No More Rock Stars

Remember the Ashlee Simpson Saturday Night Live debacle?  No?  Let me refresh your memory: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RrLAgi_mBY

Ashlee Simpson got busted for lip syncing on live TV.  It’s not like we, the public, didn’t know it was common in the industry.  But we like our pop stars perfect.  Perfect hair, perfect bodies, perfect pitch, perfect behavior.  Of course, the perfect hair is weaves and extensions, the perfect bodies are courtesy of a liposuction-starvation-cigarette-spray tan-breast implant-personal trainer cocktail, the perfect pitch is due to autotune, and the perfect behavior?  Well, as long as they look good doing it, we’re pretty OK with it; at least we seem to be OK with it, since we keep watching, listening, and buying the music.

The irony is that we love to moan about how vapid the pop music industry is.  We complain – while we try to look like them, sing along with them in the car, and (don’t lie) even have our moments of envy.

Back to Ashlee.  (Or substitute Milli Vanilli if you’d prefer.  Same idea, different generation.)  We knew she was largely a manufactured product, and yet it was the talk of the town when she was exposed.  The problem is, we too often value perceived perfection over character, raw talent, and a strong work ethic.  We want glamour and glitter and glitz.

What does this have to do with photography?  Everything.

Every time I read about a photography industry “rock star” I laugh to myself.  Because it’s so damn accurate.  Rock stars in the current music industry do not necessarily have to be musically gifted or unique.  They simply have to look good, be willing to turn themselves into whatever sells, pay people who do have talent to provide the material, and not be ethically opposed to the occasional lying, cheating, and stealing to preserve their façade.

Sound familiar?  Sure does.  Ouch.

(Now, before I proceed, let me clarify that I’m not asserting that all well-known photographers are ”bad.”  Not at all.  There are some, although not many and not enough, who shoot good, honest work and are true to themselves, and have gained a following accordingly.  Those are not the ones I’m addressing here. Read on.)

Unless you’ve had your head in the sand, you probably know what I’m alluding to here.  Yes, those two photographers who were caught plagiarizing, but also so many others.  We want our “rock star” photographers perfect.  Talented, preferably attractive, well-spoken, entertaining, humble, and constantly churning out pretty pictures that look exactly like what we expect.  We eat it up.  We expect it.  We know that nobody is perfect, but we still want to believe that they are.  When those “rock stars” are caught doing something wrong, we are either shocked by it, or we choose to dismiss it.  We simply must have someone to idolize, and we reward the appearance of perfection in our idols.  We fall for the PR and marketing ploys hook, line, and sinker, because we want to.  Was that meatloaf claim really modesty, or is it a PR move to increase likeability? (Wink, wink to those who got that reference.)

Here are the inevitable results of the “rock star” culture we’ve cultivated in our industry.

–       The “rock stars” will do whatever it takes to keep our attention and maintain the illusion.  That can certainly include plagiarism, stealing images, usurping materials, and playing on our sympathies when they get caught.  They are not entirely to blame; they are simply filling a role that we created for them, by any means necessary.

–       The “rock stars” will not risk losing their status through risk taking and vulnerability.  They put out only the best of the best of their work, and only the work that they know will appeal to the masses.  They don’t take many real chances.  They rarely grow in any meaningful way.  What you see now will always be what you get.  And that creates an environment, an industry mind set, that says, “This is what good photography is supposed to look like.”  And so, by emulating those “rock stars” we convince ourselves that our images must fit that standard.  If they don’t, we consider them weird and less valuable.  This is how we’ve turned our industry into vanilla pudding.  The homogenization of art.

