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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bashing Newbies

There seems to be this disturbing trend among some wedding and portrait photographers, to bash newbies. Their excuses are "The newbies don't know what they're doing, they're taking away my business, they're buying inexpensive (read crappy) equipment and they're undercutting my bottom line.

Wedding photography has always been a cutthroat business. It brooks no failure. You have to be on top of your game in terms of nailing shots or you end up getting left behind in the dust and quite possibly ruining someone's special day. You also have to subordinate yourself to the wishes of the client since it is their wedding and not yours. Save the fancy-schmancy shit for your own wedding if you want it or find clients who don't give a crap about how their wedding shots turn out other than how YOU want them to turn out.

Same thing with portraiture; Portraiture though has the benefit of not being so ritualized and on a time schedule. They have time to sit for numerous takes until you get the "right shot". Albeit, the "time to sit" is within reason. You can't expect a client to take off an entire day and sit for a shoot.

Yes, wedding and portraiture is tough. You have to deal with irascible clients who won't cooperate and still keep your cool. You have to work within time limits and you have to know your lighting and your gear. But the upshot is that you are dealing with subjects whom you can communicate with; you can get them to sit where you want, you can get them to do what you want (within reason). You have to be a social person to be able to do those kinds of photography.

I'm NOT! I don't have that intuitive portrait or wedding photographer's eye and coupled with the lack of enjoying social situations, doing portraits or weddings would be a stupid venture. And that's why I've taken my photography skills elsewhere. Does it mean that I know less than the portrait photographer or the wedding photographer? No. It just means that I chose to do something other than what genres of photography society calls the "moneymakers". I choose to do wildlife because that's my forte. I have an eye for wildlife and I feel alive when I do wildlife photography.

But the second you start bashing others because of their skill level or their "newness" or insinuating that "you know more than they do". That's when you go from legitimate gripes to "assuaging your so-called injured ego". And when you start poking at "newbies" to assuage your ego, you're just an egotistical ass. You may have absolutely incredible skills, but when you start behaving like a spoilt child who had their exclusive toy taken away from you, then you are absolutely nothing.

The only person whom I think has the right to take up an egotistical attitude is Jim Zuckerman, probably the best damned all-around photographer that I have ever seen. Yet, he teaches newbies to improve their skills by putting out articles in books like Petersen's. He doesn't have an ego, he genuinely enjoys teaching as well as photography. So my question is: If he doesn't feel like he needs to have an ego and YOU can't even match his output or quality, then why do you think you have the right to have an ego?

So I would say that work on your craft, work on your jobs, work on your clients and establish yourself as a go-to person in your craft. Don't worry about your competitors. "The more time you spend looking over your shoulder at your competitors, the more likely they are to overtake you". Quit worrying about the jobs that the newbies take, because more than likely, the clients they take are the ones who wouldn't come to you anyways. Do you want to stoop to having to take a job at a lesser charge because they really can't afford your regular rates? No. I didn't think so.


  1. We were all newbies once. :-) - Sarah

  2. Yes, we all were newbies at one time and photography is a craft in which everyone still is learning. No matter what stage you are at, it is much better to help those who are starting out.