I have a few rules swear by in life…
- Always claim a fart.
- To be better than everyone else, you have to work harder than everyone else.
- 90% of the time you get what you pay for.
- Never trust anyone selling a “10 steps to make you better at whatever” book
- There is no easy way to be excellent.
This last week, unbeknownst to me a fairly prominent former photographer (currently salesman and marketer) released a… thing… he refers to as The System. Essentially, it’s a 10-Step Guide to being a professional photographer… and it’s not a joke. Really, today was the first I heard of it, and I honestly thought it was a joke. To try and boil down the photography business to ten steps, first of all, is just lunacy. Especially when it’s from a guy who hasn’t picked up a camera in years.
Listen, I’m not going to write a big huge post here… but the thing that offended me most was that he actually advocated shooting in auto, or program modes. This is commonly referred to as “Spray and Pray,” as it refers to rapid firing off a bunch of shots and hoping for the best. People… this is stupid. There is no other way to say it.
I am so thankful that while I didn’t necessarily start off on the right foot, I was corrected very quickly when it comes to my approach to photography. I am so thankful that people came into my life that set me straight and told me that photography isn’t easy, and anything or anyone that claims it is should never be trusted. You have to work. You have to know your camera like the back of your hand. You have to invest time and money into your craft if you want to be the best.
The idea of not knowing your camera well enough to shoot in manual, or trusting a camera to nail the exposure rather than a human, is so foreign to me that the mere fact that someone would suggest this is a good way to go for new photographers makes me want to vomit. It’s vile. Everyone starts somewhere, I understand that, but you had better be taking the time to learn what you’re doing if you want to legitimately make money off your work.
Bottom line… potential clients: don’t hire photographers that don’t shoot manual. Ask to see their camera in the middle of a shoot, and if it’s not on M, fire them immediately and ask for your money back (or ask for an explanation, admittedly there are very few and far between times when I am in a program mode, but I always have a reason for it that never includes “spray and pray”). Photographers: learn your gear, there is no quick way to success… you have to work, you have to be open to critique, and you have to work. If you’re new in the business, seek advice from people who don’t give you shortcuts or easy ways out. Seek the truth, not the cream-pie version of how glamorous the job is.