Yeah, it’s been almost a year since anything has been posted here. I think uber.com was ahead of their time: I didn’t want to think the long-form blog was over. I kinda think it is now. The long-form is best served by the kind of people who roast their own coffee beans, dream of the life they read about in Playboy in the seventies, wish they had a sports car and probably listen to jazz.
Because of the sheer amount of content “out there” I’m not sure I even have the attention span any longer to write more than a short caption. I think there is a collective A.D.D. It’s all about the quick bite. Now, at least, of course.
I can still look through a long photoblog, well, one actually. I prefer tumblr.com now.
But can I write a rant on tumblr? Nah, not really. It’s not designed for that. For that fact alone I guess I’ll keep this alive even though typepad really sucks. Give me a maximum width of the photos I want to post!? Really? Hence I tumble. But a good rant is fun to write once in a while.
I mean … I don’t write equipment reviews. I’ve written about equipment but I dunno if I’d characterize them as reviews.
Besides … why compete with the legions of ex-forum-voices-now-with-a-blog and even their OWN forum. Fancy. I’m not going to name names in this post. Think of it as a giant blind item post. I love blind items. My publicist-friends love items, too.
Items can be used as currency in that world. “Perhaps if you don’t write this about this client I can give you two items about someone else.” That’s actually the way it works.
So … what’s pissing me off?
First off, real working photographers fuck with each other. It’s just the way we are. We’re extremely competitive yet we’ll always go out of the way to help those who deserve it. But we call each other out like mad. What I’ve found in dealing with a sub-genre of photographers known as the Ex-Forum-Blogging-Experts (EFBE or effbee) is that they have no sense of humor whatsoever.
One guy who I’ll just call “Mr. Luxury” said “you’re a waste of time” when I asked him if he feels comfortable calling himself a “working photographer” or “photographic contributor” if he barely has 2500 photos on the legitimate outlet names he LOVES to flaunt to anyone who’ll listen. Many legitimate contributors have that many frames in a month. Some … in a week. Some, believe it or not, in one day. He’s been “posting” for at least a few years. Relevant? Not in the real photographic world he would so love to be a part of. He said, because I won’t “drink his own brand koolaid,” “… you’re a waste of time.” Yes, sir, I am, I’m not gonna kiss your ass because you have some entitlement issue. I think if you were truly evolved and not just a “five minute expert” you’d realize that the only reason you’re allowed to use the outlet names on EVERYTHING you write is because someone helped you. Trust me, I’m more careful now about letting someone use my name. Altruism scorned. It’s funny when you see contributors pushing a political or religious agenda, too.
Aligning oneself with successful and talented people does not make oneself successful nor talented. Normally, it means you know how to identify people to move yourself closer to your ultimate goal of malignant narcissism self-gratifying quasi-success. I like to call them “light suckers,” pardon the pun. Mosquitoes almost.
These kinds of guys know luxury. Oh yes they deign to be fancy. Wearing a nice hat. Smoking a cigarette. Ya’ know … bein’ artsy. Yes, right down to the eyeglasses frame selection. Funny that they don’t have a real knowledge of wine. You can always call someone’s bullshit by what they know about wine.
They don’t seem to like dogs much, either. Do you like people who don’t like dogs?
People who don't like dogs also think their photographic gear is sexy. Gear is not sexy you vonce.
They’re more in love with the idea of being somehow relevant in the photo-world than actually making photos. Sad. Laughable to those with authentically qualified eyes. Even sadder is the fact they’re deluded enough to believe their own bullshit.
And charge others – mostly rich digital rangefinder owners perhaps truthfully on a quest to better their own photographic talent – USD1500 for this intellectual masturbatory snake oil.
I’ve heard they get to eat at nice restaurants and hear sermons about photographic philosophies. I’ve heard that it’s almost maddening. Do they actually learn how to be better photographers or just leave with a stomach full of supposedly good food and a mind full of “quips” or pnemonics? I’ll be their hit up to pay for “other modules.” Modules like workflow. A subject they know nothing about. Nothing.
What’s sadder than a Mr. Luxury? Wow. So many choices for that. I think sadder would definitely have to be Mr. Zen.
Always beware of the Mr. Zens of life. Definitely don’t let your daughter (or son) date one of these guys. They preach brotherly love. And they charge for glorified meet-ups. They also dream about being a ninja.
