“I’ve been shooting for X years!”
With this economy being in the toilet and crops and crops of new photographers popping up, every established photographer I know is looking for a “hook” to get by. I’ve seen some far fetched things from original and pretty cool, to originally crappy and “things that make you go hmmm”. One of the things I see that makes me cringe is photographers, new and old boasting about how many years they’ve been shooting. This makes me cringe for several reasons and I’m sure once I point them out to you, you’ll understand where I’m coming from. I understand we need a “hook” or something to not only catch the eye of the customer, but draw them in, but the number of years you’ve been shooting is about as relevant as a skirt on a pig!
When I’m looking at other photographers work if it be Facebook or model portfolio sites, I read a bit of their bios in an effort to get a feel for who they are to see if who they are on paper, matches their photos. Usually they do and sometimes this is good, sometimes bad. The first thing that puts me off is when someone says “I’ve been a professional photographer for for xx years”. The first thing that runs through my mind is “GREAT! Good for you! I’m so happy!” then the second thing is “Watch his/her images LOOK like they’ve been shooting for 20 years!” And often I am right! Some photographers look like they’ve not only been shooting since the late ’80’s, but like they still think it’s the late 1980’s! Their work is very dated and because they were taught lighting principals back when President Obama was known as “Barry”, they are still using them because the adage “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” applies.
As a photographer, trends change. This is why when shooting a portfolio you should stay away from trendy things! These things will date a photo and be worthless to the client and you in no time. How many of us look back on our High School Senior Portraits and see the big Motley Crue hair and stone washed jeans tucked under our chins and laugh and think; “Wow, this is…wow”? Would you cringe if I told you I JUST looked at a photographers page that had photos like that? Or even better, how bout the photos where the big hair light is down below the shoulders and pointing back up towards the hair? Yes, just saw that too! Now you’re most likely saying “But Jay, you have a segment called Old School Friday” Yes, yes I do, but as you’ll notice, I also update images the following Monday for Meet the Models and my Portfolio page as well as this blog are filled with current images. I use the bad photos to show not only my progress, but to show photographers of what NOT to do. Learn from my mistakes. I am comfortable with what I do, that I have ZERO problems showing work I thought was good, but really wasn’t.
Another reason it makes me cringe is clients don’t care how long you’ve been shooting. They don’t care how many professional organizations you belong to. They don’t care your newest and greatest lighting or $5,000.00 camera, they care if you’re able to connect with them and get them images that can either get them jobs or capture their family for who they really are. These things are for OTHER PHOTOGRAPHERS to marvel at, not perspective clients. Now if you want photographers as clients, then yes, show this off. But if you want Sally Slew the 5’2″ model to book a session with you, telling her you’ve been shooting longer than she’s been alive won’t impress her, telling her and showing her what you can do for her book, well that’s a different story!
So the moral of this post? Know your clients and what they want. Stay away from the braggart things as no one really cares how long you’ve been shooting but you. Make sure you’re AHEAD of trends and for Christmas’ sakes, STOP putting hair lights behind the client shooting up. It makes me shutter…err shudder.