10 Types of Impossible Photographers




*Important Disclaimer Note: Any similarity to any real persons in real life in any real situation as described in this article are purely coincidental and not intended. This article is shared as a personal view with no intent or malice or defamation to any persons living or dead.  I Already said is coincidental, what more you want?  
14th January 2014, Singapore – There has been lots of arguements among the photography community here about how a photographer should be. This is highly subjective in many perspectives. Like for example, there are people who claimed to be a photographer just because they own tons of photography gears while their photos cannot even be considered a photo, or the poor working photographer who owns pretty amateur gears but produces world class images. So where does this stops (or begins)? I have compiled a little list here from my working experience as a photographer regionally, you have every right to disagree, as I already mentioned earlier, this is my personal views.

If you have more to contribute, please feel free to email me so that I may add on to the list.

10 Types of Impossible Photographer
*Important Disclaimer Note:
Any similarity to any real persons in real life in any real situation as described in this article are purely coincidental and not intended. This article is shared as a personal view with no intent or malice or defamation to any persons living or dead.  I Already said is coincidental, what more you want?

Type 01. The Gear Collector
It is definitely easy to sift out the Gear Collectors from your photography friends. The gear collector is only interested in the latest equipment, the higher end equipment or legacy equipment rather than producing decent photos. The person is likely to be posting his/her latest purchase all over social media and will always be seen with his/her latest purchase. The person will likely to be posting photos that your Grade 1 kid can already produce – sometimes worse than what your kid can produce. The same person will also be enthusiastically discussing about equipment purchase more than brushing techniques in photoshop.

I call this a “Gear Race”, especially when people of the same mentality comes together and start to outdo & outbuy equipment whether by brand, by class or by price. I am pretty amused whenever I come across such a (sometime heated) conversation. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy that people are spending to support the manufacturers that I purchase equipment from. Lastly, most real professionals does have a big & expensive inventory of equipment, but they use them, not display them or brag them. What is there to brag when professionals uses the gear to make a living while the gear collectors uses the gear to make a statement or or their presence?

Editor’s Note
I must admit that I was once a collector for rare lenses and cameras, but it came to a point where/when I realised I only have 2 hands and 2 legs and it does not makes sense for me to be filling up my dry cabinet with equipments that I seldom use. Rather than having those rare pieces of equipment in my dry cabinet, I am sure somebody out there will enjoy using it than having it for my own viewing pleasure. In the end I sold most of these lenses & cameras while making space for the equipment that I really need. Although I am still maintaining 5 camera brands systems, this is purely for my photography classes where I learn the various systems’ operating menus and loaning them to my students.

Type 02. The Announcer
A very interesting group of people here. You will know exactly where this person is, what he is doing and worse, how bad/good his/her business is/are. Announcing publicly on social media every time you have an assignment is not very smart. For a simple reason, likely you will also have competitors in your network, and people can count. When people start counting your assignments for a period of 12 months, it will also be publicly known how many (or little) assignment you’ve done for a year. Worse, with the market rates that are so open these day, people can also count how much (or little) you have earned in a year. Not a wise choice right?

Photography is a very competitive market segment in Singapore, by announcing what you are doing and where you are doing it by checking in location, you are also telling your competitors who you are (likely) to be shooting for. Where do you think this will lead to? More businesses? Think again. Whether you are a amatuer or a working professional, think hard where this will leads to.
See my editor note below.

Editor’s Note
I used to check-in a lot whenever I am doing an assignment or commercial work. I thought that was fun until I paid dearly for a lesson that I will never forget. That was exactly 3 years ago if I remember correctly. I was shooting frequently for a shoe company for their safety shoes and industrial grade footwear for advertisement copies. Then 1 day when I was packing my equipment for another shoot for the said company, I received a call from the Marketing Manager who contracted me to shoot their shoes. Here’s an edited conversation.

Shoe Guy: Hey Allan, I know we had agreed on a rate for your fees. Can you lower it by another 25%?

Me: Hi, but it is already very low and I am able to give you this rate as you are giving me monthly jobs to shoot.

Shoe Guy: You really sure? I have a photographer guy who called me yesterday and told me he can do a better job than you and he charges almost 50% less than your fees.

Me: (shocked), I have been shooting your shoes and producing great advertising copies and we are working well together, this came as a shocker to me. Is price an issue?

Show Guy: Sorry but yes, businesses keep cost low to ensure higher profits. If you are not able to adjust, I am afraid I have to appoint that guy to be our photographer from now on.

Me: Fine, I am disappointed but it’s ok, good luck.