It’s so funny – again I’m only saying funny because interjecting humor into something gainfully sad makes it easier to palate – to see what people have done to street photography. During these glorified meet-ups they’ll include others to justify charging any money. They feel like stars having twenty or so people around. The people that attend are pretty much like the teacher’s pets of the forum. And they’ll give you an earful about street photography. They’re effbee’s … they know everything. Lazy marketing guys love effbees.
Like Mormons that have a vacation home in Utah – they’re more Mormon than thou.
They’ll parade “teachers” or “speakers” who, in the “real world” have absolutely no relevancy at all outside of the circle-jerk of a forum. But because of their own twitter followers or over-saturating whatever market they’re vying for relevancy others just assume “they’re a big photographer.”
Shit … they gotta be big if they’re friends with our exalted moderator. Right? Ooohhh … moderating your own forum: Doesn’t that sound like the photographic dream of a fucking lifetime? I mean, shit, if that’s all ya’ got, cool. I mean … not really, though. Perhaps they got kicked off a forum – one that they got pretty popular on – and in the back of their minds they said “As long as I own the forum no one can kick me off for anything.” They love validation.
These are the same kinds of guys, these Mr. Zens, that would also attempt to instruct – for lack of a better word and sorry for the loose definition of instruct – others in “how to be popular on the internet.”
Yes, the end-all-be-all of being a photographer is being popular on the internet. Get that pro Flickr account. It says “pro” so … get those pictures of the heavy-hitters up on that vision board … if you think it … it will come to you. I wonder if they jerk off whilst looking in a mirror? I’ll be there are Samarai swords in the background in that mirror.
And ya’ know the funny thing about a Mr. Zen – not that all of it isn’t funny – they’ll still post photos of trees or a chain link fence or a parking lot or all friggin’ three in a review of some ubiquitous piece of photographic gear that will NOT make you a better photographer.
There was hope for them at first because they actually put some of their validation-loving soul in the first attempts to “woo their forum buddies” and then fell into the horrible trap of trying to provide constant content and just “ran out to a parking lot” to shoot fucking trees and do “bokeh” tests. Yeah for you! You just confirmed your own mediocrity. You succumbed. I know. I know. Your legions love you. They’ll “get the point” if you post a photo of anything no matter how much it lacks anything interesting to look at. You’re at the top of your own forum, though. You’ve made it. You’re the moderator-in-chief! No one can kick you off for posting inappropriate S&M photos.
When all you wanted to find was inner-peace you found an audience. Can starfuckers ever really find inner-peace? Actually, they find their inner-peace in doing box-opening videos they hope to go viral by hash tagging the fuck out it.
There are guys who I’ll call Mr. Saturation as well. I know they have no inner peace. There’s no way they could. Ya’ know … instead of actually shooting street photographs they’d rather be making a cam-girl style video and posting it to their minions every fucking day. They even seem to be out of breath most of the time. Minions, I may add, that are waiting with baited breath for the next utterance of their blogging Jesus.
They are the consummate imitators. They haven’t innovated shit. In fact, whomever they can copy they just chalk it up to “finding their own style.”
The Mr. Saturations of the world gain their relevance by posting multiple times a day across crazy amounts of platforms. You friend them on Facebook and they friend every single fucking one of your friends. Anyone who comments and leaves a real email address they’ll search it on Facebook or Twitter or G+ and immediately friend, follow or add them. Unless you set them to some highly edited news stream you will be barraged by endless posts about their views on photography … and especially street photography.
Even though, of course, they have no real experience as a photographer. They even call themselves “Professional Street Photographer.” Even though, that doesn’t exist.
The lazy marketer – of whom I’ll get to shortly – sees their twitter followers and gets a chub-in-the-trou over how many people they can reach … ALL for free or next to free. Ya’ know … even though … it wholly bastardizes their luxury brand and in the quest of free marketing … cheapens their brand. Honestly, it leaves a skid mark on their brand.
What does it matter, though? They’re getting’ the clicks. Clicks look good to the bosses who understand almost NOTHING about social media and the way it works. They should be able to qualify clicks. Like the healthcare industry there’s no money in curing. Why on Earth would they want to qualify the click.
Or the audience. Ten percent of that audience could be interesting to a real marketer but that’s not what impresses someone with barely a surface understanding of photography in general not to mention social media.
Mr. Saturation will talk for hours about Doisneau, HCB, Vivian Maier, Erwitt or whomever they feel is an important subject for a talk and can fill up a couple of hours.
