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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229 Comments

Previous comments
James Morris's picture

I agree with you on most, but I think the original 10 comment is just a play on words about cars and planes being bad for the environment.

Agree with your contribution. It's all about marketing. Skill should be a given for anyone labeling themselves a pro photographer.

Ziggy Stardust's picture

Mine - an informed opinion is worth attention. An uninformed one is just blowing air out of the rear.

I have only been into photography for about a year, does everyone end up this cynical and jaded?

michaeljin's picture

Welcome to your future.

I shoot for fun & personal satisfaction, am I safe?

michaeljin's picture

Nope. Not unless you stop visiting this website, every other one like it, and stop interacting with other human beings who consider themselves to be photographers.

Maybe you are joking, but in case you're not, your example contradicts my experience with other photographers I have met in real life. The internet is filled with self-important, belligerent know-it-all fanboy dickheads but the people who I meet in the meat space (real life) are rather kind and interesting and helpful.

Maybe I've just been lucky.

michaeljin's picture

I'm certainly being hyperbolic, but I'm actually not joking about this. Whether it was a 1-Hour Photo or a higher end commercial lab in Manhattan, I worked in photo labs from when I was 10 years old until I was 24. In that time I've encountered more photographers of various skill levels than I can count including parents dropping off disposable cameras to photojournalists to studio photographers.

The internet with its easy access and perceived anonymity certainly attracts a lot more of these uninhibited views and behaviors into a smaller space (millions of photographers visiting a few websites as opposed to the dozen or hundred that you might encounter in real life at your local camera store), but I can say that as a general rule, photographers are terrible human beings to interact with. I can also say the from my experience, the older they are and the longer they've been in the business, the more jaded and angry they tend to be.

I guess I'm just as jaded and angry for an entirely different set of reasons, but I haven't encountered too many lifelong photographers that I would consider to be happy or nice people. They are out there, but you're more likely to encounter incredibly defensive people that want to drag others down to their own level of misery. Maybe it's just the nature of the job with the constant criticism and competition... I don't know.

Haha yes unfortunately.

Tom Nelson's picture

Guy Icognito, most aren't cynical and jaded, but that's the way to get views on Fstoppers.

Such attitudes have nothing to do with photography IMHO. I think they all started out that way before they picked up a camera.

Eric Salas's picture

Photographers on FStoppers without a personal album on display are like hemorrhoids with voices.

Ryan Mense's picture

Two up votes from people with portfolios and two downvotes from people without. Funny how that works.

Eric Salas's picture

Funny how even the ones I’m talking about can’t resist.

If I can’t see your work, I don’t value your opinion. Even if it is trash at least you put it for the public to see. Why else come to a photography forum ?!

imagei _'s picture

'Why else come to a photography forum ?!' To talk, perhaps? You know, what discussion forums were created for.

As for me, my work is in enough places already and don't have the time nor wish to put it on every website I happen to use.

Also, no need to be nasty.

Eric Salas's picture

Where can we see your work ?

I’m asking because people with as many comments as you seem to be here enough to post their work. Why would people care for your input or opinion on a photography forum if they cannot gauge your level of work in the field?

imagei _'s picture

OK, I bowed to peer pressure :-P I suppose I don't need to change the photos very often and it may indeed help people figure out what I do.

Andre Goulet's picture

Well, being as how you'll NEVER be my target audience, nor will anyone here be, why spend energy posting here other than when you want a critique from one of the forums? I actually learned that here, on Fstoppers, and it was a great point.

Eric Salas's picture

You should have learned to canvass for your target audience and not make assumptions of who they are or may be... but you didn’t learn, you read.

There is a vast difference between the two.

Andre Goulet's picture

Au contrair: I learned a long time ago, through a well thought out process, exactly who my target audience is - it’s the one I want to work for. Other photographers aren’t it. I’ve developed a fantastic amount of work by target shooting my preferred audience instead of carpet bombing everyone. Other photographers could be it if I ever want to teach or some such, but that would be it.

There are so many salty people on this site, that perhaps some people don't feel the need to give them more ammo. After all, if they're already a hemorrhoid, then I can only image the insults that would fly should they share their work. My unpopular opinion; the content on Fstoppers is great, but the community is generally toxic.

Eric Salas's picture

I completely agree

Yes, welcome almost every heavily trafficed photography forum ever.

David Moore's picture

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.

I am the opposite, if your site is "Moments Captured" I think you take crappy wedding photos with select color black and white images with red roses.

I may lack imagination, but my SEO is stronger... :)

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