot their wedding if it were my first wedding and I was fresh out of school. But, thats me.

If you have shot full weddings and happen to have the completed images hosted somewhere, all 400-800 images or whatever you offer, I would love to take a look and you can call me crazy. Actually, I am sure everyone posting here would like to take a look. Galleries of shootouts and mock wedding workshops do not count as real weddings shot. Second shooting is good experience, but I am more interested in completed galleries where you have been the primary photographer..or even the solo photographer. I would hate to see a gallery and learn that another photographer’s work was mixed in.

I did listen to your live interview on Phaunt.com. Unfortunately, I can not find this interview recorded online, so it is only my heresy to repeat what I heard…unless someone else happened to listen in and can support my take on it. Now, I admit I could not finish listening to the entire live interview because I was too horrified by your lack of care in the process of the photography.

During the interview, you became very passionate and excited when discussing how to use facebook to market. You even made reference to how your voice changes in excitement when talking about facebook.

You also mentioned that you have learned to “edit the photos in camera” which makes your photo workflow very minimal and increases the amount of time you have to put into marketing. Now, Stephen, Im just very curious…
If you are so passionate about photography, why would you not want to bother yourself with the process of photography? Why all of the marketing effort? You can lie to me and others, but for your own sake, at least be honest with yourself. What are you really passionate about?

julia bailey - March 30, 2010 - 1:17 am

Regarding the discussion of brands, I personally never talk about it unless someone specifically asks me. I think the brands are irrelevant to the work at hand.

John Partridge - March 30, 2010 - 1:42 am

I’m not sure wedding photography is ever art. And I’m not sure that is should be. Any thoughts?

julia bailey - March 30, 2010 - 1:56 am

I posted my evidence. waiting on the comment to be approved.

If wedding photography is not art, it is at least a product of craftsmanship. Some would be considered art. Some clients want what they consider art. I dont think it matters much if you are doing what you love and the clients are happy. There is a market for every style and flavor of photography with weddings. No reason to make it a pile of homogeneous same. Or worse, to make the concept of quickfix photography into some kind of standard. At least have pride in craftsmanship, the clients deserve it.

Rick Rosen - March 30, 2010 - 1:59 am

Stephen Knuth states:

“To clear this up for you and those reading this now and in the future. Not once have I tried to be a salesperson. I don’t have any product to sell other than my art to my clients.”

Stephen,

I don’t know you nor have I commented negatively about you or Lillian whom I also do not know. You have taken some pretty harsh criticism in this thread. At times, I will admit, I felt a little sorry for the two of you.

BUT, having said that, the criticism seems to be directed at your efforts to sell consultations and workshops to other photographers while having very little experience yourself to be able to offer any substance to your offerings.

Now you seem to want to make everyone believe that you have not tried to sell stuff to other photographers? Get real sir!

In my minimal investigation of who you were (to satisfy my curiosity as to why you were being hammered so much) I discovered the following:

You ARE making concerned efforts to make money off photographers.

Lets look at what I found:

1. You ran a shootout workshop at WPPI (sponsored by Showit) at which the fee to attend was $99.

2. You list three different options on your site where photographers can “learn” from you:

A lunch for $150 and two more expensive options going up to $900.

In fact you posted proudly just yesterday that you were going to one of your $150 luncheons with another photographer.

3. Your “Photog shoot outs” cost between $40 and $60 for photographers to attend. You just mentioned this in a blog interview:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/phaunt/2010/03/27/phaunt-forum-chat-with-stephen-knuth

Incidentally, you also tried to justify the cost by stating that you were doing these shootouts for no fee for you and these fees were to cover only your “hard costs.”

OK, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and ask you to explain what your “hard costs” actually are and where the photographer’s tuition fees are going. Care to explain?

Simply put, you cannot have it both ways. If you want to sell your knowledge and experience to other photographers then stand up and admit it and take the critique as a man and learn from it. Don’t try and backpedal by claiming that you have nothing to sell to photographers.

In taking that position you have jumped right into what so many other photographers are griping about.

Rick

Rick Rosen - March 30, 2010 - 2:02 am

“I’m not sure wedding photography is ever art. And I’m not sure that is should be. Any thoughts?”

When I begin to see wedding photography exhibited in mainstream art galleries and museums then I will begin to believe that wedding photography is something more than pretty pictures of a pretty event.

julia bailey - March 30, 2010 - 2:08 am

Rick, that doesn’t mean you can not make art while shooting weddings. There is a world of opportunity for random shots you can do for you..for the sake of art.

Rick Rosen - March 30, 2010 - 2:22 am

Julia,

Without the emotional content these images have little appeal and the emotional content does not carry over to the community at large, it is only emotional to the families involved. While viewers that have no personal connections might like the images they are doing so only because they are pretty pictures. For a photograph to be elevated to the definition of art it must go far beyond that.

Jenn Lebron - March 30, 2010 - 2:39 am

Wow. That was a great read.

I am a complete newbie. I have shot for a while, but under no circumstance consider myself a professional. Yet. & As a newbie, I’ve been looking around to see what types of advice and experience there is for me to learn from.

So the things I took from all of that is this:

In my opinion: Photography by itself, yes, is an art.

But when it’s turned into a business, it is more than art. It becomes more focused on business, marketing, etc. Because you can be a photographer and never make a dime, stay true to the art, don’t sell out. Haha.

For most of us here, we wanted to make it something MORE than just art. We want to live the passion, we want to make money. (Bottom line, right?)

And so, as an outsider looking in, as a new photographer who is searching and discerning what is helpful or destructive. I see a divided industry. & I don’t think it’s helpful. It looks bad. (Haha.) It’s like when the family is fighting at the dinner table in front of guests.

My philosophy coming in and becoming a better photographer, to be established, to get up and running?
1) Learn everything I can, from whoever is willing to share.
2) Explore my camera and shooting style.
3) Take it all and sift through it. See what works for me what doesn’t.
4) Work. Work. Work. Gary Vaynerchuk calls it hustle. And the harder you hustle, the better.

Something I realized early on about ‘getting serious’ about my photography business is that: I want to move the industry forward, not hold it back.

How do we move forward?
Stay true to the art. But don’t neglect the fact that branding plays a big part as well. Honestly, what I have seen, the image is the hook. The personality is what draws clients in. It’s a package deal.

I really appreciated all of your comments.
To a new photographer, it was very helpful for me.

julia bailey - March 30, 2010 - 2:53 am

Rick, I do not know that I am creating art. I question this constantly. I do have people, random people, clients, etc. tell me that they can “feel” my wedding photos, regardless that they have no idea who the people are in the photos. From my personal perspective, I can not see it. I can only do what I do and if someone likes it, great. Let the clients be the judge and just do what you love is my point.

I hear what you are saying and I do think the industry at large has gotten a bit lost in the pretty. I liken it to a candy coated layer with no substance. I still think that in order to capture emotion in photography, the photographer needs to be in tune with his own emotions as well as have a keen sense of emotional IQ regarding other people. Know thyself would be a terrific start at improving ones photography. You ARE your photography.

From where we all sit right now, the industry can either spiral down a path of quickfix products and concepts, leaving me with a greater number of clients or people can consider the impact that photography plays in everyone’s lives from this moment and on into future generations. Truly, it is a state of mind. Do you want to evolve your work or do you just want to pay the bills with minimal effort? Maybe if you are 20 weddings seem like minimal effort. To me, they are incredibly hard work!

On the other hand, I think there is a market for emotionless pretty. There is a market for every style and flavor of photography so it doesn’t really matter what your style is or what someone else’s style is. It isn’t even worth arguing over whether or not wedding photography is art. It is art to some and not art to others. It is what you make it and how others judge it.

julia bailey - March 30, 2010 - 3:20 am

Jenn, where have you proven that the personality is what draws the clients in? If you are referring to the folks that sell themselves as personalities, you need to dig a little deeper to see where the bulk of their incomes are coming from. Who are they really selling themselves to? The photographers or wedding clients?

It isn’t that difficult to figure out how to manage your own business. Be responsible. The marketing crap that is being sold in workshops can be found on google and youtube for free.

julia bailey - March 30, 2010 - 3:36 am

Oh, and by the way Jenn, I have not sold out and I run a successful business.

I stopped blogging. I stopped all marketing. I take forever to edit the images. I am bad at answering emails right away. I have no brand. People are lucky if I answer the phone without making them first leave a message. With all of that, I have as much work as I could want.

The industry profits off of the photographers. The photographers don’t really need the industry. That’s the funny bit that everyone fails to realize.

julia bailey - March 30, 2010 - 3:57 am

add to my last sentence.

“The industry profits off of the photographers. The photographers don’t really need the industry. That’s the funny bit that everyone fails to realize.”

In fact, I dare say the industry wants the photographers to be divided. Its called “divide and conquer”. Its a marketing strategy.

http://www.prlog.org/10256370-divide-and-conquer-with-market-segmentation-target-marketing.html

Why else did they create the Grumpy? There were no “grumpies” until someone (I wont name NAMES) started calling the older photographers grumpy as they were trying to market to the new photographers.

They are target marketing new photographers, selling them on an image and a dream. This is such common marketing practice. Unfortunately, the kids in their 20′s have been bred on this style of marketing because they have grown up with television commercials. They are perfectly conditioned to accept it and not question it.

Watch the following video…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMDPql6rweo

So, it is pointless for us to be arguing about whether or not wedding photography is art or what lens is better. None of that matters. Photographers arguing is simply playing into and strengthening the industry’s marketing strategy, and putting more money in the salesman and corporations pockets, not ours.

Matt Ebenezer - March 30, 2010 - 4:16 am

This is definitely an interesting discussion, albeit an entirely pointless one.

There are so many subjective statements, wild inaccuracies and pointed barbs in the comments it’s ridiculous.

Who is anyone to lay claim to the ultimate authority on what another photographer can or cannot do? Or decree how experienced one must be before they can on cannot teach others or hold a workshop?

What simple-minded nonsense.

I’m not sure much of note has been accomplished throughout history by sitting back and saying, “Oh, you can’t do things that way!”

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square hole. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
– Apple Computer Inc

julia bailey - March 30, 2010 - 4:32 am

Matt, I left another comment in regards to marketing strategies above yours. Unfortunately, it has to wait on approval. I hope you will return to read it.

The discussion is not pointless. It is working out people’s frustrations and most importantly, slowly revealing truths as it goes along. My last post was very important. In fact, it may not even get published because it might hurt the industry too much if the photographers begin to realize what is really going on.

Here is a hint: divide and conquer marketing. The industry is profiting off of the photographers. The photographers arguing is only strengthening the marketing strategy of the industry.

Jenn Lebron - March 30, 2010 - 7:49 am

Julia,
My husband and I are planning to renew our vows and I get to have the pictures and the day I never got. (Typical Military Wife here. Haha, got married at the courthouse.) When I ask myself, “WHO DO I WANT TO SHOOT IT?” A list comes to mind & I start looking at websites.

I am a visual person, well I would venture to say anyone who is shopping for a photographer is visual, when I go to a website, I get a feel for a photog. I judge the images, yes, but I also take into consideration the design of the website and the branding. In all honesty, I would never hire a photog that uses Papyrus as the font in their logo, well I wouldn’t really rush to the phone to call them. I would rather hire a photographer with a blog than one without one. To me personality means a lot.

Why? Because they are all elements of YOU. No offense, but I wouldn’t want to spend the entire day with someone who is too busy to answer my emails. Do I have any proof, studies, statistics about personality drawing in clients? No, but I am a consumer. I know what I like, I know what I want.

Maybe I gravitate to the “rockstar” photographers because they have made themselves more approachable. (They answer my emails.) ;) ;)

Leeann - March 30, 2010 - 9:02 am

Honestly, Scarlett, I did not write your workshop name in my post. But thank you for clarifying. Now one point of mine that I’ll make brief. I didn’t even want to post it, but I will.

I quoted my client (the one who booked me at double my initial price) on February 1st:
On Mon, Feb 1, 2010 at 1:09 PM, Leeann Golish wrote:
Hi T___!! CONGRATS!! You are so excited! I love it! Your ring is beautiful, by the way! My pricing information is available here:

https://app.shootq.com/public/leeann_marie_photography/pricing/current

You can always decide if this works within your budget and we can move forward! I can do engagement sessions separately as well. Ok! I hope that helps!”

The workshop ran from Feb 5-8

The email to you stated:
“:D Just wanted to let you know that I just booked my biggest package to date! Nearly double what my initial package 3 weeks ago was! They’re “acquaintences” from college, so I’m nervous that was just a fluke, but either way I’m happy and had to share :)

To which I first received an auto-responder and then received:
“Holy cow, that’s AMAZING Leeann! Did you up your prices after the workshop? I’m so excited for you! This is just the beginning!”

Thank you for your encouragement.

And to answer your question, YES, I did up my prices before the workshop.

I don’t think this is the place to talk over and over about workshops and their content. Hopefully the proper venue for that conversation will come about. In the meantime, I think it’s important to focus on Carlos’s true intent on this site.

Caroline Ghetes - March 30, 2010 - 9:35 am

Julia I love your site. For those of you who asked if weddings can be art. Go to Julia’s homepage slideshow and see the image of the bride underwater. I personally see that as art. Nice work!

Jai Girard - March 30, 2010 - 10:50 am

When they asked Greta Garbo why everyone thought she was so beautiful she replied , “I TOLD them I was beautiful and they BELIEVED me.”

John Partridge - March 30, 2010 - 11:49 am

‘Julia I love your site. For those of you who asked if weddings can be art. Go to Julia’s homepage slideshow and see the image of the bride underwater. I personally see that as art. Nice work!’

Yeah, took a look; wow, if wedding photography can be art Julia’s certainly comes damn close. That shot certainly seems to qualify.

I don’t know, I didn’t go to art school so I don’t know if I have the right language but maybe it is the presence of the wedding dress that presents a problem. It adds so much context. Certainly on a regular wedding day of mine I don’t end up with art. Beautiful moments and shots? I hope so. Artistic shots? Hopefully. But never something to make it in a gallery. I had a random shot from the getting ready photos once that picked up a real Cindy Sherman vibe. I hung on to it for awhile thinking it might be art but it was it’s lack of context to the event that made it seem like possible art to me.

Fun talk!!

John

GARY FONG - March 30, 2010 - 12:41 pm

LILLIAN AND STEPHEN – it is definitely a good thing to chime in once in a while so that things don’t get out of hand. People tend to believe what is said in print, and a good PR firm will give you great advice on stemming a PR crisis. A wildfire like this can leave a massive path of destruction that can tarnish your brand.

You both were at my meeting where I talked about the “rave” client, and the upward spiral. This comes when value is way over price. It seems to me that there is a value problem, which is creating a downward spiral. It appears you are in a downward spiral. If I were in one, this is what I would do:

1) respond in a civil way to the complaints that have substance. Ignore the cheap shots about your looks etc. Readers will more often be sympathetic if the shots are “mean”

2) re-evaluate why the firestorm. What caused this. Always always look at yourself and be as candid as you can. Why did they not 100% love the workshop and most importantly, why aren’t 100% of the people trying to drag 2 people into the next workshop. Something went wrong with expectations and how they were met.

3) did you exaggerate claims, or lie in the workshop? If so, this pack of angry dogs will search through public records and find it out. This kind of stuff happened to another speaker a few decades ago and you can’t find her on google hardly. She disappeared because this industry can be very very cruel.

4) find a PR firm who is good at managing crisis. I think this is your next step. They will handle your communications and know how to channel and spin.

5) just as a suggestion, if your content is going to align closely with any group – make a disclaimer. Warn them that they are going to hear a lot of focus on something not directly related to photography.

6) religion and politics are polarizing. Look at my facebook comments. I do it to prove a point – which is – actually let me come up with an answer to that question.

Nobody wants a fellow photographer to hurt or be humiliated. But EVERYBODY universally wants to warn others if they feel they got ripped off by a workshop and, having never been to yours, I don’t know how they are but judging by the responses, this is clearly not the evidence of an upward spiral.

Mandie Haberman - March 30, 2010 - 1:39 pm

In the past 12 hours I’ve taken more time than I should have to read through all these comments. Somewhat intrigued by the conversation, but not sure how I feel about it.

I think one thing that the “Rockstar” photographers movement has created is quite frankly a lot of jealousy. Those of us without celebrity status can easily fall into being jealous of those who have it or those who choose to allot some of their business reinvestment income into the myriad of expensive workshops available. If we put aside the resentment and jealousy, is there still something to be so passionately bitter about?

Let’s compare workshop pricing to our own pricing… Our prices are partly determined by what our market is willing to pay. It’s important to know if photographers in your area (regardless of their images) are actually collecting the price you’re looking to charge from your actual market. If you decide to offer a workshop, and another photographer offering similar workshop topics can charge $700 for that workshop, then clearly people are willing to pay that for some education. On one hand, of course we want to be sure that the content will justify the investment. On the other hand, if people are paying to fill the seats, why shouldn’t a photographer charge a fee to share their hard-earned knowledge? If I had been paid for a workshop and received negative feedback, I’d make it right and do better next time. Perhaps some one-on-one with the disappointed attendee or a seat at another workshop for free or a refund; either way I’d address it.

I do not believe you need to be in business for 20+ years to offer up your knowledge at a price. I do believe you need to evaluate what you can teach as well as be incredibly clear about the content of the workshop and your ideal audience. I don’t think it’s reasonable to ask people to share limitlessly for free, but I do agree that it’s kind of insane to ask for $150 for a lunch meeting. There’s a happy medium in there somewhere.

Perhaps our industry is growing a little less star-struck and perhaps change is coming. I look forward to watching this blog to see how we can be inspired in a new way, because I’ve personally found plenty of inspiration on the blogs and Facebook fan pages and resource websites of many of the “Rockstars.” I began as a black-and-white film photographer and stayed that way all through four years of high school and five years of college, and I’ve missed studying the great photographers I loved through museum exhibitions and textbooks…I am happy to add this blog to my list of weekly reads in hopes of getting some old-school inspiration back into my routine.

And with that, thanks for reading my random thoughts and I am off to actually get some work done today. :)

Kevin Wynn - March 30, 2010 - 2:21 pm

I think everyone has the right to make money off of their knowledge and expertise, just be totally upfront and honest about it and let the market decide. I’ve only taken a handful of workshops, but only 2 were totally worth the cost. Some of the best investments I’ve made – in terms of time and money – have been a few of the photography forums. I don’t think I could be where I am today in my business and my craft without the wonderful community of photographers who have freely shared their knowledge. Because of that, I share what I’ve learned as much as I can on the forums and when others have contacted me directly. It’s my way of giving back now since I don’t feel I have enough experience (not necessarily in years) yet for me to charge people to simply pick my brain about photography and business. But again, that’s me and I don’t begrudge anyone for making a buck.

Stephen, we met briefly last year at a Photog event down in San Juan Capistrano. You are nice guy and don’t deserve the mean-spirited hits you received. There are some valid points being made and I hope that you won’t be defensive but take in what makes sense to you. I have to admit that I got tired of you posting 4 or more times a day on Facebook to vote for you for “Photographer of the Year” because you obviously coveted winning it in order to be able to use it to market yourself. Still, this is a free country and you can do what you want. At the same, you are part of community of photographers and it appears you have a “perception” problem. But since this site is about “truth” and you have bravely put yourself out there as an artist, are YOU producing what YOU feel is art? I think it’s totally okay to say, “I like to take nice, beautiful looking photos. It may not be “art” in my eyes, but my clients love it and since they pay the bills, their opinions are the only ones that matter.” Dane Sanders writes how DJ called him on his bullshit early on in his career. I’m not saying you are trying to b.s. people, but there is obviously a disconnect in the eyes of your fellow photographers between what you say about yourself as a photographer and what you are actually doing as a photographer; both artistically and business-wise.

Lastly, I do believe that there is more to running a business than just the photography. And I’m so glad there are those who emphasize/encourage that we use who we are as unique individuals in order to market our services. What I do find troubling is that some “experts” treat the actual craft/art of photography almost like an afterthought, as if it is one of the least important things that we do as a photographer in order to be successful. But whether we like it or not, there is a place for this mentality. Otherwise, how else can cream rise to the top.

Just Max - March 30, 2010 - 3:27 pm

Mr Gary Phong sir, Steven has had one client that was a relative, and he has all of one client currently on his website. He has never shot a paid wedding so I don’t think your workshop on “rave” clients will help him. He has no clients to rave about him yet.

Just Max - March 30, 2010 - 3:34 pm

and with that I have to get back to editing a wedding … goodbye silly silly silly rockstars of sales and marketing who are not photographers.

julia bailey - March 30, 2010 - 3:47 pm

Jenn, The rock stars answer your emails? Can you prove this to me?

I do things my way because it works for me at this time in my life. I have had to learn to not overbook myself. Call it the anti-marketing campaign.

People tend to hire a photographer who cares as much about photography as they do. You may hire a photographer who cares more about the font on their business card than the images you end up with. That is your choice. There is a market for every style and flavor of photography, every approach to marketing. I have proven it the extreme. If you follow the formula being sold too closely, you will attract clients who care less about the photography and more about the watch you wear.

I think it is sad that photography is becoming more about website, clothes you wear, favorite flavor of ice cream, etc. than the lasting images. Then again, was it ever any different? No wonder wedding photography has always been considered the lowest rung of photography.

Taylor Christianson - March 30, 2010 - 4:46 pm

It’s not jealousy that’s making people lash out at people like scarlet or dj…it’s the dishonesty. Up there SL proved it…she shot 14 weddings, one was a tagalong and another was for a relative and another looked like 2 people on a beach…not even a wedding. so guess she shot 11 or 12 paying gigs the whole year? and there’s no way all those people paid $10k each. Probably $3k-$6k with one or two paying $8k-$10k just to be generous. so probably for the whole year she grossed $70k-$80k (off photography, not workshops), so she probably netted $35k (also being generous), but on her blog pretends to live an expensive lifestyle only because of her parents money. a bank teller makes more than her, but then she tries to sell people workshops about how they can strike it rich even though she never has. sad…

there are lots of photographers giving workshops that cost more than these and draw more people…but nobody’s throwing stones at them like this. I wonder why? oh, because they’re people who really have made a good business and know photography. it’s not jealousy…it’s anger at fakers and phonies and conmen.

sad thing is, scarlet, i can see in your pictures that your clients like you, and you have passion for weddings…it’s just too bad you spent all your time pretending to be successful instead of learning photography and learning business. if you’d spent half as much time learning instead of faking, you’d probably have been a real success instead of a joke :(

@Fauxtographers - March 30, 2010 - 5:10 pm

I chose to link to @Fauxtographers. This is not an attempt to be anonymous and bash others. We are here to help photographers along their journey AND give the ‘Rockstars’ honest feedback.

To ALL photographers:

* We won’t make the industry better if we replace the “fake” with “hate.”
* Can you really fight “mockery” with “mockery?”
* What qualifies someone to teach a workshop? Time as photog, talent, content, awards, successes, name, Rockstar Status, friends and/or good looks? ;)
* What do you want out of a photography workshop? Inspiration, networking, technical skills, business methods, marketing or creative concepts?
* Just because the “Cool kids” are teaching workshops does not mean it can help YOUR photography and/or business.

To the “Rockstar” photographers:

* If you have not ran a PHOTOGRAPHY business for at least 3 years…you should not be teaching about the business of photography. Period!
* Photographers are upset because our current “Leaders” are amazing at marketing…then photography seems to be an after thought.
* Get your head out of your ass and listen! If indeed photographers are your target market…you might want to pay attention to what they are saying.
* Just because you are successful DOES NOT mean you are right qualified to teach.
* Are you creating community to help other photographers? OR Are you creating community to help YOU market your product & services to other photographers?
* “Sharing” and “giving back” is not the same as charging for a workshop/product/service.
* I’m curious about the origin of the term “Grumpies.” I mean if some of these “Rockstars” were as arrogant back in the day as they are now…I’m sure many photogs would snubbed them! Think about it. Maybe your are the problem.
* If you act like your $hit don’t stink…people will sniff harder.
* If you create a photog resource around you…you will be self-promoting all the time. If people don’t like you…they wont like your resource.
* You are being “Flashy” when you RT every compliment/thanks/nice thing… that someone else says about you!
* Please don’t ask to RT everything and/or say “make sure you follow me on Twitter.” It sounds desperate. If someone likes the Tweet or are generally interested..they should RT or follow you themselves with out you asking.
* Are you creating “value” at your workshops with tangible, applicable and unique info/skills? Or a bunch of sponsor discount codes, promos and shwag?
* You chose to use your “fame” and industry visibility to push your photographer resources. So be prepare to get ALL forms of attention…good and bad.
* When you have banners and ads on your photography blog to make money…you look like a sell out.
* To classified yourself as a “photographer” don’t you have to actually shoot? Don’t hold the title just for marketing.
* If you are still using your first ever DSLR…you should NOT teach your own workshops.
* Are you pushing photographer to fame so they can push your products and services?
* Are you in it for the money? That is fine…just don’t bullshit people!

Cheerio,
~ @Fauxtographers

Just Max - March 30, 2010 - 5:57 pm

I keep hearing the third grade explanation for the backlash, “Yall’s just jealous”

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. – “Thomas Jefferson”

The Ugly attacks Scarlett, Scott, and the jasmines of the world for teaching people to lie cheat and steal and its okay.

