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It seems like every other day I’m hearing new photography myths.
In fact, I think it’s one of the industries that gets the most heat. Of course, we’ve all heard the basic photography myths, like our jobs are easy because we get to be creative or make our own schedules, but what about some less-known photography myths?
Here are 19 busted photography myths.
Photography Myth #1: Photographers Work Whenever They Want
photo by mapodile via iStock
This is one of the photography myths that I hear all of the time and that makes me upset every single time. If I worked whenever I wanted, I wouldn’t be working at 4am and I wouldn’t be working at midnight.
Photographers work when our clients need us to. We also work when the elements allow us to. Oftentimes, this means that we are actually waiting around to be able to work.
One of my favorite photography tips for beginners is to become a parent, because it allows you to learn how to work for 15 minute spurts at a time (which is a lot like photography!).
Photography Myth #2: If You Get Compliments On Your Photos, Then You Should Go Pro
photo by http://www.fotogestoeber.de via iStock
Some photography misconceptions are larger than others, and this is the largest one of all. Of course, your family is going to compliment you on a skill you are learning. It’s their job.
But, if you want to be a professional photographer, you’re going to be working for clients (many of which will be complete strangers) and they may not share the same sentiments.
Here’s a great tip for beginners: post your photography on a forum or Facebook group and ask for feedback from people you don’t know. I assure you, you will be humbled. Constructive criticism is a must, and taking that criticism and using it as a learning tool is a must as well!
Recommended Photography Reading
Photography Myth #3: Your Shoot Rate Equals Your Hourly Rate
As Jessica Kobeissi points out above, your shoot rate does not equal your hourly rate. I actually find that a lot of photography myths have to do with the amount of money we do or don’t make, so let me break it down for you.
When you quote a client a rate for a 2-hour shoot, let’s say it’s $150, you aren’t making $75 per hour because that rate includes the time you spend setting up for the shoot, driving to it, editing the photos and communicating with your client.
What would otherwise be a $75/hour job is now a $25/hour job! You have to set your rate at a point that ensures you make enough money per hour to cover ALL of your time, not just the time you’re actually pressing the shutter button.
Photography Myth #4: You Don’t Need to Work Events With Anyone Else
photo by demaerre via iStock
Anyone that understands basic photography techniques understands that you always need a second shooter for large events, like weddings.
One of the photography myths that I hear the most often is that you can make more money simply by tackling large projects alone. But, what happens when you catch the flu a day before a 250-person wedding? Who will bail your business out then?
Besides, events like weddings are simply too large for one photographer to handle on their own. You can’t photograph the happy couple exchanging their vows and photograph the reaction of their parents in the audience at the same time, can you?
Photography Myth #5: Clients Want You to Be Creative
photo by ASashka via iStock
Sometimes, clients don’t want you to be creative, they want you to create their vision (which might include making them look a lot better than they do in real life).
One of my most-quoted photography tips for beginners is this: ask for clarification. Ask what your client wants out of the shoot. If you’re not sure, ask. If you are sure, still ask. It’ll save you a world of frustration!
Yes, you might have a creative vision for a shoot that’s out of this world, but this is still a service industry and you need to fulfill the wishes of the client, even if they don’t jive with your creative ideas.
Photography Myth #6: Prints Cost the Same Amount as CDs
photo by CarmenMurillo via iStock
Remember when Walmarts used to host family portrait sessions by the entrance for incredibly cheap prices? The reason was that they could get you in the door with cheap JPGs and then sell you on overpriced prints.
This is one of those photography myths that has survived the digital revolution. Prints do not cost the same as digital files. They’re where photographers make a lot of their money.
Think about it like this: with a CD of digital images, there’s not much you can do in the way of packaging it for more profit.
But with prints, you can offer different sizes, different types (i.e., canvas or metal), an assortment of both, and so on. You can show clients different price packages with different print options. That’s hard to do with a CD full of photos.
Photography Myth #7: Creating a Pretty Website Will Get You Clients
photo by Rawpixel via iStock
I think this is one of the photography myths that isn’t solely chained to the photography industry. I think a lot of business owners assume that if their website is beautiful, they will automatically get leads off of it.
This is a problem, especially when people spend a lot of money creating their perfect website to get no business from it.
So, how do you fix this problem?
You have to understand SEO. More to the point, you need to know SEO for photographers. Your basic photography techniques will only get you so far in your photography business - you also need to know some basic business techniques that will help draw potential clients to your website to see your beautiful images!
Photography Myth #8: You Don’t Need Contracts
Again, Jessica Kobeissi provides you with the great resource above.
Whenever I write about photography tips and techniques for beginners, I’m writing about contracts. I hate to see new photographers get taken advantage of because photography myths, like the fact that you don’t need contracts, get in their way.
You absolutely, positively need a contract. Check out Jessica’s video above to learn why contracts are so important.
Photography Myth #9: You Don’t Need More Than One Camera
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash
This is one of those photography myths that only takes one time for you to realize it’s not true, because the first time you experience a camera issue in the middle of a shoot will be the last.
Next time, you’ll have a backup camera. Fortunately, your backup camera doesn’t have to be expensive. There’s tons of options you can choose from that will do the job and do it well while your primary camera is fixed.
