Begin Rant

I’ve been sitting here for the last 10 minutes trying to think of the best way to write this post. I don’t want to hurt any one’s feelings and I don’t want to come off like some sort of a prima donna. Whether or not I’m qualified to pass judgment on my fellow shooters is not for me to decide. However, I’m going to do just that: pass judgment. If that makes me a bad guy, well, I guess I’ll just have to live with it.

There are a lot of bad photographers out there. A lot. When I first got into this business it seems like everywhere I looked I saw photographers doing work that was just incredible. One of the reasons that I waited so long to start shooting weddings was because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to be as good as some of the photographers that I admired. I’m still not quite there yet. However, I look around and I seem to see dozens and dozens of photographers who aren’t even attempting to become better at what they do.

You understand I’m not talking about the hobbyists. I’m not talking about the photographer who is just getting started in the business and offers to shoot a wedding for $350. These people are learning and they’re doing their best and they’re trying to get better. As I am. As we all are. No, I’m talking about the wedding photographers who aren’t producing quality work, and this is the sad part, don’t seem to be aware of it.

How do I know they’re not aware of it? Because I look at their websites, I look at their print ads, and I see a sub-standard work. I see lens flare, lack of fill flash, lack of white balance, composition that my mother could do better with. I must assume that the photographer that’s showing these pictures to his potential clientele feels that they are his best work, otherwise, why show them?

I guess I’m just a little disillusioned. While I find it easy to believe that there are people who buy a digital camera and suddenly say they are wedding photographers, I find it hard to believe that there are people who invest in a lot of expensive equipment, advertising, etc. and yet still haven’t bothered to so much as learn what good photography should look like. Are they out there? Are they just setting their camera to automatic and snapping away with the belief that what they’re doing is good work and worthy of the high-price tag that they put on it? Are they like the person who sings karaoke every single week and is blissfully unaware that they can’t carry a tune?

Am I one of them?

I’m not talking about art or vision. I’m not talking about people who have a different idea or style than me. Those people put time and effort into realizing their own particular way of shooting. Whether or not I like it is a matter of taste, of personal preference.

No, I’m talking about the ones who are shooting the same setups as every other kid on the block and don’t seem to be able to do that well. Again, I’m forced to believe that they honestly think it’s good. They have to or else they would go online and discover what fill-flash is for or how to drag the shutter…

I guess what it boils down to is you have to trust your instincts. If my gut tells me what I’m doing is good and what they’re doing is bad then I just have to go with that. I guess their gut is telling them that what they’re doing is good. Who’s to say who’s right and who’s wrong?

But boy, it sure looks to me like they suck.

End rant.

(Note: The author is completely aware that the reader may, in fact, feel that he is full of sh*t. I’m a wedding photographer in Tampa and my website is I feel it’s only fair to provide the link so you can at least see where I’m at on the wedding photography scale. Personally, I’d say about a “7.” But I know I’m a “7” and I’m trying hard to rise to “8.”)

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Well, you’re right. They do suck.

    This is a multi-part problem.

    1. Suckiness is in the eye of the beholder. What you look at and say “sucks”, someone else will see the height of art.
    2. When the ratio of providers to customers gets messed up (like it is now, when anybody who can afford a digital camera is suddenly a wedding photographer) – then we expect quality to drop … but in fact what is happening is that price expectations of the customers are dropping – so the market right now is (often) price-driven, not quality driven.
    3. Most people do not appreciate good photography. They only have their own photos to compare it against. If you can do at least as well as they can, they you must be good, right?
    4. Wedding photography is a unique bird – most customers are one-time; the photographer is often the last to be hired.

    I think all you can do is listen to people you trust to judge your own work, and keep trying to improve. Eventually, the photographers who compete on price will be driven out of the business, and the customer who shopped on price will get frustrated with inferior results, and seek higher quality providers.

  2. Booray – It’s just like Joe McNally says – “We are in the democracy of digital”. meaning anyone with a digital camera and the slightest inkling of Photoshop lays claim to being a photographer. There needs to be a separation of the men from the boys 🙂
    Nice Post!

  3. Wedding photography is a tough business. You have to love it

  4. I get the shooters who just don’t have the quest for perfection that some others do. I get the shooters who think a picture is great despite problems that are obvious to other pro’s. The ones I don’t get are the shooters who can’t seem to spot glaring problems that most people with no experience at all can see. How do they not see that the couple standing in a gazebo on a bright day needs some fill?

  5. Well….

    Part of the issue with a photographer’s self image is this:

    The only people telling them about their work are their own clients. Most of which will say they were great. It gives a false sense of excellence over time.

    Another part is… the average person has no idea what good vs bad photography is.

    Presented with these two issues, a barely competent photographer can produce sub par work and his customers will love him or her for it. Do that for a few years, and they become jaded, and well… burnt out, and don’t seek to improve, since… why? Their customers love them.

    It’s a vicious cycle I’ve seen for 30 years in this business.

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