It’s a good idea apparently to go to other photographer’s websites and steal the shots you think look neat. It’s okay to steal other people’s ideas out of magazines and repost your own version of them on your own website. It’s all right to make your future clients believe you have creativity even if it is someone else’s creativity you are mooching off of. So cheat, steal, and lie about it ….

These twits encourage people to lie, take pictures of friends and relatives and infer to your potential clients that these are past clients.

Let’s not forget the Jesus, these “Christians” telling us to lie cheat and steal, bringing the wedding industry down to a cheesy disgusting used car salesman’s level’ My favorite trend is trying to tell us that photography isn’t very important, photography is a tiny part of our business.

Photography is a tiny part of these people’s business because they are not photographers. These idiots are vendors for actual photographers trying to sell us crap we didn’t need in the first place.

Amy - March 30, 2010 - 6:04 pm

Julia I love your work!!!! I want to see more good photos. The “rockstar” photographers should be the ones that “rock it” with the camera not their mouth

Photography is my passion I love it, its always been a part of my life and I don’t like seeing these hacks making a mockery of it.

julia bailey - March 30, 2010 - 6:30 pm

The wedding photography industry is not worth saving. Photographers who care about photography will have more clients as a result. Let it burn…

B - March 30, 2010 - 7:05 pm

The saddest part is their confession of faith. I don’t doubt you are christians; but please think about what christ would have you do. Would he condone exaggerating your income and experience to gain followers? Would he call himself something he was not?

Please be honest with yourself, even if you can’t be honest with us. Admit what you really desire. Is it to BE a great photographer? Or is it really to be THOUGHT of as a great photographer? Or perhaps, like Scarlett admitted, you want to be a teacher. There is nothing wrong with wanting to teach others, but please be honest with your students about your experience and successes or lack of. If you just want the attention of a Rock Star then shame on you; but congratulations, we all know who you are.

No matter how honest you are, we the “grumpys” cant stand by and allow you to undermine the industry. And if calling you out is what it takes, i hope more “grumpys” speak up.

Jessica Hassinton - March 30, 2010 - 7:30 pm

Scarlett, get real. I love how you bring up your “dead father”….when he was newly in hospice care you were in Vegas throwing a “party” at Rouge. You actually posted pictures of his FUNERAL on your BLOG like it was a photo shoot. You even brought a date to your dad’s funeral! Maybe you should consider that people don’t think much of you as a person as well as a photographer. It’s hard to want to learn from someone who doesn’t make any effort to improve their own work (as evident by the lack of lighting, exposure, and processing skill on the images on your blog) and chooses to lead a very hypocritical lifestyle.

Mark Stahl - March 30, 2010 - 7:38 pm

OK so that was a lot to read… and I will admit I skipped a few words. But all of that being said about rockstars etc. I still think the big problem is the new photographer in town who follows one of these rockstars opens up shop and claims to be an professional because they charge $5000 and only do 10 weddings a year.

Then they shoot a bunch of photos on PROGRAM and spend 3 weeks in photoshop applying actions and filters. Oh and by the way, why are you shooting peoples feet it’s their wedding day for god sake.

I’m sorry but all of this stuff looks the same PLEASE come up with your own style and then maybe I’ll have a little respect for you. I kinda like being called a grumpy, after I’ll I was souping TX in Acufine when these guys were still in nappies.

Cathy Crawley - March 30, 2010 - 7:52 pm

Wow, this is one very interesting topic and I’m glad that people are saying exactly how they feel without hiding behind fake names (well most of us)

When I first started my business 2 1/2 years ago I was guilty of being enamoured by the “rockstar photographers”. But, after a while I realised that the notion of a “rockstar photographer” is just silly. They are just people like you and I. Do you think their next door neighbour wakes up and says to themselves, gee I’m lucky I get to live next door to Jessica Clare? I bet you they don’t. They are human and when they walk down the street in their local town people have absolutely no idea who they are. When they walk into WPPI everyone turns, gushes and want’s to be near them. Why? Well because they have something, some IT factor that we like, or perhaps we just buy into the idea of their success.

When I thought more about this phenomenon in our industry I began to see it a bit like high school. You have the super popular kids who do what they can to stay popular all the while worrying about the new kid in class who might take their position. I was never a cool kid, and so I don’t have dreams of being one now. It is human nature that there will always be the A type personalities in a crowd of people and every industry is the same with their version of the ‘rockstar’. Someone will always want to be a leader for what ever reason. At the end of the day as long as I manage to make a living doing what I love and making my clients happy, because let’s face it without the client we are nothing, that is all that matters. Do I need 500+ comments on my blog every post? No. Will that pay my bills? No. So who cares? Have I made friendships because of blogging? Absolutely! And that is probably the best payoff from being in this community.

Even though I don’t wish to be like these so called “rockstar photographers” you have to admire them for their guts and determination and their sills at being able to have so many people admire them, even if it is a little bit silly.

Rick Rosen - March 30, 2010 - 7:54 pm

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” – Winston Churchill

B - March 30, 2010 - 7:58 pm

WE don’t admire them, obviously we see right through them. The problem is for the unknowing newbie.

Stephen Karlisch - March 30, 2010 - 8:37 pm

If anyone is still reading….

I’d like to propose a new direction some of us can follow. It will be called,…”Save the Newbies!”

Let US, WITH experience, WITH the passion to live photography as our path in life, WITH the trials and errors of living this dream, WITH having seen the rise and fall of the rockstar wedding photog trend end, give our time to help the new blood of this industry.

I’ve never charged for information that I happily “teach” new photographers. We should all find time to mentor or provide a resource that helps new photographers get the information they need, rather than prey on all their insecurities and charge for it. I’m all about capitalism, but there is a certain amount of basics that we should pass on to ensure our industry prospers, and people abide by these basic principles. We need to create an industry of true “pros” and peers, just like commercial photography has.

Its time wedding photography grew up.

Mary Beth Tyson - March 30, 2010 - 8:53 pm

Scarlett,

When I first met you I really liked you. I thought you were super sweet and I liked being around you. I know that when you second shot for me it wasn’t the best experience for me but you were new so the “rules” of second shooting and being a photographer were probably very foreign to you, as many of them were to me! But who cares because I look back at so many things I did in the beginning and I want to hide my face.

As a photographer in your area and someone who started around the same time as you I would encourage you to take to heart a lot of these criticisms. They aren’t spoken out of jealousy but they are spoken out of frustration and love for the true art of photography. Even though many of them are hard to read I think they will really help you. As my husband says, sometimes you have to chew the grass and spit out the sticks. Even the nasty comments should be considered because there is even truth there.

I know you want to teach but why not try being a successful photographer first? As long as you’re doing what you’re doing people are going to call you out and do it in a hurtful way most of the time. People in our industry are not jealous of successful photographers simply because they are successful. In fact, we celebrate them. I’m sure one day you can find yourself in the same position. Unfortunately, that’s not what’s happening now.

As long as you’re teaching seminars, creating video blogs and promoting yourself you will be criticized. I’m sorry but you just haven’t arrived in your “art” to be doing these things and not be criticized.

Melody - March 30, 2010 - 9:28 pm

Wow…I am a newbie (sorta) and I caught on to this style early on and I will say I am glad that I am not the “groupie type” so the “Rock Stars” either selfmade or made by newbies like me…really don’t mean that much to me I don’t swoon over any of them they are people just like me….But, what DOES matter and makes someone a real Rock Star to ME is when someone (Rock Star or NOT) gives freely of themselves in a genuine manner and belive me most people can see when its not genuine…pretty quickly.

I don’t buy anything or into anything that will not benefit me or the people I want to serve by making what I have to offer them (which should be great photos of their moments) better and better…anything else is a waste of time and money.

Just Max - March 30, 2010 - 9:30 pm

I’m thinking you have to have something to teach, before you can teach it. Goodbye false profits of the J-man, I hope you enjoyed your fleeting almost taste of rockstardom.

Whose next?

Beth Morgan - March 30, 2010 - 10:01 pm

WOW!

I’m a newbie…I’ve been shooting for 13 plus years but I’m a newbie to this industry. I got a text from a friend mentioned several times in this to take a look at what was being said. WOW!

I think there are some amazing things being positioned and some mud slinging. I’m not a fan of mud slinging…it’s easy to target someone and go to town on all that you see wrong with them. I hope I’m NEVER a rockstar in this industry! WHY? Because I love photography! I believe I was put on this earth to be a photographer. I mean I really love it :) . I don’t want all this hype and crap because I feel like it would rob me of that love. I shoot because it’s my passion. I shoot weddings because I adore documenting the most special day of this couples life. I love people and I love giving people images…art if you will, that they can cherish. I’m fine just being known to my clients in my “neck of the woods…Mississippi”. I don’t want anything to rob me of my passion and joy for shooting.

That being said…I have a love/hate relationship with this industry. I hate the haters hating on my friends…taking their heads off and posting them on nude bodies…really…is that necessary? I’ve taken workshops and learned a ton…I also worked for Stephen Karlisch for a summer (HI STEPHEN) and he was so gracious to me and took me under his wing and taught me a ton! I already have people asking me to host a workshop and I’m like…no thank you! I don’t know enough. But I love sharing my heart and empowering others to achieve their greatness! I just wish that we could encourage each other to greatness and not hate.

Scarlett is an amazing person and friend…not perfect but no mistake is worth this type of hysteria!

I am glad that this type of forum exists to express ourselves and question the point of what we are doing? We are artists… I’m just thankful that I get to do the thing I love…that’s all…

GARY FONG - March 31, 2010 - 12:19 am

Hi all, this is an illustration of the power of word-of-mouth and customer satisfaction. Word spreads like wildfire good or bad.

I have a website where people can review workshops. Kind of like “tripadvisor.com” You can post anonymously all I ask is that you really were at the workshop. If you’re afraid of being ridiculed, post anonymously or under an alias.

http://photoworkshopreview.socialgo.com

Gary Fong

Jenn Lebron - March 31, 2010 - 12:25 am

@STEPHEN KARLISCH

So, when can we get started??? ;)

Scarlett Lillian - March 31, 2010 - 12:56 am

More “truth” to clarify… Again, I hope this blog can get back to the real reason Carlos created it. If anyone else has concerns beyond this point regarding me or my fiance, please email me personally and I’ll be happy to chat with you.

Mary Beth- I saw you were pregnant in your tweets, congratulations! I appreciate the opportunity you gave me in the beginning to second shoot with you. You made some valid points, however, art and success are subjective. While in your eyes you don’t feel I’ve “arrived” in my art, my clients are thrilled with my work, they love the art I’ve created for them. To me, that is success. And because of my inbox getting flooded with questions daily from other photographers, most of which I do get back to and answer in between serving my brides, I have also opened the opportunity through workshops to help answer those questions. Again, I’ve never claimed my way is the right way… it is simply my way and what has worked for me, and I’m happy to share it with those who ask.

Gary Fong- I appreciate your insight. I am certainly not ignoring the 5% who were unhappy with the workshop, and I am using it as constructive criticism to grow and improve the experience next time. It’s rare that I’ve attended a workshop that asked for feedback, so I honestly didn’t think of sending out one until Leeann requested it. I was glad she helped bring it to my attention to be able to help reevaluate things I could improve on since it was my first group workshop. I want to improve as a teacher and give people the best value for their money and that it was a great investment in their business! Reading the feedback though, I’ve found it’s tricky to judge as a teacher what you did right and wrong when most of the attendees were saying they were 100% satisfied, including 2 previous girls who were repeat students from our previous 1-on-1 time together… then on the other hand, people like Leeann said she wasn’t satisfied at all. I’m taking it all in, the good and the bad, and learning from the 1st experience. I appreciate the tips you’ve shared Gary as an experienced speaker and teacher yourself!

Jessica Hassinton- I can understand from an outsider’s point of view the confused perception of that situation with my mom being in hospice and wondering why I was in Vegas. My mom, Rene Williams, says it best here in the comments: http://scarlettlillian.blogspot.com/2009/12/oh-how-far-ive-come.html Trust me, I didn’t want to go to Vegas. You are right, my dad was in Hospice, how could I go? I wanted to cancel the trip and all my plans for the photoshoot and party completely. But my mother wouldn’t let me cancel, she MADE me go and told me my dad wanted me to go. She knew my dad did not want me there watching him suffer. She knew it would be a good distraction for me away from the pain we had been going through the previous 8 months. And it was beautiful how my dad waited until I got home to take his last breath. My mom wanted me to blog photos from the funeral to go along with the blog we had been keeping of his cancer journey at http://johnnysjourneytovictory.blogspot.com. She was the one who asked for my photographer friends to document it and she even called the newspapers who published the story to share about the special confederate give away we gave in honor of his love of Southern history. My mom did NOT want the funeral to be a sad event, but a CELEBRATION of his life, his last big party. And as far my “date”, he was my shoulder to cry on. He was my strength during that incredibly hard time and I will always be thankful to have had him there as a friend first and foremost. As far as my photography goes, for the reasons you listed, those are the exact things I do on purpose because that’s MY style. Overexposed, overcontrasted, oversaturated. That’s MY art. It might break the rules, but I love it. And my clients love how different it is. You’ll also notice in the link above, my client Jules left a comment saying exactly that. She said she loves the pictures all over her house of her and her hubby standing in my neon grass.

Just Max- My fiance doesn’t feel the need to justify anything, and is choosing not to say anything further, especially today because he was busy shooting an engagement session and taking his clients out to dinner. However, I would like to clarify that he HAS actually shot more weddings in the past other than his Aunts, I’ve seen them, but he did not post them on the his blog, nor does he post every photoshoot he does. Nor does Mike Colon post all of his weddings. Nor does Carlos Baez. Stephen did not win ShowIt’s “WEDDING Photographer of the Year”, he won “Photographer of the Year.” He loves ShowIt’s “Client Sites” and it wasn’t until recently I helped him realize the power of ALSO blogging weddings for your clients. He has a lot of weddings booked for this year and both of our wedding seasons start very soon. Keep a look on both of our blogs for some beautiful weddings to come!

Julia Bailey- Thanks to your awesome detective skills, I also discovered on WhoIs that you are Studio Ugly. You have some AMAZING photoshop skills, girl! I was at my mom’s house when I first saw the rockstar pic and we thought it was a great spoof on how ridiculous and out of hand this whole “rockstar” concept is in our industry. My mom also gives you props too about your talent to photoshop. Next time I’m in New Orleans, can we meet? I would love to learn more about photoshop from you. And I agree with the others, your work is beautiful. I especially loved how artsy your bridals were. :-)

About the whole “rockstar” issue in general…. I completely agree that the word rockstar is absurb. I hate it for the same reason I hate the word “fan page” on Facebook. Photographers are not rockstars… photographers are people who take pictures of OTHER people. Yes, through the world of blogs and twitter and facebook, some volunteer to put their personal lives out there, but why does that make them a “rockstar”? People have been lumping me in the group which I don’t understand because I NEVER asked to be. Yes, in addition to my shoots and weddings, I blog about my personal life. But it’s not so much for you, it’s for me, to remember my personal journey. That’s why I call it a “photo journal.” And if the Lord uses my words or video blogs to inspire you along the way, then that’s awesome. If you don’t care for me, then move on, my feelings won’t be hurt if you don’t read my blog.

Beth- Thanks doll. You are a great friend. (p.s. Go check out her work… she has an awesome unique perspective of kid portraits on her blog: http://www.bmofoto.com/blog I love the one of the little girl in the diner drinking her milkshake and her use of lighting.)

My best to everyone! Whatever your perspective of photographic art is, stay true to who you are and how you see the world through your camera! As my dad use to say “Wouldn’t the world be a boring place if we all liked vanilla ice cream?” :-)

Hanssie Trainor - March 31, 2010 - 1:12 am

I’ve been following this since the inception and have found it really interesting that the gloves have come off.

I agree with a lot of what is being said and I think people that have been deemed the “rockstars” and are under criticism need to step back and take a GOOD look at themselves and what they are doing to see if there is any validity to the claims. Some “rockstars” are way too arrogant to even question if what they are doing goes against everything they are saying.

I also believe that everyone has something to offer. Whether it’s their first year in the business or their 90th, everyone has something to give to someone who needs it. Do I think that those in their first or second years should be teaching and charging for a workshop–NO! Do I think someone in their first couple of months has something valuable to share with someone else –ABSOLUTELY.

Just my two cents.

Kristen Weaver - March 31, 2010 - 1:59 am

{sigh}

The comments on this post are sad. What ever happened to respect?

Seeing tax returns as a qualification to offer a workshop is ludicrous. Um, don’t take the workshop if you don’t feel the person is qualified to host it. Buyer beware. Don’t blame the photographer because you have buyer’s remorse.

I didn’t learn anything useful during my sophomore year of college – it doesn’t mean I can blame the college for being a poor institution.

I think the BumpIt is the dumbest idea in hair accessories to date – but I don’t sit on blogs and whine about how useless it is.

I can’t believe how low some of you would stoop to bring up personal information. It’s sad, hateful and honestly, kind of makes me embarrassed for you. Regardless, we’re all entitled to our opinions, but I would suggest we don’t judge unless we’re in a position to do so – and none of us are in that position.

Melissa Smith - March 31, 2010 - 2:32 am

I just keep reading these and while there are some very good points made all around, like I said in my earlier comment I was so caught up in trying to impress other photographers that I lost myself, I was too busy trying to be like everyone else. I even stopped following blogs so that I could find myself, my my own style and impress my clients not photographers.

But I have to say just WOW to some of these comments on here. You want to talk True Photo Talk then talk it, but going as far are calling people by their names is crazy!!! I mean this is all out in the public!! I don’t know this Stephen guy, I have never met Scarlett but I do know who she is. No matter what or how you feel about them to go as far as doing research on where they went to school, getting tax info or talking about how or who is paying someones house off and car ect ect that is just shameful.

Again even after 5 years I still consider myself a new photographer, I still feel I have TONS left to learn. But I do or did respect quite a few people that have made comments on here but WOW really it’s just SAD that some of you guys are seriously taking personal attacts on people.

Am I going to go spend money on a spend the day with such and such…….. No!!! Although there was a time I would have and then I realized it was only so I could say I met such and such well heck thats just stupid so I realized that unless it’s a workshop for something I can use to grow MY business and not my social staus, have researched it then heck yea!! if there is someone out there that wants to teach me off camera flash and you offer workshops or what ever let me know I am so there.

But really I can not beleive some of the things I am reading here from grown, well established photographers. Newbie, Rockstar, Grumpy fact is we all gotta be somebody and not everyone is going to like you or agree with you.

Simeon Rodgers - March 31, 2010 - 3:02 am

Let us try to be a little merciful to one another in here. Personal attacks are just petty and I would hope the clients of some of us who have been downright hateful would not see how we’ve conducted ourselves. We are all human, and truth be told we all make mistakes.

Slinging mud rarely causes people to change. Quite the contrary. Here’s a test.

Is your goal to break certain people down, or build the community up? There are not the same thing. One addresses the people who perpetuate the problem. One addresses the problem itself. Addressing the people alone is like shooting everyone who uses toilet paper to save the rain forest. That is problematic. Go to the source. If poisoned water is coming from a certain well, don’t attack the people carrying it back and forth, close the friggin well!

I genuinely love community where relationships are built on mutual respect despite years in business, yadda yadda ya. We all can learn something from one another whether it be about photography, marketing, or life in general. We are people, not robots. We have feelings and worth, lets treat each other that way. Even in the midst of disagreeing with someone or something, it is not hard to just be civil.

We don’t need to see court records of abortions that so and so’s great great grandmother had back in the 1800′s. It’s not even that deep. What is the problem (not who!) and how can we fix it (not them!). You can’t “fix” or change anyone, they have to choose it for themselves. IF the industry changes, everyone is forced to change with it or fall by the wayside. Lets shift this thing in the right direction! We are decent people with good heads on our shoulders and passion to go around. Use it to spread respect, mercy and such. Slinging mud just makes a mess, meanwhile people are really trying to clean house here. Help the cause, don’t hurt it.

Paul Gotwin - March 31, 2010 - 3:30 am

Kristin – “Don’t blame the photographer because you have buyer’s remorse.”

But it’s more than that…this is an organized con job. it isn’t just that scarlet, or david jay or dane are bad teachers…they’re people who don’t really know anything about photography or the biz and just saw a bunch of marks they could peddle feel-good (but worthless and false) information to to fuel their egos and get rich quick. None of these people have ever run successful photography business, never been to art school, never won an award for photography…nothing. But then they lied to poor innocent people exploiting them with every trick in the book, from greed to the desire for fame and to “fit in,” to even religion to get money from them! And in return, they got nothing. worse than nothing, they got bad advice that they could waste more time and money on, maybe ruining their chances of living their dreams as a photographer. they’ve hurt so many people!

We gotta protect our industry..this is no different than if somebody came into your town pretending to be a photographer, took people’s deposits and ran off with it…that stuff winds up in the papers and gives everybody a bad name. no different…these con men give us all a bad name, and we’d all be better off if dj, dane, scarlet and the rest of them found different jobs. it’s too bad they can’t go to prison for this, but oh well…

Amity Mason - March 31, 2010 - 4:41 am

WOW. LOVE the drama!

I would consider myself a newbie – always learning. Have a BFA concentration photography. Been shooting for 16 years. Started my own business 8 years ago. Consider myself an artist and live the fabulous life of a self employed happy well adjusted individual.

You really can’t tell someone how you think they ought to run their business, what to do, how to do it or your style is more creative than theirs… it’s a right to work life. If you find your niche branding & selling your oh so fabulous personality and amazing photo skills by all means fleece the innocent. Do I think it’s worth spending my hard $$$ on your products/marketing plan/image branding – uh…no.

I have noticed that when I start to pay attention to what other people are doing and I get sucked into their buzz, I tend to lose myself and my direction. It is a balancing act of knowing your competition, what’s going on in the industry and staying focused on what you want to achieve and the life you want to live.

There are heroes & villains in every industry – who is having more fun?

julia bailey - March 31, 2010 - 5:02 am

Here is a thought…

When you enter a photo competition, you are placing your work before an audience for critique. Everyone would love to have their image adored and appreciated, the fact is, you will be critiqued. Critiques can be a matter of the viewers personal taste or it can offer a true technical perspective that can help you improve if you learn to listen to other opinions.

The beautiful thing about putting your work in the arena of competition is that you can grow from it. You either decide that the image was the way you wanted it and f@ck what anyone else thinks, or you can learn something from it.

Since the philosophy behind the current rock star trend is that “you are not your photography” and people are being told to market their personalities, because it is the personality that sets you apart and makes you different (not the photography)… Well, you have essentially placed your personality and life in the realm of competition and opened “yourself” to critique rather than placing your images in the competition.

The thing is, if you ARE your photography, the critique of your photographic work is just as hard to hear. But, its important to learn how to be critiqued. Really, everyone should open themselves to this experience.

I know there is some kind of wedding photo competition site coming on the scene and i have no idea how it works. What they need to do is make the entries anonymous and give all of the entrants an ability to vote and critique the images…anonymously. This would be great way for the new photographers to learn and grow technically as well as learn to take critique without falling apart or coming unglued when they see honest critique happening to themselves or their friends.

The fact is, the people in question in this industry have been selling their personalities. It is not our job as consumers to be in love with them, it is our job to research and critique what we are buying before we buy it. If they were trying to sell me their wedding photography, I would certainly critique their photos before buying! There is no difference. They have made their personalities and their knowledge the product.

It is completely naive to suggest we not critique the product. And this of course goes along with the current trend of marketing to emotions rather than intellect, which is happening on a national level from product advertisement to politics.

Which brings me back to being aware of marketing strategies. Until we understand the kinds of marketing strategies being thrown at us at every moment of our existence by every facet of our corporate world, we will not have control of our own lives.

Believe it or not, I am trying to help, not hurt. Eventually, that might become clear.

(Its 4:00 am and I am pretty sure I did not make sense, hitting submit anyway. Deal with my babble)

Christine Pope - March 31, 2010 - 5:43 am

I have come to realize in the last two years, that photog bashing is going to happen. Wether you are a part of it or not is completley up to you. Even in the small area in which I live, photog bashing is at a high right now. I admit that I at times have spoken negatively about other photogs, not on who they are personally, but on work alone. Really not at all impressed with my local competition, but competition all the same.

As for people selling their expertise, my opinion on that is: Photography is an art. It expresses creativity. You cannot teach someone creativity. It’s something you are born with. So if people want to waste money on learning to be creative, go for it. As for technical expertise, there are many photogs out there that aren’t stingy and are willing to offer advice and tips completely free of charge. If you are just in a hurry to throw away money, throw it away on equipment in which you can play around with and better yourself. You don’t need someone to teach you how to be a photographer, you just need a little creativity and knowledge of the technical side of it all.

I am completely self taught from camera usage to lighting, and wether someone in the industry likes my work, I could care less. All that matters to me, is that I love my work. And on many occasions I have had people ask for me as a photographer, based on work alone. Not on testimonials, not on branding or from my big ol’ head plastered on the side of a bus. Which is a little obscene to me. If you are gonna plaster something, plaster an example of your work. You aren’t a politician, no need to see your face, although sometimes I think the photog industry is turning into a presidential campaign.

To put it simply, if you aren’t happy with someones work in the field, work harder on yours. If you don’t like how some people market themselves, market yourself in a better way. If you don’t like other photogs talking smack about you, work your ass of an strive for the rung above them.