It’s funny that one could have coffee with someone like this, let them ask questions and then use the entire topic of discussion as the subject of their next workshop. They need to keep up the saturation stream.
Like Mr. Zen they don’t workshops in as much as they do glorified meet-ups. Oh, to meet the face behind the litany of posts. But only a true douchebag would charge for a meet-up. That’s why they don’t call them meet-ups; they call them workshops because they can charge for it. Mr. Saturation is the low-end of the workshop market. If he charges the least, he’ll make up for it with volume. He’s all about volume. Not volumes of good material … just volume in general.
If you are making 95% of your money by doing workshops, I can guarantee you are full of shit. Perhaps you’ll be able to mimic your favourite prof and just wax poetic about any subject. Doesn’t mean you’re not full of shit and could only impress those with little more than thinking street photography is taking pictures of streets.
Mr. Saturation is almost always personable. Infectious.
The other funny thing they do – because they’re usually young and wholly SEO-savvy – is tag relevant people in their blog posts as part of their “tag list.” If they do this on every post every day, their own name will show up on google even when you may have only searched for the person in their ever-growing tag list. Confront them about it and they’ll giggle like an embarrassed hentai school girl.
There are stock photographers who because they have seniority or other interests important to “the agency” that have said to me “… post everything you can.” Why? Certain agencies “weight” the searches and give preference to certain photographers. If you post 5 times the amount that others do and you do it for years and years and years, you’ll succeed in making people think you’re the only eyes out there.
Mr. Saturation is there to stay … if he keeps saturating, of course. Once he stops saturating … his “buzz” will end. And the lazy marketing guy will move on. Smiling like a tree-loving rodent.
Equally annoying are the guys I’ll call Mr. Artsy Glasses. They think they know their audience. They’ll claim things in their bios and C.V.’s that they think will impress – usually but not limited to others with equally-as-artsy-glasses – but the claims are usually puffery. Almost always puffery, actually.
“From the best work published in …” and then they go on to name huge-ass dailies or other publications. You contact your friends in the editorial department and drop their name and they say “who the fuck are you talking about?” They search the name in their respective systems for searching bylines and they find “a hand-out photo” was published. Yep, that’s your best work, mate.
But you got your artsy glasses and a good line of bullshit. Wonder if that’s good enough to sell prints? Kinda think even luxury brand afficianados are smart enough to know that behind that almost-two-thousand dollar price is a hefty dealer commission leaving them with an expensive piece of wall art. Good luck selling that donkey on the secondary market.
Funny that one of the types impressed by Mr. Artsy Glasses is usually Mr. Lazy Marketer. “He can hold an audience, though.” The audience is mesmerized by the glasses and perhaps a few photos.
When it doesn’t get to the second printing will they still love you? When the next project isn’t getting the “warm reception” you got with the first will that sink you to irrelevancy? The chances are very high.
Hope that day job didn’t get abandoned. The gift of gab is a lovely talent. Too bad it doesn’t usually translate to consistently making good photos.
Is it really about making good photos? The lazy marketer doesn’t really care. As long as it can plausibly allow someone to make better photos he cares not. Why would he? He wouldn’t know a good photo if it had teeth and bit his face.
He’s usually the guy who got drunk on the wine of social media – still with no real understanding of how it really works. But doesn’t his product give him a entitlement that he has a photographic sensibility in the way he sees something? Nope. Not really. Photographically he’s blind.
Why else would the lazy marketer hire Mr. Luxury, Mr. Zen, Mr. Saturation or even Mr. Artsy Glasses? Because he, too, believes his own bullshit.
I almost forgot about Mr. Hype. He’s close to Mr. Saturate but he’s been “out there for a very long time.” Mr. Hype’s minions are landscape guys. He taught them about differing contrast layers and then gave them the heroin shot-in-the-arm … HDR.
It’s hard to tell if this guy loves photography or loves the fact legions of newly born Photoshop jockeys pray to him. He’s one of them. He rose to the top. Now he even gets to shoot sports! See … if he can do it, surely, you can take one of his workshops and you can do it, too.
Even though he has no experience in fashion or portraits he’ll “show you the way.” For a price.
Mr. Hype is a marketing genius. Much more so than Mr. Saturate. He’s the marketing genius Mr. Luxury wishes he could be and the genius Mr. Zen puts up on the vision board.
