Fstoppers' Own Rebecca Britt's Fantastic Craigslist Rant

Fstoppers' Own Rebecca Britt's Fantastic Craigslist Rant

We all get to that point. That point where we can't take it anymore. Where we just have to voice an opinion lest our head explode from the building pressure. Rebecca has just about enough of bad clients searching for free services, and decided to take her stand on Craigslist- the soap box of the internet.

Rebecca posted the following to Craigslist:


Am a professional photographer in the Rio Grande Valley and am searching for serious clients who know the value of an amazing photograph. A photograph can capture a moment in time that otherwise could not be replicated, whether it be from a wedding, a pregnancy, birthday party (Quinceañera), or other special event that occurs in one's lifetime. A photograph can also help market a business in ways that some business owners simply cannot comprehend. Consumers are visual. Heck, people in general are visual beings, and sight is the bodily sense we depend on the most. It should be obvious that the visual aspect of your campaign would be one of the most important. Photography and Videography can be one of the most meaningful investments you make in your lifetime. Why risk those special memories just for a cheaper rate to a photographer whose quality and experience is sub-par to say the least?

These are a few things that I can promise that I can or will not do as a true professional:

Things I promise to do:

I promise to use actual professional grade equipment (well over 10k) that is well worth your investment, and not some entry level camera I picked up at Wal-mart along with some groceries, socks and toilet paper that was also on my shopping list for that day.

I promise that I will be honest about my experience or schooling. "I have been shooting since I was twelve-years-old with my disposable Kodak or Ashton Kutcher inspired Nikon Coolpix point and shoot," is NOT an acceptable form of experience.

I promise to have each and every one of you sign a contract that protects not only you from the photographer skipping out with your $500 deposit (Yes, this does happen.), but also protects me from those of you who try to skip out on paying me. (This happens more often.)

I promise to dress appropriately for each photoshoot or event that I attend and not like I am about to head out to the gym or worse loose like I am about to steal away the Maid of Honor/Best Man away for as secret rendezvous when I should be capturing the bride throwing the bouquet.

I promise that I can cough up whatever legal documentation you need that can prove that my business is legitimate. (IE: Tax ID, Business Paperwork ect...)

I promise to always charge you sales tax for anything that I provide because that's the law. I can't keep taking amazing photographs from prison for tax evasion.

I promise that I can actually take amazing photographs of women that does NOT require them to be nude or in a bikini.

I promise to use all anti-duckface filters that I have at my disposal.

I promise to always make sure you sign a model release.

I promise to always have a backup plan for when the shit hits the fan. If my camera breaks, no problem, I have a backup. What? My batteries are dead, no biggie I have extras... you get the picture.

I promise that ALL of the photos that are on my online portfolio and Facebook page are actually mine and that I didn't steal another photographer's photos or pull a 'copy and paste' from Google Images.

I promise that any music I use on any videos or slideshows for your event contain royalty free music and not a Billboard top ten that will probably land the both of us in court for copyright infringement.

I promise that I will always shoot in 'M' or Manual mode. Despite what others have told you... 'P' mode isn't short for 'Professional'.

I promise to always shoot portrait and commercial sessions in RAW for the best quality images. JPEG is for events. Then again you probably have no clue what I just said.

I promise to respect you as a client and your time as I expect to be respected, as well.


Things I promise NOT to do:

I promise never to charge you a 'friend rate', unless that is you're actually a close friend or family member. 'Facebook friends' need not apply for this service.

I promise never to desaturate or color grade your photos to give it that 'antique look'. Please give your photos at least forty years to age.

I promise never to use Instagram. EVER...

I promise never to over-tilt the image to the point that I land your great-aunt Mildred in the hospital for vertigo when she walked by your framed engagement photo.

I promise that I will never overuse a vignette or ever use a white vignette period.

I promise to never use selective coloring (spot color), textures, poor typography (text) on any of your photos.

I promise that none of your photos will ever end up on Youarenotaphotographer.com (Very Important!)

I promise never to force your family to hold up a picture frame for a photo. That's just plain stupid.

I promise never to over-soften your skin and make you look like a Barbie doll reject. Example: HERE.

I promise that I will never overdo HDR. If I do use HDR, you'll never even realize it.

I promise never to force an engaged couple to pose in front of an abandoned, burnt out, decrepit building where a family of four perished the winter before. That's just in bad form.

I promise never to hang your newborn baby from a net. I don't remember signing up for a newborn fishing expedition or a resulting lawsuit when that net breaks.

I never promise to Photoshop something that I know that I can't. Just because I can Photoshop that little extra budge in your tummy or arms doesn't mean I am required to. (Unless I'm getting paid to do the extra editing, and in that case Photoshop away!!!)

