Photography has a lot in common with Judo. Both require hours of work and training. Both are arts and sciences at the same time. And both are beautiful when done well. But a big difference is the meaning of a black belt. In martial arts, having a black belt means one has attained a basic level of competency.
The important take away there is basic and competency. Not advanced. Not expertise. Not mastery. The same doesn’t hold true for photography anymore.
As a Bakersfield photographer, and I am sure it isn’t just limited to Central California, I often encounter photographers who don’t know what they are doing.
Here are some common excuses I hear photographers make:
- I only shoot natural light.
- That’s my artistic style.
- I don’t use Photoshop.
- I don’t pose people.
This is what I hear when they say things like the above.
- I only shoot natural light because I don’t know how to use flash.
- That’s my artistic style because I don’t know how else to shoot if I need too.
- I don’t know how to use Photoshop well enough to make an image look good.
- I don’t pose because I don’t know how to do it to make images look good.
What a load of crap. If a plumber came to my house and said I only fix sinks, I’d be pissed. Don’t you know how to do the rest of the plumbing jobs that you may need to do?
Professional Bakersfield Photographer
And people get so pissed when you question their “professional” title. How can you call yourself a professional when you don’t know the difference between a beauty dish and an umbrella?
Maybe I am just old fashioned, but I think a professional should know the tools of the trade. To be clear, I am not saying people who just start out are not worthy or somehow not good. I am more upset that I have worked many hard hours to learn how to take an excellent photo only to be compared to someone who doesn’t desire to produce a quality image.
Does that make me pretentious. Probably. Elitist. Maybe. But it ultimately is about what the client wants.
But are clients being lied to? How can anyone claim to be knowledgeable by taking on the mantle of calling themselves a professional and not have the skills to produce quality images for the client?
And do the people looking for a Bakersfield photographer even know what quality is? I do know a couple things about the photos people see online.
- No one will ever say your baby is ugly (to your face).
- No one will tell you that you look fat in a photo (to your face).
The reason people won’t say anything is simple. They don’t want to sound like they are judging you, but they are. And professional photographers are judging your images and banging their heads against their screens.
Why does any of this matter? So what that some photographers are delivering poor quality to clients. So what that everyone who gets a camera for Christmas thinks they are a professional image creator. Those things really aren’t the problem. The problem is that some people think they are getting Louis Vuitton when it’s really Wal-mart. Nothing wrong with Wal-mart, but it is a scam to pass it off as quality.
So I am a horrible pretentious Bakersfield photographer because my heart breaks when I think of the money people are spending on images that aren’t worth the time and expense. I am pretentious because I know there are photographers who are better than I am that can’t charge what they are worth because of the explosion of low quality and skill shooters.
Maybe I am just really tired of people claiming to be knowledgeable about something they clearly don’t know.
I do know, I don’t even have a black belt in photography yet.