The thread had to do with the (then) current state of professional photography from the perspective of career opportunities for photographers-- both new photographers and already established photographers. My position was the industry was shrinking rapidly and there were fewer opportunities than in recent memory. Leastwise, regarding more than a few photo genres. His basic position, since it seemed he had not yet felt a decline in his personal workload, was that the problems, if any, were the photographers themselves: Those having problems getting work simply didn't have the chops to be pros, regardless of skill or ability.
According to him, there were as many opportunities as ever for commercial photographers, editorial photographers, fashion, beauty, and glam shooters, and others. Also, according to him, it didn't much matter if there were many more photographers competing and vying for the work that was available. "The cream always rises to the top!" he announced. He then added something about photographers whose work wasn't cream-like should pursue other careers because those people were, rightfully, shit out of luck.
I don't know about any of you but I've seem more than a little less-than-creamy work coming from some very successful and continually working photographers. I've also seen some absolutely stellar work from photographers who couldn't manage to get themselves hired to sweep out a photo-booth at a kid's arcade.
Quickly, the Windy City photographer ran out of evidence to support his contentions. Mostly, because he had none. All he had to go on was what he was experiencing in his own, private little world of photography. At that point, he resorted to name-calling and trying to convince others that whatever I had to say had zero relevance due to the content of my work, i.e., because I mostly shoot glam and tease and naked women.
His change in approach backfired on him. Instead of scoring allies, even from those who were, up to that point, kind of agreeing with him, he ended up alienating himself from many of the photographers participating in the forum thread. (It was Model Mayhem, after all. A site mostly aimed at pretty girl shooters of all sorts.) Abruptly, the guy quit MM and canceled his long-time account. Personally, I didn't feel at all sorry for his sorry ass. He took the coward's way out in my opinion. Undoubtedly, he was once one of those kids who took his ball and went home when he didn't like something that took place in a game.
Flash forward and here we are: It's a few years later and it seems many opportunities for photographers have melted away faster than the ice caps. This, in spite of global-warming as well as today's "photography as a highly rewarding business is in deep Bandini" deniers. I guess both Mother Nature and today's realities of the photo-biz climate have a way of ignoring lies, bullshit, and denials.
Sure, if you're shooting weddings or families and events, or a few other genres, there's still work. Perhaps plenty of it. To score much of it, though, most photographers will have to seriously cut their asking prices. I'm not talking about everyone. I'm merely addressing about 80% or so of the folks pursuing photography as some sort of a career, myself included. There are still those doing quite well and charging hefty rates. I'm guessing those folks and/or their rates are also melting away, although that's purely speculative. I don't shoot those things.
On the other hand, it's been and continues to be an incredibly exciting time for hobbyists! All the advances in photo-technologies, from the gear to software to learning opportunities, have been and continue to be positively awesome! The learning curve has been dramatically flattened by many of those technologies and photographers with less and less real experience are often able to put out work that rivals people who have been doing the same sort of work for many years. Again, myself included.
There are a few things, however, I find curious. As you probably know, there are now plenty of successful and talented photographers writing how-to books and putting on workshops and seminars. Never before have so many novice photographers had so many opportunities to learn from the pros. Course, if you're wondering why so many successful pros are suddenly sharing their secrets, you only have to go back to my forum debate with the jerk from Chicago.
If you believe many of these successful shooters are suddenly rubbing elbows with all the newbies because they suddenly woke up one day feeling like they needed to become some sort of altruistic guru, you're wrong. A decline in available work has hit them hard as well. It's not that they have no work of the sort they spent most of their careers shooting. It's that a substantial amount of the available work they once relied on has also receded like the ice caps. And what work there is for them often pays less. Too often, significantly less.
As a result of all these newly-minted mentors and gurus, I have some advice: If you're seeking to learn from the well-known guys -- and this, in some ways, goes back to my previous post about vetting e-book authors -- you might want to, in specific ways, vet the photographers who have written the books or are hosting the workshops you plan to spend your money learning from. I'm not talking about vetting them in terms of their so-called sense of morality or other crap like that, as discussed in my previous update, but in terms of other qualifications: Their genre-specific qualifications.
Here's an example: Just because someone is a rather well-known nature photographer, it doesn't suddenly mean they know much about shooting portraiture-- glam, fashion, editorial, or other sub-genres. Sure, they know the gear. They also know something about lighting. And they know much of the technical stuff. But that's mostly all they know in terms of genres outside of what they normally shoot or have shot for most of their photo lives. Someone who is a successful and often published nature photographer probably knows little about working with and shooting models. Even if, believe it or not, they write a book or suddenly begin conducting workshops on the subject. I'm not naming names but I see more and more well-known photographers from other genres acting like they are experienced at shooting genres they, frankly, barely know squat about. (Not that they'll admit that.)
Yes, part of the reason I'm writing this update is self-serving. I am, besides being a long-time photographer, also a photography book writer. But I haven't written any books that don't specifically target the genres of photography I know best. Genres I've worked in for many, many years.
In the world of photography, my name is far from being a household word. But in the world of pretty girl photography, I've shot more models than most or that most will ever shoot: Literally, a few thousand of them. Certainly many, many, many more than most of the guys who have shot umpteen covers for Outdoor Photographer magazine. BTW, if you don't think many of my clients aren't as picky and as tough to please as the photo editors at Outdoor Photographer, you are sadly mistaken. That aside, I'm pretty sure after shooting so many beautiful and sexy women, and shooting them in so many ways in in so many places, I might know a thing or two about doing so. If I don't, I'm either a complete moron or I have a severe learning disability.
All I'm saying is if you're of a mind to learn, learn from those who know a lot about what it is you specifically want to learn, and not from those who know something else best but suddenly have proclaimed themselves, by words or actions, experts in areas of photography where, frankly, they barely know shit. And yes, I'm a bit annoyed with some of those folks. In my mind, they're simply trying to fool people, trading on their skills and notoriety in one area and trying to play them off like they really know what they're doing or talking about in another. I call bullshit on that! Just because someone is an expert in one type of photography, they're not experts in all types.
Ok. I feel better getting some of this stuff off my chest. If you want to learn something about shooting glamour and you're up for learning some of it from an e-book on the subject, I suggest you purchase my e-book, Guerrilla Glamour, or some other e-book authored by someone who has actually shot tons of glamour for a very long time. Someone who knows, from oodles of experience, WTF they're talking about. I'm not claiming I'm the only one who knows what they're talking about with glamour. I'm certainly not. I'm merely trying to share some straight-up and sensible advice for choosing who you might learn from for any specific type of photography.
It seems the model at the top whom I chose to accompany this lengthy