But truly, photography should be an artistic outlet, regardless of if you have a human subject or not. Where people go wrong is looking at it as a way to make money and not as what it should be. Photography should be enjoyed wether you get paid or not.

As for professionalism: just because you take photos of someone, doesn’t make you a professional. Just because you charge for photos, doesn’t make you a professional. Just because you have a business and a website , doesn’t make you a professional. What makes your professional is how you act in your work and if you have talent or not. By no means am I professional. I work hard, love what I do, get paid on occasions but when it comes down to it, my clients enjoy my professionalism on shoots. They come back because of my work. Not because of who I am and not for what I have.

So, instead of bashing, critique. That’s the hard truth about art and artists. You are all subject to it, if you put it out there for review. If you are the one being critiqued, suck it up. You don’t always get rave reviews. Life is unjust but such is life.

julia bailey - March 31, 2010 - 6:37 am

Another thought…

When a person is selling their personality and knowledge as the product, then they can no longer be a person. They are a product, a commodity. This is tricky. The original intent was “brand personality” marketing. This is marketing targeted to the photographers emotions. But, the product in questions IS a personality. Any sane person would not want to hurt another person. BUT, the personality can are no longer a person, they are a product. You can not let your emotions and empathy for another living person control your judgment/critique of the product. Wow, what a fascinating dilemma!

What were they thinking? Maybe, the showits, pictages, kiss albums and every other product pushed by (said rock star personalities) are the real product. The rock stars are the brand personalities connected to the real products.

(this is the reader gets an idea to research “brand personality marketing” for better understanding)

So, hmmm… The problem is that the rock stars never admitted to being the brand personalities. They even DENY that they have been placed by the product companies to sell said products. They claim to be ARTISTS/photographers, not salesmen.

Holy crap, what a freaking marketing disaster! Who’s lame idea was this? Did Dane Sanders get the idea from Seth Godin? Honestly, this really just blew up in your faces.

Ok, Scarlett and Stephen (because you were the ones mentioned in the thread, but this goes out to everyone shilling products), FESS UP! If you want to save yourself in the light of the photographers, you are going to have to be honest. If you want to be a wedding photographer, then shoot weddings and detach yourself from the products. If you want to sell us products, GOOD LUCK! You have really gotten yourselves in a giant mess and its not ALL your fault. It is bigger than just the rock stars, it is the industry, it is the products, it is the leader behind the marketing of the products. It is either Dane Sanders or the people who invested in the creation of the Showits, the pictages, the kiss albums, the shootq’s etc. It is everyone behind the products that the rock stars are pushing. It is all of you as a whole trying to deceive us! THAT is repulsive.

To Stephen and Scarlett, I hope you are not taking this mess too personally. Honestly, I am sure you are both good people with real heart and soul. For that, I apologize for any hurt you have to suffer through all of this. The problem is, you did not define the difference between the product and the personality and what you were really selling. In other words, you lied.

To the industry behind this disaster,

did you really think we were all that stupid? Remember that term..what was it? Oh I remember… ACCOUNTABILITY.

To the photographers,

Stop arguing about art, lenses or whatever and start looking at the real problem. This is bigger than just the individual photographers. This is the industry vs. the photographers. Dont let their divide and conquer marketing techniques confuse you. Please. What we need to do now is figure out how to make the industry accountable, not just the workshop speakers (as Gary Fong has so willingly begun with his workshop website. Which kind of makes me wonder, why is he so eagerly jumping in?)

Kayleen T. - March 31, 2010 - 7:06 am

Wow, this has all been very interesting to read and see other points of views. I am new to photography, 1.5 years in. My first time at WPPI this year was an eye-opening experience, I recognized all the “rockstars”, saw that there are so many other photographers around the world and I felt overwhelmed… but after reading some comments here realize that the only important thing I need to worry about are my clients and their experience.

Julia Bailey, I totally agree with Caroline your work is beautiful! :)

Rick, that was such great advice you gave to Jess, is there a site where you can get the wedding budget info for your area?

I am struggling with pricing now and everyday I ask myself if I am wasting my time with photography and should be in school studying for my original career plan, I’ll admit it is the 20k photogs that make me think that I will one day make a comfortable life for my family. But from some of the comments it seems that some of them have exaggerated and that makes me rethink photography even more though I do LOVE it… though my chemistry books never kept me up all night reading like this blog! lol.

Very interesting blog, comments and a workshop review site like someone mentioned before is a great idea.

tami - March 31, 2010 - 8:26 am

this has been a very enlightening discussion and i applaud everyone who has taken the time to read and comment.

what bothers me the most about Stephen Knuth and his ‘photographer of the year’ award and its blatant plastering all over his website when he has 1 wedding on there, and that in itself looks like he was a second shooter.

when awards/titles like this are thrown out to anyone just because they agree to be a spokesperson for yet another photographic product that is being shoved down our throats and is not earned from the hard work and years of experience normally associated with an award/title like this, it cheapens it for the others who do put in the time.

does the consumer out there understand this? do they see Photographer of the Year and expect exceptional work? should we blame them for being mislead and then disappointed?

i entered into this business a bit naive i guess, i just hope that when and if i ever receive this accolade, it is truly earned and respected by my peers.

that’s all!

Kristen Weaver - March 31, 2010 - 8:30 am

Paul Gotwin – “We gotta protect our industry.”

No, “we” really don’t. I’m not some crazy guerrilla photography warrior who has to save other photographers from making decisions, that although may not have been the best for their business, was a learning experience nonetheless.

No one stopped me from spending $1600 on a crappy camera that I hated (D200, about 3 years ago). Gee, I wish someone would have stopped Nikon from making cameras because all they do is make a new one 2 months later with improvements! (The D200 may not have been good for me, but for others, it was – so they shouldn’t stop making cameras altogether because I had a bad experience with one).

When my son saved up a bunch of allowance only to blow it on some crap-toy from the grocery store, it wasn’t my job to “protect” him from something I knew was crap. He bought it, it broke the next day, and he learned a valuable life lesson.

I love both Scarlett and Leeann, so I’m certainly not taking sides here – but you always run the risk when you attend any workshop that it may not be what you expected. I wouldn’t blame the photographer for that, but that’s just me.

And Carlos – if I may be so bold. Although I greatly respect your vision in creating this blog and although I am an advocate for free speech, I would recommend that comments should be moderated to prevent blatant personal attacks, especially from anonymous posters. I would hate to see it come back and hurt you if this (in some way) makes you responsible for providing the forum. I’m sure you know more about the legal responsibilities than I do, but it’s just a thought.

Kristen Weaver - March 31, 2010 - 8:34 am

Sorry, forgot something:

For everyone bashing Stephen for his award – why not try bringing it up with ShowIt instead of Stephen? Stephen was part of a contest that allows voting – he did nothing wrong by promoting himself to win (political races – same thing!)

If you have an issue with how the contest is run – contact ShowIt. If enough people ask for a change, I’m sure they’ll change it.

Which is interesting, because it’s run like a democracy (most votes win) – and you would think this would be a good thing. It’s always been fine in the past.

Maybe it should only be judged by master photographers – but my point being – don’t blame Stephen. He didn’t RUN the contest, he did what everyone else did. He won because more people voted for him.

tami - March 31, 2010 - 9:07 am

@kristen – he’s the one plastering it all over his website.

julia bailey - March 31, 2010 - 9:25 am

Stephen did what he was told to do.

Take it up with SHOWIT and the people who support and sponsor show it. I agree.

At the same time, satire is an essential part of democracy. This is why the First Amendment protects satire and parody as a form of free speech and expression. As long as people continue to play the puppet, I can assure you that places like studio ugly will continue to parody them. If you sell yourself to deceive everyone else for the sake of profit, accept that the joke will be relentlessly on you.

julia bailey - March 31, 2010 - 9:31 am

and on the contest for showit, Stephen was going to win no matter what. Check David Jay’s facebook history. He was telling people to vote for Stephen from the get go. The whole thing was planned. Open your eyes.

Courtney Ryan - March 31, 2010 - 9:32 am

All I can say is WOW!
I think everyone should worry more about their own photography and business and focus on becoming a better photographer all aroun. Stop worrying about everyone else and what they are doing.
I have never seen an industry that is more caddy and full of opinions! Photography is art and art is subjective!
Get off the forums and blogs and shoot some images and become a better photographer. Shooting it your way, with your style, with your personality and eye.
On that note I am talking my own advise and signing off!

MelodyH - March 31, 2010 - 9:36 am

There’s already a fabulous review site for photographers to review vendors and workshops. To have a new workshop added you just have to email the admins…

http://www.photogvendors.com

It’s a very valuable resource for people who are just starting out. It’s definitely not just workshops that new people get taken in by – there are all the action sets, templates, DVD’s, legal forms, web design companies, etc… At least the products & services are honestly reviewed there so people can make an informed decision before spending their money. I’d recommend it to anyone.

Caroline Ghetes - March 31, 2010 - 10:44 am

Kristen & Melissa, I agree in most ways. I’m not sure if it’s such a bad thing as to leave a review for a workshop people have taken from so and so, however I too cannot believe the detective work being done and the personal attacks. I think that stuff should either be moderated by Carlos, and should be taken up with the person who is being personally attacked privately. I don’t need to hear about someone else’s tax returns and who bought who’s condo. Seriously people. This needs to be kept civil, and saying that someone’s father bought their condo and photography equipment = doesn’t deserve to be a photographer is just plain wrong.

Robert Mullins - March 31, 2010 - 11:58 am

I have spent way too much time reading the entries here and all I can say is: the blog title is, “Truth in our Industry” … I would have hoped for more! The personal insults and attacks are ridiculous and hopefully as this blog matures that will go away … some of you folks should be ashamed about your comments.

I’m enjoying the newer posts and won’t be back to this malay!

Paul Gotwin - March 31, 2010 - 12:11 pm

Kristen – so you don’t have a problem with con artists? Like when little old ladies get ripped off by phony contractors who say they’ll put a new roof on their house for $12,000, take the money and run off? Was that a case of “buyer beware?” Stupid old ladies. Got what they deserve and they’ll learn from that mistake, eh Kristen?

there are a billion workshops out there…some way better than others. but people are only here ragging on the ones that are fake. it’s because these people lied to newbie photographers, pretended to be rich and successful so they could rip them off…that’s why people are angry. IT’S NOT THE PERSONALITIES IT’S NOT JEALOUSY IT’S THE FRAUD!

and i’m sure they’re wonderfully nice people. of course they are…they’re conmen! conmen are supposed to be nice to you…that’s how they gain your trust (confidence in them) and then get your cash. buyer beware is fine, but it ends at fraud, and definitely when that fraud effects my business.

Leigh - March 31, 2010 - 12:50 pm

Julia Bailey, Isn’t Studio Ugly bought/run by you and MAx? How is that helping this industry? Are they directly affecting YOUR market? No. I don’t care how great your work is Julia, when I see that you run a site like that, I lose a little respect. I feel some deep seeded hatred coming from you. Apparently you are just fed up. I understand. But why not be the bigger person? How do you have this much time on your hands to to write pages upon pages of redundancy? Don’t meddle in others affairs and you will be better off. This doesn’t mean don’t have a voice, but clearly it HAS been expressed. This has gotten WAY out of hand. Fact #1: Everyone is going to have an opinion. Fact #2 People will and will not agree with your opinion. So at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. Leave. It. Alone.

Leeann - March 31, 2010 - 1:01 pm

I’ve posted my review for Scarlett’s workshop on my blog, and anyone is free to read my personal thoughts.

Additionally, it fed into my Facebook today and I’ve received feedback on there as well. So far myself + 5 other photographers have voiced an opinion in agreement with my workshop thoughts (although not all publicly, but to me via emails and Gchat. And no I’m not just making that up, because that’d be stupid.)

6/20 = 30%, not 5%. I’m not sure you got the most honest feedback in your survey, but it is what it is.

Caroline Ghetes - March 31, 2010 - 1:29 pm

Leeann, where on your blog? I don’t see it.

Leeann - March 31, 2010 - 1:34 pm
SCALINI - March 31, 2010 - 1:50 pm

ROCK ON CARLOS!!!!

D.Dastardly - March 31, 2010 - 1:58 pm

Wonderful discussion. Very entertaining and enriching.

I’m wondering, Mr. Gary Fong, if you would be willing to indulge us with your tax reports from the years when you were “getting rich” as a photographer. I’d love to see Kevin Swan’s as well, since he’s selling $20,000 albums regularly – yet has weddings posted on his blog that look… well, not of that caliber. Swan, could you share your tax report (minus the KISS revenue of course). Though, I suppose that would be easy for an InDesign expert to falsify. But it would be interesting nonetheless! (Also, will you be selling that puke/piss green filter that you seem to be using on your out-of-focus photos? I’ll be the first in line! I need something for my Halloween photos!)

Julia, your indignation would be much easier to swallow if you didn’t use Showit shows on your site. And Carlos, weren’t you involved in that hack job “Engage”… you know, the rip-off of Vincent Laforet’s “Reverie”? And dearest Matt Radlinski, please don’t mention your PPA training. I know it’s right on the t-t-tip of your tongue. I would wipe my arse with your PPA certificate if it weren’t one-ply.

And how is it that one of the biggest offenders hasn’t been called out? Where’s the mention of Mr. (camera) Tosser himself, Mike Larson? And no Corey Mcnabb(ed your money) either? What gives. If you all are going to tear each other apart, let’s go hog wild!

Blimey!

Monica Reid - March 31, 2010 - 1:58 pm

This has turned into a TRAINWRECK and I agree Carlos should moderate the PERSONAL bashing and public records, really that is just insane of the ones that did post that, I was in AWE someone took the time to do that!

I’m ALL for the truth and VOICING our reviews just like Leeann did above and like Gary says for us to do, don’t we RESEARCH cameras before we buy? cars? etc….

so before I spend 1500 or 3K for a workshop I will want to HONEST opinions of people who were THERE before.

I am sure Scarlett is a truly nice person and Vegas was crazy, I will give her that and I haven’t personally bashed their character NOR photography, just trying to see the FACTS, because I had posted I had wanted to go to FL and do that workshop.

Kudos for Leann for VOICING the truth in a PROFESSIONAL way.

Once I posted man I wish I would have went I too got emails but those girls are too scared to get flamed for voicing opinions and that is SAD!

I think if Scarlett knew what everyone HONESTLY thought about the workshop it would help her out AS well as the ones who take the future workshops.

SO hopefully In a CIVIL way like Leeann did they too will VOICE their HONEST reviews.

this is my WHOLE point for REVIEWS!! it’s NOT a witchhunt NOR jealousy etc….

Like Kristin Weaver said above I too am all for free speach but these personal attacks are making me personally cringe.

Since I posted MY experience in VEGAS Scarlett did reply to me via email and it was very nice, I applaud her for that.

Like I told her in my email I hope she takes all this in before getting defensive she said she would.

I would also IGNORE the ones pulling personal records etc… that is outrageous and has NOTHING to do with photography OR workshops!

Leeann, I checked out your blog you ROCK!

we ARE all Photographers and I hope we ALL have the same passion to make OUR clients happy and really that is the ONLY thing that matters.

Leah Harvey - March 31, 2010 - 2:01 pm

Wow! I have just spent a lot of my time reading through most of these posts. I must say it is refreshing to see some of these comments on here. I was starting to feel a bit alone on this & confused. I have no bashing to contribute to this as I think every step in life & my photography business has been a learning curve. I started out at 19 years old (Ahhh, 11 yrs ago) & learned from a wonderful family friend of mine in California. I moved back to my hometown of NE, started a business w/ my film camera, a bunch of b/w film & a darkroom. And, yes I’m so thankful for my parents helping me out with this. At that point that was my “college fund”. They believed in me & my work.

After about 5 years, I was pretty successful & was booking about 4 families/babies/kids, etc/per week. It was amazing. Like Christmas morning every time my film came back from the lab. I only started shooting weddings about 3 or 4 years ago…besides a few times I was at a friends wedding shooting for fun. I will admit, I hit major road bumps throughout. Spending a lot of time with friends on $1 beers for example…LOL!

After I met my now husband, I knew that my life would change. He is in the Army. This meant moving…a LOT! I decided that I would join him in Colorado (2005) & get my associates degree in Photography from AIC. Not only to meet new people in my field, but learn more about digital photography. Anyways…I did that, we are now married (got married in October) & living in upstate NY. The market is nothing like it is back home. Pretty small town, but some great harbor towns that sit on Lake Ontario. But, I’m finding it very hard to market myself here.

On another note..we actually hired becker to shoot our wedding. He was awesome! Had a great time w/ my family & friends & we loved our photos!!! However…nothing against him at all I have learned a lot over the past year & wish I would have hired one of the many talented photographers from my hometown. If only bc Lincoln, Ne is a huge “small business” oreinted area & I completely support that.

On that note–I do think the hype is there for the “rock star” photographers that I’m reading about above. But, most of them are living in highly populated areas…ie: California, Florida. Even the amount of sunlight is completely different for one. (I say as I look out the window on day 5 of clouds.) However, I feel as though I followed “the crowd” a little too much. Reading this has brought me back to what I love in the first place…making photographs. I will honestly say that I love being able to photograph a couple’s relationship. And, have fallen in love all over again w/ photographing babies & children.

I think all of this is interesting (some people on here tho need to back off a bit). However, a lot of this is pretty true. Paying for workshops? Do it if you want. I will say that I have. Doesn’t help me much in my military towns I’ll be living in until my husband retires. And, it doesn’t help MY business by knowing “so and so miss or mr fabulous photographer” in California. Not at all. They aren’t booking clients for me.

IMO–A quote that I love that was mentioned above by Richard is…”Great photos are made, not taken”. Although there has been a lot of negativity in these comments, overall I feel refreshed. For a long time I was feeling very “confused” and irritated by all the hype of the “rock star” photographers. Don’t get me wrong, there are some that I have met, enjoyed and still follow.

But, I am definitely going to look at things in a new light. Number 1–I am going to stop focusing so much on what people think of my “brand”, etc. and focus on my passion. My Christmas morning.
Number 2–start looking for other photographers in my area, to meet for coffee & talk about the market…hope they don’t charge me though. (maybe I’ll charge them…LOL!!!)

After all, we’ll be moving in less than 2 years again! Ha!

Oh & any military photogs out there? Shoot me an email so we can chat about the ups & downs of the different areas.

Leah Harvey - March 31, 2010 - 2:16 pm

Gahhh! Sorry that was so stinkin long!

Mary Beth Tyson - March 31, 2010 - 2:24 pm

Scarlett,

Yes, art is subjective. You don’t have to tell me that. Success, however, is not. Either you’re working or you’re not. If you are happy with (how many weddings per year did you say? 12??) 12 weddings then that’s great! People aren’t criticizing you for your art. There are plenty of photographers out there who have work that people in the industry don’t care for but you don’t see them being slammed on the blogs, forums and fake twitter accounts.

I’m just telling you WHY you are being criticized and that you may want to read some of the comments coming your way and take them to heart. Yes, you may get flooded with emails but you’ve set up a lemonade stand right inside the opening gates of the photography industry. New photographers are thirsty. They will drink the lemonade. I did when I first started out. I didn’t know where to go so I followed who OSP told me to follow. Shortly after I attended a photography meeting and someone said “oh! you’re moving to tallahassee?? You should look up Susan Stripling!” I had no idea who she was, she didn’t have a lemonade stand. When I saw her work I was blown away and quit following those people who OSP told me to follow. That lead me to following other amazing and very successful photographers in the industry. You have to admit you put yourself out there for the new people in the industry so they are going to follow you.

But you know what? It’s clear you don’t care what we’re saying so I think this is all a waste of time. I liked you. I really did. It’s not even the fact that you’re teaching that gets to me. It’s the parade. It’s unbearable to watch. I was sent your videos by so many photographers the day they were released. Everyone was appalled by them. I couldn’t make it through them. But clearly it doesn’t matter what we think.

Please take this from someone who is in your area and knows the heartbeat of the industry in our area. Yes, art is subjective, but it’s not that. It’s the parade.

Rick Rosen - March 31, 2010 - 2:45 pm

Kayleen asks:

“Rick, that was such great advice you gave to Jess, is there a site where you can get the wedding budget info for your area?”

The data for any area; national, state, city, can be obtained on the site http://www.theweddingreport.com.

I feel that is is very important to research and understand your market before you open any type of business. How many clients can you realistically expect to be bale to market to? What is the average fee paid for the kind of service that you want to provide?

I’ll try my best to help anyone that asks me. That is my nature. Much of my efforts to help is at no charge to answer questions but, yes, I do occasionally charge for a workshop. Most of my workshops are not aimed at wedding photographers but they can still learn a lot about the craft of photography, lighting techniques and off-camera flash and other topics. I host three Meetup groups for photographers here in the Los Angeles area. Email me and I’ll give you the links to join.

If you want to know the market statistics for your area I recommend paying the subscription fee for The Wedding Report. If you feel that you can’t afford to do that at this time send me an email with your location (city and state) and I will provide the photography information to you. I do encourage you to subscribe yourself though because there is a huge amount of very useful data there. Email me at rick@rickrosen.com

Where I feel that the proliferation of “rockstar” workshops hurts the new photographer and indirectly the entire profession is that these folks give unrealistic expectations to those who are just entering the profession. They do so by stating high minimal fees in the $20K range for their own wedding services and after only a year or two in the business. Then they blatantly suggest that if you pay them high fees to attend their workshop they can give you the knowledge and means to accomplish the same thing for your business. These wide-eyed false expectations create a mindset and a false confidence in the new photographer that they can rise to the top in their market as well in a very short time. They go heavily into debt buying all the pro gear. “I gotta have that Canon 50mm 1.2 because Ms. XXX says it is awesome!”

I recently watched a video where a major female rockstar was the featured speaker. It was nothing but fluff and ego worship. When asked if she used lens hoods her response was “No, they make me cranky!” Not, THAT”S some sound advice! Anyone who really understands optics knows that lens hoods go far to eliminate flare and it is the flare that you do not see that reduces contrast and robs your images of some sharpness. This is especially true if you use a filter on the lens.

I read a post by a sad and frustrated photographer who was beginning her second year in business. She had done a number of bridal fairs and spent tons on gear and marketing but could not seem to book any weddings. She wasn’t even based in major metro area. In her first year she shot 8 weddings at an average fee of $1000 and now in her second year her fees were $3,600 to $9,000. She could not figure out why she was having such bad luck in her bookings. After all, the rockstar workshop she paid a butt load to attend told her to do just what she had done. Now she was drowning in debt and sad.

This profession that I love and which has been providing me with the incredible gift of providing me with an income doing what I love is being raped by these opportunists.

millie holloman - March 31, 2010 - 2:48 pm

I just don’t get it. First off, I don’t have the time to read every comment in here but I’ve read a few and man am I ever saddened by this entire conversation.

What satisfaction do ANY OF YOU get by bashing others in an open forum? If you don’t like someone work or lifestyle then don’t follow them, don’t pay money for their workshops and don’t concern yourself with them. PERIOD. Why do you care? Just go on living your life and enjoy every moment of it without giving another thought to them.

I think all of this bickering is tearing the industry apart… it is NOT making it stronger.

The BIGGEST drawback to the photography industry as a whole is the whole ROCKSTAR mentality. There is a big difference between self promotion and bragging and a fine line to cross it. Watch out! At the end of the day no matter how much you charge for weddings, how many you do, or how much you make,WE ARE ALL JUST WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS, NOT CELEBRITIES! We take pictures for a living… we don’t save the world.

Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do and I am all about helping others out. I just can’t stand to see people making such big deals about other’s decisions when it does not concern them. You are tearing other’s apart and you are not in a position to call them out on things. Let their friends and family do that.

Watch yourself, life isn’t about photography. It’s about relationships. Quit tearing others apart. You are not responsible for their ridiculous behavior and you don’t have to support it but don’t bash them. There is NO good reason.

Take a step back and look at how ridiculous all of this really is and then go out and plant a garden or do something that makes you feel good and live your life!

;)

Millie Holloman

Caroline Ghetes - March 31, 2010 - 2:50 pm

Thank you Leeann! I left my comments on your blog. For everyone else here, if you go to Leeann’s link, it is a perfect example of giving your opinion of someone’s workshop without personal bashings. Leeann I am so sorry that you are out $1500. I’m sure you’ve learned from this experience and I am so happy to know you are paying it forward to the “newbies” out there who don’t know any better.

Rick Rosen - March 31, 2010 - 3:14 pm

“and on the contest for showit, Stephen was going to win no matter what. Check David Jay’s facebook history. He was telling people to vote for Stephen from the get go. The whole thing was planned. Open your eyes.”

Well said.

I know nothing about this silly contest but I do know a thing or two about David Jay.

David is a very talented and charming promoter. I am sure that he would be successful in anything he tried to pitch. His main emphasis has always been to create “evangelists” who will praise his name and his products all over the web. He is a master at that. You won’t read anything from Stephen that doesn’t include his huge admiration for David Jay and Showit. That is how DJ has become the industry icon that he is.

Jen - March 31, 2010 - 3:44 pm

So… How about them Dodgers? jk

Everyone keeps talking about the “problems in the industry.” As I see it, and this is just my .02, if you’re working as a photographer, then what really is the problem if you have Clients? Photographers marketing to other photographers? I say move on, don’t fall into it if you think it’s a trap, and as others have said, buyers beware.

