Four of the Biggest Photography Rip-Offs to Avoid

Unfortunately, photography is an expensive passion, but what do you really need to spend your money on? In this video, Marc Newton looks at four of the biggest photography rip-offs you should avoid at all costs, and he doesn't hold back.

There are some things in photography that you will need to spend money on, such as bodies and lenses. There's no getting around that, and the higher you go in quality, the more you'll have to pay. But by and large, you tend to get what you pay for. However, there are other parts of the photography industry that are much more open to debate regarding their use, efficacy, and value. In this outspoken video, The School of Photography's Marc Newton runs through four of them:

  1. Lightroom presets: Newton says you should never pay for them because they will never be exact matches for your particular photos, they take creativity away from you, and Lightroom has loads of native presets you can get for free.
  2. 90 percent off deals: In a way that's sure to gather quite the response from online vendors, Newton says there're only two reasons anything is 90 percent off: it was overpriced in the first place or it's a blatantly crap product that isn't selling.
  3. Facebook ads for local photographers: While not saying that Facebook Ads are entirely pointless, he says photographers advertising locally are wasting their money. That's because most of the people (in his opinion) clicking on the ads are other photographers who aren't going to buy the product and because you, as the advertiser, have to pay for those clicks. 
  4. Education from questionable institutes. Adding letters to your name from any kind of institute that doesn't give you a formal B.A, M.A, or Ph.D is an utter waste of money, according to Newton, and does nothing to help you succeed as a photographer.

One thing I like about Newton's approach, regardless of whether I agree with him or not, is that he looks at the problem and explains why it exists, but also offers his own views on how to solve the issue or avoid it in the first place.

What do you think? Firstly, let me know about the four rip-offs listed here and also about any other rip-offs in the photography industry that people should avoid. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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34 Comments

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Iain Stanley's picture

I think people/photographers/hobbyists go through developmental stages with their work. Those who buy presets are often at the early stage of their craft and looking for ways to get a “look” that they like without necessarily knowing how to get it themselves (at that time).

But I think if you’re still relying on/always using presets once you understand photography and post-production much more then perhaps you’re lacking a little creativity or inspiration.

Can’t blame people for selling them though coz there’s always a willing market out there and Lord knows it’s hard enough making a living from selling prints alone

Han Seoul-Oh's picture

one could say that if you're borrowing other people's looks to hopefully find your own look is in itself representative of a lack of creativity, no matter how long it's been.

unless i'm missing something in your comment.

Iain Stanley's picture

No pretty spot on. But people want instant gratification. It’s easier to buy a batch of presets and get that cool sepia noir film Ansel vintage Fall colour look in one click than studiously go through the sliders and palettes yourself.

I’m fine with that. But if you never go beyond someone else’s look and start calling someone else’s look “your look” then that’s a fast, slippery slide into the gaping maw of banal.

Invest in good gear and as much education (school, seminars, mentors, etc.) as possible. But...SHOOT A LOT! I think we all forget that last part and sometimes get lost in the process. Certainly has happened to me.