“A couple of years ago I noticed something in my personal work. It wasn’t going anywhere. I had hit a wall. I had photographers who inspired me, but they’d all been in the field for two decades, and I told myself, “Well, I’ll be that good in 20 years too.”—Finding My Nemesis…
This post by Jeremiah of GetTotallyRad.com is amazing. One of the best ideas I’ve seen, and I’m totally stealing the idea.
First, a disclaimer: Yes, I am in fact a professional photographer (good heavens, that’s fun to say.) So yes, I have pretty high standards when it comes to photography. That said, I also don’t want to be pinned down to always having to take photos of my child. So I understand why my family would resort to taking Becca to someplace like Portrait Innovations to have some pictures taken.
All that said…
Today Ryanne and Gramma Leslie and Gramma Jan took Becca to Portrait Innovations while I was at work to get some photos done. A little bit after I got home they all joined me and showed me the pictures. I knew they were going so I wasn’t shocked or anything… but once they pulled out the photos, and after I saw how cute my daughter was, I realized how badly these “photographers” suck. At least HALF of the photos were completely underexposed, and I’m not talking just a little bit… we’re talking at least 3-4 stops. Dark eyes everywhere. There were some photos that were out of focus, and some the white balance was terribly off. Absolutely terrible.
And, it wasn’t just me. Everyone noticed, so it wasn’t just the “snobby photographer” who didn’t like the photos. The prints were truly awful. I popped in the much-hyped disc of images they provide (at a paltry 500x800 resolution) and while the focus and white balance were still off on the digital files, at least they were at least CLOSER to exposed properly.
Sooooo we took the prints back. Ryanne made me promise to be nice, so I tried my best to act like a normal citizen who knows nothing of f-stops, shutter speed and focus, and simply talked to the CSR about the images were too dark, and that Becca’s clothes are a different color in the images than what she actually wore. They looked me like I was crazy about the underexposed photos, and… listen to this… blamed the incorrect color on the fact that the background was black, so that “made the clothes look darker.” They even went so far as to say “the lighting is perfect! so nothing is wrong.”
Not wanting to pick a fight, I kept my mouth shut. Left the crappy photos behind for them to fix, and walked out.
Here’s the thing… The very first thing I hear people say about why they go to Portrait Innovations is because it’s simple and cheap. Well congrats, you got cheap photos. But, it’s really NOT that cheap. I don’t know ANYONE who walks out of there spending less than $100.
So here’s the deal. For all family sessions booked before July 1st, LGP is going to shoot ALL family sessions that include a child under the age of 12 for $120. This will include an 8x10 and 4 4x6’s as well as a disc of FULL size images for you to print anywhere you’d like. I’m calling it the “PORTRAIT INNOVATIONS IS THE DEVIL OF PHOTOGRAPHY AND NEEDS TO BE PUT TO DEATH” special. This includes 2 hours of our time, a proofing gallery where you pick out your top 20 favorite images, and… get this, WE’LL ACTUALLY PROCESS THEM. Instead of the “oh, your baby has a scratch on it’s forehead? sorry about your luck” or the “the white balance is off? sorry, we don’t edit photos,” we’ll actually edit the photos to look RIGHT. A crazy concept, I know.
Even you budget mom’s and dad’s deserve better photos than what Portrait Innovations provide, and if I have to drastically lower my prices for a couple months to show WHY hiring a local, independent photographer is worth your while then dangit, I’m going to lower my prices. I simply cannot take that CRAP posing as real photos any longer.
Instagram is to Photos as Rebecca Black is to Music
Think about it.
Rebecca Black, who I have nothing against as a person, put out a piece of music that was soul crushing in it’s mediocrity. We all sat back and thought “wow, the collective bar of quality music has just been lowered. Again.” Friday once again proved that anyone with some money and an auto-tune can get a bajillion views on YouTube. It helps if you’re cute.
Now, with photography it’s SLIGHTLY different. Why? What’s the difference? Well now things like Instagram have taken money out of the equation. In a world that has been increasing rapidly in years with people who claim to be photographers just because they went out and bought themselves an entry level DSLR, now we have the added bonus of improving cell phone cameras. Don’t get me wrong, I’m with Chase Jarvis when he says “the best camera is the one that you have with you.” In that sense, yes, I love me some iPhone photography. HOWEVER. What I can’t stand is the oversaturation of people DESTROYING their photos with ridiculous looking filters in the name of “it looks cool!”
Yes, I am a working professional photographer so yes, my opinion is more than a little biased. Three months into running Love is Greater Photography I was just as bad as anyone. I “grunged” my photos to hell and back, applying ever terribad filter and action I could to make the photo look as far from natural as possible. I texturized everything. I was terribad. I had the fortune of another local photographer taking some interest in me, taking me under his wing, and giving me a swift kick to the rear. I was simply using filters/actions/textures to cover up my terrible photography.
Truth be told, I’m okay with people just toying around with their iPhones and making pictures. My big problem with Instagram is it’s exclusivity. I cannot simply “stop using it” because I still want to see people’s photos. However, when you upload a photo to Instagram, the only place I can see it is Instagram. Twitter is slowly starting to force third party app companies out the back door, and guess what… the Twitter app makes me go to the stupid Instagram website to view your photos. Same with Facebook. Hate.
On the other hand, for people just starting down the path of photography. My second piece of advice to them (the first being learn how aperture, shutter and ISO affect your images) would be to ditch any and all photo manipulation software. Even on your phone. Why? Because it’s easy to get caught up in, I was there, I know. It’s easy to take a terribad photo, and then make it look somewhat decent in post. If you are an aspiring photographer, your number one goal should be to make a rad photo in camera, without a single bit of processing.
Look at the greats of photography. Do you see ANY of them adding an Earlybird filter to their photos? Toaster? Poprocket? No. None of them. Why? Because these things are a FAD. You want to produce lasting art? Do something awesome with framing, composition, depth of field.
Given the choice, I’d rather listen to Friday on repeat than see one more instagram link in my timelines.