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Photographers, Quit Bellyachin’ and Build a Raft!


Everywhere you turn in the photographic press you see the same kinds of articles over and over.

Such-and-such a competition or service is just a rights-grab! You have to give up your rights to your images! Total party foul!

Everyone steals everyone else’s pictures which is totally illegal! Lame!

Losers with weak cameras are undercutting professionals left and right! I have a sad!

Phone cameras are terrible but everyone keeps using them! #dslrs4lyfe, yo!

Sure, fair enough. These things are all sad, and some of them are illegal. So what? You’re standing around in rising waters already hip-deep, whining that someone oughta fix the levees. Stop it. This is the situation on the ground, and another angry blog post about how unfair it all is is not going to change that. Stop complaining and start building a raft.

How are you, as a photographer, going to accomplish whatever it is you have a yen to in this world?

Do you want to make money taking pictures? Well, too bad. Photos are too easy to take, too commodified. Sell your clients something they can’t get from their phone or some rando from craigslist. Sell them an experience, with photos. Sell them a book, with photos. Sell them a “personal branding campaign,” with photos. If you have to, sell them a coupon to a local restaurant, with photos. Figure it out.

Do you want to play the photo competition game? Well, competitions are going to take your rights. Put your grownup pants on, and make some photos for competition that you’re willing to kiss goodbye. Make other photos for your portfolio. They can be real similar, it turns out.

You don’t want people stealing your pictures? Don’t put the ones you want to keep online. If you need an online presence, put some other ones up. Photos you’re willing to kiss goodbye.

And so on, on and on. This is the world, people. Pull your socks up, quit bellyaching, and start figuring out how to live in this world.

Stop complaining about the levees and start building a raft.

Or, you can put your camera down and take up needlepoint. I hear that’s a thing too.

About the author: Andrew Molitor writes software by day and takes pictures by night. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Molitor is based in Norfolk, Virginia, and does his best to obsess over gear, specs, or sharpness. You can find more of his writing on his blog. This article was also published here.

Image credits: Emoji by Vincent Le Moign and licensed under CC BY 4.0