What Is Your Unpopular Photography Opinion? Here Are 29 From Industry Pros

What Is Your Unpopular Photography Opinion? Here Are 29 From Industry Pros

I asked people in the industry what their unpopular photograph opinions are, and I got a lot of interesting answers. And some controversial ones.

First thing's first, what is an "unpopular" photography opinion? All I mean by this is I want you to share an opinion you have on something related to photography, videography, or the industry that you think if expressed publicly, wouldn't go down well. That is, a lot of people would disagree with you. By the very nature of the question, you need to be prepared for backlash. In fact, ironically, the more people who tell you "you're wrong", the more successful you've been at the task. So make sure after you've read 29 from people who are currently working in the industry, leave some of your own in the comments, and prepare to defend them. Similarly, if you think any of the 29 are patently incorrect, let us know why they are.

Numbered below — so you can call them out specifically in the comments —  are what some fellow industry professionals told me. I have kept them anonymous, which was my call. Most (if not all) of the people who answered were comfortable with having their name put to their opinion, but I don't want that to muddy the waters of discussion. It would just incite ad hominem attacks when I really want people to engage with the statement and disprove or support it. Those people who contributed are welcome to claim their opinion in the comments.

Unpopular Opinions From Current Industry Professionals

  1. 99% of photography schools and degrees are a rip off.
  2. Medium format cameras are completely over-hyped. You’ll almost always produce better quality images with full frame with the right lenses.
  3. Shooting film in the digital age is photographic masturbation. It may be self-gratifying, but it doesn’t do anything for anyone else.
  4. Those artist signatures people pay for are overpriced squiggles and they all look the same. Use a pen, make a nice signature, and scan it. If you scribble like an infant then that's just the mark you get to make on the world.
  5. Most photographers call it "fashion" when the subject is wearing clothes. Any clothes.
  6. Doing well on social media doesn't mean you're a good photographer.
  7. 99% of what people call "fine art photography" has absolutely nothing to do with fine art.
  8. The vast majority of photographers have a massively overblown sense of self importance. You are a monkey pushing a button on an expensive box, not the reincarnation of Jesus.
  9. Just because it's bright and shot at f/1.4 doesn't make it a good picture.
  10. If you want to be an environmental landscape photographer you ought to use your bicycle more than the plane or car.
  11. Hair and make-up is not something to cheap out on.
  12. Photojournalism isn't the greatest form of photography known to mankind and doesn't deserve to win the majority of prestigious photography awards.
  13. Death to VSCO! Orange skin and gray greens. I am so sick of it.
  14. A photographer's obsession with gear is inversely proportional to the quality of their photography.
  15. If you have "photo", "photographer", or "photography" in your social media handle or in your domain then I instantly think you're less of a photographer or lack the imagination to come up with a better name. 
  16. Photoshop is the most valuable talent of a modern photographer.
  17. If you can't create consistently high quality work, you're not a good photographer.
  18. Photographers obsess over corner performance and micro-contrast on lenses, shot on 36mp+ bodies, only to upload a heavily compressed 1080p image to Instagram.
  19. A pro photographer is about making money. Being a "pro" is not directly related to talent, but to business and commercial skills.
  20. Gear matters. Yes, I could cross the country with a Ford T, but I prefer to do it in a BMW.
  21. Claiming to be a natural light only photographer is almost always just a cover for being unwilling or unable to work with artificial light.
  22. Canon sensor tech is outdated (other manufacturers buy Sony sensors, not Canon).
  23.  Shooting IG "influencers" who have a ton of followers for exposure is a waste of time because their audience couldn't care less about the photographer and is never your target market.
  24. Colors from Sony cameras are horrible.
  25. Work should only be judged on the quality of the final image. The process is a means to an end but using an artificially difficult process to produce a sub-par image doesn't make you better.
  26. Leica is a status brand for rich hipsters.
  27. The best camera isn't the one with you, it's your best camera, so make sure that's the one with you.
  28. Not using post-processing such as Photoshop is not a high ground. It is a choice to sacrifice your quality because you are lazy.
  29. Photography Kickstarters are a quick way to waste money.

What Are Yours?