Mr. Hype is very close to Mr. 100 Speedlights. Mr. 100 Speedlights will show you how to professionally light a portrait with 30 or 40 speedlights mounted on brackets that, yes, he sells, too.
Funny that I’ve never met a working photographer who uses 10’s of Speedlights to do the job of a proper studio strobe system. How much do multiple Speedlights cost anyway? Surely, it’s probably cheaper in the long run to just go out and buy a used or demo’d strobe system.
Not according to him, though. And, yes, he’ll let you pay him to “show you the way.”
There’s another kinda guy out there, too. He’s The Curmudgeon. He wishes the world wasn’t the way it was. The good thing about him is that he doesn’t host workshops. In fact, he doesn’t even like meet-ups. He’s shy and likes to hide behind his words.
He dreams about a solitary Playboy-kinda life. Listening to jazz. Indeed listening to jazz in a sports car. Alone. Nothing with words, of course, because he’s got plenty of words rolling around in his mind.
He dreams of being a curator. In fact, that’s the kind of workshop he’d love to lead. Problem is he has no experience as a curator. He doesn’t even have much experience as a photographer but that never stopped him from telling you what a good photograph is … and isn’t. He’d like to think he has a qualified eye and his sheep wait for his posts with baited breath, which probably stinks of bad cheese and coffee. Dunno why. I’ll bet he’d love to tell you how to structure your portfolio even though he’s never had experience as an art buyer.
I’m sure he will have some kind of workshop some day. It’ll probably be held in a rest home … where most of his readers presently live.
The buyer should beware out there for sure. I think it’s horribly sad to market something to an audience that must have at least a percentage of those who truly want to learn something to make their travel photos better and all they get is pretention, inaction, poetry and puffery.
Before you attend a workshop do yourself a favour and put “Photo by [name]” into the search line of google and see what comes up. Trust me on this. One or two pages? Really? Even if there are more than a couple pages you can immediately discount those associated with the name’s political or religious affiliations. They don’t pay for content.
Instead of spending a few hundred or even a thousand with Mr. Luxury you’d be better off buying non-instructional books by photographers you like and looking at how they shot something. I mean unless you really need to get away from the wife to “hang with the boys” at a meet-up.
A meet-up you paid for.
Be even more wary of those who have learned from marketing luxury brands: Luxury doesn’t come cheap. If you charge enough, you have to be good, right!? Except in rare cases this is never true.
Brand-led workshops are a whole other beast. They will tell you one can only make street photographs with their own gear. Many times their leader will display only cursory knowledge of both photography and the brand’s equipment.
But HCB used it so you should, too.
One of the most maddening things that the brand-led workshop tries to teach – again, sorry for the loose definition of teach – is workflow. Workflow? Really? I would love to know what Mickey Mouse knows about workflow. He probably knows about the same as Mr. Zen when it comes to workflow as they’re both browsing images of trees, lawn furniture, photos of their own and other’s children – photos that the children will hate later in life – and pictures of their cats. Mr. Luxury’s workflow consists mostly of pictures of people from his workshops yet he’ll tell everyone because he’s a contributor he knows the “real world.” Mr. Saturate is too overwhelmed by the thousands of meaningless photographs he makes so his take on workflow is akin to listening to someone who has no idea what they’re talking about.
When you’re choosing a workshop ask the presenter/organizer questions:
What magazines are you published in?
Do you have tear sheets?
What percentage of the money you earn is from photographic commissions?
Who commissions them to make photographs?
Are they only giving a workshop because they want to “promote their own brand”?
Will paid product demonstrations be made?
Have they ever been a working photographer?
Do they like dogs? (I’m only semi-joking about this)
It’s so easy to hype anything on the internet. Just know that not everyone out there has your best intentions at the forefront of their interests. Their interests are being popular, being relevant and … taking your money from you in the guise of teaching you something. Perhaps a workshop from one of these people is good for someone who just watched a box-opening video, got all hot and ordered their very own NEX-7 from B&H.
Given the choices out there most people are much better off buying books, studying work by those they like, not hanging out with blowhards who espouse volumes of bullshit and eating at a fancy restaurant with their girlfriends or wives and not a bunch of forum guys who love a nice circle jerk.
And instead of commenting on yet another meaningless post only posted to drive traffic … go out and use the gear you already have. No workshop presenter or glorified meet-up organizer is gonna help you find that magic bullet.
You can only find that on your own …
Making photographs yourself.
(Not sure I’m gonna allow comments on this one.)