Jared Polin's Harsh Advice About Photography and Business to Student

Jared Polin uploaded his latest video, “The Harsh Truth About Photography, Business, Success, and Life.” The video details a conversation he had with a film student in Philadelphia.

Polin goes through the conversation he had with the anonymous student and learned about his hesitation in joining the industry after having a rough few years (while still in college) and hearing about nightmare clients. The student goes on to tell him his hesitations lie in the fact that he sees other creatives get jobs for their lackluster, or “sucky work,” while he hasn't had as much luck. He continues to tell Polin that while he has social media pages set up, that he’s not very active in marketing, that he’s a photographer for hire, and tells him the only people that really know about his business are his family and co-workers.

Polin’s straightforward response is simple: “Well, if nobody knows you exist, how will you get jobs?” His advice to the student was, “If you feel that your work is much better than others, then you need to make people aware of the work that you do. You need to go and get those jobs and own it. Own it!” 

While the video itself is over 13 minutes long, it is a nice kick in the ass to any photographer who may feel they are in a rut or have been uninspired. He ends it with a quote from his father, “There are three types of people in this world: there’s people that make things happen, there are people that let things happen, and there are people who wonder what happened.” And poses the question, “Which one are you?”

What do you think about Polin's advice and response to the student? What advice would you offer him or her?

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23 Comments

michael buehrle's picture

spot on. if you want something, make it happen.

Terry Waggoner's picture

Insightful as the gentlemen appears to be his online presence is too sophomoric for any attention from me................
then again I could be too and crusty to understand..........

Tony Clark's picture

Perfect response to what sounds like yet one more entitled young person. The world is cold and competitive with few people following any morels or rules. You cannot worry about lowballers or anyone else's level of talent. Take care of the things that are within your control and find happiness in working hard.

Terry Waggoner's picture

Tony........morels are mushrooms

Eric Mathiasen's picture

And they're delicious.

16mm Camera's picture

These guys are being told by “youtube photographers” that they can do it too, with “hard work”. Really lame photography business tips (chris hau) and other tricks by other unseasoned photographers.

I’m not saying that is the only reason, but photography is super hip now and you have influencers telling you to quit school and buy a camwera, the rest is gravy I can understand the disconnect.

It’s a dog eat dog world where every other photographer is revenue out of yuyt pocket.

That’s the reality, that’s basement bottom mind you but better to be prepared than not at all.

i've been shooting since I was 13 years old. I've worked for Rolling Stone, i've toured with bands, i've paid my dues. I sat in my room at my dads house for years waiting for stuff to happen when what I need to do was make stuff happen.

16mm Camera's picture

Make stuff, active roll in your career makes total sense. My comment wasn't to your video specifically, but generally overall. Your content is on point and you're actually fundamentally knowledgable about the craft. I have subscribed to you for awhile and like what you do.

Just wanted to be sure to clear that up in case I accidentally grouped you into the specific "influencer" group to which I was referring.

Also I should refrain from typing on a mobile phone period.

Sorry for the delayed response Jared as well as mistakenly implying you were included in the group to which I was referring.

Your experience and knowledge on the subject is apparent through your videos even without the specific work experience.

Anonymous's picture

Having made the effort to look at his work, I am once again reminded that commercial success as a photographer has nothing to do with the quality on that photographer's work.

What he is doing is the well-established marketing technique of becoming identified as a subject matter expert.

However, I cannot stand him, and I absolutely refuse to watch his content - to be fair, this could be colouring my view of his work, as much as I tried to remain objective. See: the halo effect.

Nicole Jackson's picture

I agree with everything you said. It's all in marketing. I wouldn't go to him for advice. I can't stand him. He's rude and comes off as condescending. I had the unfortunate luck of finding his channel. I saw a few and was like meh. One particular episode made me hate him and I stopped watching him all together. He was doing photo critiques and he was extremely rude to the people who sent him links to his online profolios. Yuck.

Thanks guys for the support. Thank you for clouding a solid message that will help people with telling me my work sucks though you honestly don't know me or the work i've done or what i've accomplished in my life.

The only reason you can hate on me is because I made you aware of me over the last eight years on youtube. You're talking about me. Good, bad, indifferent, you're talking.

I know my work, I know what I do and have done and will continue to do. It's fine for you guys to doubt my work or tell me I suck because I am actually secure in my work.

Anonymous's picture

At no stage did I assert that your work "sucks", but I certainly am not falling over myself to see any more of it. You say that I don't know you or the work you have done; sure, but I know what you put out on your YouTube videos, as it pertains to your persona; and I know what you put up on your website, as being the most outstanding examples of your work.

One can only chuckle at your somewhat defensive response, within which you assert that you are entirely "secure", both within yourself, and your work. To belabor the point, if you were as "secure" as you assert, you would be bothered to respond defensively, rather, you would recognise that these things are subjective questions of taste, shrug, and move on. But sure, no doubt you are entirely "secure".

What makes you think you are entitled to "support", simply by virtue of the fact that you exist?

As to "hating on you", you are granting yourself WAY too much credit; you simply do not factor enough to deserve the emotional expenditure of hatred. And just so you know, I do not watch your videos, whenever you pop up in my YouTube feed, I click that I'm not interested; and I do not talk about you at all (beyond my comment here).

How about this; if you don't want people to think poorly of you, don't construct a public persona such as you have.