–       We’re overlooking some pretty amazing talent out there who choose not to play the game.  Photographers whose work is deep, unique, emotive, groundbreaking, challenging, difficult to view and demanding to understand, work that requires actual thought.  And we, as a whole, have forgotten to appreciate the work of the trailblazers who came before us.  We bemoan the fact that our teenagers know every word Beyonce or Taylor ever sang, but have never heard of Ella Fitzgerald; meanwhile, nearly every photographer I work with knows who Jasmine Starr is, and few have ever heard of Imogen Cunningham.  (Apologies, but I simply refuse to use that trite marketing-gimmick abbreviated notation of Jasmine Starr’s name.  It would be like dubbing myself C-Nic.)  It’s just much easier to look at the slickly marketed photographer-du-jour who has managed to get himself/herself plastered all over the Internet, than to actually seek out the photographers who are more concerned with their art than their Google ranking.

I so want to see us take our industry, our art form, back.  What does that mean, and how do we do that?  Here are some thoughts to consider, as a starting point.

Stop idolizing and learn how to draw inspiration instead.  That means not trying to make your work look like so-and-so’s, and to focus on figuring out how to express yourself.  Learn to look critically at a body of work and understand the “how” and “why” instead of setting out to duplicate it.  It requires effort, and the effort is also the reward.

Seek out photographers whose work is way off the beaten path.  Just because you’re a child portrait photographer does not mean that you should only draw inspiration from other child portrait photographers.  Look at landscapes, at still life, at journalism.  Explore Eastern European photographers, Asian photographers, anything that is outside of your immediate realm. Look at color, at black and white.  Study alternative processes and conceptual work.  While you’re at it, look at movies, sculpture, paintings, any visual art. When you find work you strongly dislike, take the time to figure out why.  When you find something interesting and challenging, share it.  Learn from it.  The world of photography is so much bigger than Facebook, or that forum, or your blog circle.

I want us to start challenging the norm and start taking some risks.  If I had a dollar for every photographer I’ve critiqued whose website is full of “vanilla pudding” images because the deeply effective, vulnerable, rule-breaking images they really love might not get as many thumbs on Facebook, I would be one rich woman.  And that leads me to:

We must stop being so thin-skinned that we cannot handle it when everybody doesn’t applaud our work.  We have got to start creating according to our own artistic eye, instead of for the masses.  I’ve said it for years:  I’d rather have 100 people who deeply appreciate my work, than 10,000 who think it’s “pretty.”  Stand behind your work.  Be open to critique, but apply it as it makes sense to do so, to tell your story in your own voice.  You cannot bend to fit every trend and every opinion; trying to do so will mean that you will lose yourself in the process.

Please stop spending money on things just because everyone else is buying them, or because That Photographer uses one.  If you’re going to spend money on a lens, a prop, a workshop, know why you’re doing it, why you need it, and what you will get out of it.  Don’t throw money at a “rock star’s” workshop unless you specifically need to know the information that person is teaching.  Trust me, if they have nothing groundbreaking to say, their mere physical presence is not going to make you a better photographer.

And please slow down.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.  You will not be an educated, experienced, confident, unique photographer overnight.  It takes blood, sweat, and tears.  Buying the action that makes your work look like That Photographer’s is not the answer, it’s just masking the problem.  You do not need to be in business just because you’ve been shooting for a year and people like your pictures.  It is not a race, and there are no shortcuts.  Anybody that tells you otherwise is probably putting you on their mailing list for their magical workshop right now.

Once you’ve figured out who you are as a photographer, gain your fans and followers through honest, unique work.  As tempting as it is, resist the urge to “vanilla pudding” your way into mass approval.  Be willing to work happily in near obscurity.  You do not need to be idolized to have a client base who appreciates your work and allows you to be your own creative, imperfect self.

And as tempting as it is, don’t make excuses for the “rock stars” when they’re caught being dishonest.  If you wouldn’t accept it from your child, don’t accept it from a photographer.  You’d discipline your child for copying another student’s test paper, wouldn’t you?  Everyone makes mistakes and I’m a huge believer in second chances, having been the recipient of more than a few of them myself; that is entirely different than excusing the behavior and defending illegal or unethical actions.  Being popular is not a good reason to not be held accountable.

