The photographers dilemma

We live in a digital age; that means that cameras are getting better and better and more and more people are getting into photography. Digital photography is a double edged sword, on the one side good photographers are able to get better faster because they get almost instant feedback and the other side is that more people are able to pick up a good camera and get a properly exposed photograph.

Recently I have seen some interesting posts on Facebook; they talk about wanting to improve the photography situation in Utah, the state where I live. I am sure that there are people all over that would dearly love to improve the photography situation in their area; well I am now going to suggest a way to start that process.

We must first identify the problem. There are two sides to the photography dilemma that is currently plaguing the photography industry. The first side is the customer; today’s photography customer is bombarded on every side with images from photographers who don’t know what makes a quality photograph and because those same customers have access to the same gear the photographer is using why pay someone to do something they can do themselves and get the same result. The second side of the photography dilemma are the photographers; there are so many people in this industry that have taken upon themselves the title of photographer without really understanding what that title really means.  In this post we are going to examine the photographer side of the problem, in other words the bigger of the two sides.

Today’s photographers have access to the best gear and so many books and other materials that we are also bombarded with so many opinions on how to photograph everything we can image that it can be tough to find that needle in the hay stack actual good advice in the ever growing haystack. A lot of today’s photographers are just someone who might know more about their gear then their client, in other words a lot of today’s photographers are just some one who takes pictures.

Scott Robert Lim says “Good exposures are not enough to provide us a comfortable living. It is up to us to turn good exposures into ART. Good pictures = ART = Get Paid. What is art? Your unique Vision executed to perfection. If we want to create a masterpiece, we need to know how to use All the tools… Composition, posing & lighting. The bar has been raised.” To many people in the photography industry do not even have a bar set for themselves; they have no vision for their photography or their business. There are a lot of “photographers” who are uneducated about the fundamentals of photography; most do not know what a fine art photograph should look like. Most of today’s photographers have never, and probably will never, put their work in front of an editor; their version of a hard critique is someone telling them that they don’t like the photograph.

One problem I see with a lot of the people in the photography industry is that there work all looks the same; they are not doing enough or anything to help themselves stand out from the crowd. Today’s photography market is so saturated with photographers that we must be doing something to set ourselves apart from everyone else. One thing that can set one photographer apart from another is each photographer’s unique vision. I see photographers post photos to social media with the caption that the photo is a “soft edit” or they post about letting the client not only pick which photos to edit but what is done to the photos as well (see my post about the how and why of critiquing).

As a photographer you are being hired for your vision and for your finished product, not for the clients editing style (see my post on standards and vision). A lot of today’s photographers have not honed their craft; they don’t know the difference between a snap shot and fine art, they don’t know how to articulate what they like about a photo and what they don’t like. This means that many of today’s photographers are part of the problem and not the solution and most of these photographers will never admit that they are part of the problem because how can you teach someone about something that they think they already understand.

Another part of the photography problem is that so many photographers cannot separate the photography and the business. You must be able to separate the photographer and the business man (see my post on business 101).  We live in a fast paced world where we can get feedback and information almost instantly. This fast pace has had a negative effect on the photography industry. To really improve both ourselves and the photography situation we need to slow down. We need to slow down and take an objective look at ourselves and our photography and see if you are part of the problem and yes this can only be done when we slow down. It is only when we slowdown that we can really see and analyze are own processes and make sure that we are making the correct decision.

The way to improve the photography situation in any area is to slowdown examine the problem and acknowledge that the photographers in your area are a large part of that problem. It is only then that you can take steps to correct the photography dilemma; but be aware that a large part of the photographers in your area are never going to admit that they are part of the problem. If we each focus on the one part of the photography industry that we can change; “ourselves.” We might then be able to have an influence on other parts of the photography industry, but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you.


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