This article was inspired by the recent feud between Photographer Carly Fuller and DJ Ken Rochon of Absolute Entertainment and the outcry from Photographers. If you haven’t heard about the controversy, you can read it on Forbes.
In a nutshell, The DJ took photos at the wedding and created a gallery for the wedding party. The photographer argued she had an exclusive clause in her contract. Bottomline, in my opinion, legally she was right but could have handled it differently. Someone used my Photo without my Consent shares my viewpoint on how to handle a situation like this. This article, on the other hand, sheds light on why I feel this is happening and what we as photographers can do to fix it. Ill get my point across through a story.
A Short Story with Tips to Prove My Point
My son Alec was a multi-sport athlete in High School. By Senior year he achieved varsity letters in Cross Country, Track and Lacrosse. He wanted to end the year with a fourth letter. Of all sports he chose Bowling??? Yeah, thats what I thought until I saw bowling had more spectators than Lacrosse! As per our agreement, I got to photograph his sports activities. Personally, I think he chose bowling because of the challenging low light and hard angles for a photographer to get great photos.
What does it take to shoot: show up to the game (errr match) prepared
On my way to the event never shooting bowling before I thought of every possible way I could get a great shot. I had time before Alecs match so I explored the venue. As luck would have it, I ran into the girls bowling coach talking to the manager of the bowling alley; thankfully both are friends of mine. To my surprise they looked up, smiled and said they were just talking about me. They heard I was coming and asked if I could take a few photos. The manager asked if I needed anything to help get great shots. I asked what does the media do for profession matches. He said they close down the middle alley and set up a platform to shoot from. Since this wasn’t possible for today, he gave me access to the walkway on the side of the alley. He warned me to be careful, balls sometime jump the lane. We laugh and away I went.
After the match, I showed Alecs coach a few of the photos. He looked at them and said, If I had a camera like yours I could take great photos like you. Alec laughed and knew what was coming next. I said to the coach in an overly exciting tone, Is that your bowling ball? Wow I bet if I had a bowling ball like yours I could bowl like you! He looked at me, I kid you not, and said with a straight face, NO, it takes years of practice if you want to be good. Really???
The Coach is not alone: The reason people think this way.
Why do people, much like the coach, think all they need is a good camera to get the same results as professional photographers? Truthfully, most people can take great photos with affordable high end cameras set on auto mode. The cost to shoot a single image is about 2 cents Check out, Click Away Digital is free, or is it? allowing people to shoot more and in the process become better. They post their images on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram where they get praised by family and friends. They are excited so they accept photography jobs for free or close to nothing.
Believe it or not, this is actually great for professional photographers.
More consumers in the market place ensures camera manufacturers continue to make a profit. They invest these profits in making our cameras better. Before you say, What good is a better camera if I lose jobs to these people, think back to the old lawn care days. Lawn care much like where photography is today was the most affordable start up company. All you needed was your parents push mower, a little gas and lots of sweat to make a few bucks. Those who were ambious on making it a fulltime job purchased a riding lawn mower from their profits. The public was willing to pay a kid a few bucks to mow their lawn. Did it look as good as a professional? Not at all, well the lawns I mowed didn’t. The consumer didn’t mind. It was Just good enough. It wasn’t until the professionals started to add extra value to their services mowing, trimming and edging and consistently performed a good job that sparked a change. Consumers that wanted a guarantee that their lawns were going to be maintained correctly and on time switched back to the professionals. These days, having a neighborhood kid mow your lawn for a few bucks is not the majority. Step up your game and the jobs will come back.
We can make a difference by making the public not accept Just good enough
Not everyone wants to be a professional photographer. Some just want to learn how to take a better photo. This large group of people are not looking for photography jobs, they are looking for help. This is a great opportunity for professional photographer. Take on one of these photographers as a trusted assistant. You can find lots of eager volunteers at your local camera club. Your teaching will enhance your skills as you improve the quality of those around you.
If you are one of many photographers that want to take your skills to the next level and maybe even start a business, be willing to learn. Join a camera club, attend seminars and most importantly, keep an open mind. If you need help, ask a photographer you admire. If they are willing to help, you need to be willing to learn. This will increase the quality of photography forcing the public not to accept just good enough.
Why teach, whats in it for me?
Heres what happens when you teach someone new to photography, they ask questions. Lots of questions. Some questions you may have taken for granted and perform the task without thinking. When you answer their questions, you reinforce your knowledge. Sometimes, you have to exam why you do something a certain way and realize there maybe an easier or better way of doing it. This makes you a better photographer.
Just because you are a professional and can teach others doesn’t mean you can stop learning. Challenge yourself to learn something new. Collaborate with other professional photographers. My buddy Barry Kirsch started a cool project called Murder City Photography to raise awareness of the growing murder rate in Orlando Florida, where he lives. Collaborating with him sparked my creativity and jump started a few projects I had gathering dust.
Everyone has a story, whats yours?
Write a short personal experience of an event that actually happen to you that supports your view on this article. Good or bad, everyone has a story.
*Feature image Sergio Martnez / Dollar Photo Club