Only The Photographer Knows

Guitarist for Made In Iron 1/50 sec at f/2.8 ISO 1600 180mm

Guitarist for Made In Iron
1/50 sec at f/2.8 ISO 1600 180mm

In my last post I talked a little about the dangers of posting your photos and having them stolen and I talked about how much photographers want to get their portfolios seen. Well today I would like to touch base on a topic that will make some photographers cringe a little and maybe others too.

Let’s talk about “what” and “where” that portfolio content came from. Hummm… let’s see here… if it is in the photographer’s portfolio it must be his/her work right? Well here he has some awesome photos of high end models and the lighting, wardrobe and poses are 10+. Sure they are… he shot the photos at a photography workshop where somebody else did all the leg work. The whole scene was set up and prepared.  The photographer just stepped in and took the shot. He then took the photos home, watermarked them and added them to his portfolio. He knows nothing of how to work with and direct a model, he knows nothing of wardrobe or posing, let alone setting of the lighting.

So I had seen this topic posted on another blog about a week ago and it really does stir up some uneasy feelings. Most of all, I myself do not have all the answers, because I think it comes down to one’s morals and own set of standards. After all look at what people put on their résumés. I myself have in the past have been in a position where I would receive applicants résumés and I would see things listed that at the time looked impressive but only to find out down the road that the information while not false was very misleading to say the least. Example: Person was a construction manager for a very large multi-million dollar building project. Turns out: yes this person had worked for said company as a manager, but for much smaller projects and had only spent one day filling in for a sick colleague at the large job site. So while “yes” he was a “construction manager” and “yes” he did work at the large job site, it was only for one day. This happens all the time, people inflate what they do or have done.

So let’s get back to the photographer and his portfolio. Many times (but not all) what one sees in a portfolio is not 100% representative of what the photographer has done or is capable of. And that I think is the key word here, “capable.” Maybe the photographer did not produce the work 100%. But can he/she reproduce it as seen? Who knows? Only the photographer knows. I will have to admit that it takes a whole lot of confidence in one’s self to pull off something you have never actually done before and get paid for it. I’ll say that again, it takes a lot of confidence. And I must admit that yes, I have pulled off some fantastic feats in my life, but I did not go out and advertise that I had already done it.

My portfolio is comprised of 99% my own photos and 1% of photos my wife has shot and I performed the final edits and retouching. I feel my portfolio is very representative of what I can do and do with consistency. I list myself as a photographer, photographic artist & retoucher. Although I do attend as many seminars and workshops as I can, I have yet to post any of that content in a portfolio. I may post it here on my blog and talk about it but I would never miss lead anyone into thinking it was a paid job or a personal project, when in all actuality it was a learning experience. So maybe I have a mediocre portfolio compared to the next guy. But I know everything there is mine and I can reproduce it again & again.

I just finished my latest general photography printed portfolio. My printed portfolios are the ones that get me the work. Online portfolios… while very novel… for me they are just that… novel, and a place where some bastard will steal your work and put it in his port portfolio.


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