The Fauxtographer!!

A few nights ago a friend was having a light hearted banter at the world of Fauxtography on Facebook, in fact it was rather funny and many had a good giggle. This brings me to talk about something that I have spoken about before. The more harder I am working on learning and understanding about photography the more and more frustrated I am towards the “Fauxtographer”.
My interpretation of the Fauxtographer is a person who picks up their first ever SLR (even some with a standard point and shoot) and then copies the work of professional photographers, takes all the credit, sets up a website, sets up a Facebook page and then peddles themself a Photographer adding they have very little to NO technical knowledge and even tout that you don’t need to study to be a photographer.. They seem to think that they do not need to do the hard yards that established photographers have done, they seem to think they are just as good if not better than the photographer that spent may years in school learning and understanding the fundamentals of photography. Not ONE person I know that is an good ESTABLISHED photographer did it without learning the craft; they read books, magazines, went to workshops, and they studied, they invested time and money into their craft and so much more. You see it is not an overnight thing, talent can take you many places but it needs to be supported with hard work, learning and discipline. A person can be an amazing athlete, but if they don’t train, they are just any old ordinary athlete, … I can think of so many sayings like this to back up how I feel about the need for more than just the ability to take a nice photo to be a photographer. Of course there is a lot of people out there that have trained and totally suck at what they are doing, these people are not the people I am talking about in this blog post. Its the people that claim to be as good as good professional photographers all without so much as some basic training and effort.

I can even relate this to the all the years I was a chef for…I actually did not get my trade certificate till quite late, now I was technically a “Chef” but I was not qualified, now this is not to say that going to Tafe makes you better, but for me, having a trade qualification opened a lot more doors. In fact I had been working in the industry for many years before I went to school, I knew loads about the industry, how to cook, how to run and manage a kitchen and so on. I guess if after all those years I didn’t know much it would be pretty odd, but in the same token it illustrates my point of it is not an overnight thing, you just do not pick up a fry pan and say you are a chef! When I went to trade school I loved it, there was loads that I already knew but then there was a technical side to things that I did not know, I got answers to a lot of the things that I knew how and had been doing for a long time.
There are many very talented chefs out there that have never stepped foot in a trade school; however these people have spent years learning the art of cooking, they have spent years working in kitchens practising and creating beautiful dishes. It was not talent alone that made them the renowned chef they are now, it was talent plus YEARS of TIME, EFFORT and HARD WORK to get to where they are. They have earned their stripes, they could more than likely walk into a Trade school, pick up the books and already know the answers. You see just because a person owns a chef’s knife it does not make them a chef, like photography it’s a learned thing. I have met people who have done a 6 week course in cookery and strut about a kitchen as though that know more than the people about them. One person I met years ago could not even pronounce some of the most basic of sauces yet tried to say that she was “the same” as me.. When anyone tried to show her how to do something, of course she already “knew” but then in practice she could not even make a basic roux, she had no knife skills whatsoever, it took her hours to do things that most took minutes to do, she had no knowledge of basic sauces, no idea how to make simple stocks, yet she called herself a “chef”. Total mockery of the 90 hour weeks I did between work and study to get my qualification, just as a person picking up a camera is, a total mockery. Needless to say she didn’t last long, like the Fauxtographer they eventually get found out. She may well have become a really good chef, who knows but it takes more than a 6 week class. Shows like My Kitchen Rules and Masterchef I love to bits, there are so many people on these shows that have a real passion for cooking and their love of food shines through in their work. Their inexperience shines through too but as these shows progresses it is wonderful to watch these passionate people grow and develop more skills. These people did not get their knowledge of the industry overnight, it is impossible, they would have read books, gone to workshops, dined out, practised and practised.