When you do find the photographers out there who are creating strong, unique, effective, honest work, learn from them – but do not idolize or imitate them.  It is not about finding a photographer who you want to be when you grow up.  It’s about learning the lessons that photographer learned, and applying them to your unique growth and path.  And learn from as many of them as you possibly can.  If you take all of your knowledge from a single person, you will inevitably wind up looking like a knock-off.

At the end of the day, this industry simply doesn’t need rock stars.  It needs role models, and people who know how to both teach and learn.  We should all aim to do more of both.

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69 thoughts on “No More Rock Stars

  1. Very awesome post!!! I’m taking to heart your advice- – slowing down & creating art rather than “vanilla pudding” and being happy with obscurity. Resonated very much with me since I found after 2 years in biz that I was creating images that were for the client only, and not for me, the artist… and I found it very lacking in artistic depth & vision. I want so much more than that! Thanks for the encouragement.

  2. There are many of us out there who abhor ( I know, a strong word) rock stars for all the glamour dust they throw out into the world.
    I do appreciate your comments about finding those off the beaten path. It will definitely encourage a more creative and unique photography experience.

  3. Beautiful. Spot on. Just what many need to read today.
    P.S. I think I DO have my head in the sand. Can any fellow commenters fill me on on what these rockstars did/who they are? 😦

    • http://stopstealingphotos.tumblr.com/ and search for Jasmine Starr and Doug Gordon. Google them cos there’s more, but not just their names but their crimes: repeated plagiarism. Stealing intellectual property of others is an international crime, especially when they were caught and yet wouldn’t stop til enough photographers online kept this vital issue alive.

      Plus placing blame on others, removing ppl from groups, and a very watered down apology from one. That’s a start. 😥

      Rock stars are not going away. The industry, those who manufacture and sell camera bodies, lenses, peripheral gear, workshops, magazines, conferences, etc promote, market and support rock stars to sell their products. The only thing which can change are attitudes.

      However, as one who mentioned their activities with links providing substantial evidence, I was repeatedly and cruelly attacked, esp on Scott Kelby’s online radio show. His assistant was particularly demeaning to me. I was shocked how lightly they took Ms Starr’s actions and how much they defended her. It’s an uphill battle to shed light on the truth.

      Why do I care? Because IF I were paid and/or credited for all my classic, early, rare, beloved punk photos every time they were used, I’d be a rich woman! I know the effects of one’s archive, career and life when ppl are careless and selfish about payment, permission and credit. That alone doesn’t seem to carry much weight as ppl threw stones at me. I’m not the thief. Ppl don’t want to know their idols have feet of clay. They rather destroy those who tell the truth.

      As for Ms Starr, she’ll do just fine. As the Wizard sang in Wicked, “the most celebrated are the rehabilitated.”

      • Jenny, I agree that it is amazing that photographers can be furious when someone steals and image, but completely excuse it when someone steals words. Both are intellectual property, and both are covered by the same laws. Why is one OK, and the other will get you instantly ostracized? I have no idea. Let’s consider this: let’s say an author uses a photographer’s image on his book cover without permission. By this logic, we should simply excuse him and consider it no big deal. After all, he’s a writer, not a photographer….

        MMmhmm. We all know that would never fly. He’d get his butt sued.

    • When you don’t know much about the subject, or if you do you didn’t exhibit it, then hold your snarky comments….just saying…you want to put the time and thought into writing a rebuttal. Go for it!

  4. You said so many things that I agree with and so many that I’d like to comment on:

    “Stop idolizing and learn how to draw inspiration instead. ”
    I couldn’t agree more.

    “We fall for the PR and marketing ploys hook, line, and sinker, because we want to. ”
    Caveat Emptor. They are entitled to try to make a living too. If you’re the sucker buying every.little.thing. they are selling and every.little.thing. they own and claim to use, then that’s on you.

    “They simply have to look good, be willing to turn themselves into whatever sells, pay people who do have talent to provide the material, and not be ethically opposed to the occasional lying, cheating, and stealing to preserve their façade.”