It finally dawn on me what exactly happened. A fellow photographer on my Facebook had been monitoring my check-ins and all he did was to google the location/ company that I checked in to, then make a call to the company and requested to speak to the person in charge of engaging photographers, then made his pitch with a huge attractive discount and I lost my income. Low life? Yes, we have a lot of such people in our life especially on social media. Since then, I have stopped Checking-in to locations where I will be doing my commercial work, so no one really knows who I am shooting for or what I am exactly shooting these days. I still check in whenever I am teaching photography classes though, this is more for my students to know where to find me and that I have already arrived.

Type 03. The Attention Seeker
As mentioned in my earlier point, photography business is competitive and some times tough in Singapore. And you make it worse by bringing more attention to yourself. Some may look at it as advertising, but it is really working?
I am so very sure you wil have 1 or 2 (or more) “friends” on your social media circle that are constantly posting “little trivial status/updates” about what they are doing a few times a day. And they expect people to “LIKE” it or comment on it.

Here’s some examples (There are certainly more):

“Finally completed XXX assignments and I have 3000+ photos to process.”

“Shooting another wedding back to back later – feeling meh.”

“Trying out my new XXXX brand camera later.”

“Setting up photo booth for a D&D shoot later.”

“Rushing XXXX photos now.”

“Can’t believe some people (do this) & (do that) at the event that I was shooting.”

“Some people blah blah blah blah.”

Above is a few examples and I am sure you can easily relate them to some people on your social media circle.
Ask yourself, will a real professional photographer do that? With a reputation and impression to upkeep, the above just kill it all. Imagine to be branded as a “nagging photographer”, or a “bitchy political photographer” or anything that does not sound nice at all. Such are the common behavior of amateur photographers who are trying to gain an audience. You may beg to differ as you would probably be updating your status/shout-outs more frequently, but it is the content (like above) that kills everything.

Editor’s Note
Seriously? You have every right to do the above since it is your social media account and you are the “King” on your little cyber space. But have you spare a thought for the rest of us on your account circle? Imagine having not less than 20 updates in 24 hours about your rantings and little shout-outs are irritatingly unbearable. You may argue that if that irritates me then don’t view it – well, that means deleting you or blocking you completely – does that make sense if we are real friend offline and not a friend anymore online? Will you question me why I deleted you off my friends list later? Why create a situation like this when you can actually prevent it – by ranting less and expecting every person on your friend list to like it. And when a person did not LIKE your update, do you regard the person as a competitor or enemy? Go figure.

Type 04. The Professional Commentor
On social media, I am sure everyone of you would have a good mix of photographers in your list – comprising of beginners, amateurs, semi-professionals, professionals, suppliers, dealers, educators, repairers or related services etc. Among the list, you will definitely have a photographer whom post more comments than real images. Whether these people are real pros or pretending to be pros, this person will be commenting on photos all day – finding faults. And it had came to light that most of these people are really amateurs pretending to be pros.

Most call them the professional commentor as most of them do not (probably cannot) even produce decent photos to start with. They speak with the same tone taken off some photography magazines/ websites and they are also the same lot of people who will constantly “correct” you on your photos. Please do not be confused with real comments from genuine friends who are trying to help you improve your art, the genuine comments are straightforward, with tips on how to improve and sometimes ends (usually) with an encouragement. However on the other end, the comments made by the professional commentor are mostly blunt, sarcastic without really assigning a reason to why or what was wrong with your photo in the first place. And when you try to clarify with such a person, you will likely be greeted with more defensive and harsher words. Encountered such a person before?
Don’t worry, professionals don’t do this. Your photo is probably fine.

Editor’s Note
In my view, the professional commentors are trying to cover up their incapabilities with words rather than showing some real work that they have produced. Their comments are not designed to help others improve but instead, outward discouraging and calculated to put you down. By putting you down, they will be “above” you. And they are everywhere! From photography forums, to facebook, to instagram, you can easily spot out such persons from their comments on others’ photos. When asked how a photo can be done better, they will usually offer some very basic or amateurish advice which makes you wonder if there was a need for the same person to comment negatively in the first place. Remember, real photographers (whether new or pro) who are genuinely trying to help you will offer you a point-out, a suggestion to improve & an encouragement.

Type 05. The Price Warrior
I had mentioned above that the photography market in Singapore is tough and very competitive. So one of the easiest shortcut that (not all but) most struggling photographers took was to launch a price war. And what these “price warriors” did was more than just killing the industry, it had cheapened the art and the profession and worse, it has became a factor for decision for potential clients. In the good old days, the deciding factor to engage a photographer was the person’s work, the standard, the artistic approach by the photographer, not the price he/she charge. Sadly all these had evolved.

It will be different if everyone can charge what they are really worth, when that happens, the cycle will be reversed. Then it will be the photographers who will choose who they wish to shoot for, and not the other way round. Just take an example from other non-related industries. The minute price war starts, the consumers gains, the industry produces cheaper quality to meet the demands and trying to make a profit by the volume – now think, can we duplicate this to the photography industry? Now our clients are the consumers and we represent the industry in the above example, means we have to shoot a lot more for less money, isn’t this suicide?

