Starting to Feel Bad

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Jeffininer's picture
Joined: 11/07/07
Posts: 1796
Starting to Feel Bad

I have a lot of friends on FB. I think about 99% of them know I'm into photography? I don't know, I'm just guessing Wink

Anyway. There is one girl from HS that I just noticed in about the past week has said she's looking for ideas for a photography business name, has posted a few photos on there called 'Photo Shoots', and has now posted up fliers showing that she's doing mini sessions for fall and christmas cards. Prices are what I would consider 'professional'. I'm really excited for her for taking the plunge!! I hope it really works for her. My problem is that her photos are subpar (at least by my standards). Out of focus, chops, color issues, etc. Just very snapshotty in general. I'm in no way ragging her at all!! I'm excited for anyone that loves photography!

Well, I sent her a message on FB because I thought it would be nice to get together sometime and talk 'shop'. I told her about clickin moms and how great it's been for me. Well then she comes out with asking me to be brutally honest with her and give her my opinion on her photos and if I thought it was a good idea for her to 'take the plunge' into a business :eek: What do I say? I couldn't bring myself to be honest, so I said something like 'I think you definately have an eye for photography! Everyone has room for improvment (heck, look at me!). But if you have the customer base, go for it!!' Not exact, but pretty close. Any ways, I think I scared her off Sad Should I have just told her the problems? I couldn't lie and say I loved her photos either!

Ugh! I just wanted a new 'photo' friend and now I'm afraid she won't want to be Sad

Sorry for the ramble, just wanted some of you guys' opinion on the matter.

EL2
EL2's picture
Joined: 12/05/07
Posts: 1665

Everyone has differing opinions about photography and their skills, etc.

IMO I think you should have been honest with her - point her to the right direction.

This same issue has been discussed in so many levels in this forum and also in other forums such as ILP.

I think photography should be of the highest quality and this is the reason why I am not in business. I want to refine my skills and ensure that I truly understand what I am doing, etc.

There are so many as you say "subpar" photographers out there that charge to the Ying-Yang, which I think depletes the quality of the business. Maybe I am being a bit snooty but as I see it, many people just don't get the concept that there is a lot more involved it's not just I have a good camera and I can come up with good images due to that. At least in my experience.

I know by being honest you could have hurt your friends feelings but I think it will help her in the long run.

Just my 0.02 cents Smile

Joined: 05/10/07
Posts: 427

i think you should've been honest too wording it in a nice way, where you could say something like "what I've learned is that when I see _____ for example in your photo of______ this is how you can avoid that/fix that..." kinda thing kwim? Try suggesting meeting up again because there's probably tons you can learn from each other, or her from you, who knows. Like El said, it's more than just having a good camera and pushing a button and i think too, people to don't see that past that part of it. GL, hope she responds back Smile

Jeffininer's picture
Joined: 11/07/07
Posts: 1796

El, I completely 100% agree with everything you said!

I guess I was just put on the spot with her question and didn't quite know how to respond. It's easy to give CC, because those that post the pictures are ASKING for your opinion. With her question, it was almost like she was asking for praise. Maybe I should have been honest...

I did heavly point her to CM (maybe I should also suggest ILP). CM would be a bit more helpfull because she could SEE the business stuff it took and how you really need 'all your ducks in a row' (BTW, I am so annoyed with that phrase now Wink ) Also, she can see that she should really learn her camera inside and out (she is shooting auto most of the time).

I really don't like being Debbie Downer.

Jeffininer's picture
Joined: 11/07/07
Posts: 1796

Gehana, thanks for the advice. Maybe when we chat again or when we meet-up I can try out your suggestion.

I was kind of hoping that a photography forum would do the dirty work, but maybe I need to learn to step up and not be afraid of hurting feelings.

Amy_&_Eva's picture
Joined: 08/23/07
Posts: 2378

I'm way below your ladies' level experience-wise, but still I totally agree with what El & Gehana said too! If your friend really wants to learn then she'll listen to you and hopefully see that you're trying to be supportive, which is great!

Jeffininer's picture
Joined: 11/07/07
Posts: 1796

I think where my problem lies is with the fact that I sought her out. I feel like that if I start ragging on her (politely!!!) then she'll think that's the only reason why I wanted to talk to her and that I'm just trying to put her down Sad

Joined: 05/10/07
Posts: 427

if she starts having issues with you 'talking shop' with her or getting feedback on her images rather than praise then maybe the issue lies with her. She may have tons of people telling her that her photos are the cats meow but none willing to tell her the truth. If someone didnt tell me the truth about the first images i posted, i wouldn't have been driven to get better and improve...isn't that what it's all about? Sometimes being a Debbie Downer (esp when they ask you) is the only way to be Smile I hope she takes your advice about CM/ILP.

sadieruth's picture
Joined: 06/09/05
Posts: 6178

I can understand where you are coming from. I don't think you did the wrong thing b/c you were polite, but honest. It's hard b/c I sometimes wonder what other people are thinking around here, but they make money doing it. I don't know, it's frustrating, but I hope you can work something out with her and find a friend! KUP okay?

