Photography, just like any other creative art form, carries with it a lot of myths.
From the technical “rules” to abide by to what equipment to use, there are a lot of misconceptions out there.
I’ve written previously about some of the truths of freelance life more generally. In this post I’m going to dispel some of the most common myths about being a photographer.
MYTH 01: YOU TAKE PHOTOS ALL DAY
Sadly, this is not even remotely true.
The time I spend with camera in hand is the smallest part of the job. Editing, retouching, marketing and promotion, emails, networking, social media, invoicing and all the other admin associated with running a business occupies the majority of my time.
MYTH 02: PHOTOGRAPHERS ARE EXPENSIVE
First and foremost, “expensive” is a relative term.
Second, you’re not paying for someone to take photos. You’re paying for their expertise, time, equipment, insurance, travel, editing and, yes, some profit. The perception of photographers being expensive is, I think, more a reflection of the value placed on image content.
MYTH 03: PHOTOSHOP CAN FIX ANYTHING
“You can fix that in PhotoShop, right?”
Well, there are no guarantees. Recent developments have admittedly made it more difficult to see where the limits are with editing software, but there are limits. Furthermore, even when PhotoShop can correct something doesn’t always mean that it should be used.
MYTH 04: SOCIAL MEDIA IS ALL YOU NEED FOR YOUR BUSINESS
Truth bomb: social media leads account for the smallest percentage of my work.
The majority come via my website, networking, Google enquiries and all-important word of mouth referrals. Social media is a tool to supplement your marketing but in the incredibly saturated world of photographers it cannot be relied upon to stand out.
MYTH 05: A PHOTOGRAPHER CAN SHOOT EVERYTHING
This one is really common: the notion that a photographer can cover all genres.
I often get enquiries from people who have, for example, seen my landscape work asking if I can shoot their wedding. The skills required of one specialism are not necessarily transferrable to another and to suggest so overlooks the skill of the photographer.
MYTH 06: CREATIVITY AND TECHNICAL EXPERTISE IS THE PRIORITY
Clients usually only care about one thing: how they look.
If a client likes their photo it doesn’t matter if you accidentally used the wrong aperture or messed up the composition. Crucially the opposite is also true. There have been times where I have felt I got everything right in camera and shot a creatively brilliant image but, for whatever, reason the client doesn’t like it. All that other stuff is immaterial compared to what the client thinks.
MYTH 07: IT’S GLAMOROUS
There’s nothing glamorous about lugging bags of lighting gear across London on the tube!
I love taking photographs but, just like any job, there is a lot of unspoken and unseen leg-work and stress that is all part of the lifestyle. Lost weekends, long days, hours spent in front of the computer and endless admin should dispel any notion of it being glamorous!
MYTH 08: CLIENTS OWN YOUR IMAGES
Photographers automatically own the copyright of every photo they take.
Unless a transfer of copyright is agreed, clients only have permission to use the images in a certain way in accordance with a set of approved terms. It’s one of the few black and white areas of the profession yet is one that needs reiterating the most.
MYTH 09: PHOTOGRAPHERS ALWAYS USE THE VERY BEST GEAR
I’ll conclude with a partially busted myth.
There can be no doubt that high-end gear has its advantages – mainly in terms of its durability, reliability and performance in tricky situations. But, for day-to-day work, clients don’t care what you use so long as they like the image (see Myth 06): their primary concern is the output, not what was used to create it.
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