Is the profession of photography suffering from a credibility crisis?  I don’t want to sound like an “old guy” here, our profession has always had a large number of younger photographers ready and willing to hang out their shingle to turn their passion into their profession, but in the days of film photography you had to have a basic understanding of photography.  You had to know at least a little about lighting and exposure control to produce a printable image.  Back then our camera didn’t have preview and we didn’t have Photoshop to fix our bad photographs.  I think film gave all of us an opportunity to learn just enough to know how bad we really were and how much more we needed to learn.

In the digital world of today, learning photography is seen by some as just a roadblock in the fast-track of being a working Photographer.  I don’t ask this question or make these comments to judge or make fun of anyone.  There are some truly gifted young photographers (new to our profession, some are not young at all)  that have taken the time to learn about lighting, posing and composition who create truly professional work, but let’s be honest, there are a few of young photographers entering this profession I wouldn’t want photographing my daughter’s wedding.

We all have to start somewhere, but working for clients for money is not the training grounds for aspiring photographers.  We all hear the stories of weddings not coming out, once in a lifetime family portraits that look like snapshots and even the “On Your Side News Team” talking about photographers and making the comment, “As always buyer BEWARE”.  This doesn’t sound real good for our profession.

In simply asking this question, I am sure the emails will start coming in with the typical, “you just want all the business for yourself” or “you old guys have it made and worry about us young guys running you out of business”.   The single biggest tragedy in the current state of this profession is the young photographers that are talented, that have gone to college and done everything right, only to find the potential clients in their area won’t trust them.  Instead these clients prefer to go to a more established studio to insure a certain level of quality.

I thought about writing this post after a client told me a joke that she thought I would find amusing.  She said, “what is the next thing a high school student buys after he gets his very first camera……..Business Cards for his new studio!”  The joke wasn’t very good, but it did give me a great deal of insight.

For any of you young photographers that might be reading this I have two suggestions that were given to me when I was a young photographer and they served me well.  First, never charge for your work until it is of a similar quality and consistencey of the working professionals in your area.  Second and most important, be careful of who you ask to critque your work!  Most of us show our pictures to family and friends who love us and want to be encouraging.  You need honest feedback (not from someone who loves you or someone you just gave free photos to).  Ask a professor or teacher, ask a person or people who don’t know you took the images and listen to what the say.  If you don’t like the  Honest Feedback you receive get busy learning until you do like the feedback you receive.


~ by jeffsmithbooks on January 20, 2010.


  1. wow…awesome…thoughts I have wanted to say but didn’t ever! thanks jeff!
    I have been in the photography industry/buisness for nearly 20 years…mentored with a Master for 7 years and continue my education yearly…I am sickened by what I see is happening in our industry and by a public who so much of the time isn’t educated enough in our artform to make the important/critical decisions… like lambs to the slaughter!

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