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Wow. So yesterday morning when I woke up and felt compelled to write a blog post from the comfort of my bed, I had no idea that it might turn into the social media shit storm that it did. Usually I am one of those people who grabs the popcorn and reads the Twitter battles like it’s the greatest form of entertainment since, well ever. I watch, I make a few snarky comments to friends, I quietly pick a side but I don’t really get involved. But apparently yesterday I struck a chord with some of you…enough of you to go and crash my website and have me spend the majority of my day responding to PIX related comments/ questions etc. So perhaps I can’t afford to have so many opinions in the future. I do have a business to run.

But, since this is obviously an extremely polarizing issue I thought I’d write some follow up comments in response to some of the feedback I received. So here goes.

First of all, I stand by everything I wrote yesterday. It was and still is my opinion, and that’s what it is meant to be. My blog. My opinion. My reaction to PIX. But some people read and extrapolated interpretations and very specific meaning from my words. There’s really nothing I can do about that but elaborate just a little bit. In the end, you’re all going to agree or disagree with some or all of what I said. So be it.

One major point of contention and surprisingly heated debate on Twitter was the idea that one cannot care about BOTH photography and fashion at the same time. That if you are a girly girl, you can’t possibly be smart and a great photographer and run a successful business. Hmm, not sure where that came from. If you go to my FB page, you’ll see that I’m wearing a freaking tutu in my profile picture.

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I’m not exactly the picture of all that is matronly and serious and devoid of all femininity and humor. I like clothes, I like accessories, I like getting my hair blown out etc. etc. But I personally think that this stuff has everything to do with my personal life and very little to do with my photography. So even though I do have to dress myself when I go to work, my primary focus is on the work, not on my outfit or my makeup. And this is exactly my point. We all have priorities and interests. My priority is trying to take great pictures. Sometimes I look cute while doing it, sometimes I look a hot mess. Looking cute or not looking cute does not affect the quality of the work. So look cute, don’t look cute. Whatever. But a photography magazine that seemingly promotes cuteness over the actual photography…that’s where I get hung up.

Another point I wanted to address was my mention of the kit lens as a “piece of shit”. Some people who shoot with kit lenses were offended by this. Maybe they can’t afford better gear yet. Maybe they don’t know the difference yet. That’s fine. What I would like to say is that I still think that a kit lens is a piece of shit. But, that I also started out shooting with said pieces of shit early in my career. Most of us did at some point. If you don’t know what a great piece of glass can do for you or if you can’t afford it yet, then you don’t need it and should stick with the gear you have. But as you start to grow as a photographer, you may also outgrow your gear or find that more advanced cameras and lenses perform better, faster, allow you to shoot in a way that your old gear didn’t. This is a natural progression. So my advice. If you can’t afford good gear yet, keep on plugging away and you’ll get there. I didn’t just suddenly run out and buy all of my gear one day. I’ve accumulated lenses and bodies and flashes and other tools over the course of many years. You will too if you haven’t already.

The last issue is that of what classifies a pro photographer from an amateur. I realize that this has been the subject of intense debate all over the place…and one that I have not read about or participated in so I’ll just give you my personal opinion/ story. In 2003 when I first quit my job and started shooting weddings for a living, I knew very little about photography. I knew enough to do a pretty decent job shooting a wedding according to my own uneducated low standards but my knowledge and skill was hardly expansive. When people asked me “what do you do?” and I replied with “I’m a photographer”, I always felt like kind of a fraud. I felt silly uttering those words because I knew they weren’t really true. I lacked the skill level and confidence that I knew I should have as a pro. And it took a couple of years for me to get to the point where I didn’t have nightmares about royally f’ing up before every single job. Even longer before I didn’t totally cringe and freak out at the very idea of having to actually pose people or give direction. Once I got to a point of solid competence and knew that I could deliver good consistent work every time, even if it rained, even if the lighting sucked, even if the people happened to be stiff or not fun. That’s when I became comfortable calling myself a pro. So that’s what I think, if you feel confident calling yourself a pro, then you’re a pro. If you feel deep inside that you’re kind of a fraud, then you’re still an amateur. No one can tell you what you are or aren’t because you know.