As for wedding photography being art, I think it’s “art” to our clients but I’m not sure that I’d classify it as art. I think photography can be used as an art form, but I don’t think as a whole that what comes out of a camera=art or that all photography (since we’re classifying photography as being a form of art) is art. Again, just my .02.

Hopefully we can all agree to disagree and move on. Clearly we all have our own opinions that no matter how others justify their own opinions, it’s won’t change mine, yours or anyone else’s.

Suzanne - March 31, 2010 - 4:30 pm

Jen – SO TRUE. A lot of great points have been made here, and I agree with most, but really, I do what I do for myself and my clients. In the end, that’s who really matters (and that’s who foots the bill).

I’m sure we could get into a huge debate on whether wedding photography is art, and again, it’s up to your clients. If they are looking for art, and they “know art” they will choose the photographer that is going to best express their day in an artistic way. But many clients are just looking for documentation of a wedding day, or a time in their child’s life, that they feel they can’t capture in a pleasing way…so they hire a photographer whose pictures make them feel good. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t all continue to be students of photography, but I think the market for people looking for art is smaller than the market of people looking for personal moments printed out on a piece of paper.

Suzanne - March 31, 2010 - 4:32 pm

And P.S. my eyes hurt…this is better than anything TMZ has to offer.

mary - March 31, 2010 - 4:36 pm

Right on Millie! Took the words right out of my brain!

Nuttiness!

Doug - March 31, 2010 - 4:38 pm

Good stuff.

Heather W. - March 31, 2010 - 4:38 pm

This is going to be long!
I have read most of these posts on this topic but then ran out of free time and need to get back to my clients. I agree and disagree with what I have read. When a topic like this comes to light or someone is personally called out, there are always those who agree and those who don’t (obviously). However, what most people seem to miss is that there is a REASON this is a topic.

I am a “newer” photographer (5 years). When I first got in the industry, I was thirsty for knowledge. I read everything I could, watched videos, and attended classes. This REALLY helped! Then I started hearing about the “rockstar” photographers. I bought into it. Looking at their blogs, they boast a fabulous life. For someone who is a bit shy and naive, this is appealing. I went to two workshops in my first year.

I wont mention the names here but I will be leaving my review on the forum that Gary Fong set up to help the “newbies” not get burned. Though the description for each of the workshops were vague, at least the first one stated it was for branding. I did not go to learn about shooting, ISO, exposure, etc. I went to learn about branding (I guess I got what I paid for except I learned more useful info in a book I bought at B&N). The second workshop was VERY vague in description. However, I decided against the advice of others and signed up. I was intrigued by this persons photography, lifestyle, and talk of high priced weddings. Complete waste of time. I will not go into the details here but I definitely plan to post on http://photoworkshopreview.socialgo.com later today. In my second year, I attended another workshop. Again, a complete waste of time and again, I took nothing from it.

Having said this, I have been burned at least twice by the promises of the “rockstar” photographer. I definitely do not believe that all “rockstar” photographers are hosting worthless workshops. I have heard of several great ones. However, those seem to be becoming rare. It seems every day that I see a photographer advertising on FB or elsewhere that they are running a new workshop. I am not a hateful person and don’t care much for negativity. However, I am relieved that this topic was started.

To address the Scarlett comments (to and from)….As we all know Scarlett hadn’t been a photographer very long at all before she was dubbed a “rockstar” photographer. We all also know that she is anything but technically sound and even to her own admission. She isn’t selling her photography, she is selling a lifestyle. She is a brilliant marketer. If ONE person is complaining about you, there is a problem and you seriously need to address it. I have heard from many people who have attended your Spend the Days and your Workshop that they felt ripped off and didn’t get anything but a few images for their site at best. I have also heard the reason they don’t take this public is for fear of being outed or being labeled mean. That is nonsense. People have a right to voice their experience good OR bad and not be bullied for it. Especially if it isn’t a mean or attacking comment. I get it though, as human beings we want to see the good in everyone. We tend to want to comfort those who are targeted and that is not a bad thing but what if those comments are fact and meant to prevent others from being ripped off/hurt? Let’s face it, $1200 to spend a day is ALOT of money. In this economy especially. $10k+ weddings in Jacksonville? I know at least 3 photographers in Jacksonville that are VERY good and established who average $6k and that is really pushing it. $120k a year shooting along with the $1200 per attendee workshops is a decent amount of money. Your condo, car, furnishings, and wardrobe do not reflect that kind of money. Attendees and potential attendees BELIEVE you. You are a Christian and they TRUST you. You run a blog that details almost every aspect of your life and they feel like they KNOW you. Dont let them down. You said you love teaching, then take the steps to better yourself as a teacher and improve their experience as a paying attendee and don’t mislead!

It is sad when these comments are labeled as total “jealous” or “mean spirited” comments. There is truth to every negative comment (whether fully or partially). I am not in one second jealous of any of those “rockstar” photographers. I am much too shy for that type of recognition. I just want my clients to be happy with their images. I want to learn constantly and grow. That is good enough for me.

Monica R.- his comments do matter when he says she has lied on her blog. Those lies are what make people think she is more than she is and potentially waste their money. If she said on her blog that she purchased her condo from photography and in reality her father did, that is a lie and is extremely deceitful.

Rick and Mary Beth – Well said!

Stephen – I imagine you have decided to stop commenting based on your earlier post “@Cat- Your entitled to your opinion but it will not affect what I teach or how I teach OR how many of the other amazing leaders of this industry teach others”. You clearly have no desire to learn from your mistakes and grow. There is nothing wrong with being humble.

I am not much of a fan of hyprocrisy. Scarlett posted on FB earlier about “rockstar” photographers and how much she dislikes it, etc. Yet, she just recently captioned an image of Stephen shooting and called him a “rockstar”.

These are the reasons people are angry. Yes, I understand why people say these posts are a waste of time and awful, etc. but if people don’t start telling the truth and speaking their mind (in a professional way), this industry is not looking good for the future. I JUST had a bride say to me that she found a local photographer to shoot her wedding for $500 all day with the edited disk. I see photographers with 20+ comments about how amazing their work is when it is clearly awful. Being nice is great but you are doing a disservice to that person by not being honest for the sake of being nice. This is also why the industry is getting flodded with the $500 wedding photographers. Clients are seeing bad work and don’t know what good work is anymore.

One last point. It has nothing to do with this post except that it was mentioned within a post here….I wonder how many photographers are running a legal business. If you make $3200 on a wedding package, $1300 is for product and a second shooter and you are left with $1900 ($47.50 at 40 hours). Income taxes would be over $900. Are you fitting that into the $1300 figure which would leave you with approximately $400 for the second shooter and product? If not, you are actually only makeing about $23 an hour, which is still good depending on what you were doing pre-photography but that is your top package and is not always booked. Stacey Reeves gives an excellent download that helps figure out how much you should be charging. Trust me, if it were being followed, A LOT of photographers would be out of business real quick. KUDOS to Stacey for not charging for this wonderful resource and for truly giving back and working to improve this industry.

julia bailey - March 31, 2010 - 4:44 pm

D. Dasterdly…that is why I no longer post slideshows on my blog. Its like learning that Nike uses slave labor and from that point on, you decide not to buy nike.

Kristen Weaver - March 31, 2010 - 4:56 pm

@Paul Gotwin: “Kristen – so you don’t have a problem with con artists? Like when little old ladies get ripped off by phony contractors who say they’ll put a new roof on their house for $12,000, take the money and run off? Was that a case of “buyer beware?” Stupid old ladies. Got what they deserve and they’ll learn from that mistake, eh Kristen?”

That comment was stupid. You’re trying to compare apples to oranges (and I’m honestly not sure why you care to get in to this at all?)

But to respond, it depends on what the terms and conditions were GUARANTEED when signing the contract to attend the workshop. I haven’t seen it – so I’m not sure what was promised.

If there was no contract – then yes, Buyer Beware! (too bad little old ladies! Never fork over money without a contract)

If there was a contract, I highly doubt it held any guarantees about how much or what you would learn – because no one could possibly promise that.

So really – there’s no legal issue (like your contractor analogy above) unless Scarlett was in breach of contract based on the guarantee of specific results following the workshop.

Furthermore – even if there WAS a legal issue – it’s not now, nor ever will be, my place to fight it – contractors, photographers or little old ladies – they’re on their own!

Kristen Weaver - March 31, 2010 - 5:00 pm

PS: I just realized that I’ve been responding to a fake person (i.e. Paul Gotwin = not real). #massive #waste #of #energy.

I’m going to go sip sweet tea and destroy some fashion editorials that I shot last week in Miami!

Rick Rosen - March 31, 2010 - 5:10 pm

“PS: I just realized that I’ve been responding to a fake person (i.e. Paul Gotwin = not real). #massive #waste #of #energy.”

Here’s my thought on how to improve this thread. Carlos, can you set up the required fields to post as mandatory so no one with an alias can post? I notice that you do not require a website address to post. Most professional forums require posting under a real name and have a web site to support that. Can we do this here?

Rick Rosen - March 31, 2010 - 5:15 pm

“It is sad when these comments are labeled as total “jealous” or “mean spirited” comments. There is truth to every negative comment (whether fully or partially). I am not in one second jealous of any of those “rockstar” photographers.”

In an effort to dismiss the criticisms we “grumpies” who have enough love for this profession to try and fix it are now being labeled as “Trolls.”

http://www.facebook.com/davidjay?ref=ts#!/notes/david-jay/we-now-have-tabloids/411522221801

Just Max - March 31, 2010 - 5:15 pm

The Pictage Pug fan boys and girls have come to rescue Spartlett and spleven. Hooray, go save us from people telling the truth. Spin for us, wax poetically on our behalf.

Also, be sure to steal other peoples ideas, you don;t need to be creative with pictures just creative in deceit.

Be sure to beef up your portfolio with friends and lie to your clients, pretend they were real shoots.

Photography isn’t very important to you in your business so you don’t really need any talent, just steal.

Most importantly, have a blessed day … Jesus Jesus Jesus

Katie - March 31, 2010 - 5:28 pm

WOW! I don’t have time to read all the comments, but I’m intrigued! I’m also a bit sad for the people that are being bashed on an open forum regardless of whether it’s true or not…I know if it was me I’d feel HORRIBLE!

My husband and I were recently having this conversation and here is the point we came to. There are legitimate photographers out there that SHOULD be doing workshops (and charging for them). I can rattle off quite a few like Jose Villa, Jonathan Canlas, Jessica Claire, Elizabeth Messina, Dane Sanders, Mike Colon etc. There is no way that these masters of their craft should be giving away their hard earned knowledge to everyone. So, the people that say no one should charge for a workshop if you really want to “help” people…that doesn’t work logically. Of course you want to HELP people, but you also are giving away your “secrets” so thus of course you should charge for them!

What REALLY gets my frustrated is #1 Photographers that don’t have the experience to back up running a workshop. DUH! #2 Is when newbie photographers try too hard to rub shoulders with all these “rockstars” hoping it will catapult their career. I’m gonna take the high road and not name names…but LORD does it drive me batty! Just be authentic, be yourself, and don’t USE people to climb your own personal career ladder.

Bottom line, I’m a newbie photographer as I’ve only been in this for 2 years. But, I AM paying for a workshop this year. But, I did my research. I talked to past attendees, I found out what “life changing” meant to them, what they GOT from the workshop etc before registering. It’s about time newbie photographers take off their blinders too. While the “rockstars” out there sure have a niche on the market (hint: they are GOOD at marketing!), Look at all these people that have paid for workshops and gotten ripped off? You bought into the marketing for some reason or another! :)

To those that got ripped off…did you do your research? Were you hoping for a quick jump to stardom? Do you actually have talent? There are just so many factors in the equation, that regardless of whether the workshop was good or not…the attendee sometimes just isn’t meant to be in photography. Sorry, just had to play devil’s advocate. :)

So, in conclusion…YES there are amazing workshops out there that people SHOULD pay for (such as Jose Villa, Jonathan Canlas, Jessica Claire, Amelia Lyon, Elizabeth Messina, Dane Sanders, Mike Colon) etc! There are also newer photographers that I’d LOVE to learn and glean inspiration from like Sarah Rhoads (I think they are newer, or maybe newer to me!). Therefore, us newbies need to take personal responsibility before registering for workshops and do our research. Also, we should have a realistic understanding of our craft, our talent and our PASSION! Gosh darnet, too many newbies jumping on the bandwagon just because they think someone in the industry is COOL or SUCCESSFUL. You have to do photography because you LOVE it, and you love the people you are capturing. If you don’t, then drop out! :)

Jen - March 31, 2010 - 5:33 pm

Rick Rosen-You are my hero. hahahahaha! I think we should label you the next rock star! hahahaha!

Lydia Shannon - March 31, 2010 - 5:36 pm

I have literally been biting my tongue (and stopping my fingers from typing) every day when I look at this blog. I know it is not at all what Carlos intended and while I do not agree with how people are being bashed, I do feel I have to say something now.

Leeann is being made to seem like she was the ONLY one (which would be 5% of 20 people) who voiced her opinion on things she was discontent with at the workshop. This cannot be true, because I also voiced many of the EXACT same concerns as Lee. I can no longer sit by and let her look like the one person who had issues with this workshop.

When a survey is given and the attendees are asked to give their opinions, it should be anonymous. I was there and I heard a lot of people voicing concerns when Scarlett was not around, however, when you have to give your opinion and write your name on it, let me tell you it takes honesty to a whole other level. I’m sure many of the other girls didn’t want to burn a bridge, I know this because for me personally it was difficult. I realized though, that if I wasn’t honest, Scarlett would never get the feedback she really needed.

Even if every other girl was completely satisfied, it would still never be only 5%, because now you know both Leeann and I voiced our criticisms.

Christine Pope - March 31, 2010 - 6:11 pm

Honestly who really cares who does what anymore? If it isn’t affecting us personally, our work or our clients. Who cares? Bottom line is people will always follow trends. People will always pay money for something they might not get anything out of or that isn’t what it was put out there to be. I bought a Magic Bullet and that sucker does not chop my onions it liquifies.

As far as the industry goes, there are alot of talented photographers out there.. and there are far more not so talented photographers out there making names for themselves. How is that? I don’t know but it really baffles me. Everyone now-a-days is a photographer. Since I started photography I would say about 10 of my acquaintences/friends are now claiming to be photographers. Thats where I say talent and creativeness comes in.

Someone said that clients are looking for someone to document their moments in life. Which I can’t agree more with. Thats what people hire photographers for. But if they want some run of the mill “photographer” whose pictures look like my 4 yr old running around with a disposable, then by all means. But my opinion is that if you are gonna pay money for something. Don’t you want it to be the best? Someone who has talent and creativeness? Because if I want someone to document regardless of talent or not, I can just had someone a camera and tell them to press this button.

As for those that are paying for workshops… these people hosting said workshops have had to learn somewhere. Your best bet is to find out where. As for photogs selling their trade secrets. That is ridiculous. Why bust your ass for something to set you apart and then sell it to others. Most of the time, these photogs aren’t necessarily going to give all secrets away. Now I know there are some out there that are the real deal. But at the same time…I just can’t fathom spending so much money on something that might not do anything for me or my business. I might already know what I would be learning. Whose to say?

I live in podunkville and have 50+ “photographers” in a 30 mile radius. Of those 50+ my personal opinion is that there are only 4-5 remarkable photogs. I know of one that hosts workshops. Which she should, she is phenomenal. With that said, there are 40+ that shouldn’t attach photographer or anything regarding photography to their name. It’s only a matter of time before they start hosting workshops.

But this thread has morphed into a monster. I don’t agree with the bashing. I think what it boils down to is there are shitty photographers out there making buttloads more money than some of us. There are extremely talented photogs out there that make squat. Who is gonna beat the other to the finish line? Who is gonna use what they have or don’t have to get ahead? Whose going to eat all others out of the competition so that they can live the “Rockstar” life? Who cares? If you want it get it, if you don’t hush. Let’s all worry about perfecting our own craft and not what someone is doing elsewhere. Because eventually client happiness will either rocket you to where you want to be or its going to kick your ass into the hole you dug.

Christine Pope - March 31, 2010 - 6:14 pm

Can I host a workshop, me and my completely unqualified self? :) I’ll charge an arm and a leg and your first, second and third born children, but I promise we will have fun!

Rick Rosen - March 31, 2010 - 6:14 pm

Jen posts:

“Rick Rosen-You are my hero. hahahahaha! I think we should label you the next rock star! hahahaha!”

Are you being serious? ME – a rockstar???

First of all, I don’t have the clothes for it and second, I don’t have the ego for it. :)

Thirdly, on a more serious note, the newer generation of new wedding photographers seem to flock to the young rockstars. I can see the reasoning behind that to a point, i.e., their marketing to this massive pool of new photographers and the frequent disappointments that brings to the newcomers, as expressed here and on other forums. But I cannot for the life of me understand why they seem to flock to these folks and ignore most of those established professionals who have some history in photography behind them. If I wanted to learn a new craft or business I would seek out the mentors with the most experience who also have a talent and a desire to teach me.

Melissa S - March 31, 2010 - 6:43 pm

Okay, as a newbie to digital but an oldie to film, I’m going to chime in here.

The term “grumpy” is something I learned about 10 years ago in the real estate industry. At that time, it meant the older Realtors who used paper books vs the newer agents who were into computers and MLS. Dane certainly didn’t coin a new phrase or a new idea, just applied it to this industry.

As one who enjoys learning, I would love to hear a LOT more about industry GREATS who teach classes. I’m getting the impression that they aren’t as adept at marketing or perhaps I’m just not looking in the right places. :)

My mentor shared this with me and I hope you will find it valuable too. It’s a formula to figure out how much you have to make at each shoot to earn a living, pay the IRS as well as keep up to date on equipment etc.

https://www.nppa.org/professional_development/business_practices/cdb/cdbcalc.cfm

So, can we newbies get more advice on books/workshops/organizations to join? Thanks!!

B - March 31, 2010 - 6:46 pm

“while we at it, let’s see Jason Aten’s tax returns. sez he’s makin phat stacks only in biz for two years, and can teach you how 2! but naw, his docs would probably be forged:

http://WWW.STATE.MI.US/MDOC/ASP/OTIS2PROFILE.ASP?MDOCNUMBER=614688

think a guy doing time for criminal forgery might stretch da truth about his ends? nawwwww couldn’t be!”

At least Jason has been honest and upfront about his past. He’s learned a hard lesson, and he isn’t trying to fool anyone about who he is.

Stephen on the other hand STILL is lying his way through this. As of the last November Steven had shot his aunt’s wedding, a wedding for which he was paid much less than $1000 and another which he couldn’t afford to pay for a 2nd.

He also endorses any company who will turn around and scratch his back. Starting with Apple’s moble me, and i-phone. He worked for apple at the time, and never mentioned them again after being layed off. Then it was Shoot-Dot-Edit; he made a hugh push whenever the topic came up on a forum, that everyone should be using Shoot-Dot-Edit; Yes he was working for them at the time. I believe he was since fired. Next came Show-it, I guess this one’s paying off a little for him now. I’m not too sure.

It isn’t paying off for Show-It because; although I think its a fabulous product I don’t want anything to do with a company who uses the likes of Steven Knuth to be their mouthpiece.

He said himself- he can’t afford to associate with anyone who doesn’t help his business. So much for giving back

Amanda Hoffman - March 31, 2010 - 6:47 pm

I’m not sure my point of view will matter to anyone here on either side of the argument, but I feel compelled to say something.

I am a newbie. I started studying photography in 2007 by reading every book that I could get my hands on. I started with a point-and-shoot digital camera that had a manual mode. I moved on to a manual film camera, then a very used DSLR. I have no formal education. I have never had a mentor or taken a workshop, not because I didn’t have the desire, but because I have two kids and an unemployed husband, so I am broke. To most I am viewed as nothing more than a MWAC (mom with a camera) who is trying to turn her hobby into a business. They exact type of photographer who flocks to the “rockstars” and eats up every word they say. I guess that may be the truth, but I pay attention. I try not to be just another lemming. I am not into self promotion or popularity contests. I am trying to create work that I can be proud of. I think I am relatively talented. Unfortunately, being talented gets you nowhere fast in this business. Many photographers readily admit that your personality and ability to market yourself can mean more than being talented. The more attention, the higher your Google ranking, which drives more clients to you. Following that model has become a means for survival, not just a gimmick. Conform to this new reality or you are likely to be eaten by the self-promoting sharks.

So what is someone like me to do? Should I just throw in the towel? Conform? I just really want to learn how to survive by selling my talent and not myself, but that is seeming a bit more far fetched every day. The “rockstar” mentality bugs me. Really it does. But I respect the people that are making it work, because I can’t. They are obviously doing something I can’t. They have something I don’t. They are getting the business I can’t seem to. It comes to a point where you have to say, can I maintain my artistic integrity and still be successful in a shark tank? If you use me, a newbie with a bit of talent, as an example, then the answer is probably no. Because right now I have very little business and I am starting to realize that I may need to sell my soul, and not my photos, to get enough business to keep food on the table.

D. Dastardly - March 31, 2010 - 6:58 pm

‘Tis funny, Millie…. It must have been pretty easy for you to become a rockstar from the comfort of your parents’ swanky abode. Did it bother you at all that your workshop attendees were probably struggling to pay their mortgages? I hope you add a freeloading session to your next workshop.

Truth is, there are too many phonies out there, second shooting for more successful photographers and fabricating their resumes. They shoot barely enough to keep up the facade so they can go out and sell workshops about how they got rich off photography. And it DOES matter… it’s called FRAUD.

We’re on to you.

suzy brown - March 31, 2010 - 7:21 pm

Wow I wish I had the time to read all 232 comments that are already on this blog post because the ones I’ve read so far have brought up some really amazing points of discussion about this business.

I am most definitely a newbie in this industry – loved photography all my life, been making a business out of it (or in the process of trying to.. lol) for almost 2 years. I don’t know much about the workshops, as I’ve only taken one so far (which, by the way, was Carlos’ and it was amazing. he is amazing. period). So I guess since this is a place for open discussion and ‘truth,’ I’d like to share some stream of consciousness on the little that I do know or have experienced thus far as a photographer.

What do I know?

I know that I love photography. And despite any genre of the field that I may particularly enjoy, i love ALL photography. All I want to do is live, eat, breathe, sleep and dream photography (though having to work other meaningless jobs just to pay the bills is preventing me from totally 110% doing that at the moment). I love creating an image that you want to look at and slowly pick out the details of what’s going on, I love creating art that slowly reveals itself to you. I love documenting what’s happening around me through my eyes, through my vision.

I believe I heard this somewhere before that WE ARE THE CARETAKERS OF PEOPLE’S MEMORIES!

now THAT is an amazing thought.

What else do I know? (though little about perhaps)

Yes it’s sad that there are those walmart studios that kill the art of the industry.. but let’s take that as a challenge to show people why they should put their memories in OUR hands, not walmart or sears or whatever dime-a-dozen person who buys a digital SLR and advertises on craigslist that they’re a ‘photographer.’

Yes it’s disappointing that some of our colleagues are taking advantage of others and charging an arm and a leg for a workshop that doesn’t really teach much, and it’s also unfortunate that people are selling out their skills just to make an extra buck but saturating the industry. Let’s take the personal responsibility to make sure we are informed and not supporting those people!

But what’s really disappointing to me are the people who have turned this business into something SO COMPETITIVE – shouldn’t we be more COLLABORATIVE?! But I do realize business must be competitive to some extent and by collaborative I don’t mean that people should be giving out their knowledge for free – do I really want to take images like so-and-so? It’s taken me a while to finally realize the importance of carving out my own vision and finding my own style (and even then I still don’t know if I’ve quite found it yet).

The other day some photographer in my area, whom I had met at a coffee shop a month prior, completely degraded me and offended me on so many levels simply because the first day we made plans to meet up I had to cancel due to work obligations and then on the second day I asked him if he’d like to come hang out and talk shop for a bit, but that I wasn’t sure if I felt like photographing him (apparently he wanted me to take a picture of him for his website, though I was completely unaware of this when we had made plans to meet up). He said that I was “lucky to even know him,” that I should be grateful he was trying teach me how to use elinchrome lights and that I seem to have trouble shooting in less than ideal conditions – WHAT THE – ?!!?! (i’d like to end that story by saying this person isn’t even a reputable photographer in the least bit. now maybe someone like carlos can say things like that but this guy – please)

However, what I am thankful for is this blog because reading through it makes me remember why i love this art SO MUCH and why I am so passionate about it. And it reminds me that no matter what anyone else says to try and bring me down, that I should never let someone else rob me of the passion I feel for photography.

word. :o )

julia bailey - March 31, 2010 - 7:54 pm

Suzy, that was beautiful. Stay true to your passion.

I think people fail to realize that it takes time and hard work. There is no “fast track”. Once you start taking on real wedding clients, it will take about a year for word of mouth to start kicking in. Once word of mouth kicks in, the ball is rolling. You will receive good word of mouth when you provide your clients with images they will treasure for a lifetime, being honest and responsible to yourself and your business, admitting to and making up for your mistakes (we ALL make mistakes), in essence, being responsible to your craft, yourself, and your clients.

