I am writing this article on the basis of the myths I hear most often. You may not hear them, you may hear others, that’s okay. Please write your own and dispel them at your leisure. Here are mine.
1. Photography is about being a generalist.
Don’t be a generalist, be a specialist, an expert, not an odd job person.
2. If you don’t understand how your camera works you can’t be a photographer.
Learn enough but not everything. Focus on photography not technology.
3. Research is not important to the working photographer.
No research no understanding.
4. You have to pay to play.
You don’t! You don’t need to enter competitions and pay for portfolio reviews to get noticed.
5. You need a style to be successful.
Style is transitory, language is permanent. Focus on language, not aesthetics.
6. You will get paid to do what you want.
You will get paid if you meet the client expectations or the market needs, you will not be paid if you ignore these.
7. You need to call yourself an artist to be taken seriously.
There is nothing wrong with describing yourself as a photographer.
8. You can ignore social media.
You can’t. See it as a marketing, networking or information tool. Then you will see that it is essential.
9. People will buy your book because you made it.
Never forget that without an audience you will get few sales.
10. Reading has nothing to do with photography.
It has everything to do with photography. From reading we gain empathy, and the ability to tell stories. Just don’t think that reading about photography is the only reading you need to do as a photographer.
Other opinions are available.
Dr. Grant Scott is the the founder/curator of United Nations of Photography, a Senior Lecturer and Subject Co-ordinator: Photography at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, a working photographer, documentary filmmaker, BBC Radio contributor and the author of Professional Photography: The New Global Landscape Explained (Routledge 2014), The Essential Student Guide to Professional Photography (Routledge 2015), New Ways of Seeing: The Democratic Language of Photography (Routledge 2019). His film Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay was first screened in 2018 www.donotbendfilm.com
© Grant Scott 2022
1) Disagree. You can enjoy and take good photos of any subject you spend some time with.
2) Generally agree, but there are some functions you need to know beyond the basics.
3) Disagree. Many times going in with no preconceptions is best.
4) Disagree. It’s good to have your work seen by gallery and exhibit curators in photography. Expands your audience beyond social media generalists.
6) Agree. For most of us, there is no money in photography. Do it for yourself.
7) Agree. Use both terms if you like.
8) On the fence with this one. Sure, I engage more people on Twitter than on flickr. but neither have resulted in anything more than likes and faves.
9) Agree. Make a book for yourself first.
10) Agree. Be well rounded.
Research is not a preconception it is understanding. It is good to have your work seen but don’t pay for the exposure.
There are virtually no free exhibit calls that I am aware of. I put a cap on how much I will pay per photo and I try to research the gallery. That said, despite a long resume of successes, I have yet to garner anything in the way of follow up inquiries.
We say no to all pay to play. Make appointments and see people directly as photographers have always done is our mantra.