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Change in tone - to the tune of 1104 words

I wouldn’t say that it was specifically a New Year’s resolution, but I have recently decided to change the tone of my blog. I need to make this space less of a library of images (which you can find elsewhere on this site or on Flickr already), and more focused on valuable content. I don’t know which direction it will take right now, but it will highlight my observations on photography; techniques, works, gadgets, or the industry as a whole.

Oh, and I promise to be a bit more concise in the future.


As I’ve mentioned before, I consume a lot of media relating to photography. I’ve read books (currently reading VisionMongers by David DuChemin), read magazines, visited galleries online and in the real world, joined online communities, been to seminars, and listened to podcasts. All of this informs not only my photographic style, but also my attitude toward the state of the art form. One common thread that runs through almost every outlet of photography is a belaboring of the current market state. Everyone knows that the economy is hurting and, in parallel, the photographic industry is hurting. Like most economic trends, analysts and observers try point to one source for the problem, but the actual genesis is much more complex.

The most common talking point regarding the difficulties with photographic business is the relative accessibility of high performing camera gear. Over the last several years since the introduction of digital photography, the cost of making good photos has dropped drastically. Nikon, Canon, Sony, and all of the other camera manufacturers have been locked in a heated battle for consumers and strive to introduce the newest technology into their flagship models. The natural effect from this is the trickling-down of those technologies into less expensive models as time goes on. Until recently, we were locked into the megapixel wars. The end result has been enthusiast cameras that now boast 12 megapixels or greater. Now we are in the midst of sensitivity wars and the current iterations of those models now add performance up to ISO 104,000.

This has been the pariah of veteran photographers from what I’ve seen. Many talk about “Uncle Bob” or “Digital Debbie” photographers; the new photographers who grabbed a Nikon D90 or a Canon 50D, made a few good imap_1917_1437_76B53E4C-C341-4283-BB8B-78F1EFE7F8A6.jpegges, and now go out and undercut veterans bidding for events. These photographers, as described in a several articles, rarely are interested in learning the craft, don’t need to make a living from their photography, don’t spend much time perfecting their images, and are contented to just get the $50 for the wedding as compensation for their 6 hours shooting. There have been many suggestions for combating these photographers and I’m not going to go into that here.

The problems with our industry are much more complicated than that and I’m not qualified or knowledgeable enough to go into many of the sources. I have noticed, however, that photographers have driven the market down to this point as much as camera manufacturers. Our profession is based entirely on image. We don’t rely on education, since anyone who is truly dedicated to the art form can learn much of what he or she needs from observation of others and participation in communities. We don’t really rely on apprenticeship (although it is practiced in some cases), since most photographers explore the medium on their own. All we rely on is our past work, reputation, and image.skotsshots-2812

Currently, one of the most popular ways for consumers to research photographic professionals is via the internet. Where a website was a luxury a couple years ago, it is a necessity now. A quick check on Google’s Insights for Search ( shows that search for the phrase “wedding photographer blog” has increased almost 400% since 2006. People are looking for photographers’ latest work. As much as photographers think their work speaks for itself, that simply is not the case.
In order to woo potential clients, we need to wow them with our personalities. There are many great photographers out there and we need to show visitors that we are worth the fees we charge. We aren’t just asking people to reimburse us for the cost of paper and materials, but remunerate us for our own perceived value. Since clients are using the web to search for their photographers, our most powerful tool for this is the text we lay down on our web site or blog. I have read so many photographic blogs that fail on this account, I’m shocked that their work can rise above it. I won’t name names, but I’ve read one blog where the author claims using apostrophes to denote plurals is his “style,” one that was rife with grammar errors on the scale of MySpace or Facebook, and even one where the photographer’s own equipment was consistently misspelled. How are we to convince our potential clients that we are worth the fees we charge if we sound like teenagers?

Although a photographer by avocation, I have a degree in Biology and that schooling has informed my opinion on the interconnectedness of knowledge. No one subject can exist in a vacuum. A scientisl_2048_1503_FC216C8C-EE8E-4504-8047-583C8F0ABA83.jpegt cannot consider himself a professional if he cannot communicate his ideas. An author cannot be a successful author without being curious and making a study on the world around him prior to putting his ideas on paper. An artist cannot be a creatively successful artist without both properties: curiosity of the world and the ability to communicate his observations.

In that vein, I implore you, artist. Please keep an eye out on your presence in the media. As much as celebrities need to be mindful of how their public perceives them, you need to be mindful of how your potential clients perceive you. Follow good editing practices; re-read your own work a day or so after your write it, run a spell-check, have someone else edit your work (in fact, have two people). Fresh perspectives, from whatever angle will catch most problems.

I fully understand that by posting an article like this there will certainly be errors in my work. I am not a proud man, so if you find a problem, please let me know. I will certainly address it. And, though I don't go around trolling other blogs, looking for errors, be assured that I will return the favor when the time is appropriate.

Alex Lindsay is prone to say on This Week In Photography, “data does not exist until it is maintained in at least two places.” I would offer a similar corollary, "knowledge does not exist until it is effectively communicated."

Scott Everett