So I’m going to climb off of my soapbox for now and get back to work. If other things pop up that need to be addressed, I will do so. But I have truly enjoyed reading all of your comments and feedback, both the supportive and the angry. And I’m reading everything even if I have not had a chance to respond to everyone personally. So thanks for reading! xo

17 Responses to “A Social Media Shit-Storm”

  1. Carolina says:

    You know what I love about you? You speak your mind. Clearly. You should write more often. You are very good at it!

  2. MIchelle says:

    I love you friend! You have done an incredible job expressing yourself in the most sincere and hilarious manner. I could not agree with you more!

  3. Hi J
    Missed the fire storm but love this post. The fake it till you make it is a personal measurement that we all have to use. Unfortunately so many people want to believe they are past the point of being an amatuer when they really aren’t. That person measurement can be pretty low if all you rely on is fb.If they really want to know then they need to raise there rates and see if any one will pay for it i guess.
    Best to you and yours,
    Michael

    • Emanuel says:

      Well, I just read all of this chat on facebook. I went back to your post yesterday and to the magazine. I agree with your rant. After looking at the magazine it is a shock. You have a good handle on the problems with amateurs posing as professionals. The magazine must be a joke. It must be intended for female shopping not photography. If professional photography has gotten to this level it is a sad day. My female friends that are professionals spend their dollars on education and equipment.

  4. Erin says:

    JU; you rock!

  5. Sara France says:

    I had to go back and read the firestorm, sorry I missed it! I am so proud of you and I agree with everything you wrote today AND yesterday. Thanks for taking the time to speak your mind. BTW you are the most stylish photographer I know. I wish I was brave enough to wear a tutu.

  6. I’m still stuck on the fact that they used a stock photo from iStock for the cover. But that said, Justine, yet another fabulous post. Thanks for having such a strong and wonderful voice.

  7. Chris Moncus says:

    Well said. The whole kit lens thing was perfect.

  8. margie says:

    A tutu sewn with iron thread. You go girlie girl!

  9. Tammy says:

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. I perused the mag with an open mind and felt like my IQ dropped a bit page by page. Thanks for hitting the nail on the head.

  10. My good friend Amber sent me to look at your site because she said I’d love your branding (I do), but I actually think I love you! Word word word on every word.

  11. pamela says:

    I am sharing with the young photographers in my life. Thank you for taking the time, Justine.

  12. Stephen says:

    A kit lens is indeed a piece of shit :) Keep ‘em coming Justine!

  13. Tim Bishop says:

    Hey Justine, I came by you from the Queensberry site and have very much enjoyed looking through your work and how you’ve branded yourself. Even more so have I enjoyed reading through these last two blog entries! I too read PIX when it came out, quite enjoyed it to flick through and really thought it was aimed at MWACs, even thought it would be nice to have a guy version for those of us guy photographers that appreciate some style and aren’t complete gearheads. I didn’t appreciate at the time how insulting it would be to Professional female photographers that have worked hard to get their recognition and credit to be tarred with the same brush. To be fair anyone coming across your work and website would never mistake you for a 1950′s housewife with a camera! Much love Tx

  14. Brian Sprayberry says:

    I just wanted to say you look really hot in that tutu!

  15. Linda says:

    Justine,

    I agree with your statements and can understand you frustrations. I think what people took offence to was insinuating that a real “photographer” doesn’t have any desire for a flowery camera purse nor to accessorize their cameras or lenses etc. When you target a segment of the population (however unintentional) – there will always be a reaction.

  16. Jen R says:

    I like your definition of pro verses amiture. hope to get to be a pro one day..

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