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Don’t Confuse Honesty With Negativity Regarding the Photo Industry

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When my children were little they would collect things in their pockets. They were little pack rats; the kid version of hoarders. Anything that caught their eye would go into their pocket for safe keeping: a colorful leaf; a Skittle, a Happy Meal toy. And, like most moms, I would have to carefully search their pockets before putting their dirty clothes into the wash.

But, now and then, I would miss something, like the time I missed the rock.

Yes, my son had found a rock at the park and it called to him: “PICK ME UP AND PUT ME IN YOUR POCKET SO I CAN WREAK HAVOC ON YOUR MOM’S WASHING MACHINE.”

And wreak havoc, it did. It wasn’t a big rock, probably the size of a bottle cap, but it banged around in the washing machine until I stopped the cycle and fished it out. The washing machine was fine, of course; the rock wasn’t big enough to do any real damage other than making noise. When I complained about it later to the DH, he laughed and said, “Just be glad he didn’t decide to bring home more than one.”

I think that about that rock in the washing machine when I ponder today’s photography industry, and when I read articles like this one, titled “10 ways to earn $500 a month working from home.” Take special note of #10. If will make you reach for the vodka. The whole bottle, actually.

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Dear Baby Jesus, what on earth have we come to?

“Well…let’s see. I COULD become a reseller on Ebay or possibly review websites, OR set up a photography business. It’s all pretty much the same thing. Hmm….what to do, what to do?”

We look around us and see an industry that is filling its washing machine with rocks. And like the washing machine, no one rock is going to hurt the industry-that’s impossible. But thousands of rocks together have. The current mentality that views Professional Photography as easy peasy lemon squeezy. Push the button. That’s all you gotta do to run a business. The list above is proof of that. And the industry is paying the price.

Is this an elitist attitude? More than a few people seem to think so. And they certainly have a right to their opinion, but I disagree.

See, to me, an elitist attitude is one of entitlement.
An elitist attitude is one that scoffs at investing in time and education.
An elitist attitude is one that believes that those charging appropriately for their work are crooks and those charging less are more compassionate
An elitist attitude laughs at the need for experience
An elitist attitude puts on toe shoes for the first time and considers itself worthy of dancing Swan Lake.

In a world where everyone gets a ribbon, this comes as no surprise. We see it all through the Arts, actually; it’s certainly not limited to the photograph industry.

In fact, we see it all through today’s society.

We simply don’t want to pay our dues.
We don’t want to spend time gaining experience.
We don’t want to wait to cultivate our skills.
We want it all.
We want it now.
We want microwave shortcut success.
And no one should tell us otherwise.

And we look around our industry at those workshop-givers “selling the dream” and we quickly realize how it happened; how this mindset was fostered.

We sold people on the idea that they can be “Great without the Wait.”
We sold them on 10 Easy Steps to Success
We packaged up the mentality and put it on sale.
And labeled those who raised a suspicious eyebrow as Elitist. Haters. Jealous. Insecure. Old School.

The labels stopped many from speaking up, and so we watched in silence as our washing machine filled up with rocks, each banging against the metal drum, creating dings and dents and wreaking havoc on what was once a pristine machine.

I love this industry and the people in it, which is why I speak up. Honesty is not the same as negativity, no matter how earnestly many try to make it so.

Pointing out the dings and dents isn’t an elitist attitude; it’s one born of love and concern for a great industry and the hard-working men and women in it. Pointing out the dings and dents is not to discourage photographers from entering this amazing industry, but to encourage them to enter the right way and for the right reasons to KEEP the industry amazing.

After all, one can be a realist but still believe in a bright tomorrow.


About the author: Missy Mwac is a photography satirist, a lover of bacon, a drinker of vodka, a lover of sparkle, and a guide through the murky waters of professional photography. You can connect with her on Tumblr and Facebook. This article was also published here.


Image credits: Header photo by Leonora Enking

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