Amy Clifton - March 31, 2010 - 8:09 pm

Wow, my head is spinning. I can’t believe how much time has been devoted to this topic, both in writing it and reading it. I wanted to throw in my opinion about workshops and learning from others, rockstar or not…

I recently attended Zack Arias’ OneLight Workshop, and one thing he said was “Don’t buy a piece of equipment unless you understand WHY you need it.” Let that sink in for a second…..

I think that is solid advice, and I think it applies to workshops as well.

I have attended several pretty high profile workshops, and I’ve gotten “life-changing” info from each of them. Not because the presenter was a rockstar (although they are all very well-known photographers), but because the information was what I needed at the time and because I understood why I needed it…marketing/branding, off-camera lighting, natural lighting, balancing life and career, etc. The relevance was there, and that made it valuable.

I have spent nearly $2000 for a single workshop, and I have spent $99 for a single workshop, and some numbers in between, and they were all valuable, again because I knew WHY I should attend. I have gotten fabulous advice and mentoring from friends in the industry for free, as well, but I have no problem paying someone who is sharing valid and valuable “trade secrets.” I feel yukky, though, that folks out there are NOT getting their money’s worth, due to false advertising, false expectations, or not enough information. I hate that for them. :-(

I go to lots of concerts, and one of my favorite things is when an artist changes up the arrangement of one of his hits or covers another band’s song. The best performances on American Idol are the ones where the singer makes it his/her own. (“Yo, dog, that was mad hot!!!”) Workshops should be the same, and it is our responsibility as valid artists and business people to be inspired, to learn technique, to come back and use those tips to “make it our own.” My work looks absolutely nothing like the folks whose workshops I’ve attended, but I think you can see some of their influence. And I think that is ok!

As far as branding, your personality, and your photographs go, I do believe that they all go hand in hand. When I talk to girls who are overwhelmed with the number of photographers in our area, I tell them that yes they should pick someone whose work they love and whose style fits theirs, but they also have to pick someone whose personality they mesh with. I am the one person who is with a bride the entire day…not her mom, not her best friend, not her husband–me. So she’d better like the photographer and not only the photographs! :-) Branding and blogging are two ways to get to know the person behind the camera.

I’m on the fence about calling people out on here. I think it is ridiculous and crossed a line to research personal information and post it publicly. I am annoyed by some of the habits mentioned here, but I am also inspired by some of the people mentioned, and I think they have true talent and a giving spirit in addition to being great marketers.

In the end, I am not a rockstar. Would I like to get 1000+ hits on my site everyday? Um, yes. Would I like to book $10,000 weddings? Sure! But I would rather have happy clients who send their friends to me and who call me year after year. And right now, that’s what I’m getting.

Rock on.

Joe - March 31, 2010 - 8:26 pm

Julia, thats right there is no way to “fast track” your photography buisness. If there was a way then why doesn’t Dane do it? Just last year he was selling video phones a la Mary Kay style…C’mon if you fast tracked your photography buisness you wouldn’t need to be selling video phones to friends and family and other photographers.

http://www.amserve.co.uk/about_amserve.html

meanwhile he was pitching askdane.com and fast track photographer
that is not keeping it real folks.

Talking about keeping it real, Jasmine Star talks about this all the time but she herself doesnt keep it real. Her talk at wppi
about ghetto fabulous marketing was a big fat Show it infomercial
a lot of people showed up to listen to her and what a dissapointment she was. We wanted to hear about how she got to where she is at. What specifically did she do? All she talks about is selling yourself and not the photos. So people believe her and now you just have a bunch of her little followers with show it websites with videos of themselves shooting with a shootsac and being all cutesy, how’s that for being differant like David Jay promotes? They are all just little Jasmine clones. Her clients/brides they are “newbies” trying to break into the industry. She sells them her workshop…they book her as the wedding photographer and then get a show it site -JD(works for show it)using there engagment photos and videos of themselves to promote themselves.

Yes keeping it real right??
also she talks about being poor but how did she afford David Jay at 10,000 and if he gave her a discount, don’t they say never do that. Never give discounts or lower your prices?

its all just a big fat sham. She makes most her money now from workshops. 20 people at $900 bucks a pop for 1 day to show them how to “Holla”
I feel sorry for all her little copy cats like Meg Perrotti, The Modern Type and Stepanie Fay and so many others that Drink the koolaid

julia bailey - March 31, 2010 - 8:36 pm

Joe, is that your real blog? I LOVE IT! That is what you call giving back and making change in your community.

Caroline Ghetes - March 31, 2010 - 9:13 pm

Joe, you make some very good points. I would like to agree about the “Ghetto Fabulous Marketing” done by Jasmine Star at WPPI. Of all the classes I attended at WPPI, I walked away with the least amount of useful information from her class. I waited three hours in line and still wasn’t first in line. Then another 2 hours of her class. IT was one of the biggest waste of five hours of my time in almost ever. She’s a cute girl, and somehow manages to keep smiling and being polite no matter how many people have surrounded her at any point -I’ll give her that. I also think she’s a pretty great writer. BUT, after seeing that presentation, I wouldn’t recommend a workshop taught by her.

julia bailey - March 31, 2010 - 10:48 pm

Leah, in answer to your question. Yes, we run studio ugly. Directly affecting my market? I could care less what the wedding industry and the photographers involved think of me. Some love it, some hate it, that is to be expected. I do not base my actions on fear of being hated by other photographers. I am not making money off of photographers and I am not sponsored by the industry. I am a free entity.

As for brides who have discovered it, they love it and frequently let us know they hope their images will appear on it.

Big industry has always had to deal with satire and watch dog organizations. This is nothing new.

julia bailey - March 31, 2010 - 11:09 pm

I meant LEIGH not Leah in answering on my previous post. Sorry, too many posts and names to keep up with.

Jessica Hassinton - March 31, 2010 - 11:51 pm

Scarlett, people have attempted to help you. Yet you toss your little badly-cut-banged head and say “Well my inbox is FLOODED with emails EVERY DAY!” I call bullsh*t. Total bullsh*t.

Heather - April 1, 2010 - 12:38 am

Very interesting reading.

Chris B - April 1, 2010 - 12:38 am

I had no idea who Scarlett was before reading this thread, but I just came across her Twitter page as well. A few days ago she announced that she had an “important prayer request” and that everyone should go to her blog to find out the details, and to RT this announcement.

How f*cking disgusting that is.

Jeanelle Caraway - April 1, 2010 - 1:42 am

Wow, there are some very “angry” people posting here, who’ve obviously been harboring lots of resentment that they finally got to unleash.

I honestly feel like people can/should say/type things in a constructive way, without being bitchy/rude/mean/offensive about it. But, some people aren’t happy unless they are on “Drama Bahama Island.”

To those who are angry, step away from the computer and get some fresh air. It’ll do ya a world of good!:)

Kevin Swan - April 1, 2010 - 1:44 am

Cowardly (aka D. Dastardly),

If I was teaching seminars on how to make money in wedding photography, my income from shooting would be more relevant. The irony of your asking for truth and evidence from behind the safety of a false name isn’t lost on the smart folk in this room, and there are more than a handful.

To set your errant record straight. I’ve sold a single bride over $20k in albums; and that’s all I’ve ever claimed. So, your “regularly” comment doesn’t match up. If you meant in a year, then yes, I have said (an do) average over $100k in album sales yearly. Since I have taught how to sell albums, those numbers are relevant. And, as explained when I teach, I’m simply using Gary Fong’s method of predesigning–so I’ve not invented anything nor claimed to have.

As for the filter, not sure what you mean, but I’d be happy to help you in any way.

Posting my numbers isn’t relative to the discussion. If I posted, and made more than you (Lord knows you won’t post YOUR revenue if you can’t even post your name freely), you’ll say either a) I made up the numbers or b) that I conned my clients because I don’t know how to shoot. Since I’m not trying to please you (or other photographers) with my images, I’m comfortable with it either way.

But, just to keep things interesting, I’ll tell you what, I’ll throw down. I’ll post my numbers (yes, you’ll have to decide to believe me or not, that’s up to you, but there are enough people in this forum and elsewhere who will vouch–people I am reasonably confident you, yourself, would trust).

In exchange, you simply have tell everyone who you really are. I will offer something that should be private information in exchange for you to stop acting like a coward in public.

Heather - April 1, 2010 - 2:02 am

Jeanelle – There are a lot of angry people here. While I would never agree with the personal bashing, I prefer to stick to the facts. The bottom line is that if you paid $1200 for one workshop (because the person claimed to have such a successful business and you were new and wanted a successful business too) and got nothing like you were promised and then further found out the person has LIED about it, you would be a little angry too. That is alot of money to just throw away.

To those who said do your research – I agree with you but if there arent any attendees wanting to speak out for fear of being outed, it is hard to get feedback. I dont know about you all but I tend to trust people until I am given a reason not to. I love to see the best in people. Perhaps that was my downfall. I believed these people were the honest, Christian people they claim to be and wouldn’t take advantage of others. I also believed they would deliver what they promised.

Simeon Rodgers - April 1, 2010 - 3:15 am

@ Chris B ,

I can definitely understand your rationale (assuming that she wanted only to use religion to draw people to her blog, which is borderline shady) however, in her defense (from a neutral stance) did you actually follow the link and see what the blog post was about? If I am not mistaken, it was something which Christians like myself could appreciate; somewhat of a prayer chain in order to encourage a cancer patient friend. Motive? Possibly faulty, but still a noble action with positive results of lifting somebody’s spirit and supporting them in prayer (which almost everyone who who would even follow the link could appreciate). Totally understand your distaste, but it may not be 100% deserved.

I think the claws have come out and we may just be making these people our whipping boards without sifting through our emotions for bias. Lets just take a moment to breathe and figure out why we are here. We are trying to build the community and educate one another. Lets not do the witch hunt thing, nor turn this into a matter of religion. Though one can disagree with actions of someone who professes a certain religion, that religion is not pertinent to the discussion as not everyone here follows it, or even if they do, in the same way.

Thank you to everyone contributing positively, even if you have criticism. Conflict is most definitely not the problem; chaos is. Lets just work this thing out like civil adults and give a little grace. Just a little?

John LaVere - April 1, 2010 - 5:47 am

I have watched some talented friends nearly go into bankruptcy because they bought into the rockstar B.S. They thought they could follow fluffy advice and rocket into success. As an admitted business idiot, I just want to thank Gary Fong for giving me the most meat and potatoes, get the bills paid, info on the wedding business I have every heard. If you are mortal and you have to start your business with real clients that exist in your market, I suggest you listen up to Gary Fong’s Album Pre-Design system. I went from wondering how I was going to pay for albums to paying my bills with albums in six months. I had a conversation with another photographer today about pre-design and I think I converted him. He has a young family and is struggling to pay bills also. I’m actually kind of emotional about it because I know he is going to do better for his family if he does this!! What I liked about Gary is that he is not a rockstar, he knows how to merchandise the product and sell it to real clients.

There is a lot of other crap going around that is basically recycled self help garbage. My rule is: If your pictures make me cry I’ll take your creative advice. If you have a proven business record, I’ll take your business advice. If I need personal enrichment, I’ll get a professional therapist.

Petra Hall - April 1, 2010 - 5:59 am

I’m a nobody, so just ignore me. I’m still wet behind the ears when it comes to wedding photography. I’m hobbling around. So I am nobody really.

What gets me is that a lot of these “rockstars” you all talk about here and elsewhere are people I’ve never heard of. When I started out in 2005 I knew just a few names in the business, and they were Yervant, Bambi Cantrell, Joe Buissink (if I spellt his name right, it’s a tricky one), Jeff Ascough and the fong dong master, Gary Fong.

I had never heard of Becker, Jessica Claire, David Jay, Jasmine Star, etc. Who are they? I had no clue, and did I care? Not really.

I’ve had the fortune to meet Becker and Jessica, and they are good at what they do. Marketing and selling, and I did pick up a few great ideas from them about that. Nuggets. But I don’t drink the Koolaid, I have to adapt things to my market, my region and my country.

And maybe that’s it. The reason I hadn’t heard of them and people who’s been mention in this blog post comments, is that they are living in a pond on the west coast of America? They weren’t really making any ripples in the rest of the world.

I come from the graphics design business and in that business we don’t really have any true “rockstars” that tour the world and tell us how to do our business, or inspire us, teaches us, etc. I almost find it odd that the photography business is so into this. Why is that?

It’s great that many photographers find a way to make money, either it’s with their camera or without it. But have the “average Joe’s” of us stopped thinking for ourselves? Do we have to be in one corner or the other? If you’re not a Becker or Jessica Claire fan, you’re a David Jay fan, or you’re a Jerry Ghionis fan or whatever.

Ignore my ramblings, but it sometimes *does* feel like different faiths of religion. In the end it’s the same darn God, but just different prophets and we fight ourselves blue over who’s real or not.

Maybe we should concentrate on making good images instead?

julia bailey - April 1, 2010 - 6:57 am

I am hesitant to do this, but here goes…

What has bothered me about the industry is nothing new. I too had been minding my own business when suddenly someone would buddy up to be my pal and start pointing out what was going on in the industry. In 2007 and 2008, photographers were being taught to look for the photographers in their area who were successful, become friends with them, study their images, study their methods and be like them. Who taught them this? People like David Jay and the OSP community. Before I knew it, I was being dragged onto the stage of the great charade. Suddenly, other people were trying to shoot the way I shoot, or edit the way I edit. It was disturbing and strange. I was also uncomfortable with the added attention from other photographers. Yes, it is nice to be told when someone likes your work but after awhile, it just feels disingenuous. In hindsight, I realize people were being taught to visit other blogs and make comments if they want to get more hits on their own blogs. Actually, I think people are still being taught to do this. No wonder it felt so false.

Finally, I went into hiding. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I couldn’t stand the false attention and I could not stand the feeling of being plagiarized. When I complained about people copying everyone else, the other photographers would say “nothing is original, you don’t own an idea, its just business, everyone does it”.

As a result, I went into hiding, stopped updating my website, stopped blogging and eventually aired my frustrations through satire. Many of you call me bitter. Yes, I was bitter, but not jealous. So, for all of you who don’t understand the “grumpy”, here is my personal perspective. Consider it another facet for a 3 dimensional view into understanding why we are in this mess and why people are upset.

I am sure it is a great mistake to share myself so openly but, who knows, maybe someone will relate to it. I offer up this personal bit of myself for the sake of sharing a greater view of how the marketing and leaders of our industry can ultimately affect its craftsmen/artists/worker bees who supply them with money that was earned by hard work, passion, dedication, love and even faith. I have given you the satire, I have given you the intellect and now I give you the soul…

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?saved&&suggest&note_id=93619819751

Feel free to chew it up and spit it out. (it is very hard to hit submit)

D. Dastardly - April 1, 2010 - 7:05 am

Oh Wonderful Kevin of the Douchebag Sunglasses,

I truly don’t care about your numbers. Since you do, like, 5-6 weddings a year, I think your brand of fraud is pretty harmless. (Except to the handful of suckers who hired you). But if you can convince a bunch of guppies that you’re getting rich off albums, then you can sell more of your Keep it Simple, Stupid albums. Quantity over quality, right?

But you keep on keepin’ on. I think your clients deserve what they get.

Kevin Swan - April 1, 2010 - 11:10 am

No big surprise that you’d chicken out. More distortion, too. Last year I did 18 weddings, which is close to 5-6, I guess (for people who have a hard time with things like math).

You got nothing, which is why you have to hide.

Jen - April 1, 2010 - 12:15 pm

So, I was sitting here doing my make up, thinking about this blog and you know what came to mind with the “rock stars” photographers? Millie Vanillie (however you spell it). That’s right. Those two stupid guys who lip synced their way to fame and when it was brought to life that they couldn’t sing, well, that was the end of them. Not that these guys can’t take pictures, but when they lie about what they do to get photographers to buy into whatever they are selling, they do the some thing Millie Vanillie did.

Julie - April 1, 2010 - 1:30 pm

I’m just curious, have any of you DJ haters actually met him? I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with many of the leaders of our industry. While Yervant, Joe Buissink, Bambi Cantrell, Mike Colon, etc are all very nice, it was a very surface meeting. However, David Jay is by far the most engaging, kind, caring, compassionate, and generally fun person I have met in the photography industry. I have never in my life (and I’m not just being overly-dramatic here,) met someone who within 30 seconds of meeting them, I felt like they truly cared about me/my career/my heart as I did when I met David Jay. I also have countless friends in the industry (Kenny Kim, Jasmine*, Dane Sanders, etc) who have DJ to thank for their careers taking off.

Kenny Kim was just a wet-behind-the-ears newbie when he happened to be out in CA for a workshop, and got up the courage to call your infamous, self-promoting David Jay and ask him if he could meet him for coffee. DJ was one of the biggest names in the wedding photography world at that time, getting hundreds of emails per day from photographers asking for advice and help. But even with all his money and “fame,” he told Kenny “absolutely, why don’t you come over to my house and I’ll make us some lunch!” He took him in, spent the day with him, advising him and befriending him (this guy who had NOTHING to offer back), and then offered him a place to stay that night. Does a person who’s all about “self-promotion” really have anything to gain by taking an entire 24 hours of their weekend and helping a newbie with nothing to offer?

You’re all welcome to have your opinions about photographers who rise to the top in less time than it took you to complete your formal education in the field of photography. I can imagine it’s hard to have all of the “newbies” taking jobs from you, but making assumptions about David Jay, and other people like him who are trying to make their business about helping those newbies rise to the top, does make you look like a “grumpy.” Maybe try to actually meet and get to know this person before you openly attack his character. If you got to know him you’d see what the rest of us who have met him see, and you’d know what an ass you look like for attacking him.

Ke$ha - April 1, 2010 - 1:58 pm

keep talk talking that blah blah blah.

spend your time making your business better and stop bitching.

If you spend $$ on something that is a bust, suck it up and move on. You should have done your research better. You paid to learn what makes that certain photographer work and now you’ve seen it. Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it was false advertising. You shouldn’t have paid to see a mediocre photographer. You also should probably stop trying to copycat that same mediocre photographer.

Now suck it up and go build a better business with some hard work and genuine relationship building! No workshop will EVER give you the keys to the kingdom. If that was so we would all be there and then it wouldn’t work. The same way there is no magic diet pill that will instantly make you skinny (hello fad diets and an obese society) there is also no magic workshop that will instantly make you a successful photographer.

This is the destructive force behind this industry. Clients never see this and clients don’t care.

Doug - April 1, 2010 - 2:59 pm

“I have never in my life (and I’m not just being overly-dramatic here,) met someone who within 30 seconds of meeting them, I felt like they truly cared about me/my career/my heart as I did when I met David Jay.”

LOL.

Hector Vasquez - April 1, 2010 - 3:00 pm

@ Julie

I’m not sure anyone is saying David Jay isn’t nice. I’m sure he’s a very nice guy…he’s a salesman. His job is to be nice. You ever bought a car? Car salesmen are THE NICEST GUYS you will ever meet! Because they want to make the sale.

DJ’s nice, Dane’s nice, Scarlet’s nice, Jasmine’s nice…they’re all nice! They’re just neither knowledgeable nor experienced.

Remember, conmen are supposed to be nice…otherwise they won’t get your money.

Doug - April 1, 2010 - 3:19 pm

@ Hector,

You missed the part where Julie told us David Jay cared about her heart as soon as he met her. He must be for real.

Julie - April 1, 2010 - 4:21 pm

@ Hector

I think you’re missing my point. My point was that while many of these rockstars are “nice,” DJ is true. I’m not some ignorant, naive, bandwagon fanboi because one of the rockstars actually shook my hand and took an interest in my career. I also am not someone who buys into hype, or a used car because the salesman remembers my name. I believe that there are PLENTY of rockstars out there charging insane amounts of money for workshops where they teach almost nothing. I also believe there are plenty of “nice guys” who will take self-promotion and the almighty dollar over a chance to help someone any day (anyone who witnessed Joe Photo’s disgusting display of salesmanship during his Platform Class at WPPI this year knows what I’m talking about–nice guy, but at the end of the day, he went home with an ungodly amount of cash from his sponsors for bait-and-switching us into his sales pitch.) My point is that David Jay is not that guy. You don’t have to believe it, but I would just encourage people to actually spend an afternoon with the guy before openly attacking.

@ Doug

I’m glad I could give you a laugh. There’s so much venom on here, you guys could use a smile.

Hector Vasquez - April 1, 2010 - 5:27 pm

@ Julie

And you missed my point. I don’t disagree that he’s nice. Maybe he’s even genuinely nice. But he still doesn’t know shit about photography.

I’m a photographer, and I’m a really nice guy. I’ll be the nicest guy you’ve ever met. Now you need surgery for something? Want me to perform it? I’m a really nice guy! Don’t know anything about doctorin’, but I’m a really nice guy!

See what I’m getting at? Nice does not equal knowledgeable. And that’s the problem…we’ve got a bunch of really nice guys using their niceness to sell you junk. They might even drink their own kool aid and believe it’s not junk….but it’s still junk.

julia bailey - April 1, 2010 - 7:15 pm

Julie,

Maybe it is time for people to talk about how “TRUE” Dane Sanders and David Jay are. As well as the “TRUTH” about Open Source Photo and the SHOWIT program.

julia bailey - April 1, 2010 - 9:43 pm

Dear Kristin Weaver,

You are truly an inspiration to artists the world over. You are obviously doing your part in bringing truth and integrity to our industry. As well, everyone should be moved by this proof of honest support for your friend, Scarlett Lillian.

http://www.kristenweaverblog.com/fashion/photofusion-i-the-contest/

I am touched. In honor of my heartfelt gratitude I would like to offer you a STUDIO UGLY T-SHIRT as one of the free prizes you will be giving away to the attendee(s) at your latest workshop. I too would like to participate in your magnanimous endeavor. I do hope we can have dinner sometime.

Warmest regards,

Julia Bailey AKA Studio Ugly

P.S. Can you please define the term “fusion” in relation to your work and what the lucky recipient(s) will experience at your workshop?

julia bailey - April 1, 2010 - 10:07 pm

Dear Kristin Weaver,

I tell you, I am so impressed that I even went so far as to read the fine print.

(**Voting will take place starting April 15th until April 30th. Winner will be selected based on number of legitimate votes (no multiple or spam votes will count). Photofusion session will be scheduled for a date that’s mutually agreeable with both of our schedules. You’re welcome to bring a spouse, but the winner is the only photographer that may shoot and share editorial credit. There’s a whole bunch of other legal stuff that you would have to agree to by accepting the grand prize (winner’s contract, basically), like that I DONT GUARANTEE YOU’LL ACTUALLY LEARN ANYTHING VALUABLE. Yep, I said it. If you have questions, please contact me directly – or just don’t enter the contest. :) I’m happy to send the contract in advance of you entering, but I can’t guarantee I’ll get it to you before the deadline. I think I just added a disclaimer to my disclaimer? Fun!)

So, judging from your disclaimer, you appear to be covering your ass quite sufficiently. However, this notion of signing a legal document regarding workshop attendance has my mind reeling.

I wonder, Is it possible that past attendee’s from previous workshops held by others who have not taught what they claimed would be taught, as told through their marketing and advertising…

Well, does this mean that people have the right to file a class action lawsuit based upon false advertising?

Hmmmm…I’ll have to do some research.

kay - April 1, 2010 - 11:01 pm

wow, julia.

how incredibly self-indulgent. what’s especially obnoxious about the whole “truth” movement is that you assume that most people are just giant morons who need you to save them from themselves.

it’s so ironically narcissistic.

kay - April 1, 2010 - 11:03 pm

i’m all for honest reviews of products, services, and workshops, but viciously targeting people because they don’t conform to your vision of “right” is just sad.

this whole thread is really quite pitiful.

julia bailey - April 1, 2010 - 11:12 pm

Kay, this is why I will research what is legal, rather than my own moral judgment of right.

Just Max - April 1, 2010 - 11:18 pm

Kay is probably Kristen Weaver and that is the best she could do, all you did was post her disclaimer, I don’t see any vicious or personal attack here.

I’m making a disclaimer for my brides to sign before the wedding day that will have a clause in it that says I might not actual take any photographs and see how many of them would want to sign up for my services.

Just Max - April 1, 2010 - 11:20 pm

I DONT GUARANTEE YOU’LL ACTUALLY GET ANY PHOTOGRAPHS …

Paul Gotwin - April 1, 2010 - 11:34 pm

Kristen..

Wow. Just…wow. “I have never met anyone who has given so much of themselves to help others.”

You must have not met…anyone. Ever. All Scarlet has ever done is charge people for her worthless advice. When has she done anything that didn’t involve getting her hands on somebody else’s money (and in exchange for something of no value?)

You must be the biggest sucker on the planet.

kay - April 1, 2010 - 11:45 pm

julia – i was referring to your “i’m hesitant to do this” post, subsequent facebook note, and prevailing attitude of this “movement”

again – this whole every-other-kid-with-a-camera-can-teach-a-workshop thing is absurd, but a handful of bitter, jaded photographers calling others out is hardly appropriate or productive. you’re just as bad as the “leaders” whose tactics you disdain.

how about we all just deflate the egos and go about our work?

julia bailey - April 1, 2010 - 11:49 pm

Kay, good luck with that.