And lastly, I promise never to use my pop-up flash!!!

All satire aside, the honest truth is that if you are looking for a quality photographer who will give you great images then Craigslist is NOT the place to be looking for them. Google, research and word of mouth are your best bets when looking for a photographer. There is nothing wrong with being an amateur or a hobbyist photographer, but amateurs shouldn't be charging clients to begin with. If you see a price that is too good to be true, then it probably is, as the saying goes. If you cannot afford a professional photographer, my advice to you is to step away from Craigslist, take a few months to save up and then book an actual professional- your wall and Facebook page will appreciate it. The question that I get the most is why professional photographers charge so much... Here is the answer: My time, my cost and most importantly... my talent. It takes several hours to not only shoot, but to take those images home and to edit them in Photoshop (or whatever other editing software people use), if it's several hundred images (like in a wedding for instance) we can end up making about minimum wage. It also takes time to learn new software and techniques used to create your images. My equipment on a whole is rather expensive because it is professional grade equipment, I spend thousands of dollars a year not only buying gear, but maintenance on said gear, as well. Talent cannot be bought, it sometimes can be taught, but more often than not a great photographer has a natural talent that can't come from any book.

So, the next time you try to hit up a photographer for some free images or a 'try out' session or to try to get a few free prints thrown in, remember you don't go up to a dentist asking them to throw in a free cleaning. You don't go to a restaurant and try to get a free meal. You don't visit a doctor and expect them to hand over a discount. We don't expect you to do any of these things either, just like in this example: HERE. Now, that would really be in bad form. There are a ton of great photographers in the Rio Grande Valley. So stay away from Glamour Shots in the mall, the convention center (where every amateur photographer under the sun seems to be), and downtown and spend some time instead looking some of us up online. The Valley has photographers that are versatile and some who specialize in certain types of photography (wedding, quinceañera, maternity or commercial). I promise you, there is someone out there who fits you and your budget.

Yours sincerely,
A Rio Grande Valley Professional Photographer

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Pete Stott's picture

Amazingly well said. Doesn't come off as offensive or with any ego--just a great way to help others understand the industry. May I quote these words on my blog?

As long as you give credit, you can post wherever you like :)

Tam Nguyen's picture

Rebecca, this is one of the most well-written pieces on FS. Top notch thought process, quality and tone. I seriously could not agree more with what you said.

I agree - and for those who dont. Maybe you all should go back to work doing what you did before you bought your first walmart camera after your grandma hired you to take the family portrait and now you call yourself a "profesional". It was ment as a joke and venting from those "so called" photographers - if you are offended then maybe you fall into the later

Tam Nguyen's picture

Btw, Jaron used to be my favorite writer here, but I think Rebecca just stole the spot. @facebook-28205623:disqus, you gotta up your game!

Gah! ;)

That was stupid and uncalled for. Just be a freaken professional and do your job. If you lose a job to an Uncle Bob then the clients just weren't fit for you. Grow up.

Tam Nguyen's picture

I really don't see how that's "stupid and uncalled for". Rebecca merely expressed herself and advertised her service. She wasn't attacking anybody, nor was she being arrogant.

Garrett Graham's picture

I think Rebecca's listing is more likely to entertain pompous photographers than attract clients. In fact I think it is more likely to make clients shy away from her
bitterness than anything else. I think she is entitled to her opinion and agree
with most of it, but I think it could have been delivered with more tact?

And then I think... she's a "professional" advertising on Craigslist. LMAO

Garrett Graham's picture

Oh come on now...how many of us use Facebook...is that any better?

Seriously, people buy houses, industrial machinery, cars, airplanes, land, looking on CL, all these things cold a LOT more than a photoshoot. Stop knocking on her for being on there. I'm willing to bet that survey says more than 60% advertise on CL.

Tam Nguyen's picture

Agreed. I don't think CL is a professional place to run an ads anyway. If your clients happen to have found you on CL, you're either not professional, or your client isn't exactly a good fit.

Facebook is a tad better than CL, in the terms that at least FB doesn't yet have categories like M2W, M2M, W2M, and W2W.

Garrett Graham's picture

I think FStoppers comment system needs to be revamped. I can't use Chrome and these comments posted clearly before mine don't show up until after?

Tam Nguyen's picture

You mean Disqus? Yes, I agree, it's a piece of crap. Not sure why FS decided to use third-party comment system instead of Wordpress' own system.

Garrett Graham's picture

Maybe they should rename it to Disqust lol! I really don't like it...slow and buggy. I am sure there are at least 10 other comments systems that work better.