Editor’s Note
It does not matter if your are a professional, a semi-pro with a full time job, an amateur learning the ropes of this industry or simply taking out your first step as a beginner. Charge accordingly to your level so that the industry will have several price brackets for clients to choose from. This will also separates the different types of paying scales from the clients. This will ultimately drives the message across that “you get what you pay for”. Isn’t this better for everybody? Waging a price war is waging a war on yourself. Think twice before you give that huge discount. Ask yourself, is it worth it at all.

Type 06. The Contestor
Another (common) type of photographer amongst us are no doubt the contestor. This person will enter every photo competition available and will try to win it. Some of them are already very accomplished photographers producing excellent photos with good standards, but this is not enough. They will resort to many tricks and ways just to ensure they win. I am not sure why but I know some of these people likes to be called “An Award-Winning Photographer” and what I am going to reveal here might shocked you.  I have been a Judge for numerous photography competitions/ contests and there are some things/loopholes that I noticed.

– It is always the same group of people entering contests/ competitions.
– Some re-cycle their old photos to enter many competitions.
– Some uses another person’s name to enter the competition so there’s a higher winning chance.
– Some process their photos so much that it is hard to believe those are real photos.

While some are out to win the fame and to better their personal portfolio (this is perfectly legal), there are some who are out solely for the monetary gains. If a cash prize is up for grabs, be prepared to see a rocketed record of entries, if a DSLR is the prize, you will see slightly lesser entries – usually the prize is an entry-level DSLR that wouldn’t fetch much money in the resale market. If the top prize is a holiday trip or a professsional line DSLR, the mob goes wild again, get the drift? See my Editor notes below for some of the tactics employed by some backsheeps to win competitions/contests.

Editor’s Note
Same group of people – yes. This is very common. From 2010-2013, I have been invited to be on the judging panel of many public as well as private photo competitions/ contests and after a few rounds of judging, some names had caught my attention. Because their names keep showing up – everywhere! Singapore may be small, but not to the extent of having the same Mr. XXXX entering in almost every competition known to me. In fact I almost suspected that this group of people compete in competitions full time. For fame or the prize, I cannot comment, but what irks me are those who re-cycle their photos. For example in 2011, there was a competition with a theme “Celebrations 2011” and as expected, many submitted their fireworks photos. Then there was an excellent photo by a famous (award-winning) photographer which I decided to do a check. We checked the exif data and found out that the photo was shot in 2009, then we checked the terms & conditions, there was a clause that clearly states that the photo submitted must be shot in 2011, so needless to say, the photo was disqualified immediately. Had I not noticed the “famous name”, I would not have discover this and may even foolishly graded this person’s work.

Another scam (as I call it), a photographer enters a set of 3 photos into a competition/ contest. Then this photographer enters another 2 sets of photos (3 photos per set) using his wife & his son’s names. Going by the law of averages, that means the same person now has 09 photos with a bigger ratio chance that he might win the competition. So can you imagine if this photographer enters 20 sets of photos (60 photos) into the competition, what are the likelyhood that this photographer will win? It works on a very simple logic here, if any of the entries won the contest, the “person with the borrowed name” who submitted will get a cut from the photographer. So any of the entries won, the same photographer still wins, get it?

Competitions are designed to allow the community to better themselves in the craft, not a tool for people to profit out of this. If you are good, there’s no need to enter multiple entries. If you are poor, go get a job or do more assignments, don’t deprive of others’ works to rightfully win a prize.

Type 07. The Politician

Although personally I encourage all my students and fellow photographers to make more friends rather than enemies, there will certainly be rivalry in the circle/ industry. Beware of “Frienemies”, a common term coined to describe the kind of people on your social media circle who are “friends” by cyber-connection but Not exactly a friend to start with. This is the kind of photographer who are also commonly known as the “2-headed snake” or the “undercover” – i call them politician, whichever you call them, be really careful. What you posted on your social media may ended up as a full thread discussion on your posting as the politician will seize every opportunity to bring you down while (still) putting on a good friendly front. In many cases that I have encountered, the victims usually got themselves into deep trouble and without knowing who exactly double-crossed them.

These malicious serpents are politically correct when they speak to either party and they are always seen as the neutral person when fronting either sides. You may wish to make a mental list of such people who are surrounding you and be really careful of comments you made about another photographer. To save yourself from unnecessary misunderstandings, compliment others instead of commenting on others. Seriously what other photographers do is none of your business. Agree?

Editor’s Note
I believe everyone of you would have encountered, or know of someone who have been a victim of double-crossing. Think again why would anybody sought discort for the stupidiest of reasons? Think hard, if both parties fell out over a misunderstanding caused by such a politician, the last one standing will be the poisonous snake, agree?