    I liken this part to those Rockstars who never shoot real clients anymore yet sell, sell, sell to the photographers trying to put food on their tables with this business by serving honest paying clients. Its disingenuous, at best, to sell a course on running a photography business when you don’t actually run one anymore, for instance.

    “We have got to start creating according to our own artistic eye, instead of for the masses. I’ve said it for years: I’d rather have 100 people who deeply appreciate my work, than 10,000 who think it’s “pretty.” Stand behind your work. ”

    I absolutely agree, but for those that need to run a profitable business model, they need to find a balance. Shoot for yourself. Follow your art. But sometimes vanilla pudding helps pay the bills, including the bills that help you continue to grow as an artist.

    “We’re overlooking some pretty amazing talent out there who choose not to play the game. ”

    And we are also overlooking lots of very successful entrepreneurs and working photographers that have ALOT to teach us – both about the industry as a business and the industry as an art. They are not playing the game either.

    “The irony is that we love to moan about how vapid the pop music industry is. We complain – while we try to look like them, sing along with them in the car, and (don’t lie) even have our moments of envy.”

    What I found ironic is that I found my way here through a Rockstar’s link to your blog post.

    “It needs role models,”
    Agreed.

    • I’ll counter a few of your points.

      “I liken this part to those Rockstars who never shoot real clients anymore yet sell, sell, sell to the photographers trying to put food on their tables with this business by serving honest paying clients. Its disingenuous, at best, to sell a course on running a photography business when you don’t actually run one anymore, for instance.”

      I don’t believe that a photographer loses his or her experience when they steer their business in a different direction. I did child and family portraiture for my full-time living for a decade. I choose to no longer do it, because I eventually needed a new challenge. Does that disqualify me from being able to help child and family portrait photographers work through their business direction? No in the least. Now, if I had never been in business, that would be a whole different thing.

      “absolutely agree, but for those that need to run a profitable business model, they need to find a balance. Shoot for yourself. Follow your art. But sometimes vanilla pudding helps pay the bills, including the bills that help you continue to grow as an artist.”

      Let me clarify. By “vanilla pudding” I do not mean that we shouldn’t shoot certain genres of photography. I can shoot the most generic stuff (school pictures, anyone?) and do it in a way that is true to my style, that reflects me as an artist as well as a person making a living. I did it for years, as a single mother wholly reliant on my photography business income. I’ve shot some jobs that I would rather not have, but I found a way to do it in my own unique style, in a way that I was proud of.

      • I appreciate the clarification on the vanilla pudding element, Cheryl. Your clarification I wholly agree with.

        As for the experience not lost, you make a good point. Changing the direction of your business yet still teaching & sharing from a place of experience is of course acceptable and should be respected and even sought out (especially in this jungle). However there ARE some…I would even venture to say MANY… out there that barely ever got their feet wet in the REAL business of photography before turning around and selling something they had very little experience with. You can argue that a 3 year old can teach you about art but I’m specifically referring to certain technical and business aspects. But again… caveat emptor. 🙂

  5. I SO want to be you when i grow up! {wink, wink} In all seriousness, though, you are a wise soul, and very eloquent with your words. Thank you for saying what every photographer who considers themselves an artist needs to hear.

  6. Great article.
    I’ve been at this profession for a couple decades, feeding my family with only my photo income while my wife home-schooled the kids. Not bragging, just wanted to let you all know that I’m one of those old guys, who is still at it.

    The field has changed dramatically since the days of film. No longer is the craft of photography something to be pursued. Now, it’s all about the experience. A “professional” Rebel with kit lens, and a FB page, and you are in business. Later comes photoshop, LR, and those eye-popping actions and presets. Flat light is now okay, along with raccoon eyes. “S” curves for men, no problem. Broad light on a heavy person, who cares? They had a good experience as I told all about my passion for photography, and reminded them about my passion when I gave them the CD with a map to the local Wall-Mart [sic]. I’m not sure how long this model can last.

