The Worst Photography Advice I Keep Hearing

The photography profession at times can be somewhat outdated in its approach, standards, and business practices. Over the years, I continually hear certain bits of bad advice, so let's look a bit deeper into these.

Photography is changing. It always has been. It's a very modern art form and still in its infancy compared to many others. It is one of the most exciting parts of the medium. The business side of it is also constantly evolving. Influencers often make more money commercially for a photograph than a "pure" or "traditional" photographer could, businesses are run with multiple income streams since the big financial crash, and now, thanks to COVID-19, many are running an incredibly lean company with most gear for productions rented in rather than owned.

Having been around in the industry for what I feel like a medium amount of time (15 years pro), there are some bits of advice that are regularly thrown out there that are either simply wrong, misinformed, or just don't work with modern photography business models. I personally like to think of myself as a pretty traditional photographer. I work commercially under a London-based agent, and we shoot predominantly for print media out of home, but with an increasing emphasis on mixed media usage. I also feel that with the world the way it is and the internet being the great resource that it can be that a very traditional approach to the photographic business is probably long past its best. 

In this video, I go over the pieces of advice that I hear most often that rub me up the wrong way.

Hopefully, you can all add a few to the list below for others to avoid. 

Scott Choucino's picture

Food Photographer from the UK. Not at all tech savvy and knows very little about gear news and rumours.

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Great work as always, Scott. People running, or planning to start, a photography business should watch this, and then watch it again.

IMO, the problem is professional photographers are as subject to biases as amateurs, a fact leveraged by marketers.

Change the word "camera" to the word "capital"; the purchase of camera gear is capital aquisition, and should be treated accordingly, purusant to established accounting principles.

And yes, there's a lot to be said for buying second hand gear, and renting if you need high end (then charging back to the client).

Tax deduction *only* works when you *need* to buy that item anyway. Like buying stuff on sale.

Possibly the smartest thing any business owner can do is develop a good relationship with their accountant, and act upon their advice.

This stuff is the difference between surviving and not.

Very sensible and well though out comment.

"Lenses before camera". What utter nonsense in the Canon world. Not one Canon Rebel allows adjusting the camera to match the lens. Never buy a Rebel. Ever. Buy a camera that DOES allow you to match your lenses THEN buy your lenses. If you can't be bothered to learn the process then buy a mirrorless. But don't buy a Rebel and announce you want to do studio photography. It's laughable.

Sort of beside the point... but when I see anything about the Canon Rebel line... literally all I can think of are those Andre Agassi commercials Canon had way back in the 90s.

Because I definitely trust professional tennis players when it comes to photography equipment recommendations. :D

my rule of thumb is if you have to keep renting a part or gear more than the cost of the gear then it's times to buy that part or gear.

But at the point you realise this you already spent all the money for the purchase. It’s hard to know in advance how many times you’ll rent something.

So true. Clients will always be more impressed by quality results than by how much one has spent on the tools used to do a job.

That shifted a long time ago already. For some time now, if you know what you're doing and you can do it fast and deliver .... don't do it too fast Take some more shots, move your lights, whatever.... because there are always clients - professional clients mostly of course - who might try to renegotiate the price "because that seemed way to easy and quick".
It really happens. They don't care about your explanation, telling them "But my price is based on the end result and it took only that amount of time because of my gained experience & knowledge from the past decade".

Same goes with the equipment. There is a breaking point where your intention to downsize or use small cameras, starts to hurt your professional image. Sure, some people understand you can take great photos with a tiny Fujifilm X-E4, but most of the times, people are impressed of you big camera gear.