Photography Myth #10: “Natural Light Photographers” Don’t Need to Understand Lighting
photo by Evgeniy Grishchenko via iStock
I think this is one of the photography myths that is really new. I’ve seen “natural light photographers” start popping up on my Facebook feed and it seems like what these photographers are saying is that they don’t need to understand proper lighting.
This is patently false.
Plus, there’s no excuse to not understand lighting since it is so easy to learn. One of the most important photography techniques for beginners is learning how to manipulate light to help you improve your images.
Don’t fall into the trap of pretending that natural light is an excuse for not understanding how to use light to better your shots!
Photography Myth #11: You Can Create Your Own Contracts
This is one of the more dangerous photography myths out there. I can’t tell you how many photography contract templates I’ve come across online that are completely riddled with holes.
And since you definitely don’t know which templates were created by someone who knew what they were doing and which were created by someone who had no idea, your safest bet is to contact an attorney to draw one up for you.
Audiopedia walks you through what a contracts attorney is and how you can contact one, because your catalogue of photography tips and techniques should include knowing when you need help!
Photography Myth #12: Becoming a Destination Wedding Photographer Is Easy
photo by beckerphotos via iStock
You can’t write, “available for travel,” on your website and assume you’ll be a destination wedding photographer in no time.
In fact, there are two types of destination wedding photographers I’ve come across in my multiple decades as a photographer…
First, there’s the destination wedding photographers who made a niche for themselves in the industry over years and years of refusing better paying jobs. Second, there’s the destination wedding photographers who have simply photographed every other major event in a person’s life.
Either way, becoming a destination wedding photographer is a long game. This isn’t to say that you can’t become a destination wedding photographer, but just know that it will take a lot of time, patience, and relationship building to do so.
Photography Myth #13: Do Giveaways to Get More Clients
photo by fotostorm via iStock
Giveaways are a tough one…
On the one hand, a well-timed giveaway can help you drum more business because it builds excitement among potential clients for getting a free session or upgraded prints or whatever it is you’re giving away.
But the linchpin of a giveaway is that you have to have people participate to do the giveaway. This is easier said than done…
For starters, if you have 12 followers on Facebook, all of which are your relatives, doing a giveaway doesn’t make a ton of sense.
Secondly, if you do have a healthy number of followers, you have to devise a marketing strategy to get the word out to them that you have a giveaway going on.
What’s more, what if someone that lives 14 hours away wins your free portrait session? How will you justify the cost of going all that way to do a free photo shoot? What if someone on the other side of the world wins the 30x40 print you’re giving away? Are you prepared to pay a ton for shipping?
There’s a lot of logistics that go into making a giveaway worthy of your time, and for some photographers, that logistical nightmare just isn’t worth it.
Photography Myth #14: Nobody Will Notice Your Tiny Portfolio
If you use the same four models for all of your portfolio photos, potential clients are going to notice. Follow Arun Barnard’s lead and create a portfolio that will really catch attention.
Most photography tips and techniques don’t cover how to create a phenomenal portfolio, and I assure you you’re going to need this skill moving forward.
Photography Myth #15: You Don’t Need to Network With Other Photographers
photo by AzmanL via iStock
Of all the stupid photography myths, this one I will never understand. I get that other photographers are “technically” your competition. However, they are also great resources.
Other photographers have taught me everything I know about my business. They’ve given me hot leads. They’ve answered questions and been some of my best friends.
Don’t let your pursuit of a paycheck get in your own way!
Photography Myth #16: Once You Start a Blog, People Will Read It
Blogs are boring, let’s be honest. I’ve never followed a blog for any amount of time.
So why is the fact that people love blogs one of the most popular photography myths?
People find blogs because they are looking for a specific piece of information. For instance, if you’re reading this you’re probably here because you’re interested in photography myths.
So, learn how to create a blog that is SEO-driven with Ahrefs, that way your blog has the juice to reach as many people as possible and drive them to your site to see your gorgeous photos.
Photography Myth #17: Your Portfolio Should Include Every Person You’ve Photographed
photo by Sinenkiy via iStock
Earlier, I talked about how it’s a myth that people won’t notice your tiny portfolio with images of the same four people.
Your portfolio shouldn’t include every person you’ve ever photographed, either.
It’s a fine balance between having a portfolio that’s too small and narrow-focused and having one that’s far too big and overwhelming.
Strive to include only your very best photos - photos that exemplify your talents, skills, and creative vision - and ditch the rest.
Photography Myth #18: The Photography Industry Is Booming
photo by RichVintage via iStock
I’ll be the first to admit that for some photographers, business is indeed booming.
But across the industry, many photographers are struggling to make ends meet. This is partly due to the sheer expense of being a photographer (cameras, lenses, and other accessories can be VERY expensive, after all) and partly due to the intense competition there is for clients.
I remember a time when there were two professional photographers in my hometown. Now there’s upwards of a dozen.
And as I write this, the COVID-19 pandemic is sweeping around the world, and it’s definitely not doing the photography industry any favors.
If people are telling you that the photography industry is booming, you need to take it with a grain of salt. Yes, you can be a successful photographer, but you will have to work hard to make it happen!
Photography Myth #19: A Love of Photography Equals a Love of the Industry
I love movies, but that doesn’t mean I want to be an actor.
In the same way, a love of photography doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to love being a professional photographer, as Tyler Stalman points out above.
This is one of those dangerous photography myths that convinces people to start a business when they aren’t ready to. Before you start a photography business, be sure you love the idea of being a small business owner too.