La123's picture
Joined: 04/11/08
Posts: 815

That is a tough situation, especially if you want to make a friend. I do agree with what ppl are saying, but I'm like you in the way that I really wouldn't want to be the one to point out the issues. In fact, I had an acquaintance on fb who was trying to start up a business, and his pictures were no where near ready. He asked for my opinion, and I told him the truth, and ideas on how to fix the problems he was having (exposure/focus), and he never spoke to me again. So it really is a hard decision to make. I feel like what you said was really nice, so she shouldn't be put off by that. Hopefully she posts and asked on a forum, where it is easier to just be honest, because she is asking for it.

coolmama72's picture
Joined: 10/20/01
Posts: 8185

I think giving examples is a good way to be honest about it. I have a FB friend who's in business, and I'm not sure her pictures are up to par with charging prices. I've given feedback via private messages on a few photos so she can improve and she thanked me for it, said she really appreciated it. But I'm thinking that someone shooting on auto really shouldn't be charging prices just yet. You can't be a professional when you're letting the camera make ALL of the decisions. Anyhow, let us know how it goes if you hear back from her.

m3773a's picture
Joined: 03/15/08
Posts: 170

It's not an easy situation, if you just come out and tell her what is wrong with her photos she may think you are being negative because you are jealous or something, especially if she thinks she is great at photography.
If you want to make friends with her you can ask her opinion on some of your photos, show her your best work, talk about settings, exposure, very technical stuff so she can realize that she has no clue about most of those things and maybe she isn't ready to go pro, you will open the door for her to ask you questions.

Once she starts doing real sessions she will see this is not easy, she will melt under the pressure of the photoshoot.
Don't understand how she will get clients if her work isn't that good. Even when I didn't know much about photography I wouldn't hire someone who takes just ok photos, especially if she charges pro prices.

connorsmum's picture
Joined: 11/29/02
Posts: 1160

Ugh, what a tough situation to be in. I'm not sure what I would do to be honest.

I have a friend who is also into photography. She has set up a FB page and does all sorts of shoots. I have no idea if she charges anything for them (although I hope not!). I am happy for her that she obviously has a real love for photography but there are lots of flaws with her stuff, focus & exposure issues, dependance of the on board flash creating harsh shadows and pin lights, overuse of vingettes and contrast making the skin go all funky.

However, like others have said, what other people get from photography is very subjective. This friend of mine gets rave comments about how wonderful her work is. I don't see it but it doesn't mean others don't. As I don't think she is charging or at least not shooting anyone outside her own family, I wouldn't say anything to her. I do compliment her when she posts stuff that really does look good. I'm sure she will learn eventually.

Joined: 10/20/07
Posts: 480

OK, I will be TOTALLY honest on this. There are plenty of "should say this" "should do that" situations, but when it comes right down to it, I have several friends and aquaintances IRL and online who have thrown that question out there. I have even seen it a couple of times over the years on this board, and I have never seen someone tell them "NO, you really are not there yet and need to learn a lot more and get more experience before you consider it." (not even nicely). I think I would have responded similarly to the way you did, then AFTER building some rapport, find out why she is doing this as a business (is her family in dire straits?, for fun? boredom? cuz everyone says she should?). When you have a chance to "talk shop" she will realize how far she has to go and may reconsider...

Jeffininer's picture
Joined: 11/07/07
Posts: 1796

Thank's for everyone's thoughts on this.

I've chatted with her now a couple of times on FB chat. She's very nice and is very interested in learning. She has even said a few times that she thinks she may be jumping into this too quickly. We're going to get together for coffee and compare work. It think Beth's approach is probably how I will go. Once we're a bit more comfortable talking to each other and I KNOW she wants my opinon on her work, then I'll point out those issues and improvements to her.

I think her situation is that she is a single mom that works from home and needs some extra income. It's not the way to go about things, but people have been telling her she needs to start a business, so I think she's been pumped with praise and never actually had her work critiqued by other photographers.

Anywho, it looks like I didn't scare her off and hopefully she'll work at learning more to improve herself.

Amy_&_Eva's picture
Joined: 08/23/07
Posts: 2378

That's great! Let us know how it goes! Smile

jooniper's picture
Joined: 08/27/07
Posts: 780

Honestly, I'd like to think I'd have the guts to say "I think you're fantastic for how long you've been at it, and I think someday you'll make a great pro photographer, but I think it's be good to take a bit more time to build up a portfolio and maybe join a group to help you see things with a professional's eyes, it's a ruthless business...."
As a matter of fact, I gave advice pretty similar to that just the other day (and I meant every word of it).