After having been a victim and admittedly tried the role of a snake myself, I find it all too childish and a waste of precious time. Since then, I have never trusted a single person in my life including my family and I watch carefully what comes out from my mouth ever since. Importantly, anything I say, it has to be politically correct. So be careful the next time when someone try to gossip with you about another photographer, keep all the things you badly want to say to yourself because you really won’t know is this friendly person in front of you is a politically correct snake.

Type 08. The News Bringer

At times, there is really no need to read the news. From the latest camera/ lens launch to weather forecast, there will be a photographer on our social media circle who will bring you the latest news, faster than Fox News at times. This person is also the number 1 sharer of postings from other sources so try to make such a person to your advantage. The person may not have any ill intention for doing what he/she is doing, but flooding your updates/ timeline with non-photography related stuff may eventually kill you in a irritating way.

Imagine you posted an update of a great wedding couple that you have just shot, then the headlines scream “Photographer Shot Couple at Wedding”.
I leave the rest to your imagination.

Editor’s Note
For the very same reason above, I kept a separate account that is non photography-related and I would prefer to see what photos others are shooting rather than what they had for lunch. Those, I will have them on my other account that is not related to photography. It is not easy, personally I had messed this up. When I am in the mood to view photos, I am greeted with tons of lunch photos, when I am in the mood to see what my friends are up to, all that I saw was weird news shared from other weird sites. Today, I have given up trying to sort this out and I simply enjoy everything that my friends posted. Yes, even their lunch.

Type 09. The Brand Fan Boys
Brand rivalry is nothing new to photographers. We are all part of this. Since the day you decided on a brand of camera, you live, work & swear by it. There will be arguements on which brand might be better, but it really boils down to user preferences & ease of use. Importantly, it is the final image that you give your clients, not what you used.
It is evident that we have many such Fan Boys around us. All it takes to spark things off will be the classic question of “Which is Better? Canon or Nikon?” then you will see how the Canon & Nikon users “fight” while the brand owners are having coffee at the Japan Camera Association meeting with the Canon President & Nikon CEO having green tea and laughing.

I can understand why most people swear by a certain brand. Camera equipment are not cheap by any standard, so after spending a big sum of money on a system, will the person say bad things about the camera he/she bought? No right? (majority will swear by it.) So everyone is entitled to their preference and there is no need to put others down.
Let the skills & images talk instead.

Editor’s Note
Every 4 out of 5 arguements on photography forums are always ignited by brand talks where fan boys tries to belittle the rival brand. There is no need to as every system has their Pros & Cons. If you have not fully understand your own system, don’t even comment on another brand. If a brand really sucks, then the brand will not be here today and still producing cameras. Spend your time on better things.

Type 10. The Socialite

This photographer is well received by everyone. This person will likely to be extremely sociable, makes friends with everyone, like every status updates/ shoutouts & photos – even bad ones. This person encourages everyone, this person will greet every birthdays & anniversaries. This person is “google-ready” and always have answers to your questions within seconds. This person is usually harmless and basically has too little assignments/ outings but have too much time to spare. This person stalks every other persons on his/her friend list and is always there – spooky.

At times you even wonder if this person is real or is it a “Social Bot” programmed to be behave like this.
Nevertheless, please be mindful that such a socialite may turned out to be the Type 04 or 07 mentioned above, so be very careful when someone suddenly takes an extra interests at your online activities.

Editor’s Note
I have a couple of socialites on my social media circle. Some of them are accomplished & well known photographers while there are some really questionable ones which I had never seen a decent photo produced by them. I later came to understand that some of these people enter the photography circle to find company, find friends, find a relationship/ spouse and there are some who are simply shamelessly looking for a swing.
Friends with benefits get it?

To end the series, I have decided to add on a “Bonus”, the Type 11 – The Sex Driven.

Type 11. (Bonus) The Sex Driven

I had published an article recently (link) about how both nude models & nude photographers can protect themselves due to many cases being reported officially and unofficially. I can understand that people have needs and we are all just humans. But ethically & professionally, we must understand that during such a shoot, the models can take off their pants but the photographers must wear a pants. Photography is an art, not an art of exploitation. Sadly there are many sex-driven nude “photographers” who are more interested in “shooting” you in a different way. (Pun intended).

Editor’s Note
So check out my list and please be careful of suggestive comments/ hints from the photographer or the model – whoever started first.

Hope all of you enjoyed reading this list. remember my disclaimer at the top of this page but I am going to just post it here one more time.

*Important Disclaimer Note:
Any similarity to any real persons in real life in any real situation as described in this article are purely coincidental and not intended. This article is shared as a personal view with no intent or malice or defamation to any persons living or dead.  I Already said is coincidental, what more you want?  

Will be back soon.


*All screen shots are faked and created for the illustration of this article.






About Editor AL

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