As a professional photographer, I have experienced a variety of odd requests and comments which would suggest that the art of photography is often overlooked as a creative and technical skill. In our efforts to promote ourselves and expand our existing portfolio, we can often be undervalued by our existing and potential customers.
I have compiled a list of 8 common comments that are sure to irk any photographer.
1. “That’s a great picture! You must have a fantastic camera...”
This is possibly the most irritating thing a photographer can hear. It’s like going to a high end restaurant and saying “What a lovely meal, you must have a great oven.” Sounds ridiculous and insulting doesn't it! Yet I hear this often from well meaning people. A great photograph is very much more than the components of a camera. It is the culmination of many processes and skills undertaken by the photographer themselves that creates a successful image.
2. “Give me a free photo shoot and I will promote you”
Again, this is a very common request and indeed an opportunistic one at that. It is like going into a supermarket and asking for a free loaf of bread and telling them that you will tell all your friends how lovely it was. Again, sounds absurd doesn't it. Don't get me wrong, there may be times that this scenario may prove mutually beneficial, however, generally selling photographs and photo shoots are a photographer's full time job and it is this what puts food on the table, try not to take advantage of them.
3. “Can’t you just Photoshop that out?”
Yes, technically a photographer can Photoshop things out of an image, however this can take a lot of extra time when if they were provided with the time to get it right in camera it would no longer be an issue. Photoshop should always be used creatively and not depended upon to fix mistakes that could have been avoided with a little more patience. It is important to understand that a photographers process involves setting up, test shots and tweaking light in order to make a client look their best.
4. “Can you Photoshop me thinner?”
Again, yes, technically we can do this however, a lot of photographers are reluctant to alter or adapt a clients appearance too much. Retaining a level of authenticity is important. We want you to look like you! We prefer to work with a client and get the best body posing and flattering light to suit their body type.
5. “I love this photographer, can you do it just like that?”
We all make stylistic choices based on what inspires us. For example, we furnish and decorate our home, often after looking through magazines and visiting different stores in order to come up with our own style and direction. We would never just walk into someones home, decide we love it and replicate it exactly in our own home! That would be crazy!
Photography is a creative medium in which the outcome is based primarily on the photographer's style. Its good to have inspiration in mind or even a mood board to work from, but it is very difficult for any artist to replicate another’s exact style without getting some of their own in there as well. It is much easier to book a photographer because you like their specific style rather than another’s.
6. “I’m so glad you can come to my event! Bring your camera!”
Basically when this is said, a photographer hears “I don't actually care if you come and enjoy the event, I just want free professional photographs.” I would never ask a waitress to my party and then tell her to fetch my drinks all night! It is always best to be clear from the offset if you want someone to work at your event rather than have them think they are a guest. By doing so, the photographer will bring their A game and you will get the best photographs they can produce.
7. “Can I have the reject photos please?”
This will always be a clear and resounding ‘no.’ This is because all of the pictures where you are yawning, blinking or chewing food are not attractive, to anyone, therefore it is not worth the time to edit them. Making the vitoed photographs available for public viewing can also give the photographer a bad reputation as our portfolio is only as strong as our weakest photos.
But don't worry, a photographer will never be holding back that one gem of a photograph that tops all the ones that have already been given to you. We cull to save unnecessary editing time so we can put more time and effort in the best of the bunch.
8. “Anyone can be a photographer, it’s just pushing a button.”
Well that’s like saying I can be an architect because I know how to draw straight lines! There is a reason why we go and study for several years to learn our craft. There is a difference between taking a photo with a camera that does all the work for you and gives you no creative control and how a photographer is able to hone their talents to create something substantial. If photography was as easy as clicking a button there wouldn't be an industry at all.
Don’t worry too much though, us photographers don't take these comments too personally. We will always try to accommodate your requests and when we cant we will explain fully why and what can be achieved to get the photographs you desire.