    In the past couple years, I’ve felt the need to come up with a plan “B” that I could work around my photo business. When your income is predicated upon the discretionary income of others, the world economy is in a long term down cycle, and the supply of photographers outweighs the demand, that is simply not a sustainable career for everyone. I think the majority of us whose photography is the only income for our family should consider it.

    My daughter had a highly competitive swim coach who individually went through her team grading them on the raw talent. My short daughter, a very competitive person, wasn’t given a high score. She swam faster than many more talented people, but her short stature, small hands and feet wouldn’t be enough to get her a college scholarship. She was hurt, and I wasn’t happy either. But, in the end, we knew here coach was right. My major beef with the “Rockstars” is how they encourage those who should be told to find another income source. They go in debt pursuing an all but impossible dream. And yes, Art/photography Schools are just a guilty.

    I’m ADG (attention deficit gifted). Can you tell?

  7. Nice article and really nicely written, love her style – a lot of very nice advice as well. I tend to have a bit of a different take on this issue, maybe an inside out approach. (I will say I don’t disagree entirely with the writer, I would just like to provide a slightly different slant on it). An approach which parses out different aspects of the argument and tries to see what may be helpful, and not.

    First off, I actually believe that idolizing in certain ways can be a good thing. We admire certain qualities in others because they exist in oneself, and one wants to develop them in oneself. This kind of admiration is actually an excellent way to learn to better embody those qualities.

    In actuality, one would not be able to even admire those qualities if one did not already have them (in latent form) within oneself. Unfortunately this very helpful act of admiration can be terribly distorted by jealousy, craving, and generally not realizing that these qualities exist in oneself. I suppose that’s the difference between admiration and idolizing, one is distorted.

    In our culture we have a predictable cycle of building up heroes and then tearing them down. The positive act of admiration and generating the good qualities in oneself can be destroyed if compassion doesn’t come in when you see the person one is admiring is not perfect.

    The unseemly promotion machine that exploits the charisma of the hero figure provides an excellent rationale for throwing out the baby with the bathwater. But rather let’s keep admiring the excellent qualities and just throw out the bathwater. Not to mention it’s good for the heart to generate compassion once in awhile.

    Jealousy tends to also generate a witch hunt and the good qualities we (or others) once admired sadly get burned at the stake as well. It’s a shame we cannot tease out the chaff from the wheat for our own good health.

    Then finally the good qualities sometimes are even thrown out as being unattainable, as they are falsely viewed as inexorably tied to exploitation. Then one drops into cynicism. For example I might say, “well the writer is actually trying to sell her workshops and exploiting this situation to do so.” A rather cynical view which is all too easy to slip into.

    the writer says:

    Stop idolizing and learn how to draw inspiration instead. That means not trying to make your work look like so-and-so’s, and to focus on figuring out how to express yourself. Learn to look critically at a body of work and understand the “how” and “why” instead of setting out to duplicate it. It requires effort, and the effort is also the reward.

    In regard to copying, and drawing inspiration, I actually think that copying is an excellent way to learn. Copying can actually be “drawing inspiration”. What needs to be avoided is seeing it as a commodity to sell rather than a stepping stone in the learning process. No one lives in a vacuum, no one spontaneously generates art work that has never been seen before and is totally new in every way. It never happens.

    This is a myth that a lot of creative types like to espouse, i.e. “be true to yourself”, as if this so called “self” were completely disconnected from all that’s around it. We are all interdependent, there’s really nothing truly original. In fact the very word “original” is deliciously paradoxical as it implies something that is connected to the origin and is therefore derived from a source. In other words it’s not born from nothing, nor from a single solitary ego, rather it’s derived from that which proceeded it. Copying requires effort too, it’s part of the learning through admiration process.

    I think it’s too easy, and often ineffective to look down on someone for copying, etc. I would say better to look for the good intentions behind the action, and from there steer toward a healthy and ethical course.

    • This might be one of the most well thought-out and well written explanations I’ve ever read on this subject! Thank you for sharing your insights!