The Fauxtographer is putting a bad spot on the world of photography, the lay person has to be ultra careful who they put their trust into. You can’t even put trust into recommendations made to person, as more often than not people are just supporting a friend of theirs, realistically it is not that hard to get hundreds of likes on a Facebook page or hits to a site. IMO Google is your friend!! Don’t trust your special moments to a hack! There is a difference if a person has been honest and upfront advising you they are new to the industry and are building their portfolio!!! I actually do not find anything wrong with any person doing this as they have been been honest and upfront and told you they are learning, plus you are supporting new talent. You are not under the illusion you are paying a person who claims to know what they are doing either. We all have to start somewhere and this person is not someone that I would say is a Fauxtographer, but more so a person that is on their way to being a Photographer, like I said, TIME, EFFORT, HARD WORK! There is also loads of people out there that have loads of talent, love what they do and are great at photography, who are not photographers, just as there are people who say things like they are passionate and love photography. You really do need to do your homework, there are loads of professionals out there that have turned the issues of the weekend warrior into a positive and they are educating their audience with providing information about the profession, it’s a great way to weed out the good and that bad, it’s also often very interesting helpful reading, just recently I was reading about difference in printing techniques, another blog was regarding the safety photographing children and babies.
Seeing sites like “You are not a photographer” make me laugh, there is an insane amount of people out there peddling themself off as a “Pro”, you really do need to look at the site, it can be great for a giggle, not so if you have been on the receiving end of one of the hacks they show or you are one of those hacks!! LOL. If I just base my feelings on just what the definition of a “Fauxtographer” is and When I see things poorly done, such as posting of photos that should have been deleted I wonder why do this, you are supposed to be showing your work off at it’s best so if a blurry picture is the “best” then what is the standard? My most biggest pet peeve is spelling errors, especially when it is constant, using “text speak” also drives me batty such as “i c that ur reading this”. There are people that can’t spell, this is ok, it happens, but use a spell checker, get someone to go over your work. No matter what the industry if I see poor spelling and “text speak” I won’t use them, is shows a very basic lack of care. If I see that there is no variety to a persons work or nothing unique about the work then I also am left wondering. As I see if each person has their own signature style and if the “style” is the same old same old then I am left wondering has this person just copied other peoples work, where is the originality, where is the creativity, where is the talent?

I have also mentioned before, I have the UPMOST respect for some of my dear friends who are established photographers, I know the hard yards they have put in, I have not done a blip in comparison, how do I have the right to say I am the same??!! I cannot even think about entertaining the idea of calling myself a “photographer” though I have been asked many a time if I am and I have requests all the time for my work, I will still maintain that I am not a photographer, I am a picture taker!. When I think of the effort I have already put in, even though small in comparison it’s a idea on how annoyed I would anticipate my photographer friends would feel when they see the Fauxtographer in action. If it were me that had spent all the years they had I would be livid if I saw my work that I put every ounce of myself into ripped off, I would be ropable if I saw my ideas copied by people who would not even know the most basic of fundamentals and claim to be just as good as me. I wish the the Fauxtographer would think a bit more about the industry they are harming. You see just because you were able to copy something it does not make you a photographer, it just shows you can copy, nothing more, nothing less! So to the Fauxtographer, this is just a thought if you love photography as much as you say you do, why not pull down your websites, take down your Facebook page and perhaps relaunch a new site and a new page and dedicate it to your journey into the industry?
Anyhow that’s my rant for the day!!

Make sure you look at sites like http://youarenotaphotographer.com/ loads of laughs to be had and very cringe worthy, a good percentage of what I am talking about too!!

Whilst doing searches on “Fauxtographer” I came across this and thought I would share ….Happy reading

Taken from Take off your mommy goggles.

What is a Fauxtographer??

………..and how can you spot one?

The Fauxtographer/Photographer debate has been going strong for a while now in photography circles. Everyone has a different opinion of what makes someone a ‘professional’ and what makes one a ‘hobbyist’.

By definition, a ‘professional’ is someone who earns a living, or at least a portion of their income, from their chosen career. Most people would also agree that a professional has established a legal business in their chosen line of work, or is employed by a legal business. A professional also pays taxes on the income made from their work.

However, I personally have viewed *horrible* photography work created by people who I know to be running legal photography businesses and paying taxes. Just because you’re running a legal business doesn’t mean you actually possess photography or retouching skills. On the flip side, I also know people who have fantastic photography skills but no desire to operate a business.

So since there are a lot of grey areas, I’m going to define Fauxtographer as it relates to commentary on this website.

In my opinion, and for the purposes of this website, being a Professional Photographer is more about mastery of the photographic medium and quality of work produced, as well as the work ethics, business practices, and customer service standards adhered to, than about what someone charges – but you do tend to get what you pay for.

A Fauxtographer, then, has any/all of the following traits:

1. Lacks technical skills. A camera is a tool. Nothing more. It doesn’t operate itself. It doesn’t automatically take awesome pictures. Technically sound, pleasing images are produced because the person holding the camera has taken the time to learn how to operate it. Fauxtographers put the camera on AUTO and “Spray & Pray” – take a bunch of pictures and hope some come out ok.

2. Doesn’t understand that they lack technical skills. This is the part that makes Professional Photographers absolutely whacked-out crazy annoyed. Fauxtographers really seem to think they do good work – or maybe they just don’t care that their work is crap. Most Professional Photographers that I know agonize over our work. We pick it apart, try to figure out how we could have made a given shot better, and never ever say “I’m good enough.” With their heads firmly planted in dark spaces, Fauxtographers seem to think that all of the wisdom of the photographic universe was bestowed upon them when they opened up their DSLR on Christmas morning.