Monica Reid - April 2, 2010 - 12:18 am

I just read the newer reviews on Leeanns blog I feel literally sick for the lady that did a 1 on 1 session, people this is FRAUD!
my newest tweet sums up MY opinion and My husbands who said the quote.
monicareidphoto

Just sick the more I hear of photogs that have been scammed as @therealbreid ” it’s like they are the Jim&Tammy Faye Bakers of Photog world”

Just Max - April 2, 2010 - 12:46 am

Hey Kay and Kristin Weaver

I’m going to ask Carlos if he wont check your IP addys against each other. As this is a blog abut truth in our industry and I would bet you have created a dummy account to come to your own rescue.

kylie - April 2, 2010 - 1:04 am

as a photographer residing in the somewhat isolated south west of western australia – i soak up the details of every blog/forum/workshop that is offered. my husband and i are new to the industry, this is our 4th year, with 2009 and 2010 fully booked with 30+ weddings, major commercial clients and ample portrait sessions. we have just opened our first studio, a great achievement we are very proud of, allowing us to return our home to our home and hopefully continue to work our asses off but spend quality time with our family. we have attended a couple of workshops, jerry and yervant, and learnt a vast amount from both. one was expensive – in both time and money – as we both attended, but was worth every cent.
my story…
when we first began in the wedding industry, we contacted a few well known and respected industry peers who did not reply, respond or declined our requests to meet and chat over coffee (my shout). this perplexed me. then one christmas, our good friend and photographer clare day (maybe also considered a newbie?) and i sent bulk invitations to all the said photographers in our area to join us for lunch.
roger and kirsty clark were the only photographers to join us this day. roger has been in the industry for over 30 years (give or take), so i guess he is considered a grumpie (maybe kirsty would agree with me). this incredible award winning photographer (and quite nice man with a dry dry wit lots of tattoos and a loud bike ) with the most insane amount of knowledge, talent, dedication, enthusiasm (the list goes on) openly shared all of the above with us from this lunch onwards. he encouraged us to join the aipp and enter the state and national competitions, providing critique on images we intended to enter.
then there is his wife kirsty, with a marketing prowess that is second to none, and photography talent that is real and emotional and mindblowing. besides all that she manages a family and looks gorgeous on a daily basis.
who needs workshops or seminars or rockstars or conmen?
we have learnt far more and gained immensley from knowing and talking and listening and becoming friends with our industry peers – and we are so very grateful.
i firmly believe i would still be stuck on the rockstar blogs buying every dvd and template that our measly training budget could cope with…had we not become friends with this couple and come to our senses.

Mateo - April 2, 2010 - 1:07 am

Wow! So many differing views on things…. I feel dizzy LOL!

I respect this blog idea because I view it as an opportunity to help protect the wedding photography industry for the long term.

Yes I said it…… LONG TERM!

Like to share a few (quick) things that I have experienced over the past few years since I turned pro…..

*I met a videographer at a mixer in December (he’s pretty high end!) who looked at my images via my iphone & went “wow, do you teach workshops.” I kinda blushed and said, “No, I’ve only been shooting professionally for a few years. I’m only 28 and don’t feel like I have enough experience to teach. I’d rather be at a point where I physically can’t shoot weddings any more…. when I’m old. Only then do I think I’d have enough to say.” He kinda looked at me like “dude you’re crazy!” and then we went on and talked about other things. True story.

*As a “newbie” I too got caught up the J*/DJ circle…. Until I was shown the way. I’ve seen a few comments here that have said, “why don’t you focus on your OWN studio more, instead of worrying about others.” While I do agree with that statement… let me boggle everyone’s noodle for a moment…..

*It is OUR DUTY as paid professionals to look out for one another and this industry as a whole! I liken it to being a member of a “union.” I don’t think enough attention is being paid to the fact that if we all want to be working for a very long time, some things need to change. When people go off the deep end, we NEED to call “bullsh*t!” No matter how much it hurts or how mean it seems. People that hurt the industry as a whole need to be given the choice to either be a ‘positive influence’ or they needed to be blacklisted. Period.

*I WANT to be in this business for A VERY LONG TIME! Don’t you!? To be in this business for a long time means not only do you have to be “badass” image-creator but you also have to have at least a decent business sense. I know I’m preaching to the choir, but sometimes we all need to be reminded of these core-principles.

*There has been an amazing amount of blah imagery coming from photographers out of my home base as of recent, so I’ve been looking to photographers to international photographers for inspiration. It’s amazing the caliber of talent beyond our borders here in the good ‘ol USA. I encourage you all to look well beyond what you’re familiar with. It will change you for the better believe me.

*I’ve been studying many a commercial photographer as of late. You know what they all have in common besides long long long careers???? Innovation. They’re constantly innovating their shooting methods to survive. This is what wedding photography is getting hung up on IMHO. Too much marketing…. not enough focus on high-quality innovative work. Marketing is and always will be important….. but what do you have when your marketing tricks run out or don’t work? Better hope your a “badass” image-maker or you’ll be outta work in no time.

*My biz is NOT successful…… well. At least where I want it to be! ;) It’s growing. FAST. This year we’re booking more events than we ever have. And people are starting to get to know who we are and what we do. And they like it. And we like it! And no we’re not super cheap either. Our “local” clients spend at 5-8k on our services when all is said and done.

Here’s to ‘longevity’ in this business…… I hope you’ll join me.

“……time to put away childish things.”

Bobby Earle - April 2, 2010 - 1:29 am

Ha! This is hilarious!

“The ‘famous’ wedding photographers that I follow are better than the ‘famous’ wedding photographers that YOU follow!!!”

That’s all that’s happening here. Some of you take this all so serious! It’s really hilarious.

Bobby

Chris B - April 2, 2010 - 1:35 am

Bobby,

It’s not surprising that you’ve missed the entire point.

Not surprising at all.

Ricks #1 Fan - April 2, 2010 - 1:43 am

After all these years Rock Rosen is still running his mouth on the internet taking any audience he can get his chubby little hands on.

A-MA-ZING

julia bailey - April 2, 2010 - 1:50 am

Bobby,

That kind of thinking is playing into the divide and conquer marketing strategy. Whoever sits behind the fraud would like us to all get caught up in “following” and finding “leaders”. This is broken thinking.

We need to be equals, trying to find solutions to the problems we are facing.

julia bailey - April 2, 2010 - 1:59 am

Anyone who has attended a workshop and left feeling ripped off can call the FTC to make a formal complaint.

You can do this without raising any suspicions within the wedding industry.

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/bizopps/index.html

Chris B - April 2, 2010 - 2:00 am

Julia,

I believe Bobby’s been pushed to be a David Jay and Showit spokesperson which is why he’s here and why he’s considered a photographer, without actually being a photographer.

julia bailey - April 2, 2010 - 2:05 am

Repeating myself because it is important:

Anyone who has attended a workshop and left feeling ripped off can call the FTC to make a formal complaint.

None of your peers will know you did this. It is anonymous in that regard.

There is a link below the video on the following page for filing a complaint.

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/bizopps/index.html

Chris Lin - April 2, 2010 - 3:00 am

Kay, you do understand that accusing Julia of being bitter and jaded in attempt to attack the argument is an ad hominem argument, right?

Even if that were true, would it make her points any less valid? If you disagree with what someone else says, is there any credential they could have that would make you listen anyway?

Admittedly, that is hyperbole. I hope that it was taken as such, and not as an attack on you personally.

For those curious, let me know if you need an example of what me attacking someone looks like.

julia bailey - April 2, 2010 - 3:48 am

One thing I learned by years of submitting my photos into anonymous voting and commenting photo contests, is that one needs to detach themselves emotionally from the piece. Whether it be a photo, a bit of writing or any other form of personal expression. Once I put it out there, I am emotionally detached and there is no amount of negative critique that will hurt me.

This is why I believe photographers need the experience of putting their images into anonymous voting and critique type competitions.

Jerry - April 2, 2010 - 8:34 am

I cannot believe how bad Scarlett Lillian has treated her fellow photographers in her workshops and one to ones. What a scam.

Talk about damage control she is making a bad situation worst. Condescending and patronizing comments rather than a true apology and refund. Why don’t you just say sorry and give their money back. Are you not embarrassed and ashamed? Or do you still think you did nothing wrong? Listen more speak less.

What a spoilt little b*tch. Stephen Knuth sounds like a royal piece of work himself. You guys seem perfect for each other. Imagine the sympathy lines on Scarlett’s blog if they break up. Bring out the tissues. Please grow up. Daddy’s little girl has to grow up. no more drama queen.

kay - April 2, 2010 - 9:34 am

-max, by all means, please do. my only connection to kristin weaver is that i posted beneath one of julia’s comments about her – and you got bent about it. hi. my name is kay. i’m from newton, ma. would you like my shoe size or my social security number next?

-chris, i’m not attacking the argument, i DO think there’s an epidemic of mediocrity and inflated sense of self in this industry. i’m questioning the this self-appointed, vulgar, superhero of truth methodology. have you read some of the filth being spewed on twitter? not just by julia – though she is a major culprit. my point is, it’s ineffective to call someone to the mat when you are just as guilty of the offense. narcissism continues to rear its ugly head on both sides.

does this ‘calling people out’ nonsense bring issues to light? i guess. i suppose if you had your blinders and earmuffs on you weren’t already aware of the “rockstar” hype. will this incessant pissing contest resolve anything? doubtful. especially when most of those screaming TRUTH are using fake names.

this shouldn’t be how adults resolve issues. pathetic.

Renee - April 2, 2010 - 9:52 am

Rick Rosen – lots of good advice. Appreciate it.

Jen - April 2, 2010 - 10:18 am

I think at this point we’re beating a dead horse by complaining about it. The question is what are WE as a photography community going to do about it? I’m not sure there is much we can do about it other than be honest about ourselves. Maybe it’s time to move on.

julia bailey - April 2, 2010 - 10:22 am

Anyone who has attended a workshop and left feeling ripped off can call the FTC to make a formal complaint.

None of your peers will know you did this. It is anonymous in that regard.

There is a link below the video on the following page for filing a complaint.

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/bizopps/index.html

julia bailey - April 2, 2010 - 10:35 am

The industry will need fresh people to offer their expertise and advice in order to create a learning community for new photographers.

Some people are creating blogs for workshop reviews already. Excellent idea.

Workshops are not invalid, there simply needs to be a place where consumers can read reviews and make informed decisions. I am sure complaints could also be filed with the better business bureau.

Someone, maybe the PPA, will need to implement a source for helping photographers understand what their legal obligations are when selling workshops, being sponsored by product companies, etc.

Companies also will need to study their legal obligations when using personalities to sell their products.

This is an opportunity for photographers to come together and discuss what resources they feel are needed within the industry. Also an opportunity for photographers to get together and fulfill those needs.

This can be a wonderful community where true professionals come together to help educate each other on maintaining good business practices as well as increasing their technical skills and finding artistic inspiration from each other.

julia bailey - April 2, 2010 - 11:02 am

A perfect example of what the FEAR marketing technique has done to our industry

http://rising.blackstar.com/when-fear-rules-the-photography-world-we-all-lose.html

We don’t have to fear when we understand their marketing strategies and how they are trying to sway our decision making. Take back control of your own lives, your own business and your own art.

We can do this if we work together.

Rick Rosen - April 2, 2010 - 12:54 pm

Renee said:

“Rick Rosen – lots of good advice. Appreciate it.”

Thank you Renee.

Rick

Rick Rosen - April 2, 2010 - 3:41 pm

How about a little levity from a real photographer:

http://vimeo.com/4985214

julia bailey - April 2, 2010 - 6:54 pm

This is a good site for finding out how to file deceptive business practices to the FTC, your state attorney general, the Better Business Bureau and your local consumer protection office.

If you feel someone in your local area is running a deceptive business, you can file complaints on a local and state level.

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/whocares/complaint.shtm

BOB - April 2, 2010 - 8:24 pm

OMGness I can’t believe some things that are being said by you GRUMPIES

1- We photographers can’t charge average people less than 1,000.00 to do their wedding and then give them a DVD (which I do)

2- There needs to be a watchdog to watch over other photographers to make sure they know enough about photography to give classes.

3- There needs to be a photographers union formed.

4- Photographers have to let their students know if they bought their own home, car, camera equipment, etc…

5- Photographers should not gush or talk about their own lives or boyfriend/girlfriend on their sites, or call themselves ROCKSTARS.

6- You can’t talk about your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (which by the way ALL of the ones that are being criticized are)

7- We can’t say holla.

8-We can only go to the old “PROFESSIONAL” photographers for their insight.

9- You will really be in hot do-do if you purchase a show-it site from DJ.(who is a nice guy)

10-We shouldn’t even start to think Steven or Scarlet are any kind of a photographer, they should quit the business immediately and return any money they have been given since starting in the business.

I also am new to this business, but you talk about drinking koolaid, this is some of the most insane talk I have ever heard.
You wanna know what I think? I think you all went out there to that big photographers convention and you all thought you were better than the one speaking and decided to attack them when you got home, oh sure it could be a coincidence but I don’t think so.

And another thing what should I tell the poor girl who works at wal-mart, when she says she can hardly afford $1,000.00 for a photographer for her wedding and would I PLEASE do it for 500.00? Oh sweetie, these old left out photographers say I can’t charge you less that what they are charging (4,000.00+) and heavens don’t even mention the DVD well my my they wouldn’t even talk to me the next time I was in a restaurant with them. They say I’m cuttin into their business, and really I’m not a real photographer anyway, I know sweetie you like my pictures.

Looking forward to your answer.
OH and I hope everyone of you are having a BLESSED Holy week.

BOB - April 2, 2010 - 8:46 pm

Oh I forgot one more;

11-DON’T EVEN think about puttin your picture on the side of a bus and drivin around the country.

hahaaaha this is gettin to me, I need to concentrate on the Easter celebration comin up but this is tooo much fun.

When I think of more I’ll be back.

BOB

Rick Rosen - April 2, 2010 - 8:46 pm

“Bob” said:

“Looking forward to your answer.”

“Bob”,

Speaking for myself, you will get a response and dialogue from me only after you have the professionalism to post your thoughts using your real name and back that up with a web address. Until then, in my opinion you are some anonymous troll just looking to stir the pot.

This thread started with a sincere effort from some experienced professionals to try and help the profession. Unfortunately, it has become a place where some feel it appropriate to post anonymously and attack others. Fortunately, most of this discussion has been quite valuable, even to those “rockstars” that are being criticized (IF they’d listen!).

And, BTW, have a BLESSED Holy week “Bob.”

Rick

BOB - April 2, 2010 - 8:56 pm

COme on Rick you are scared to post this cause you know it’s the truth, I know others that you let post without using their real names.

Rick Rosen - April 2, 2010 - 9:16 pm

“Bob”

My comments aimed at you posting under an alias apply to everyone else who has done the same. If this is going to be a valuable discussion with some real purpose then everyone should be professional enough to post under their real names.

Why don’t you help set the bar and start?

Rick

robert madrid - April 2, 2010 - 9:21 pm

To the Christian Photographers . . .

“I think much of life as a believer comes down to this: does Christianity modify us, or do we modify Christianity? I don’t mean does grace transform us. I mean, am I a Christianity writer, or a writer dealing with Christianity? Is it better to think in terms of Christian Artist, or is it better to think of Artistic Christians?
Christianity is not some glaze we apply over the top of other things. Christianity is this amazing core that we find happily inside anything touched by anyone by anyone who will welcome the Spirit inside. “Christian” isn’t what modifies us. We modify “Christian”. (Pete Gall – Learning My Name)
If you truly consider yourself to be a ‘Christian-Artist’ and your heart is to glorify God with all you do through your art, that is a wonderful thing. However, if you’re using God to promote or elevate yourself in any way, or to make yourself look better than you really are, (which is a sinner that deserves hell but by the grace and work Christ did on the cross you are now saved) then that is simply pride.

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” 1 Peter 5:5

Let us not be proud with the gifts God has given us, but let us serve one another in love.

BOB - April 2, 2010 - 9:42 pm

Amen Brother Robert!

Leah Harvey - April 2, 2010 - 11:06 pm

Goodness. I’m not gonna lie. I came back after a few days & Holy crap! Maybe someone should start a forum where people that want to speak freely they can. (not my cup o tea, but) If you don’t want your name on it, fine…however if you are going to respond freely-which people should- (negative or positive) AND you are a photographer talking about the fact that you are a photographer, I suggest you do put a link to your name. I’ve actually clicked on a few people here & really love their work…and for the people in the business that truly want to sit down & have coffee (for free! Gasp!) it may be a good way to meet said people. I’m just sayin…

Totally my opinion considering I moved my business half way across the country bc my husband is stationed here…it sure would help to have some other photographers to kick it with at the local coffee shop.

BOB - April 2, 2010 - 11:40 pm

I’m not here to “network” I just wanted to give my opinion.

Lauren Harris - April 3, 2010 - 12:34 am

Scarlett Lillian karma has really come back to bite you.

Kevin Swan - April 3, 2010 - 1:30 am

I want to make a t-shirt that says, “My workshop can kick your workshop’s ass.”

B - April 3, 2010 - 1:31 am

LOL Lauren!

Bobby (THE ONE TRUE ROCKSTAR) Earle - April 3, 2010 - 2:30 am

Chris B, I think you might be surprised with how much I agree with a lot of these comments ;) I just find it funny that some people are basically making this a “my photographer that I follow is better!” match.

To your thing about me not being a photographer — I actually don’t care if someone on here doesn’t think I’m a photographer. I’m sure PLENTY of people think that. I really don’t mind. Heck, half the time I look at my images and think “why the hell did I overprocess that one?!” or “man, that photo sure sucks…” I also don’t care if people think that the guy who runs this blog is a real photographer that should be followed and that other photographers shouldn’t be followed. I think it’s crazy that people care this much. Spend this much time. It’s crazy to me. I spend time with my friends and family, traveling, and shooting. That’s about it. The idea of spending time trying to tell people who to follow is just weird to me.

I will say that I am totally lucky that my clients know that I know DJ — that is definitely a huge reason why they book me :P

To Julie, I totally agree about the reviews! I LOVE them! I think reviews on workshops should be all over the place :) I also, however, can’t feel bad for people who went to a workshop by someone who really hasn’t been at this long at all, doesn’t have exceptional success, and doesn’t have mind blowing work and expected to get $2k worth of info out of it. That’s the biggest shocker to me. I don’t mean it as a slight against Scarlett — I don’t know her at all. Could be an awesome person. But this is probably a good lesson for as to why you wait to teach.

At the same time, it’s not ALL the photographers’ (who are doing workshops before they should) fault. I am a TOTAL NOBODY. Do you hear me — NOBODY. I have been shooting full time for like 3 years — have been very fortunate to have some decent success during that time but nothing to warrant workshops. I have TONS to learn. Given that fact, I still get emails all the time from photographers nearly begging me to do a workshop. I get a fair amount of photographers who email me wanting to fly in and do one on one workshops. I turn it down as I don’t think I have anything exceptional to offer at this point in my career (to where hard earned money is well spent) — but the fact is that it is NOT easy as a business minded person to turn down money!!! :P I do because, again, I couldn’t do one in good faith at this point. But it’s something additional to think about. Starting photographers need to realize that some workshops may be awesome (Jasmine’s is ripping, Tricoast’s is ripping) — but you aren’t going to get rich quick by going. Photography businesses that make it tend to make it because the photographer is a nice person, at least a pretty rad photographer, and savvy when it comes to business/marketing. Those things take time.

But again, I like the reviews. Everyone learns because of them.

Bobby

Grumpy Non Rockstar - April 3, 2010 - 5:17 am

This thread is five years late. The ‘rockstar’ phenomenon started around that time, and it was obviously vacuous.

The true rockstars are those with vast (life and work) experience and knowledge, charge reasonable fees for their seminars, and don’t call themselves ‘rockstars’.

So far I’ve been to seminars by Gary Fong, Denis Reggie, and Huy Nguyen, and it was worth it.

I wish GF did seminars on financial independence. But he already shares some awesome stuff on his blog–get this–for free.

I stay away from anyone who trumpets their ‘Christianity’ for self-promotion purposes.

rolland elliot - April 3, 2010 - 5:42 am

This is like Perez Hilton wedding photgraphy style.
Scarlett Lillian must be thinking what has hit her.

First Carlos kick butts David Jay.
Then little boy Stephen decides to suck up to the community to improve his street cred.
Little does he know that he and his cougar Scarlett were the intended targets of displeasure.

All the backslapping and pseudo encouragement from their support crew has completely blinded their views …. big disconnect
But lil Stephen just cannot keep his mouth shut.

Scarlett gets dragged in for double bang but shows fake contrition and really doesn’t care as long as she makes cash.
My workshop is awesome because I got a 95% approval rating.
Lee-ann shows her the light but Scarlett is still blinded and fights back with I call your bluff as you are the minority … look at all my glowing reviews.
Her glowing reviews turn out less glowing and she then turns all passive aggesive.
Why did you all give me good reviews if I was really crap.

The biggest joke and irony has to go to lil Stephen who then goes on a Phaunt podcast after professing his eternal love to Scarlett to suggest that they have a workshop during their wedding and get the attenders to photograph their wedding.

How much are you both going to charge for this workshop?

Peace

rolland elliot - April 3, 2010 - 5:42 am

This is like Perez Hilton wedding photgraphy style.
Scarlett Lillian must be thinking what has hit her.

First Carlos kick butts David Jay.
Then little boy Stephen decides to suck up to the community to improve his street cred.
Little does he know that he and his cougar Scarlett were the intended targets of displeasure.

All the backslapping and pseudo encouragement from their support crew has completely blinded their views …. big disconnect
But lil Stephen just cannot keep his mouth shut.

Scarlett gets dragged in for double bang but shows fake contrition and really doesn’t care as long as she makes cash.
My workshop is awesome because I got a 95% approval rating.
Lee-ann shows her the light but Scarlett is still blinded and fights back with I call your bluff as you are the minority … look at all my glowing reviews.
Her glowing reviews turn out less glowing and she then turns all passive aggesive.
Why did you all give me good reviews if I was really crap.

The biggest joke and irony has to go to lil Stephen who then goes on a Phaunt podcast after professing his eternal love to Scarlett to suggest that they have a workshop during their wedding and get the attenders to photograph their wedding.

How much are you both going to charge for this workshop?

Peace

Chelo Keys - April 3, 2010 - 8:30 am

When I first started I was very enamored by the “famous” people in our industry- but then I realized that they are only famous in our little bubble. My clients don’t know them- they only want great work from me and it’s important to keep that perspective. I don’t blame people for self-marketing- but there seems to be a tremendous lack of irresponsibility permeating through this industry.

tami - April 3, 2010 - 12:10 pm

the links posted on scarlett lillian’s blog are a lame attempt at damage control. those women posted about attending a workshop – keeping it upbeat and positive because in reality, who really wants to beat up on a fellow photographer in public, much less a place clients frequent. I think if we were to call up those women and ask them in depth questions about what they learned and gained from the workshop, it would probably echo leeann’s review.

i still havent forgotten about the videoblog of her driving down a freeway during a rainstorm….!!!!!!!!! oh lord. save us.

Monica Reid - April 3, 2010 - 12:25 pm

LOL @ Kevin Swan! that is funny!

Monica Reid - April 3, 2010 - 12:52 pm

I think I’m going to sell some T-shirts that say I wasted more money at the workshop I went to then you!

Or My “workshop” sucked worse than yours!

lisa - April 3, 2010 - 12:55 pm

What I don’t understand is why these so called “rockstar photographers” can actually take constructive criticism why not jus admit that you are scammers and newbie using social media to boost you up. Take accountibily for your mistakes and learn from them….there is a reason that the true artists have been around for so long.

Lori Moss - April 3, 2010 - 1:54 pm

I knew people could be mean. Of course. Now I look forward to people being nice!

Elle - April 3, 2010 - 2:28 pm

Did anyone mention that Stephen won the Show-It contest because he was begging for votes so he could have the prize money to buy Scarlett a ring?

Mmm!

Jen - April 3, 2010 - 2:45 pm

@Tami
If you check the comments on Leeann’s review on her website you’ll see, approximately, 6 girls who attended that admitted to giving a review saying they met “amazing people” but that they were really disappointed. I read through it last night. I don’t know Scarlet personally but if I were the one being criticized for giving a poor workshop and charging a ton for it I think I’d listen to what those critics are saying and make some major changes.

John LaVere - April 3, 2010 - 3:01 pm

I observed the same rockstar thing when I briefly went to cooking school (it wasn’t for me) Off the heels of Emeril and other celebrity Chefs, people in school were clicking into little self centered popularity contests. I guess they were hoping to glom on to somebody famous and be the next big thing. The biggest parallel is that both professions are just simple trades where you really ought to expect to work hard for a modest living. If there is a great reward that justifies all the effort, it is the satisfaction that you have provided something of great personal significance to your client. I don’t respect anybody who hasn’t shot a wedding for some lower middle class family who couldn’t afford all the trappings of the dream wedding. I make dirt money, but I take endless pleasure in how good I can make somebody look under difficult circumstances.

Stephen Karlisch - April 3, 2010 - 5:37 pm

Surprised this hasnt been posted on here yet, but with 320 responses this topic seems to be gaining momentum, http://garyfong1.xanga.com/724680975/the-crowd-is-rioting/

thank you Gary. Love your wisdom, old wise, experienced, and talented one.

Rick Rosen - April 3, 2010 - 5:54 pm

The stats are in for WPPI 2010.

Attendees: Just over 14,000
Demographics: 62% female, 38% male

The majority of the attendees have been in business less than 5 years.