Your portfolio is public and people know the work you've done so far.

Taking photos is easy. Selling photos is hard.

marcus joyce's picture

Taking good photos is hard, parting fools and their money is easy. PS I like Jared and I'm enjoying his podcast keep it up.

David Pavlich's picture

Sorta' true. When you're 66 years old and were unkind to your body when you were 36 years old, taking some photos can be miserable. I just shot a micro distillery, no, I didn't sample the products :-), and the first shot was a tower that required me to actually get on the floor with my tripod in a low, low position to shoot up. That was NOT easy. Growing old ain't for sissies!

David Pavlich's picture

Many parents from my generation, 1969 high school graduate, are the reason for this sort of behavior from these youngsters. Many parents decided that keeping score was bad and/or that everyone that played should get a trophy...don't want to hurt their self esteem.

These parents didn't teach their children that the world isn't a kind place, that you actually have to perform at a certain level to succeed. It's created a sense of entitlement.

One of the best single lines that really brings this home comes from a real entrepreneur and rock star, Gene Simmons. In one of his books, he states, "the world doesn't need you." This has to sink in to so many youngsters out there.

And while I'm pontificating, many of us are quick to judge the millenials as snowflakes or whiners. Just remember that there's a percentage of them that are in uniform doing what about 97% of the population, including me, wouldn't or didn't do.

Quentin Zenner's picture

Jared puts out genuinely useful content that has taught me a lot. Is it all gold? No, but I'd say he's certainly on the better side of the bell curve in regards to quality and quantity. I can't help but respect and admire a guy who works as hard as he does. As a photographer who'd like to one day become a full-time professional, he's an excellent motivational role model for me.

I don't think he's perfect and certainly don't agree with everything he says or how he says it, but I do believe some of the criticisms brought against him aren't accurate and seem to be generated more out of ignorance or misrepresentations.

David Pavlich's picture

We can't agree with anyone 100% of the time and I'm sure Jared would agree 100%. :-) I like Jared's real world reviews and would say that even though he's a Nikon guy (I can forgive that ;-) ), he's quite fair in his conclusions.

His delivery as far as his advice in this case may be a bit harsh, but it gets the message across; I mentioned Gene Simmons' quote, "the world doesn't need you." In other words, you have to prove to the world that you are needed, not the other way around. This is pretty much the essence of what Jared is trying to get across to the student. Accept it or reject it, but it's sage advice.

Jon Dize's picture

EXACTLY the information that somebody should be giving this young man. GOOD JOB JARED!

This is a message I have shared with so, so many photographers who over the years asked me for guidance.

I told those that asked... not a single compliment has ever put a dime in my pocket or made my life better, except for the emotional feel good, the warm and fuzzy of it all.

The REAL moment that totally changed my life was one Monday morning back in 1973, when I was a brand spanking photographer in training under Master Craftsman Walter Coleman Thurston.

I had been shooting photos of my wife dressed in a Victorian dress and hat, sitting on a concrete drain pipe in the middle of Coulbourn Mill Pond in Salisbury, Md.

That was Sunday and I spent most of the evening in Walter's darkroom printing 16 x 20's of the Black and White images.

I decided I would line up five of the 16 x 20 inch mounted photos along the counter so when Walter came in Monday morning he would see what a great job I had done.

At 9 a.m., Walter arrived. I was excited to here him tell me how WANNERFUL my photos were, just like all of those who contact me asking for CRITIQUES, they are not looking for truth, so far... I have not had a single person ask me for the truth, they say they want the truth, they may even have convinced themselves they want to hear the truth, but emotionally... they want KUDOS and to hear how WANNERFUL and FANTABULOUS their work is.

JUST LIKE ME that fateful Monday morning, 45 years ago.

Walter took one look at the row of wall portraits and said, "You've been busy this weekend."

"Yep! What do you think... be honest now!" It's one of the greatest lies photographers tell.

Walter put his hand on his chin, examined them closely and said, "Well... THEY'RE BIG!"

"Yeah, I kinda like big."

Then Walter asked, "So, do you want me to tell you how wonderful they are or do you want me to tell you the truth?"

Like every other photographer who imagines they are telling the truth when they say, "Of course I want you to tell me the truth."

Then Walter said the words that changed my life.

That moment, that Monday, nothing would ever be the same again.

Except for wanting to be a helicopter pilot (I became a fixed wing pilot instead.) and perhaps one or two small dreams I had as a child, all of my dreams have come true.

Many things I never dreamed could have ever happened to me have been realized, far beyond my expectations.

Because people told me how WANNERFUL my photos were? NOPE!

Because Walter asked me if I wanted to feel good or hear the truth... and because for the first time at age 18, I had sense enough to LISTEN.

"WANNERFUL!" "AMAZING!" are words that make your nipples hard, but "LET ME TEACH YOU HOW TO MAKE THEM SUCK LESS!" will change your life, help you understand how to become better.

Some see constructive criticism as NEGATIVE criticism. They are often the ones calling people like Jared Polin complaining about how unfair life is and wondering why nobody is buying their photos.

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user-228148's picture

True, I have the same problem. I'm good at photography but yet there are not so many people knowing me as a photographer, most know me as a writer of https://prime-essay.net/ where you may order any essays you'd like to have, as well as an outstanding resume or well-researched dissertation.