      As someone who is just beginning her career in portrait photography, I constantly draw inspiration from others, even if that means “copying” to start. It’s through that process that I’m able to learn and grow, to eventually make it my own!

      Everyone has to start somewhere; and unfortunately, that seems to be a notion that is lost on too many people these days.

      I think it’s also worth noting that for those of us who are trying to make a living at this, to some extent, you have to consider what is current, what people want. If applying a matte finish or textures to photos is the “latest and greatest” in photography trends, and people are willing to pay good money for it, you have to expect that some photographers will jump on that bandwagon.

      In my mind, it’s no different than adopting the “skinny jean” look or the Victoria Beckham “bob” from a couple years back. Looks come and go, and portrait photography is no different.

  8. Brilliant article. you’ve said what many of us are thinking.

    These days too many people want quick success without the hard graft. And our beloved Rockstars are fuelling this need by making all sorts of wild claims and false encouragement.

    But on the other hand, people seem to be extremely sensitive to honesty these days. It’s like they would rather bury their head in the sand than know where they are going wrong. And I guess it’s these people that are the target for the Rockstars. Easy prey.

    • So very true, Jay. There are some who are upset with me over this post, and who see it as a low blow and a personal attack on another photographer. It is anything but. However, it is not my job to form peoples’ opinions for them. I love the world of photography dearly, and I would not be doing anyone any favors by not speaking up when I see it going so far off course. And so I write what I feel needs to be written, and accept that some people will simply think I’m mean. Comes with the territory.

  9. Here here.

    I think something I have realised in recent months is that I can attend a million and one workshops, buy actions, covet the next piece of kit but the thing that consistently has the biggest impact on my photography is time. Time and practice.

    Photography is an art form and, as such, it’s something that should evolve over time and grow with you.

    People who are selling the ‘quick fix’ dream are selling a lie.

    • Absolutely. I am obviously a big believer in workshops and critiques, but not as a means of throwing money at the problem. The right person at the right time can help you figure out your next step, to guide you to the answers that allow you to break through a block and continue on your journey. In other words, it allows you to invest your time and practice wisely.

      Quick fix workshops, and “get a chance to meet me!” workshops are generally worth nothing, in my experience. And sometimes they actually do harm. Learning is supposed to be a challenging processes.

  10. Unfortunately most photographers rely a lot on their Google ranking to earn a crust and actually get clients as that’s a big part of how potential clients source them. Yes of course I think most photographers put out their best work as do most professions?

    • Let me clarify. I fully realize photographers have to get clients, and google ranking and such are part of that. But I see way, way too much emphasis on that aspect of the photography business , and not nearly enough on developing the photography itself.

      As a photographer, I put out my “best” work as well, but I define “best” a bit differently than some. I put images out there that represent who I am as a photographer and a person, not what I feel is technically strongest that looks most like what people are used to seeing right now. There is a lot of value in taking risks. That imperfect image that I feel is emotionally raw and effective? I’m going to put it out there. And the people who I want to work with understand and appreciate that. It’s not about perfection and fitting in; it’s about effective work that represents who I am and what I value.

  11. Fantastic, I worked in the music industry for about 10 years, luckily not so much in the made up ‘rock star’ area but saw enough of it to last a life time. I’ve not need of it in photography either but it saddens me seeing so many getting caught up in it and watering down the industry.

  12. I agree with this 100%. Thank you for verbalizing what so many, including myself have felt so strongly over the past several years. As an “old dude” who has been doing this for a long time, I find it refreshing to know that I am not alone in my disdain of the way our craft has been allowed to evolve. Thanks again for writing this!!

  13. While I see what you are getting at – there are many quality photographers who shoot from the heart. Trouble is the genres they work in are not in the public eye, as they have been stomped on by the big labels who now rule the market. What you are reffering to is cannon fodder for glossy mags, this has and always will be rubbish. I work in the roots of blues rock. Which is thriving with very interesting and honest subject mattter. There are some fantastic togs working in this field and it provides a raw and honest canvas. Trouble is no mainstream exposure. How do you change that? Everyone moans about the industry but they are all out there still trying to snap it, watching xfactor by the millions. While the real deal is baring their very soul to 50 people in a bar somewhere. People can change things and I really wish they would.