My thoughts to summarize this thread and the profession in 2010:

We have been reading a lot of pretty harsh criticism aimed at a number of “rockstar” photographers that promote high-priced workshops. A few are mere beginners trying to rocket to the top by following the often quoted adage of “Fake it until you make it.” I cannot remember who first uttered that sentiment but I believe if was one of the female rockstars.

New photographers are getting hurt. They are getting hurt not only because they are spending significant sums on money for workshops that are not helping them advance their careers but they are also getting hurt because if they take their advice to heart they are creating a photography business that is destined to fail. I am very glad to see the beginnings of the angry backlash at these “hollow suits” who promise much and deliver nothing.

But here’s where I am going to be blunt:

You new female photographers have no one to blame but yourselves. You have used the wrong criteria to measure who you want to learn from and they have used that road to take your money.

None of the rockstars, in my opinion, are thieves out to steal from our profession. They all probably believe that they have something of value to provide to the new photographers. Many have way too much ego for their level of experience and they seem to play on that and that is probably their biggest failing.

When you enter this profession you are looking for knowledge. We all did that at one time and the best among us never stop searching and learning. Unfortunately though, you young females (and a few males) are judging by the wrong criteria.

You are attracted to workshops because:

1. They are run by a female who is playing the gender card.
2. They are playing the Christian card.

Gender and religion have no place of value in deciding who to learn from! You are being played!

Some may say that wedding photography and photography in general has always been a man’s world full of good-ole-boys (now called grumpies). Well, it may have been but that was many years ago. In fact, during my 20 year career in wedding photography there has actually been an advantage given to female photographers, not only by the profession but by the brides.

As Jim Collins, CEO of Pictage, like to phrase it, time to put on your big girl pants (and big boy pants) and EARN the right to become a successful wedding photographer.

[b]The wedding photography world is your oyster Ms. Photographer! Unfortunately though, you have chosen to squander that advantage by placing no value in learning the craft (nuts and bolts) of photography and just following every female pied piper that came along.[/b]

You won’t get to Carnegie Hall as a musician by some great branding alone. At some time you are going to have to actually pick up your instrument and play.

On that musical analogy, also, you will never see some tribute band that mimics and plays the music of some famous group playing in a great hall.

You need to stop studying and emulating (copying) the images that you see the rockstars create. You need to shut off Photoshop and all the actions that you bought from those same folks and actually learn how to create beautiful images full of emotion and composition that have your own soul inside them. “Over saturating and over exposing” your images does not a personal style make!

Think of every famous artist in any field. Their work is recognized as their own. No one will last very long or get much fame by copying a known artist. In fact, in every other area of photography besides weddings, those copy cats are looked at with smirks of disdain and heavily criticized. Is it no wonder that wedding photographers are seen as the bottom feeders of professional photography? In their minds – If you can’t shoot worth crap you can always make it as a wedding photographer.

Also, stop thinking of wedding photography as only a business where you can make a lot of money. If you are driven by money as your major force pursue another career. Photography will probably not get you to where you want to go unless you also start hustling your stuff and hollow workshops to other eager newcomers. Did’ja notice that virtually every rockstar has something tangible that he/she wants you to buy? Some product that you never realized you needed until your idol said you did and then you could not pull your credit card out fast enough.

A true artist is not driven by money. He is driven by the art that burns inside of him. The more successful ones have found a way to create their art and at the same time commercialize it in some fashion.

It has frustrated me a great deal that while I have over thirty years of experience teaching workshops nationally and I am a passionate photographer from the age of ten, I cannot seem to get any interest from the wedding newcomers to learn from me. So, I teach outside of this profession to enthusiasts that love photography. You want to become a better wedding photographer? Start by not paying money to attend a workshop that us really only a shooting session, start by going out and challenge yourself by shooting subjects that don’t have a white dress on them.

Lets get real about wedding photography. Anyone can manage to get some nice images at a wedding. It’s a pretty event populated by pretty people all dressed up. Even nicer pictures are created every day by these rockstars who take models out on shoots and infer that those are images from real weddings.

Challenge yourself, come out with me to Death Valley or some other landscape and learn to see and create art.

Or, you can just keep paying butt loads of money for hollow workshops. workshops that even if you feel when leaving that you have learned something, six months later when you have a little more experience you then realize it was information that you did not need and that set you down the wrong path.

Now, go practice craft and then practice it again and again until you get to the point where the camera is only a recording device for your soul. Get to the point where f/stops, shutter speeds and lenses are not an integral part of creating an image. You visualize in your mind’s eye the image you want to create and then instinctively you just know what settings to use to capture that vision. Until you get to that place you are not an artist. Until you are an artist your work will not bring you any recognition above just being pretty pictures.

Think about this and move on from following those Pied Pipers.

Rick

Stephen Karlisch - April 3, 2010 - 7:09 pm

Rick,

I think the reason for this blog is to educate people about workshops, and their validity, not to point out what you do not like about the industry.

I’m shocked by some of your bluntness. Women are not the victims here. We all are.

Regardless of gender, we all either want to make it in this business or not. Some are only in it for a little while, and some are lifers. Lets start by helping the ones that want to make a career out of it not make expensive mistakes, but you cant help everyone.

Since you have over 30yrs of experience, why not start by telling us about some positive things a new photographer can do to help him/herself out?

You should be a leader, stop being so grumpy!(dont take that too seriously!-joke)

Rick Rosen - April 3, 2010 - 7:12 pm

“Since you have over 30yrs of experience, why not start by telling us about some positive things a new photographer can do to help him/herself out?”

Stephen, I thought that was what I was doing.

Rick

Leeann - April 3, 2010 - 7:26 pm

I’m not sure if you meant it or not, Rick, but I read your latest response as somewhat assumptive of the younger generation. Yes, I was absolutely had by going to the workshop I did, but I’m a smart girl and even smarter now as a result of it. I am not a wedding photographer to make a lot of money, and I do go out to shoot for the purpose of learning and learning more. I do not claim to be an expert. Ever. But I am working hard. So what if we put some time into a website or design? Personally, that’s another aspect of my business that I enjoy. But I do love photography, and would ultimately be doing myself a diservice by choosing to incorporate a business that I would not love years from now.

I don’t know, maybe I just read your tone incorrectly, but I do think you were applyin g generalizations to a young female population that I do not belive is completely applicable. Some of your comments may apply to some people, but just be wary of vast generalization of an entire population. That can be dangerous and destructive to your argument.

katie bezelman - April 3, 2010 - 10:09 pm

Rick, maybe photographers don’t want to learn from you because despite your 30+ years of experience, your work just isn’t that good. You don’t blog, your branding looks like it was updated years ago, and you have a nasty attitude towards new people.

You have a lot of wisdom to offer from having been around for so long, but slamming the people you would love to have taking your workshops sure doesn’t seem like a smart business move. Scarlett has zero experience and work that is average at best, but she could teach you a thing or two about attracting people to your workshops.

BOB - April 3, 2010 - 10:27 pm

Rick
Challenge yourself, come out with me to Death Valley or some other landscape and learn to see and create art.

It has frustrated me a great deal that while I have over thirty years of experience teaching workshops nationally and I am a passionate photographer from the age of ten, I cannot seem to get any interest from the wedding newcomers to learn from me.

And how much would this set me back? 20.00 bucks? When’s your next class?

And to the women out there I think this fella Rick is a kinda puttin you all down, kinda like your stupid, and you don’t know how to spend your money, where I come from, women don’t take too kindly to that kinda talk.

Yours truly “BOB” (this is my incognito name)
(I think we are still free to be incognito if we want to, aren’t we?)

Rick Rosen - April 3, 2010 - 11:07 pm

Leann,
Perhaps my comments were misunderstood. I was not trying to generalize about ALL “younger generation” photographers. I meant the comments to apply only to those who feel that they have been taken by the people they chose to follow and their workshops. My “tough love” comments were not meant to hurt but rather to get those new photographers to stop and think about their priorities in selecting a workshop. If I was too direct to try and drive my points home then I apologize.

Katie Bezelman,
What you think of my work is of no consequence to me for a number of reasons; one, photographic style is very subjective and I have built a strong wedding business sustainable for many years with my work and practices. My site is intended to be different and while it is certainly a changing palette I receive a considerable number of compliments on it being different.

Secondly, while you may have posted under your real name, we have no way to know that because you have no link from your name to your web site. A google search does not even find you.

As for learning from Scarlett, please feel free to follow her, I am sure she can teach you much to help you build your business.

Incidentally, as for my “branding” and my blog, I do not blog my weddings because I chose not to and my brand is my work and business practices. My business is 100% referral based and my web presence is not intended to be a point of introduction to my studio. If you stopped sipping the Kool Aid long enough and did some research on your own you would find that many of the most established and successful wedding photographers (I am not intending to insert myself in that group) do not blog and place any real value on their “branding.” Hell, some of them do not even have web sites.

Unfortunately for you, like so many others you seem to place an over emphasis on branding and blogging. You’ve learned well from your rockstar peers. Perhaps it is time to stand up and present your work instead? In fact, if you are posting under a real name (which I doubt) your branding and blog needs some work because you don’t even show up in a google search.

As for my workshops, I have a very strong fine art background combined with many years of commercial photography. I have lectured internationally for many years on lighting and other topics and taught alongside Ansel Adams as part of his faculty. It is my choice, for some of the very reasons we see posted in this thread, to prioritize my teaching to the non-wedding photographers. I have no wish to try and help photographers that believe so strongly in their new generation’s leaders that their rockstars have driven so many of them into failure and deep debt and they as a group, driven by these opportunists, place no real value in learning from the older generation of photographers. Heck, furthermore, my workshops and shooting sessions run only between $20 and $200 for a weekend. I could not look myself in the mirror if I “gave back” to the profession by charging $1500+++ for my workshops.

I thank everyone who have emailed me privately. I am always open to help those who ask me.

Rick

Rick Rosen - April 3, 2010 - 11:12 pm

“Bob”

“Yours truly “BOB” (this is my incognito name)
(I think we are still free to be incognito if we want to, aren’t we?)”

Haven’t we been on that topic before? I don’t know any professional forum that does not require posting under a real name and having a web site to back that up. While I agree that some, you obviously, find some comfort in posting under a fake name, I feel that until you (and others) have the professionalism to stand behind your thoughts with a real identity your thoughts should just be dismissed.

Rick

BOB - April 3, 2010 - 11:18 pm

dismiss them if you want Rick, but darn, I was really lookin forward to takin your workshop.

BOB - April 3, 2010 - 11:39 pm

Rick said to Katie Bezelman,

Secondly, while you may have posted under your real name, we have no way to know that because you have no link from your name to your web site. A google search does not even find you.

Ok so why do you talk to Katie and not me?

“BOB”

Chris - April 4, 2010 - 12:54 am

I’m so glad to see all of this discussion come out and how it is developing. It seemed like an underground movement in the beginning but it really has created a good discussion and I hope the recent talk of the FTC doesn’t go any further, in my opinion we should try to keep it controlled within our industry without bringing the government into the mix. The last thing we need is licensing boards and state regulated continuing education classes that don’t do anything to advance the industry.

I don’t use Pictage and I run a free proofing system to help beginners and small business at ShowMeProofs.com, so this may seem like a strange comment from me, but I like what Pictage has done with their PUG groups and seminars. For some people I think their system is perfect although it isn’t part of my process. I know they will do some great things with any changes they make as well and I’m looking forward to see what other changes come in the industry because of all of this.

My hope is that with industry leaders like Pictage and those participating in this discussion we can avoid bringing our industry under government regulation and instead improve things on our own. My wife and I have had our photography business for just over 10 years now and I love it. My degree and former career was in Engineering and half of the job was dealing with government regulation which makes the job much less enjoyable and much more difficult. If you think that having liability coverage is a little bit of a hastle, just wait until you get the attention of the FTC and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

I think there is a lot of good going on right now, but please be careful about which buttons you push when you try to clean things up. There are things that you don’t want to cause by being overly aggressive with someone that you think is doing things that are underhanded. Let’s try to fix things but let’s not push ourselves too far in the wrong direction.

tami - April 4, 2010 - 4:02 am

@ Bobby Earle: do you think david jay would be paying this much attention to you if you did not have a Show It site? probably not. Your booking more weddings because you say you know him to your clients? honestly? they arent booking you because of your skill? dont you think that is kind of sad?

julia bailey - April 4, 2010 - 7:16 am

Want to see a work of art, a history lesson, an amazing woman, the future and the now all at once? Watch the following video to the end.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4631324857495646397#

Step away from the small view and look at the larger picture.

If we are not artists, we are story tellers. We are the historians of our time. We have a responsibility to our craft, ourselves, our families, our clients and to each other. We also have the responsibility of holding our industry accountable, educating own children and educating the current youth who are entering into this industry. The youth are the future.

Do you think this idea of the lady gaga/miley cryus rockstar personality is healthy? Is that the image we want to represent us? Is that the image you want your daughters to become? What I see is a flock of young women hero worshiping and hanging on every word of Jasmine Star. Do you think this is what wedding photography/story telling/art/business/independence/life/woman/success should look like? Do you want to see the future of wedding photographers traipsing around in stiletto heels, toting shoots sacs, copying their imagery from fashion magazines, twittering about the latest gadget and reality TV show? This is what our industry has become. This is the image our industry is marketing to the world. Tell me that the majority of the new photographers are not women. Tell me that they don’t rush Jasmines workshops to hear her speak. And what is her message? Ghetto Fabulous? The one quote from her husband, showit showit and some David Jay, and now lets all hold hands and pray. Are you seeing a lack of content yet?

If the industry can not follow the FTC rules and guidelines for disclosure on their own, then the FTC will step in. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves on those guidelines as photographers and as companies selling products. The disclosure guidelines are set up to protect consumers because the technology of twitter/facebook/social marketing has become so sophisticated and rampant with fake personalities pretending to be real people. Personalities created by companies and placed on the internet for blogging about the companies products. It is so bad, that consumers can’t tell if something is an advertisement or if it’s real. If people do not seem to have any soul or substance, then maybe they aren’t real after all. That’s how extreme the advertising world has become.

You may not have noticed all of this happen if you have been busy watching the latest reality TV shows.

Simon Revill - April 4, 2010 - 8:43 am

Ok peeps – read most of this and it seems that it is just a place to jump on people for being successful …. I know two people who have posted – Bobby Earle and Rick Rosen

Rick helped me years ago when I was having problems with slideshows – detailed help freely given – some of you ought to listen to him as even though you won’t get ooohs and aaaars saying he head helped you – you will learn

Bobby Earle isn’t a spokesperson for DJ or any of his products – but says it how he sees it – he likes a product he says so – AND one of the few truly humble artists in the wedding industry – and gifted ……

REarly what we are seeing is fools parted with their money … happens in every walk of life – people learn and the frauds disappear. The successful ones (weather you like what they teach) survive.

Newcomers have valuable info to share as well and shouldn’t be dismissed just because they are new – experience doesn’t always bring wisdom.

If what is being said on here by a couple of people is true – they are finished – their fault and we all move on.

julia bailey - April 4, 2010 - 9:35 am

Following is a link for a video about the FTC rules for blogging disclosures.

http://jimedwards.s3.amazonaws.com/ftc-advertising-interview/index.html

Leah Harvey - April 4, 2010 - 11:53 am

I’m not here to network either Bob. However, the comments on here have gone every way under the sun. I continue to come back and read the comments & I completely 100% agree w/ majority of them–especially thinking that someone in business for 2-3 years should not be giving a workshop. I have done 2 workshops & one was just “ok”. I didn’t learn something that turned my business over. I applaud Leeann big time on her review. No matter who it was with…it needed to be said & agree that really starting to review all workshops is a wonderful thing. Not only for a new photographer looking into it, but for the photographer giving it. I’m a positive person majority of the time & it’s out of my element to call out specific names, but I commend the people that do. I guess I just don’t have balls. Maybe eventually I will. Of course, this blog is like crack & I keep coming back to it. Go figure.

Ps–note to self–don’t post on here after taking an ambien.

Rick Rosen - April 4, 2010 - 2:33 pm

Hi Simon, nice to see your participation here.

For those that are offended by some of what I have said I apologize but stand by my statements. On the issue of so many, certainly not all, of the new wedding photographers lack of technical skills or the feeling that they need to learn that before jumping into this profession, those are not my personal “sour grapes” sentiments. The statistics come from research done by both the PPA (Professional Photographers of America) and the PMA (Photo Marketing Association).

Take a look at the workshops being offered by your industry leaders and you will see very little emphasis placed on the craft of photography. The message is all about branding and social media and how to grow your business “to the next level.” Until you get a handle on the craft and are able to produce great images all the branding in the world will not guarantee your success (unless you want to start your own workshops). Fortunately, I see this starting to change and that is great. We are beginning to see offerings on off-camera-flash techniques and that is a great start.

For those of you who have been shooting weddings for less than five years, as a dinosaur in wedding photography let me tell you what has changed:

1. You can’t walk into a church now without being approached by their representative with a list of rules. Many churches now go so far as to give you a spot to stand and tell you not to move. Many of the rockstars have used the phrase “it is better to ask forgiveness later than to ask for the rules in advance” and that has affected our professional reputation.

2. Every beach and town in So. CA now requires a permit to shoot there. If you don’t pay the $150-$500 for the permit you risk getting a ticket and being kicked off the beach. Those idiots that feel the need to argue with the officers over this have occasionally spent a night in jail. I have witnessed wedding photographers shooting engagement sessions on a beach actually yelling and cursing at mothers to “get your f-ing kid out of my shot lady!.” On one trip I saw 15-20 photographers on a 1/2 mile beach and one (who teaches workshops) posing his couple on the front steps of a private residence. Why do we seem to feel that we have this sense of entitlement?

3. Wedding photography is now viewed as a commodity rather than a creative representation. They want great photography, yes, but they are no longer willing to pay serious money for it. Brides feel that $2000 is high end and want to spend much less than that. There are thousands of photographers all too willing to shoot for $500 – $1000 now just to survive. When brides interview you they now tell you not only how beautiful your pictures are as their #1 priority but rather what they are willing to spend for their photography.

4. We are seeing an angry backlash from the photographers now about how they feel that they have been ripped off by some of the photographers that they admired. Hopefully the industry will vote with their dollars and those rockstars who are affected will either get out of workshops or work hard to improve their substance. If you do the math based on what they are charging and the number of attendees you will see that this is a major income stream for them so I don’t expect them to go away quietly.

There are many excellent workshops out there and my intention is not to paint every photographer giving them with the same broad brush of criticism. You just need to do your research. Do not just believe the rave reviews you see these folks placing on their blogs about their workshops. Some have even been called out for faking those reviews themselves using aliases. One guy was kicked off every forum he was on and finally started his own forum and then went on to ban about 50 respected photographers and industry leaders for “moral corruption.” The guy has a long history of posting praise for himself by using aliases and that was one of the main reasons he was kicked off so many forums. That and his very hostile and threatening emails warning his detractors, frequently females, that he would kick their ass at WPPI. He even showed up here and took a shot at me under an alias (of course).

5. The “Fake it until you make it” attitude is a fast track to failure but it does guarantee a constant stream of potential workshop attendees. It hurts you and our entire profession. A Canon 5D and a 70-200 2.8 and a 50mm 1.2 lens in your ShootSac does not alone make a wedding photographer. Learn your craft!

Rick

Lily - April 4, 2010 - 3:26 pm

The Children’s Portrait world also has their fair share of these faux rockstars runnning around charging $1500+ for a mwac to tell you all the “secrets” of the biz. There is one in particular, Skye Hardwick http://www.workofheartphoto.com that took pre-orders of a DVD over two years ago. The DVD is still not out and people who purchased it are out of their money (which if I remember correctly is over $200 each). This woman runs a forms site with poorly written business forms and has more going out of business sales than a shady furniture store that every town has. She resurfaces with something new every couple of months. Posebooks, Workshops, workbooks. If you take a look over at http://www.photogvendors.com and look under business forms and workshops you’ll see all of the nightmares that people have had with this woman. She’s been kicked off of ILP and ProPhotogs as vendor, but yet much like the pied piper she has people following her.

The bulk of her website and blog posts are from her workshop shoots, I’m guessing we could count the number of real clients on one hand for the past year or two.

I really wish PPA would do something about people like her, especially in regards to the DVD and it not being produced and refunds not given. Class action suit anyone? This woman laos likes to throw a trademark symbol after anything and everything. One simple look on the copyright database shows she only really has a couple of actual things trademarked or registered.

I’m sure she’ll try and start with the litigious talk once she sees this….she’ll have her aunt that is a paralegal write up something. YAWN.

Carlos – thanks for creating this blog.

Caroline Ghetes - April 4, 2010 - 4:12 pm

Simon, well said. Also, LOVE the quote on your blog. I live by it!

Caroline Ghetes - April 4, 2010 - 4:15 pm

Rick thank you for that last post. I agree with every single thing you’ve said and appreciate the time and thought it must have taken for you to give us all that. Awesome : )

kay - April 4, 2010 - 10:05 pm

disappointed, but not at all surprised, to see that so many proponents of the “TRUTH” movement continue to use fake usernames on twitter to defame and attack others.

is that really how you want to be represented, carlos?

john lavere - April 4, 2010 - 10:50 pm

I want to make an observation about this conversation. It seems to me that with Facebook, twitter and all the marketing strategies we might me misplacing a lot of energy that could be better spent. I started teaching workshops to what I consider to be ameture photographers because that was who was networking with me on FB. Potential clients were not finding me, but every wedding photographer in town was my friend within weeks of creating my FB account. All the ametures have logos and branded websites and tons of photos from workshops. Instant success, right? Wrong!

I have talked to lots of photographers who are stuck wondering why their marketing isn’t getting them off the ground, and I’m convinced that it is because they are not merchandising their product. Are you selling loose prints for the price of the paper or are you creating a special presentation? Are you creating albums that are beautiful and desirable or are you punting by giving away the DVD. One thing I have learned is that it is our job to quite physically demonstrate the potential of the product because your client doesn’t have the imagination to do it for themselves.

I just cleared $400 for a days work to design an album for a friend. Her photographer didn’t want to do it and he sold the DVD of images off for cheap. Its no wonder that the album companies are trying to direct market to our under-served clients. They see an opportunity in the market that we are missing. Furthermore, I know that the clients who upgrade their album will also be my biggest marketeers. If they are so in love with the photography that they were willing to upgrade their album by 100%, I know they will come back with qualified referrals. I’m convinced that you are loosing sales, referrals, and success if you are not making equal effort merchandising and marketing.

So who is doing stellar workshops on merchandising photography? That would be a good thing to share if we want this industry to get better.

joe - April 5, 2010 - 1:04 am

YO! what’s wrong with shooting in PROGRAM??

BTW…. There is NO magic bullet!! Just hard work. All of us at the top of the food chain got there through hard work….. AND it requires hard work, dedication, and an occasional reinvention to stay there.

Kevin Swan - April 5, 2010 - 12:27 pm

Joe: I’d add that a lot of luck plays into winners/losers. Hard work and talent don’t guarantee anything (though, you won’t hear that in many workshops).

Love you. :)

Bobby Earle - April 5, 2010 - 12:49 pm

Quote Tami: @ Bobby Earle: do you think david jay would be paying this much attention to you if you did not have a Show It site? probably not. Your booking more weddings because you say you know him to your clients? honestly? they arent booking you because of your skill? dont you think that is kind of sad?

@Tami: I was being TOTALLY sarcastic about booking clients because I know DJ :P I’d love it if it were that simple ;)

DJ “pays attention” to me because we’re good friends. But, if you ever go to his house, you’ll see that he pays attention to EVERYONE! It’s hard for people to believe, but the dude cares about people in a big way.

@Simon: Thanks ;)

Quote: @Simon: Realy what we are seeing is fools parted with their money … happens in every walk of life – people learn and the frauds disappear. The successful ones (weather you like what they teach) survive.

Newcomers have valuable info to share as well and shouldn’t be dismissed just because they are new – experience doesn’t always bring wisdom.

If what is being said on here by a couple of people is true – they are finished – their fault and we all move on.

Bingo!

Simon Revill - April 5, 2010 - 1:26 pm

@Rick ….

I think you have summarised the current wedding Photographer situation brilliantly – even in the UK we feel the heat that rude photographers cause – more restrictions in churches and the like.

Dina Eisenberg| Positively Wed - April 5, 2010 - 1:55 pm

What a fascinating and rich conversation this is (and fairly civil compared to most).

My name is Dina. I found this post by way of a wedding planner forum. But as someone with over 18 years in the conflict and communications biz and a growing interest in the wedding industry, I wanted to share some thoughts.

Reading the thread of comments, it’s clear how dearly people hold both their work as photographers and their opinions on the industry. That’s a wonderful thing. Strongly held opinions that can be shared without malice or insult are the springboard that will push the industry ahead to that higher level of quality many of you mentioned.

As I read the thread a number of assumptions, generalization and questions about your profession jumped out at me, and I thought it might be helpful to list them to bring a bit more clarity or spark another conversation. I’m a little worried about appearing as a ‘buttinski’, however, you’re really onto something so the risk is worthwhile.

Questions to Ponder:

Is wedding photography art or storytelling? Is that a criterion for judging others?

What’s the measure of a teacher? Which is more acceptable: someone with years of experience or someone who has a useful solution.

Is teaching/mentoring more acceptable when it’s unpaid?

Is advice on marketing and business operations only acceptable if there person is a long-term professional who does amazing work?

