by J. Rae Chip

We all know that one guy.... that one a$$hole, who always seems to make money off photography while everyone else struggles to find business. Well wonder no longer, I've discovered his secret! In fact, there are several different types of successful people.

1) The arrogant bastard.
There's that one guy who makes more sales than you because he takes advantage of you! There's always that one guy who posts a link to his blog post on your social media post, taking the audience away from your website and re-directing them to his. He always knows what's best for everyone, and if people disagree with him, well nobody ever has, so we don't know what would happen.

2) The mediocre photographer.
Ever see someone's work and say, "Dammit... why are people praising him so much. My work is so much better!" Well he's a marketing genius. He's constantly running ads, making friends, and well maybe he's already famous for something else in his community. The fact of the matter is that you CAN do better work than him, but for some reason you don't like to brag about it as much to other people.

3) The yay-sayer.
This ass-kisser is always talking about how awesome every piece of gear is, how awesome social media sites are, and how lovely his own excrement smells (and by the way yours smells nice too.) Every camera lens is perfect, and he knows this before he has even used one. Sometimes he knows this before the lens even comes out for purchase. Because he's so good at talking about how awesome everything is, companies promote him so that their customers can see his promotion of their products (and then be disappointed later when it turns out to be a load of bull.)

4) The whiney b%$ch
This guy complains about complaining. He's always whining, and his complaining has become a successful alter-ego. Drama sells, and he is FULL of drama. Everyone either thinks he's a jerk, or maybe a woman pretending to be a man. Everyone hates him, but for some reason, people listen to what he has to say. Blogs and journalists seek his negativity, and he is more than willing to feed it to them.

5) That one lucky guy.
There's always one. One in five successful people have worked hard and are nice enough people to truly deserve to be successful in the way they are. (Note: That statistic is completely made up.) But we all know that one, sweet person who drives a Lamborghini, lives in a mansion, and has worked hard for every penny. We hate that guy! But he's so nice, and that just makes us hate him more, because we want to say he doesn't deserve that kind of fame, but he does! He even offered to take you for a ride in his car, and that just makes you hate him more.

So there you go. The ultimate recipe for success at photography:
One part arrogance
One part mediocre work
One part ass-kissing
One part complaining
And a little bit of luck

Now, go be successful!
by J. Rae Chip

Warning: if you think photography is all about post-processing don't read this. You'll get offended. Now I'm not responsible for people who keep reading :-)

I decided to post about this because I get so many comments on various social media platforms, mostly Google+ and 500px saying simply "nice processing." While it's nice they took the time to comment, that comment in my mind is worse than a simple "nice photo." That might not be true for everyone, but it's true for me because I would say about 98% of the time, I spend more time considering and planning out the composition, lighting, and formalities of a photo. About half the time I do absolutely no post-processing or extremely minimal processing (like removing a single pimple).

I know I know, I'm a photojournalist so naturally I would say that post-processing is unnecessary. But even in my portraits, it generally is not necessary if I just compose the photo correctly in the first place. I can spend 30 minutes getting the lighting correct before the photo or 3 hours trying to do it in Lightroom and Photoshop. Aside from my time being very valuable, I often opt for the first option because I am a professional photographer.

If I'm going to say I'm a photographer, that's what I should do: photograph things. I'm not a graphic designer or a digital artist, though I do have the capability to bridge into that realm on rare occasions when the shoot calls for it. I think it's dishonest of me to say I'm a photographer if I'm selling digital art. Of course, there have been minor alterations to photos for quite some time, but there is still a line where an image goes from being a photo to being a digital art piece.

I'm not saying digital art is not art. I'm saying it's not photography. I'm not saying nobody should ever process a photo. I'm saying that it should not be done to change the image.

So what do I mean by that? 

A photograph is an image in which all elements in the frame were there at the time the photograph was taken, in the way they are represented in the image. 

So what does that leave me? That leaves me dodging and burning. That leaves me levels adjustments. That leaves me color alterations. That leaves me focus-stacking. That leaves me image stacking for star trails. That leaves me noise reduction. That leaves me the ability to convert to black and white or sepia or cyan. It give me the ability to add noise or grain.

What does it omit? It takes out composites. Composites are digital art, not photography. It omits the clone tool on most occasions. I'm okay with retouching a model's face, but if there is a stop sign in my image because I don't know how to compose, I'm left with the choice of leaving the stop sign in the image or bringing my photograph into the realm of digital art. It omits making an image look surreal and alien compared to how it was when you first saw it, to include extreme HDR effects.

So are you making photographs or digital art pieces? Does it matter? Maybe not to you, and that's fine.

It might matter some day if you enter a contest, try to sell your work, or submit it for publication. There are magazines that do not allow digital art. News media has extremely strict rules about what pieces they consider photojournalism. 

In 2009, Jose Luis Rodriguez was disqualified from his title as the Wildlife Photographer of the year after judges decided his jumping wolf photo was probably a model. That means his photo was a lie. Likewise, just this year, David Byrne was disqualified from his title as Landscape Photographer of the year after it was discovered that he had composited the clouds into the image after the fact.

Byrne said he didn't read the rules and wasn't deliberately deceiving the judges, which is more admirable than being a cheater. However, it stresses how important it is to not only read the rules, but be able to produce photographic images instead of composites.

It's important to understand the difference between a composite and a photograph too. Composites are constantly devaluing the magnificence of perfectly-timed photographs. Landscape photographers will wait for hours for alignments of the moon with a scene, but a digital artist can just snap the photo and then use Photoshop to put the moon wherever he wants after the fact. Because digital artists don't say "composite" or "digital art" but instead mark it as "photograph" the poor photographers are struggling because people no longer see the value in their work.

Writing "nice processing" on a photographer's image might sound insulting. It's an inadvertent statement that "I like the five minutes you took after the photo was taken more than the hours you spent composing this image." It's okay. We know you don't mean to offend us, but now you know. This is why I usually tell people what I like about the photograph and not the digital art. I know that photographer probably spent more time on it, unless it truly is completely just a digital art piece, in which I'm probably being insulting.

So here's an idea: digital artists.... call yourselves digital artists and not photographers. And if we photographers comment on your art, we'll comment on how nice your post processing is. And you will know who the guy was who was silly enough to stand outside for three hours for the moon to be aligned on top of the mountain instead of just moving it in photoshop so you can say "nice job freezing your nards off outside waiting for this. I really like how it turned out."

Problem solved?
by J. Rae Chip

It seems to be common in this recession that people run out of large business who fight over advertising space. So the companies that rely on advertising for revenue reach out to smaller businesses to try to peek an interest. Mixed in with those are people who are, deliberately or not, being deceptive in their marketing ploys.

So it's important for small business owners and hobby photographers alike to be careful and to pay attention to what is being sold. Ask questions.