  14. Excellent CJ! As someone that has been a photographer for a very long time, I have to say that I have seen them come and go. One of the most unfortunate things is the creation and acceptance of these “Rock Stars” brings down the whole industry. I have lost a lot of respect for organizations because they feature this or that rock star that really doesn’t amount to much. They don’t have much photography experience, could not innovatively solve a technical problem to save their live, and don’t have a creative bone in their body. However, they get backed by a few of the really popular kids at the playground and suddenly they are experts. I have stopped participating in some groups and events because I have no respect for their choice of the flavor of the moment. The true colors will always show in the hard workers (like the guy that commented before me) and they will always stand the test of time.

  15. Thanks for posting this article. I was just thinking about burying myself in the lab and back to the roots of what first sparked my photo interest.

    Agree 100% that everyone needs to find and recognize their style, not stuff themselves inside a template other created and suggest is the proper way to be a photographer. More than marketing, good looks, and being the life of the party at every convention, hard work and consistency speaks volumes and is never goes unnoticed.

    Oh, if you really want to take it Retro and get back to Pure Photography, skip the new $2700+ camera, pick up a $250 Mamiya 645 camera. Just saying, you might be surprised with the results.

  16. Absolutely dead on read. I really hope this spreads and that more people realize that we are doing it to ourselves. We are not nor should we be celebrities. Our job is to document weddings in our own style, and to be grateful for the amazing ability to do so.

  17. Liars Lie, Stealers steal and Fakers fake it. The only control we, as artists and inventors have, is our reaction to them and our own behavior.

    I choose to not give these tools one iota of my life energy. My job as I see it, is to keep innovating and stay true to my own vision.

    screw ’em

    call them out and move on!

  18. Amazing article!!!! I wish I would have read this many years ago when I started pursuing photography. I so tried to be a vanilla photographer and hated myself the whole time. I took a step back from the business side, took too much time away from my family, and do it for me now and couldn’t be happier. I think I am finding my way and not worried about trying to fit the mold. Thank you for writing this and I’m sorry if people have given you grief over it, some people can’t handle honesty 🙂 I am bookmarking this so I can read it over and over and over again. Thank you!!!

  19. Amazing article!!!! I wish I would have read this many years ago when I started pursuing photography. I so tried to be a vanilla photographer and hated myself the whole time. I took a step back from the business side, took too much time away from my family, and do it for me now and couldn’t be happier. I think I am finding my way and not worried about trying to fit the mold. Thank you for writing this and I’m sorry if people have given you grief over it, some people can’t handle honesty 🙂 I am bookmarking this so I can read it over and over and over again. Thank you!!!

  20. In general this is great reading and inspiring for me. But, I feel the need to speak from the perspective of the doe eyed wannabe, the person whose been holding onto the dream and still pursuing a passion for photography. ‘Following’ Jasmine’s work and posts always made me feel inspired, like I could also be successful in photography too, somehow. Even in spite of the fact that she’s a gorgeous Cali girl and I’m a 40-something nobody mother of four with stretch marks and crows feet in nowhere PA. Despite the fact that she’s famous doing weddings and whatnot and I’ve a passion for lifestyle and children and a blog read by nobody. She seemed to want to build up others–not tear them down. ‘Following’ certain other photographers has made me want to hang it up, perhaps for a lot of the reasons you’ve listed here. (I feel the need to say I’m not referencing you, the writer, but I guess the ‘rock star’ that brought me here and others.) I guess I’ll just be happy shooting my own kids and call that a success…but it’s disappointing to see what this industry is really like.

    • Brandi, there are plenty of photographers in the industry that are hard-working, honest, inspiring, and generous with their knowledge. Rather than being disappointed in the industry, I hope you’ll take the opportunity to find those other photographers, and help contribute to a healthier, more creative, more honest industry.

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