What do you value most in your professional colleagues?

Assumptions:

-Wedding photographers shouldn’t expect to make a lot of money.
-Photographers shouldn’t ‘make money off’ other photographers.
-Unless you have x years experience, you are not qualified to teach.
-Hard work alone will build a successful business.
-Branding and marketing are suspect and are meant to cover up poor work product

Those are just a few of the themes I heard while reading. I’m sure there are more. Please don’t shoot this messenger; my only intention is to assist the dialogue.

It’s so impressive to hear so many of you honestly invested in creating the professional community you want. I wish I saw similar discussions in more related professions. It’s all about being able to say what matters to you in a way that others can hear and respond to well- what I call the ‘What Matter’s conversation.

Thanks for letting me contribute. Dina

joe - April 5, 2010 - 2:24 pm

hey kevin…. love ya too!!

and yep, luck. it does require some. it requires risk taking….however, one needs to place themselves in the way of luck as often as possible. eventually, it will hit you!

Krista Guenin - April 5, 2010 - 3:15 pm

WOW, Carlos! can open. worms EVERYWHERE! Can’t possibly read all the comments, but I do have a few thoughts/responses…

@Mark Andrew Higgins – You have it right, man! Our community here in Boston is awesome :)

@Liana Lehman – your Business Boot Camp was super expensive for me, but nothing has made a bigger impact on how I run my business & pricing. I got 1/3 of the way out of debt last year, and I think BBC had a lot to do with that. One of the things I liked best about your talks was how you shared your personal stories – how you got out of debt and bought a house totally motivated me!

@Rick Rosen – wedding photography on display in the Water Tower Gallery in Chicago by Steven E. Gross lead me to become a wedding photographer. It can be art. very very personal art.

@Kevin Swan, I really liked your first comment, but honestly I’m too lazy to scroll alllllll the way back up and find it :)

In general, I’d also say that posting mean comments about others leaves people with a negative impression of YOU. Don’t be mean. That’s not a business tip, but a tip on life in general. I really can’t believe how mean some of these comments have been. It’s sad. I’ve been disappointed by some of these “rock stars” myself. But, that’s MY fault. It’s my fault because I let myself believe that a popular blog meant a good business. If you have mediocre photos but get 1,000 hits a day (995 are probably other photogs) – you APPEAR successful. It’s MY fault for following them and believing that. And why was I following them anyway? To learn? no. Most photogs are following other photogs’ blogs to try to somehow promote themselves. Because we too want to be rockstars. I’m happy to more or less have moved on from that phase of my career – though sometimes I think it’d be nice… But really, I want to network and spend time with photographers who make beautiful photos, who are genuine and kind and fun, who encourage me and who I can encourage in return. And I want to learn from people who are successful because they consistently produce great work for satisfied brides and who aren’t going bankrupt in the process. Most of us can find those kind of photographers in our own cities or within driving distance at least. But we can’t just seek them out for our own gain. It’s about COMMUNITY. Building one another up, celebrating each other’s successes and learning from each other.

As for the comments on Christian photographers… Just be very careful how you use the Lord’s name. Don’t use it to shine up your sin. Praise His name and magnify it by your worship of Him, your LOVE & MERCY, not your selfish gain. (not pointed at anyone, just a general statement)

ok, time to actually get some work done…

tami - April 5, 2010 - 3:20 pm

@ bobby earle – !!! thanks for the email explaining your comment – i ‘get’ it now.
: )))))

Rick Rosen - April 5, 2010 - 6:03 pm

In case anyone has forgotten, the title that Carlos placed on this discussion is “Truth In Our Industry.”

I’ve seen some pretty blatant embellishments of the truth and some really silly claims by photographers here and on the web.

Photographer A: ShowIt 2009 Photographer of the Year

A hollow award if there ever was one. We’ve pretty much beat that one to death already here.

The same photographer in bold type on his home page declares: “San Siego based International Wedding Photographer” and yet I don’t see any international weddings on his site. In fact there are very few weddings at all there or on his blog. Seems to me that in order to call yourself something you should have the facts to support the claim.

Photographer B: This one is even better!

The guy is relatively new (3-4 years tops) and based in So. CA. He’s not involved with this discussion.

On his home page he proudly declares with a big red banner: “Voted Southern California’s Favorite Photographer”

By whom? His friends? His wife and mother? He offers nothing to support that claim anywhere on his site that I can find.

What’s even more fun is that he’s trying to be a jack of all photography trades. His “Corporate” link shows only shots taken at weddings of the venues and a few nice homes shot from the street. Even better is his “Commercial” link which displays detail shots of the food and other trappings of weddings.

Is it any wonder that our brides and others are not taking our profession too seriously any more?

Would YOU spend serious money on people with claims like those?

BOB - April 5, 2010 - 7:26 pm

I think Steven is saying he would go to other countries, I can say I’m an international photographer but you see I only live about 20 minutes from the Canadian border so maybe Steven has taken a wedding in Mexico. Give him the benefit of the doubt, maybe you should meet them in person and you may really see they are being young and ambitious |amˈbi sh əs|
adjective
having or showing a strong desire and determination to succeed

No reason to be so mean to a young couple, trying to make it in the photography business.

Don’t you have any Christian mercy RICK?

looking forward to you response

“BOB”

Rick Rosen - April 5, 2010 - 7:56 pm

“Bob”

I already told you that I will not engage with you until you stop posting under an alias. Be professional enough to stand by your thoughts by identifying yourself.

If you do not want to do it here on this blog I am always open to a phone call (providing that you identify yourself) or if you are in the area even lunch (and I won’t charge you $150 for the privilege).

Rick

Be Cooper - April 5, 2010 - 7:57 pm

Carlos,

And let’s not forget the vote-rigging for PDN’s most influential photographer list. From what I remember, all the wedding rockstar photogs lobbied their fan base to get them perched above truly influential artists like Richard Avedon and Irving Penn. I’m sorry, but in what universe is the Becker more influential than Annie Liebovitz? But I guess Annie doesn’t have a cool blog, or well established “brand?” Or maybe she just doesn’t twitter enough.

Look, you can easily accuse the arrivistes of the wedding industry of lacking experience, talent and the like. What I can’t stand is their utter lack of humility.

Be Cooper - April 5, 2010 - 8:00 pm

Whoops, meant that response for Rick.

Kim - April 5, 2010 - 8:15 pm

Firstly I speak under an alias as I am not prepared for the backlash: I am not as brave as most of you!

I attended the WPPI conference this year, and was able to see Jasmine Star speak. As I look back on some of the notes I took I am really struck by how lack lustre her message was.

1. Jasmine announced that we should leave our egos at the door. She did not care if some people had just placed in the WPPI photo competition and were excited about placing. Here we were all equals? Really? Because I for one would have been so excited about my print scoring highly enough to make it on the wall. You are up there, ready to give a speech and named one of the TOP 10 wedding photographers of the year and yet you are telling people, who may have just won a ribbon to leave their ego at the door. Apparently this was said to create an even playing field.

2. Ghetto Fabulous Marketing: Definition of Ghetto

A ghetto is formed in three ways:[4]
As ports of illegal entry for racial minorities, and immigrant racial minorities.
When the majority uses compulsion (typically violence, hostility, or legal barriers) to force minorities into particular areas.
When economic conditions make it difficult for minority members to live in non-minority areas.

Ok, so we are clear with that. Onto Jasmines lovely use of the word. She claimed that the wppi members raised eyebrows and had concerns over this word, but she was the “keep it real” and stated, that’s her thing and she will say it to illustrate she came from nothing. Honestly, I was pretty offended, and ever “hola”, “word” etc. she used I cringed inside. If keeping it real is of the utmost importance to her, then claiming “ghetto” is a lie and thus unreal. By offended, perhaps I should clarify it was more annoying and also it seemed out of place. Although, people were encouraged to “hola” back, and a few did, you could feel some of the uncomfortableness in the crowd.

Perhaps there was a legitimate reason why the members of WPPI were concerned over her use of the word Ghetto.

3. STAR claims no cash. counter argument. you had DJ as your wedding photographer, plus your husband was a lawyer. You live in Orange County. Now for a quick clip from Will Ferrell
http://video.aol.ca/video-detail/will-ferrell-on-conan-liar/3516063889/?icid=VIDURVCOM07

4. Class of 2010: Young women carried there pocka dot shoot sac bags with a cute tag stated “class of 2010″. I never got one and I am glad. Although the shoot sac is great, I don’t want to be a sheep. After the speach, they flocked and swarmed her, taking photos, attempting to get a glimpse, hoping to God some part of Jasmine would rub off on them, thus transforming them into there amazing people.

5. NOT ONCE WAS TAKING GREAT PHOTOS MENTIONED!

6. Keep it real means having a great website and marketing yourself. If you build it, they will come. The dream is for you to claim. Although I agree personality has a lot to do with success, there are far too many photographers out there who are not good at photograph, but there flashy website gets them clients. Blog readers, usually are not clients they are fellow admirers and thus continuously creating and placing that person hiring on the platform. Other photographers have placed J* there, and even though her clients are most likely super happy, I can’t help but feel sad for the lost art which has become the actual photography.

7. I am a twenty something photographer, 4 years into the business. I work so hard and I am booked up for 2010. I have never thought about giving a workshop because I am such a rookie, its not even funny. I also have never attended an over priced workshop by someone who is not even a great photograph. My favorite photographer for weddings is Elizabeth Messina. I heard her speak and she is a true artist, who warrants respect and recognition. Plus she shoots film! Amazing.
I too started with film, developed my own photos and eventually moved onto digital. However, she inspires me to go back to my roots.

Messina inspires me to grow as an artist, Star makes me want a better website? If it wasn’t for her attractive and rich couples, I don’t believe there would be a lot of substance to her work.

8. Workshops that inspire and teach are one thing. Workshops that create clones are EVERYWHERE> its kinda sickening.

9. In the end, I will continue to work hard and grow my business, and now that this forum is out here, I will feel WAY better about doing it the way I have been and avoiding the sheep mentality.

Cheers….

BOB - April 5, 2010 - 9:00 pm

KIM
Firstly I speak under an alias as I am not prepared for the backlash: I am not as brave as most of you!

“BOB” (Your comment is awaiting moderation)

WHY RICK?

Lauren Harris - April 5, 2010 - 9:11 pm

“My mom and I attended a sunrise service at the beach yesterday for Easter. As we watched the sun rise on the day that Jesus rose from the grave, I was thinking about how just three days before He was persecuted, mocked, made fun of, called names, called a liar, slashed in public, crucified, spit on, and the list goes on.”

Wow Scarlett!!! This what is written in her blog. Maybe it is too obvious but is she trying to compare herself to Jesus Christ. She really needs to grow up. Everything does not revolve around you. Remember your calamity is self inflicted

Rick Rosen - April 5, 2010 - 9:15 pm

“BOB” (Your comment is awaiting moderation)

WHY RICK?

“Bob”

I am not going to engage with you but just for the record I have no power to moderate here.

Rick

Elle - April 5, 2010 - 9:35 pm

@Lauren Harris… I SAW THAT TOO and thought she was trying to compare herself to Jesus Christ as well!!!! Shameful is what that is. And, it really shows what kind of person she is since she has yet to compensate or directly try to solve any of the hurt feelings of many who paid her. Leeann stated that she hasn’t heard anything from her except the comments on her review and here.

http://www.leeannmariephotography.com/for-photographers/scarlett-lillian-workshop/

BOB - April 5, 2010 - 9:48 pm

WHY RICK?

Sorry, Carlos?

BOB - April 5, 2010 - 11:16 pm

Rick

“Bob”

I am not going to engage with you

TOO LATE your already did ; )

Chris B - April 5, 2010 - 11:43 pm

You got ‘im, Bob! Way to go!

Now go to bed. You’ve got school tomorrow.

Joe Brown - April 6, 2010 - 12:52 am

Julia Bailey – you need a reality check. You and your crew are behaving like the nerdy ‘Goth’ kids in junior high who hung out behind the gym and ridiculed the popular kids. Maybe the popular kids deserve it, but you’re taking it all a bit too seriously…which is somewhat hypocritical because your website (studio ugly) encourages people to NOT take life so seriously. Let the popular kids do their thing and you do your thing. Move on.

For what it’s worth, I have no dog in the hunt. [My cousin is in the photography world and he was showing me this while at his house on Easter}.

I was most humored by how seriously Julia and her crew treat photography as art. One guy actually tried to equate picking a photographer with picking a physician. :) LOL…GIVE ME A BREAK! Calling yourself an artist is like a pool player calling himself an athlete…ok, maybe they’re kind of an athlete as they occasionally show their “sport” on ESPN. But they’re not an athlete like Michael Jordan is an athlete. Julia, you’re not an artist like a skilled painter is an artist…not even close. Your medium is one of the lowest forms of art (and easiest forms of art to grasp); further, wedding photography is one of the lowest forms of photography. Alright, maybe putting glue on cardboard and sprinkling glitter over it is a little lower. My guess is that the popular kids have realized that the barriers to entry for your craft (cough…”art”) are incredibly low. Anyone with $3000 and a photoshop program can quickly replicate what you do with 12 months worth of practice. That’s why knowing how to market yourself is just as important, if not more important, as knowing how to push the little red thingie on top of the camera.

yomomma - April 6, 2010 - 1:36 am

@Joe Brown

That’s a pretty wordy, opinionated comment for someone with “no dog in the fight.”

Methinks the Will Ferrell clip should apply to you as well Junior.

And yes, Jasmine’s WPPI talk was an absolute train wreck for anyone who didn’t drink the kool-aid—regardless of what her incestual posse claimed afterward. It left a bad feeling in my mouth about so many of the speakers. I wondered how she was able to get such a sweet gig of speaking at WPPI, now I think WPPI needs to answer those questions.

PleaseStop - April 6, 2010 - 1:42 am

@Lauren Harris… I was perfectly content to read all the drama that was going on here without adding my two cents, until you wrote this. I’m sorry, I agree with a lot that has been said here and I love that this discussion is *mostly* civil, but someone earlier in the comments said to leave the religion stuff out and I think you should really have listened to that. I do not think that ALL these so-called “rockstars” are slapping Jesus on their brand as part of some marketing scheme. Being Christian does not mean being perfect. We make mistakes, we mess up too. This weekend is the biggest, most important weekend in the whole year for Christians. Do I buy everything Scarlett says? Probably not. But do I believe she was comparing herself to Jesus? After reading her blog and the rest of what she wrote, no, I don’t. The whole POINT of Easter is that Jesus DID go through all that. Just because people are taking time out of their schedule to use her as an example of what they don’t like RIGHT NOW doesn’t change the fact that 2010 years ago Jesus “was persecuted, mocked, made fun of, called names, called a liar, slashed in public, crucified, spit on, and the list goes on”. I’m not standing up for Scarlett in business practice, clearly there are unhappy clients and that needs to be addressed. But as a Christian, yes, I will stand up for her.

Again, I want to emphasize my point that I love that this conversation has been mostly mature, and I like that this is being discussed in general, but please, stop with the religious attacks.

robert madrid - April 6, 2010 - 1:53 pm

@Joe Brown I beg to differ “Your medium is one of the lowest forms of art (and easiest forms of art to grasp)”
Our art has captured such great historical moments (James Nachtwey, Sebastião Salgado, Robert Capa,) and portraits…
Because of Ansal Adams, his landscape photos helped saved my national and state parks…
Or am I completely dumb? I may agree the wedding industry will always be looked as the lowest form within photography, but there artist that make it beautiful, meaningful, subjectful, makes you stop and think on who that bride is.
You either have the eye or you don’t, but you can always train it.

“Anyone with $3000 and a photoshop program can quickly replicate what you do with 12 months worth of practice.”
I highly doubt that Joe… It has taken me years to finally say I found somewhat of my style and it will always be worked on. Are you a photographer? Because I don’t assume the consumers care or will take the time to understand the fight we are doing in bringing back the art and accountability to this “wedding industry”. I would like to see you do what Julia does… I bet I can do what you do in a cubical.

robert madrid - April 6, 2010 - 1:54 pm

dangit, I hate typos…sorry.

caroline - April 6, 2010 - 3:49 pm

Be kind and work hard. (I get all my life advice from Conan.)

There’s a lot of different arguments that are going on here, at this point. Someone compared it to high school, and I think they’re not so far off.

I wasn’t a cool kid in high school either. I didn’t hate on them, but what they do doesn’t affect me. Just do what you do. Keep learning. You’ll find people that are into it. The big names out in SoCal? That’s their thing. It’s not my thing, and they’re not my competition.

I do appreciate honest reviews of these workshops. Not the vitriol some people are spewing and the personal attacks, but those who, like LeeAnn, can give an objective opinion. When I was looking for lighting workshops, I tried to find other photographers’ personal experiences. Sure, I researched the guy teaching, but it’s helpful to hear what actual attendees thought of it, what they got out of it, what they thought it was missing, etc.

A lot of the hate directed at these people doesn’t seem to be about the actual content of their workshops. It’s that they’re not getting what was advertised. The more people are willing to talk about their experiences, publicly, the less this will happen.

Joe Brown - April 6, 2010 - 4:04 pm

@Robert Madrid

First, let me apologize for comments regarding photography as the lowest form of art. That was a bit below the belt.

No, I am not a photographer. But I am a fashion designer. In certain respects I can relate to what you’re going through. There are many that have entered my field and a few are “rockstars.” Despite the fact that I’ve been in the this industry for over 15 years, there are younger folks who are good looking and charasmatic and getting further ahead than I am. They’re getting on shows like Project Runway and making an instant splash even though I think I have more talent than they have. Nonetheless, I would never think of lashing out at these people and stating that they’re not real artists and I am. Even though what I do is creative, takes years of experience, and many of my heroes find their work in museums of art, I would never pound the table and proclaim what I do is art. We fashion designers have long ago gone through our renaissance of sorts and admit we’re not really artists – we’re just creative designers who try to make our clients look better than they otherwise do naked. Perhaps, you photographers are going through your renaissance now; your industry is changing. Despite your protestations, there are many that can do what you do (or least come very, very close such that a lay person like me can’t tell the difference). In such an environment (and this applies to both of us), how we market becomes more important than our actual work. I know you and Julia Bailey are resisting this but your fight is futile.

Take singing and American Idol. These kids have OK talent…but what propels these no-names to become instant household names? They’re using the networking and marketing platform that American Idol provides. The really good singers (“artists” if you will) that are perhaps unattractive with no personality get brushed aside. They can fight it; they can start websites that ridicule the good-looking newbie not-so-talented singers but it will have no meaningful impact. We live in world where beauty and connections go along way. And this truth, whether it’s good or bad, makes people like Julia Bailey crazy. She can’t hang and is being surpassed by better looking and better connected people. So she lashes out…she ridicules…she even wants these popular kids arrested for fraud for daring to say that they’re as good an “artist” as she is. In the end, her fight is futile…because she’s fighting human nature. Looks, personality and connections are what matters today. And, it’s not just photography, it’s all creative industries…music, design, motion pictures, television.

And yet, here’s little Julia trying to buck this whole system by hiding behind her purity of art thing – it’s sad actually.

Stacey Wight - April 6, 2010 - 4:05 pm

Once upon a time (in September 2008), I was “this close” to meeting David Jay in person at a seminar in Toronto. He was one of 3 speakers there and was the drawing card of the event.

Unfortunately, he was throwing a hissy fit in his hotel room upstairs while wearing PJ’s and a wife-beater shirt while demanding several thousand dollars to be wired into his bank account. He never did walk down those stairs to come talk to us :( So……I never did meet the infamous David Jay.

As Maxwell Smart used to say “missed him by that much”.

Joe Brown - April 6, 2010 - 4:26 pm

@Robert Madrid

And by the way – I made more typos than you – sorry

Brian - April 6, 2010 - 4:44 pm

Wow, this was interesting reading! Well I’m not a newbie, nor am I a seasoned vet. But I know hard work at mastering your craft, whatever it is, always pays off more than anything else. Yes, it might take you longer to get your name out there, but once you do, you’ll have a good foundation under it. For now, I’m working on being a better photographer before and after each shoot.

There is a lot of good things being said the comments here once you get past some of the anger. I’ve met a good number of big names at WPPI and everyone was engaging and kind. I don’t have any real qualms as I didn’t even see the twitter post that went down. Whatever happened it’s good to see people speaking up for what they believed … on either side, and also keeping the conversation going.

@Rick, always great to read your insights!

I just go by what I was taught know your basics! Read, re-read, and practise more. Know your gear before you ‘think’ you need more. Find a mentor…by offering something to them first. Like Liana said hundreds of people email asking for help to start up their business. Why should your request stand out?

Oh, and research a workshop before you go! it’s less about who is giving it and more about the content and what can be taken away from it. Find people who have been …that you can identify with…and see what they thought.

Brian

Rick Rosen - April 6, 2010 - 4:46 pm

Hi Stacey! Great to see you here.

While I was not there of course I do remember the huge controversy over David Jay’s no show. As someone who has presented many seminars and likes to think of himself as something of an industry veteran I was absolutely astounded by his behavior. From the report there were about 100 photographers sitting in the ballroom waiting to hear DJ’s presentation. Some had traveled over 3 hours by car (each way) to be at that presentation. On his blog I was reading his, what I felt were obnoxious vacuous, justifications for turning his back on those 100 photographers who had paid money to see him. He was blogging his reasons while the photographers were sitting downstairs! Remember that he invited himself on to that tour by the other two photographers. In my opinion, no matter what the reasons were and whether they were justified or not, he should have respected those 100 photographers by giving his presentation. Whatever the issues were (and I am sure there are two sides to that story) he could have settled that quietly in the background and if necessary pulled out of the tour’s future dates. But to handle it like he did with those 100 photographers already waiting downstairs just goes, in my opinion, to show what Mr. Jay’s real feelings are regarding his “lovecat” image. He then went on his forum and elsewhere in a smear campaign about the two photographers who organized that tour. The more he tied to justify his actions the more, IMO, he dug himself into a deeper hole. It still amazes me today that he has managed to cleanse his reputation back to the “lovecat” that he tries to promote.

As you may recall, I have had other run ins with DJ who did everything he could on six different forums and elsewhere to stop me from discussing slideshows and mention FotoMagico which competes directly with his ShowIt software.

What is most valuable about this thread is the disrobing of some of our industry icons to expose them for what their real motivations are. We can do that most successfully, like you and many others have, by relating real world experiences with some of these folks.

I hope for everyone’s sake, theirs included, that they are following the sentiments expressed here. Unfortunately, I think most of them will just ignore this or dismiss it as “trooling” and continue on, egos inflated by those followers that they still have now and in the future.

Change in this profession is sorely needed and it can begin with the first steps expressed here by so many.

Rick

Rick Rosen - April 6, 2010 - 4:52 pm

@Brian
“@Rick, always great to read your insights!”

Thank you Brian.

Rick

(not my real name... sorry) - April 6, 2010 - 5:47 pm

My take on the workshop situation is this: it ‘sounds’ like the participants were taken advantage of.

SL wants to make a lot of $$$ (that’s what business people do, so nothing wrong on the surface). So, she brainstormed how to do that… Have the participants pay for all the costs associated with the following, and add a ‘fee’ for herself:

Hiring former winner of American’s Next Top Model;
Cost for Bui Brothers to fly to JAX, plus their production costs…
Cost for Stephen to fly to JAX (perhaps… No proof that he didn’t pay his own way, but I doubt it);
Other expenses.

If I had been there, I would have been furious about:

Being placed in the forced and awkward situation of having to be part of her DVD production (by the way, did everyone sign a release form? If not, I would make sure I wasn’t used/represented in any way in the DVD or promotional video unless PAID);
Having workshop leader’s boyfriend appear (taking away time and attention from what I paid for);
Lack of punctuality and preparation;
Workshop leader shooting for her own portfolio.

It seems there was pre-meditated audacity to create a DVD/sales piece under the guise of a ‘workshop.’ I think it’s okay to build in the cost for paying for the model, but they should in NO WAY have to offset the costs of the video production.

From Wikipedia: greed (Latin, avaritia), also known as avarice or covetousness, is, like lust and gluttony, a sin of excess. However, greed (as seen by the church) is applied to a very excessive or rapacious desire and pursuit of wealth, status, and power.

It shows an overly aggressive (yet unfortunately naïve) business approach, lack of professionalism, lack of business ethics and overall poor taste. All because of greed – one of the seven cardinal sins.

Making friends is great, but not for $1,200-$1,500, and not being ‘used’ to produce a DVD/promo piece.

Leeann did a commendable job of an ‘objective’ review. And it took courage to do so. Well done!

Rick Rosen - April 7, 2010 - 12:33 am

“Kay” writes:

“and (big shocker) julia bailey has her posts protected (hidden.) so much for transparency. ditto: fauxtographers, badassphotog, and however many other cowardly aliases are floating around out there.

shameful.”

Kay,

If you have been following this thread you know that I agree with you that people should not be hiding behind an alias. The professional thing to do, if you have an opinion good or bad, is to identify yourself and stand behind your opinion. In that way everyone can know if there is any substance and experience behind the person’s postings.

You continue to post under an alias. You said that you live in Newton, MA but gave no further information on you or your business. How do we even know that is true?

If you feel that posting under an alias is wrong then why not set an example and give us some background information on you beyond where you claim to be living. How about a web link?

Thanks,

Rick

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