3. Has poor work ethics. To me, the equation is simple. If you lack technical skills, then you don’t have mastery of your craft. If you don’t have mastery of your craft, then you cannot produce quality work. If someone is accepting money, in any amount, in exchange for producing work for you, and that work is of poor quality, then that person has poor work ethics. People with high work ethics don’t settle for producing poor quality work.

4. Has poor customer service. Corollary to #3. It’s not possible to simultaneously provide exemplary customer service and sub-standard work. Period.

5. Undercuts – or even bashes – Professional Photographers. I’ve seen it many times – Fauxtographers marketing their work and saying things like “Who can afford those expensive photographers? Their prices are ridiculous! I will shoot your family session for a fraction of the cost of that other photographer. You’ll get the same thing for a lot less money.” This displays a complete lack of understanding of the costs involved in operating a business. It also solidifies the fact that the Fauxtographer doesn’t even possess the skill to accurately assess their own work – she thinks she’s producing the *same thing* as the Professional Photographer.

6. Does not have professional resources. What if you want gallery-wrapped canvases to display in your home? Suppose you have an album of family images, and you’d love to find another similar album to put smaller images in. Imagine that your parents are crazy about watching slideshows of images and would love to have a CD slideshow of your family session to watch over and over. The Fauxtographer often has no knowledge or experience with vendors that provide professional quality photographic products. Additionally, most of those vendors require a tax ID number or other proof that their clients are legal businesses, which the Fauxtographer likely doesn’t have, so she couldn’t use those vendors anyway.

 

UPDATE
Since this post I have been literally inundated with messages, I do not know why this blog post caused so much controversy. I do wish that some had read what I wrote properly before being upset and then making comments literally repeating what I wrote.
Just to clarify, I never said that those without formal training are not as good as those that are. I do not know how that came out when I thought I was pretty clear in saying that it did not matter education or not, it goes down to, time effort and work. Nor did I indicate that some people have not put in effort, (IMO) anyone that has achieved anything in life has not done it without effort.
As I already said (but will say again in another way) there are a lot of amazing photographers out there without qualifications as there a lot that have them and are shocking, as there are these types of people everywhere from all sorts of industries.
At the end of the day you cannot pick up a camera, take a handful of photos and say you are a photographer, just as you can’t pick up a knife and say you are a chef, a hammer and say you are a carpenter, a screwdriver and say you are an electrician, a book and say you are a teacher, a keyboard and say you are a computer programmer…..With the exception of an electrician (for regulations) and depending on what type of teacher, you can by being self taught and do these things and do these thing very well, but as I keep repeating, it is not automatic, it is established over time.
When someone has worked very hard to achieve something, then someone else without the work says I am the same I do not think it is right.

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2 thoughts on “The Fauxtographer!!

  1. Hello there Jacs and thank you for reading my blog, the first section is my post and the second half is from Take off your mommy goggles…. I must confess that it was a while since I wrote this (Oct 2011) so I just re-read it. Since this post I have completed a couple of short courses and I am now studying a Diploma in Photo Imaging. I have also befriended a number of photographers. I have also been following PhotoStealers blog and Facebook page. There is still floods of people claiming to be “pro” after only a short time. Some courses labelled as “be a pro in 8 weeks” has the very potential for someone to think that they will be after the course.
    When people undercut others it devalues the industry, though not always takes work from others. There are zillions of people who can’t afford certain things so they hire the cheaper person. The more expensive (and I anticipate properly priced) would never have had that client. The knock on effect of the cheaper person has the whispers of people saying they hired X and they only cost a fraction.
    Entering and winning competitions should be based on a number of things that essentially ticks all the boxes the competition requires.
    Keep doing what you are doing, one day your want may just come true. If you have not tried have a look on Youtube, there is a lot of videos on just about everything. Lynda.com is also an incredibly valuable site too.
    Once again thank you for reading my blog.
    Dee

  2. I really appreciated this post. I like to call myself a “photographer” – I’ve been to art school, worked my way up from a little box camera to a decent Olympus and know the value of true art. I so wish I could do it full time. But as you say, how can we hope to compete with all the Fauxtoshopped images out there. My pet peeve is entering a competition where I know that the other photographers have used more post-editing on one photo than I have used loo paper in my entire lifetime! Again, much appreciated and thank you for saying what many of us only think. Looking forward to reading more of your work. Have a fabulous evening!

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