Hmmm...not understanding that at all. Why not cover all the bases? For someone like me whose full time profession is the military CL is invaluable. If its not online, it doesnt exist to me. Between a good google search, CL search and service specific sites like Greatschools.net we can find the things we need in a new home from anywhere in the world. I picked the realtor who bought my house from while in Afghanistan and yes, I checked CL. It was not my only source or even primary one but I wanted someone who was as comfortable with working online as I was and the fact that she knew and understood the role for CL was a big factor.

After you go in "craigslist" looking for a photographer... You browse through a couple and then you see this... is that a deal maker for you? or is that something you look for whenever you are looking for photographers on CL?Personally thats waaay to much..

All the training and use of 'M-mode' on your camera does not make you a professional. As Brian said, just shutup and do your job. Not everyone can afford you or wants you. Deal. Ugh I could keep going...

Garrett Graham's picture

I will agree that I have interacted with many who use the term "professional" and regardless of their credentials I see no relationship to the word and the person. Rebecca's style does not particularly exite me and thankfully I can locate 1500 photographers in a 500 mile radius that will.

To me M is for complex strobe work only. I spend 99% of the time parked in A because that is what I want to control. Shooting in M only is a bit of snobbery that is like using an analog phone. When ever someone mocks a technological solution I ask them what it would be like in reverse. If you offered an all manual camera to someone who had only known the various "computer assisted" modes which would they take?

Garrett Graham's picture

Rebecca I totally understand where you
are coming from...although from a different perspective. I think your article
is funny and informative, but the fact is ... there are more
"photographers" today than ever before and although many are uninformed
many do work within in the confines of their equipment and ability. We must all
admit that art in its most raw form is only art from the perspective of the
beholder. If I only shoot weddings with a FujiFilm Mini 7S and I make money
doing it because clients love the style, packaging and uniqueness of it
all...does it make it any less enjoyable? I don't sign a contract when I have
my neighbor work on my 1969 VW that I love dearly, but I trust from experience and
word of mouth that he will take care of it. I 100% agree that it is the customer’s
responsibility to seek a capable or qualified individual to do work for them.
The ones that don't you probably would not want for your clients anyway. It is
unfortunate that there are sooo many bad photographers duping people into
paying for their work, but they will only get away with it once or twice before
customers go running into the arms of a capable photographer. If some customers
think that by jumping from one bad photographer to the next is going to solve
their problem they will be sorely disappointed as there are certainly plenty to
go around. Here are some of the best points I can give people looking to commission
a photographer: A) Ridiculously low prices should be a red flag and you should just
walk away. B) If a DVD is provided with every single image they took then the
photographer is selling only volume not quality and you should just walk away.
C) If the photographer is willing to shoot for free then they do not value
their own abilities and you should just walk away. D) Determine how important a
particular event is before you set a budget…if you can’t come up with too many
events more important than the one you are planning you should probably be
willing to spend more than you did on your TV, car stereo or laptop. Rather than
being offended by a real photographers pricing call your Uncle John and just walk
away. E) As customers some of us tend to put on the bargain hat too quickly.
When we are on the other side providing services we want to charge what we know
is fair based on education, experience, investment, time and talent. As a
consumer understand that quality is never a bargain. You can get IKEA furniture
or you can get hand-crafted ETHAN ALLEN furniture or you can find something in
between. Just don’t expect ETHAN ALLEN for IKEA prices.


Very unprofessional.

John Godwin's picture

Nice rant, but really, if you have to use Craigslist to reach your target audience, well, it says a lot about your business model and market penetration.

I also wouldn't hire someone who wrote that. Being disgruntled with other people in business is a tell-tale sign that the person isn't secure about their own work. Other photographer's just shouldn't bother you.

I agree that this is an interesting perspective to read as a photographer, but I do think this would turn away potential clients rather than attract them. It comes off bitter. I loose work to "less expensive" photographers all the time. I've learned to not get my feelings hurt move on to the next one. If some one uses you because you are the cheapest, then they will get rid of you when something cheaper comes along. I work with people that love my work. If they feel like they got a good deal, then we are both happy. I would rather make $3000 from one job than make $500 on six jobs. Just my two cents...

Rebecca Britt's picture

It's a good thing that I don't freelance anymore, huh? LOL! Actually I've been getting some funny and positive feedback from people stumbling across the post.

Garrett Graham's picture

I don't think there is anything wrong with what I saw...just not the style I enjoy. Again Rebecca I agreed with just about everything you wrote I think it is just the delivery method and the platform you chose that made it come off bitter and unprofessional.

It always makes me laugh to see people bragging about "shooting in M mode"... Do they also put duct tape in front of their light meter readout? The evaluative exposure meter is doing all kinds of crazy automatic choices in your back whether you shoot M,A,P or whatever...

Mike Lerner's picture

Coming from someone who has music on her site?...

Rebecca Britt's picture

Hey at least it's royalty free. :D