Waterfall Portrait

Teaching isn't itself a qualification.

Time for some real talk, and undoubtedly ruffle some feathers of the thin-skinned [you know who you are!] 

I’ve been seeing a surge in beginner photographers that are teaching and it has spilled over into our local community. This is the double edged sword that the vast amount of data available to us 24/7 via YouTube and other sources is.

On one hand, quickly accessing “how-to’s” is very handy in many circumstances, it also creates an issue because anyone can go create a video, or even sell lessons with no qualification.

The common theme usually goes one of two ways… (we’ll cover the second type in a future article) The most common being a younger computer savvy type person who’s been on social media and YouTube and purchased “editing lessons” from someone who has real advanced Photoshop ability. (These folks are usually in LA, or the Bay Area, New York, etc. there are none of these higher end ‘teachers’ in Northern Nevada.

What is it all about?

#FFA Has been a popular trend throughout Instagram and usually has several good photographers upload some raw files, and anyone can edit them and post them under a certain set of rules, such as crediting the photographer in the caption, etc. Sounds great, right? Free practice files from professionals…

Not so fast!

The challenge here, is when a newbie’s feed is made up largely of these photos from pro’s that were good to begin with… and when models, or even other newbies look at this person’s feed…. their “work” it’s highly misleading; unless you read the proverbial “fine print” – hitting read more and looking at the caption you see something like “Shot:” and the photographers name, followed by “Edited: me” – you realize the photographer’s page you are viewing did not take this photograph.

Why it’s misleading

Posting these “edits” is very misleading, although “legal”,  it makes a local model or potential customer, or even another beginner photographer think the photographer’s page they are viewing is actually that of a more qualified photographer than the person really is. This is further “solidified” to the unsuspecting viewer when they see something like “lessons available”. Now I know some of you will say, “but if the person knows more than me, then I can learn something” – This might be sort of be true, but here’s the problem… are you learning the “right” things?  

Here’s the thing, there are some talented retouchers out there… (mostly in California and overseas)  however … Does taking a photograph that’s underexposed by 2 stops with bad light direction and showing off your Photoshop skills to “fix it” seem like the best thing? Or perhaps learn how to properly expose a photograph and take a good photo to begin with, then use retouching skills to “enhance”, rather than “fix”?

Nobody anywhere knows it all, however a real pro can spot these things and can tell the difference. If people actually try to learn from other beginners, it’s a blind leading the blind situation because the old saying “you don’t know what you don’t know” really applies.

Be aware folks, save your money… if you want to learn from a professional, go for a real legit pro who makes a living from their skills, it’s highly unlikely to find this in your hometown. The internet is great, there’s a lot of top notch professionals out there, spend your money with them, the teacher doesn’t need to be local!