In all honesty, it was difficult at times not to openly disagree with the person telling me theirs. For me, in that 29 there were an even spread of opinions I agreed with, was on the fence about, and vehemently disagreed with. My stand-out favorite (and it wasn't mine) was without question number 5: "Most photographers call it "fashion" when the subject is wearing clothes. Any clothes." 500px was the original source of my hatred for this irritating misnomer, where images that were closer to glamour would populate the highest rated fashion image category. At first I thought I was being petty, but now whether I am or not, I'm comfortable in my disdain for it.

In a similar vein, it's difficult not to agree with the opinion on fine art photography from number 7. Then again — and this might be unpopular opinion number 30 for this article — I can't imagine having the level of arrogance to call your own work "fine art" unless you have some serious evidence to call upon. There are too many grainy, heavy on the contrast, black and white images of indistinguishable subjects by self-anointed artists of allegedly highly intellectual, creative content.

So let's have it, what are your unpopular opinions on photography and photographers?

Lead image courtesy of Snapwire.

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Previous comments
bill bynum's picture

you couldn't be more wrong. wtf

Carlos Teixeira's picture

Supposed to be unpopular, right?

IMHO Carlos is right. Photography is not art. Photography is a medium. Art comes from how the medium is used. An artist can use photography as a form of artistic expression - thus making art.

Pascal Photographos's picture

Art is art. Photography is nothing but the chosen medium of the artist.

Carlos Teixeira's picture

Edit: Let me clarify, Photographers aren't Artists either.

Chase Wilson's picture

Not all photography is art.

Carlos Teixeira's picture

Sure. I would say some Art is photography.

Those are unpopular opinions? I agree with all of them, except I'd be putting an asterix next to 8. I know some great gear obsessed photographers.

Pascal Photographos's picture

For some reason I can hear Tony Northrup screaming at this article and I don't even live on the same continent.

Alex Yakimov's picture

I am sure he will understand... Secretly.

I’m sure he agrees with all of it.

I agree with most of these. I would add that, depending on your specialty, you don't have to shoot RAW for 90% of your work.

Wow, who knew that the photography profession was dominated by a bunch of crotchety old men?

Stuart Carver's picture

To be fair 10 minutes on Facebook will tell you that. Most of them in some competition to show off the biggest piece of camera gear.

Josh G's picture

True, and those competitions sometimes cost upwards of $200 to even enter through the PPA. It's basically ego stroking...

Crotchety perhaps. Old - not necessarily. Pick any creative field and you'll find opinionated people.

Stuart Carver's picture

My unpopular opinion is there is nothing wrong with shooting JPEG’s in some situations.. too many people think saying the word RAW makes them sound like some sort of higher life form that mere mortals should bow down too, if it wasn’t so amusing it would be rather pathetic.

Mere mortals prefer to cover their ass in all possible situations. RAW is just better at that.

Stuart Carver's picture

Oh believe me i use RAW files more often than not.

But for example motorsport photography in good light, whats the point in RAW? ill correctly expose the image and JPEGs can still be edited to suit.

Again ill stand by the point that people seem to think they are clever by saying 'i only shoot RAW'

imagei _'s picture

I have met some of those. Once, while being in the same spot I commented to another person that the light was somewhat flat (photographers' small talk :-) ); the answer was: "I shoot raw". Ooooookay... we haven't had much of a discussion after that.

Stuart Carver's picture

Haha yeah id just be walking away too. Ive been lucky so far, been into photography for 2 years and met only good people so far. Im sure its going to end one day.

Dan Howell's picture

My unpopular opinion (which seems to gall web-based photographers) is that denying a model access to images from a shoot where the model is paid (versus TFP) does not gain the photographer anything except a reputation for hoarding images or being a control freak.

Love this one! Baffles me that this is a thing.

Depends on your level of postprocessing. If you shoot and burn - no problem to share anything which then will be all over internet with your name on it.

James Morris's picture

In some instances I agree, but if it is a paid shoot I wouldn't let images leak outside the 'clients' control until they have finished with them, usually 1-2 years later. If a model leaked a new season before launch or edited it and/or changed the style it can mean no repeat business at best, if not a law suit for breach of contract.

On the flip side if client is happy and model agrees not to alter image and use them solely for self promotion then should be written in contract before model signs.

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