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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Thinkin' Outloud...

I find it funny/sad that I didn't need to name a person in the post about my copycat---so many of you commented or emailed me your guess and the same name kept being mentioned over and over again! Again, as I said to everyone, I can neither confirm nor deny who it is.

I do realize that most of us photographers draw inspiration off of each other...it is one thing to see a photo, think it is the coolest thing you've seen in a while, and you re-do it by adding your own twist or take on it--that is what I would consider the respectable thing to do. OR... you can go the disrespectful route and copy a photo down to the location, props used, angle photo is shot, EVEN the same outfit...go a little further, and you are contacting another photographer's clients directly--trying to get them to become your clients. That is not the way to win friends in this industry. We are all trying to be artists here--just trying to share what we find beautiful with the world and some people just cannot stand to see someone they know succeed while they are unhappy with what life has handed them.

But my question is this:

If you spend your time trying to be someone else or copy someone else's business plan, website, and their work, then how do you find the time to develop your own style? How do you find time to keep up on the latest editing techniques or even learning how to edit? With all the energy that goes into attempting to be like someone else, I would think that one would want to learn how to use their camera better, or look for new locations, or take a class so that they can do their job better--lots of great photography classes out there...

I digress...

I have a lot of respect for the people who got established before me--Sandy Puc, Amy Wenzel, Images of Grace, Simple Treasures, Jonnye Bower, Beth Jansen...I admire these girls. They took a passion that they had and made it into a business that allows them to share their amazing gift with others....Do I agree with everything that they do? The way that they have structured their business? No...but I dig that they have the gumption to get out there and do it--THEIR WAY. Some photographers don't like bright colors, some would tell you that putting mismatched prints together is a sin, that taking photos of a baby's eyelashes is silly, putting a couch in a field or dirty alleyway is a waste of energy....but all of those ladies do/have done it. And, yes, I am a "lurker" to their blogs and websites...but not so I can mimic their every move--I look for inspiration--"so and so did this pic and it is cool...but I want to do it different and better". Am I in the same league as those ladies? No way...I know my place...and it is not at a table with those creative geniuses...but maybe, one day, I will be there.

When I first decided to charge for photos, I did a lot of soul searching--I did not just jump into it. I developed a portfolio first, rather than using my paying clients as learning experiments and giving them something that I wouldn't even put on my walls. Most of you would be shocked if you knew the amount of FREE sessions that I do...I get ideas CONSTANTLY and I do a ton of free sessions so that I can try them out...I wouldn't want someone to pay me so that I can indulge myself...those are opportunities to learn something new about my camera, myself as a photographer, or about a new location.

Where is all of this going? Why am I still ranting? Am I about to call out my copycat? I'll take those one at a time:

The point of all of this is to let you--the public-- know that you need to be really selective with who you trust to capture your memories. In a world where digital cameras are way too cheap, websites are "build it yourself", and anyone can present themselves as anything they want to be, there sure are a ton of "photographers" that shouldn't be taking money from anyone. There are also some who need to charge more because they underestimate themselves. Take the time to ask if anyone you know has used them before--don't just take what you read on a review site to be the truth. Ask questions--I don't get offended if someone asks me how long I have been doing this, have I taken any classes, am I a member of any nationally recognized associations... Educate yourself a little about whose hands you are putting your families memories into. I will say this: you will get what you pay for. When you see these photographers charging a lot of money for their work--trust me, that person has paid their dues and has come a long way from where they started--they have studied the industry, they have logged hours in seminars and workshops and they have invested an insane amount of money into their business. Same is true for those who are bargain basement prices--you spend $25 for a special moment to be captured, chances are that you are going to get $25 worth of effort and knowledge--at that price, you SHOULD go to Kiddie Kandids or JC Penneys--at least you know that there, the camera is pre-set and your resulting photos won't be blurry or badly lit.

And I am still ranting because I care--I honestly do care about my clients. I care about my work, my reputation, and my peers. I truly feel horrible when someone tells me that their photographer took pictures that could be compared to what a 6 year old can take with a point and shoot camera in the dark--that is BAD and I pray to God that no one has ever or could ever say something close to that about photos that they have received from me. That is when you need to accept that maybe you are not ready to make a profession out of photography--maybe you should spend some time learning instead of collecting money.

and, NO, I am not outing my copycat...I am a believer in karma and this girl has got some really bad mojo swirling over her head. It may not be now or even the immediate future, but what goes around always come back around tenfold. I think that her lies and deception will eventually catch up to her. Any attempt that I have made to contact her and explain that "Hey--I really don't care that you consider yourself to be a photographer, a burp cloth boutique owner, or whatever else you wake up and decide to be--just leave me, my family, and my clients alone. There are plenty of people and business to go around, just stay on your side of the road and I will stay on mine"--has been met with yet another round of lying and rudeness.

To my clients who have added this person because you thought she was associated with me because of the way she presented herself...I do not endorse ANY photographer unless they are listed on my blog as an inspiration or I have posted a blog about referring people out to someone else. If you miss getting in on a special that I am running and are thinking about going to a bargain basement photographer because "it is only $25 dollars", PLEASE contact me first...I know plenty of affordable photographers who do good work and who I trust to handle my clients the way that I would and lot of them run a special similar to mine. I have no problem helping you find someone else who will take care of you. I would much rather you have nice photos than to hear from you later that you made a mistake and you hate your photos.

Oh--and before any of you haters can point out that I should have been using the time that it took to write this to learn something or do something constructive with my photography or "don't you have photos to edit and CDs to mail out"---I am lucky enough to be at a point in my business that I have someone to help me edit and schedule appointments, I am at a 2 1/2 week wait time, my kids are fed, my husband is taken care of, and I spent over an hour of my time just last night answering emails and myspace messages about everything I have written here, so I figure that this post actually saves me time in the long run.

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