Everyone is a photographer nowadays: get over it!

The meme “everyone is a photographer” is on the mouth of many so-called professional photographers. Too many times I have heard that the market is not good as “everyone is a photographer”. To all them I generally say: Get over it!.
Nowadays everyone has an oven, but I don’t hear cooks complaining that people don’t eat at restaurants because everyone is a cook. The fact that everyone is a photographer is not true, the only true statement is that everyone has a camera, but the two things are not the same.

Everyone is a photographer or everyone has a camera?

Saying that everyone is a photographer implies that everyone has the technical and psychological know how to take amazing photographs. Now, correct me if I am wrong, but it takes time and energy and a lot of experience to know how to handle a camera. It takes even longer to be able to master the camera while directing a subject. It takes even more experience to feel confident enough to master the technicalities, directing a subject and capturing the right moment at the same time.
Isn’t it then that the issue moves from “everyone is a photographer” to “everyone has a camera“? Then the comparison camera/oven with photographer/cook is more than ever correct. I bet my over can be use to bake the most amazing dishes in the world, but it does not mean I know how to use it properly.
So, how can your tell the difference between an experienced photographer and someone with a camera which is “good enough”?

One great photo is a lucky chance, not everyone is a photographer

When I evaluate a photographer, I like to look at her body of work. It means that while it takes a lucky chance to capture a single beautiful photograph, it takes much more to develop a proper portfolio. Saying that everyone is a photographer means that everyone who got one dish right is a cook. It takes much more than that to be lucky enough to capture a few shoots.
I will go deeper in destroying the idea that everyone with a camera equals everyone is a photographer. I don’t only ask to see a photographer’s body of work, but also a coverage of a single subject. This is particularly important when I look at wedding photographers; it is easy to compose a good portfolio from many different weddings. What makes the difference is to see the entire coverage of a wedding. That will show that not everyone is a photographer and that the devil is in the details.

Stop being a moaner!

Truth is that saying that everyone is a photographer is a story to cover up failures. If you don’t get enough clients, stop blaming the GWC (Guys With Cameras) and start looking at what you are or are not doing. Do you have a clearly defined target market? Do you have a product-market fit? Are you serving your ideal clients at best as you can? If everyone is a photographer and your market is shrinking, it means that you are not selling your experience or you are massively undervaluing yourself.
Stop moaning and roll up your sleeves. Work won’t come to you, it is you that needs to work hard to get the next client in. If you are in league with everyone who has a camera, maybe it is time for you to step up your game and find other niches of photography.
The reality is that the life for a working photographer is not simple, but it becomes much harder if you complain that everyone is a photographer. It becomes more challenging because you devalue yourself, you focus on what you don’t have and you compare yourself with whom a professional is not.

Actionable lists to move on

Do you want to stop thinking that everyone is a photographer and move on? We have a short, actionable list of tasks you can do to make it happen:

  1. Define your ideal client
  2. Prepare your product with a good product-market fit
  3. Make sure you reach your ideal clients

These are all things that a guy with a camera does not do; and if you don’t know how to action one or more of these points, it might be better to go back to the learning table: photography is a challenging business. If you want avoid getting stuck (and blaming the fact that everyone is a photographer) you need to be a professional, you need to embrace business as much as you embrace photography.

…and yes, we can teach you all about marketing, business and photography, and you can get in touch at any time!

Showing 5 comments
  • John Colson
    Reply

    Great post Carlo (again!)….

    This is something that is prevalent in general life as much as it is in photography. Yes, there are challenges in everything we do and sometimes things aren’t going to go the way you want them to, but blaming others rather taking a look at what you might of done differently is self defeating. In terms of photography, I recently heard of another photography (male) relatively local to me blaming women (the increase in the number female photographers) for the downturn in his business. Yes, there are many more women in photography nowadays (which is awesome by the way) and that does provide something of a challenge to male photographers, but surely the thing to do is understand the reasons behind their success and make changes accordingly!

    I knew the market I wanted to target when I started doing this and I have marketed myself in such a way as to (hopefully) appeal to the people I want to work for. In general it seems to be working… yes, there have been some hard times and there will be more I am sure but I haven’t once blamed someone else for any troubles I might of had… I try to learn from them and move on.

    Again… great post :-) x

    • Carlo Nicora
      Reply

      Hi John!
      Thanks for your comment. It is easier to blame someone else, but it does not solve the issues at the base of the problem.
      There will always be tough times, even if we know the market perfectly well, and even if we are perfectly geared towards it! It is just a great trait of a good business person to know how to reach the market and be tenacious to wait for the right time!

      Thanks again

  • Jim
    Reply

    Spent a few decades shooting sports for publication. All levels from T-ball to MLB to NFL to F1 racing. Have moved on as editors and schools and Pro Organizations continue to pay less than they used to. One big reason – we get so much for FREE from people who just want a credit line or to see their photo in print. A $4,000 job is now given to three to five “photographers” who will do it for nothing, or $150 a day.
    Youth sports, High School and such are even worse. Could reliably figure $500 per game a decade ago. Now I hear “your photos are a lot better, but Joe Photo Parent gave me 50 free prints”. I don’t blame the parent for opting for free work whether they buy mine or not – but competing with 20 of them at an event is a money loser.
    So, we move on to other commercial photo opportunities.

    • Carlo Nicora
      Reply

      Hi John,
      It is true that the market starts getting filled with people that have decent-enough quality to have one image live and I am sure certain editors are going to jump head first into this possibility. I personally think that professionalism is still an extremely valuable card we, professional photographer, should bring to every meeting.
      I see things changing, and unfortunately many of us are standing still where they were 10 years ago, complaining than “back in the days” things were different. What are we doing to adapt to the market and use our skills to make more than before?
      I don’t have a solution, but what you say “we move on to other commercial photo opportunities” is true, and more than that, we should not be afraid of exploring different ways of doing things differently.

      Thanks a lot for your comment!!!

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  • […] The meme “everyone is a photographer” is on the mouth of many so-called professional photographers. Too many times I have heard that the market is not good as “everyone is a photographer”. To all them I generally say: Get over it!. Nowadays everyone has an oven, but I don’t hear cooks complaining that people don’t eat at restaurants because everyone is a cook. The fact that everyone is a photographer is not true, the only true statement is that everyone has a camera, but the two things are not the same. Everyone is a photographer or everyone has a camera? Saying that everyone is a photographer implies that everyone has the technical and psychological know how to take amazing photographs. Now, correct me if I am wrong, but it takes time and energy and a lot of experience to know how to handle a camera. It takes even longer to be able to master the camera while directing a subject. It takes even more experience to feel confident enough to master the technicalities, directing a subject and capturing the right moment at the same time……..  […]

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