Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Photography job scams

Just about every advertisement you see on photography jobs boards sounds wonderful. The sad fact is that there are no realistic positions out there for photographers. A while ago, I remember looking to see what jobs were advertised for photographers and I found hundreds if not thousands. All of the jobs I found were for newborn photographers for hospitals. The premise was that you joined the organisation then went and hung around hospitals trying to take photos of mothers and their newborn babies then sold them to the parents and families. The problem with that is that most families do their own newborn photos with their phone cameras and shoot them off within seconds to all their relatives and anybody else via Facebook and blogs etc. What it was, was a cynical exploitation of people desperate to make money with their cameras.  How it worked - the company would handle all the financial transactions in exchange for a massive cut which would leave the photographer that sought the work, did the work and worked for the company getting maybe $10 a day if they were lucky.

In the days of Facebook and instant upload from a phone to Facebook, Flickr or any other of the social media or file sharing websites there is no need to get a photographer to take a photo and rush away to make prints. Certainly some people will later get high-quality images using one of the few remaining part-time professionals. The whole point of family photos is to show the latest news and to record it for posterity. Thus, it's not necessary - particularly during the current economic depression to spend the money on one of the dying breed of professional photographers.

Today I had a look to see if there were any photography jobs listed on careerbuilder and found none. This is not at all surprising. The profession is about as dead as a profession can get. I liken professional photography to that of scribes and notaries. How many scribes do you see offering to write people's letters for them? None - everybody can read and write these days. Notaries are 10 cents a dozen. Just about everybody is a notary these days.

There are still people out there operating photography scams. There's a group going around photographing schools and churches for next to nothing. The photographers don't make much money at all. It's constant upsell all the time. They don't upsell consistently they don't keep their jobs. The camera, lights and background positions are all marked on a plan and the exposures are pre-calculated. There's no actual photography bar pressing the shutter button. It's not a photography job - it's a sales job and a poor sales job at that.

There's a romantic notion among most amateurs that photography is about art and taking nice photos. This is so untrue that it's laughable. The worst, blurriest photo is great if it can be given enough pitch to sell. Professional photography is not about nice photos nor art. It's about taking something good, bad or indifferent and selling the heck out of it. It's a sales job with photography.

Going further, photography is a free gimmick with a lot of other things. That cruise you went on where they took your photo and sold you a copy of the print. That wasn't photography. That was the cruise line selling a line in nostalgia so that they could milk you of yet more money. The "photographer" was just Joe Blow with a camera. The rest of the voyage he's probably shoveling coal in the boiler room.

Every time I see photography "jobs" advertised, they oversell the artsy and photography angles in order to try to finagle some wannabe into applying. Then they have to make the sucker that takes the position into a salesman. There, it's a sink or swim philosophy. If they take photos and can sell, they keep the job. If they can't take photos but can sell them, they keep their job. If they can take photos but are lousy at sales - they're history and there are hundreds of others willing to take their place.

Get that idea right out of your head that photography is anything other than sales. I had a nice conversation a few years ago with an aerial photographer. He just hired a plane and used an elderly film camera to take photos above towns. He then had the photos printed to large sizes and went door-knocking trying to sell them. Even he admitted the photos were poor - it was just they were unique that sold them. Of course now, with Google Earth and satellite imaging everybody knows what their roof looks like. I should imagine his gravy train has ended. Below there should be a Google Maps satellite image of the Whitehouse by way of example. If not, try this link: white house

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