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

Alexander, I made an account just to upvote that comment ~~,'

Studio 403's picture

Right on. Insightful read. I agree. The big rip for me is photography online classes. So overpriced. I am forecasting a downing in this market. Look for fire sales.

Stas Aleksandersson's picture

Went to a photography school once where a guy showed me a photography book in black and white, not in focus, high contrast, high noise and he gave me some horseshit how this half of a grainy cat is art created by one of the former students. I got up and left.

Pat McEntee's picture

I can send you a personally signed copy for only $89.99. For whatever reason, I still have a few dozen.

[Insert cat half-full joke here]

user-197686's picture

My unpopular opinion is photo critiques are mostly useless, you shouldn't be asking others for what your vision should be.

Cristian Perotti's picture

1. Agree.
2. They are, just as a Lambo is. You 99.9% of the times do not need a Lambo, you just want one.
3. Agree for the most part.
4. Agree.
5. Disagree. Not most photographers do.
6. Agree. However, if you are doing well on social media as a photographer, and you are a pro (as in making money off of it), then you are a good businessman/businesswoman.
7. Art is subjective, so disagree for the most part.
8. My experience tells me otherwise. Most photographers are not like that. Though some of them are.
9. Agree.
10. Agree.
11. Agree.
12. Agree. However, since that genre is not a controlled environment one, good shoots are more difficult to get than say portraiture.
13. Agree.
14. Completely disagree. It seems that guy is jealous.
15. Disagree. Before your name is well known, people need to know what you do.
16. Kind of agree.
17. Agree.
18. Agree.
19. Agree.
20. Agree.
21. Disagree completely.
22. Agree.
23. Disagree. Shooting the right influencer can bring a lot of paid jobs.
24. I wouldn´t know.
25. Kind of agree.
26. Agree.
27. Agree.
28. Somewhat agree.
29. Disagree.

Actual professional photographers don't have time to write blogs!
Thus photoblogs like F-Stoppers etc. are mostly a waste of time!

Eric Salas's picture

I’d disagree on this one but for landscape photographers only. Nobody wants to read a headshot specialist ramble about skin corrections.

Alexander Lobozzo's picture

and yet, here you are..... and commenting on the blogs! that must be a double or triple waste of time! lmao

Rafael Cavalli's picture

Shooting poor people in 3th world countries won't make a photographer be like Steve McCurry. By the way, I hate Steve McCurry.

user-206807's picture

I agree on almost all but not on the point #21.
I have worked for almost 40 years as a studio photographer, using strobes. I also used a lot strobes for external shooting.
Today I like a lot to use natural light for still-life. This does not mean that I am not able to work with artificial light or that I am lazy (well I am a little retired :D).
For me working with natural light is a new challenge.
The large dynamic range of the new digital sensors offers a lot of possibilities.
I use many little reflectors (white, silver, gold), mirrors, light shapers, etc.

user-206807's picture

As reflectors I use the cardboard (or what it is), covered with a gold film on one side an a silver film on the other side, the one they use to pack smoked salmon or smoked trout. They exist in different size and shape, and if you want you can easily cut them with scissors to give them the desired shape/dimension.
Of course I use them also with the strobes, but with natural light they give very good result too.
Like those: https://www.amazon.com/Smoked-Salmon-Boards-Silver-Vacuum/dp/B01DWZSBIM

James Morris's picture

I think their point is that a lot of people think "daylight' is the holy grail of light, whilst it is nice, as a law of physics light is light and follows the same rules, I remember reading a book about it a few years back that explained the light source is irrelevant and can give the same results you just need to modify and shape it to your needs.

user-206807's picture

Exactly!
But you have less control (quality and quantity) on natural light because of the various atmospheric events (clouds, rain…) For this reason I say that it is always an interesting challenge.
With strobes the light is the one you want, where you want, how you want and the quantity you want; with the natural light you have to adapt to what the light is in a precise moment… or wait that the light is the light you want/need. Maybe somebody has the power to move the sun and the clouds in the position he prefers, but not me ;)

Celso Mollo's picture

I have two unpopular opinions
1st The vast majority of landscape photographers are making money by teaching workshops than selling their own photos
2nd Most people attending overexpensive photo tours are old retired people that have that kind of money and little interest or desire to dive into photography.

Celso Mollo's picture

Astro photography is the new HDR, how many times can one look at the same shit over and over again, this is not a genre of photography it is novelty.

As many times as I can look at photos of some over done-up bride in all the same cliché poses in the same ol sort of location? Or some model in ridiculously revealing clothes? Or close-ups of another bird? Or a black-and-white silhouette of some figure walking between shadows on a city street?

It depends on what you are in to. I find the stars and the universe to be fascinating and people boring. I accept that I am weird, but it's my thing.

Great choice for a controversial remark! I suppose the same "novelty" label could be applied for photography of any natural condition, and especially so for over photographed scenes. Snow on mountain peaks, long exposures of moving water, sunrises, sunsets, et al. They have all been done ad nauseum, so why bother shooting any of them? Really, another waterfall image!? Wow another pic of a city scene at night? If I see another shot of _________, i'm gonna barf! I still shoot those because any beautiful scene excites me. I suspect that's the same reason any photographer shoots what they do, even if it's been done millions of times before. The high ISO/low noise of digital has opened the world to new photographic opportunities and is improving the older. Night scenes and astro are two great examples of what can be done using digital, with better results than film could achieve.

Adriano Brigante's picture

2. Medium format cameras are completely over-hyped. You’ll almost always produce better quality images with full frame with the right lenses.

Clearly, this guy/gal shoots digital.

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.

What if I'm the reincarnation of Jesus pushing a button on an expensive box?

If were to follow Jesus today, where would we follow him? Instagram? Facebook? Fstoppers?

I surprisingly agree with all of them except 3 and 12. I do not believe film photography is a waste. It produces wonderful results with a very unique mood and provides for a fun shooting experience. Can you recreate everything digitally? I would say yes for the most part. But for someone like me who is color deficient (blind with reds and greens), having the ability to no have to worry about colors is great. I can just pick a film and shoot. The cost of development is the real issue. I think the future of photography involves a lot of hybrid shooters. Is there too much hype about film? I would say yes but that's mostly a social media thing. If one does not want to edit or is not good at editing and simply does not want to spend hours editing, film is great. As for 12, I believe photojournalism is the most important and impactful form of photography because it speaks about things that matter in the real world. It raises and displays important issues. Should it win all awards? That's another debate.

There is still a lot of gender bias in landscape photography.

tee vee dee's picture

Well, those hills are >awfully< suggestive. And don't get me started on the valleys.

I'm a novice, so my opinion should be taken with a grain of salt, but there are a couple of trends I hate. The first is that orange/teal color grading that is everywhere, and the second is over-saturation on everything to the point that it looks like a cartoon.

imagei _'s picture

I think in number 14 'A photographer's obsession with gear is inversely proportional to the quality of their photography.' the important part is the word 'obsession'.

If you are serious about your craft surely you will use a tool that best suits your needs, oftentimes top quality gear. Using a particular tool however doesn't imply you're obsessed with hardware. It's when gear becomes your primary focus (the 'obsession' part) your art suffers as your attention is elsewhere.

marc gabor's picture

This is the biggest dose of truth to be posted on fstoppers. Ever. More or less agree with all of these.
Gear doesn't matter but pro gear matters. Learn your craft - you can't just get by using only natural light, VSCO filters, instagram followers, no photoshop - oh wait, maybe you can!
#24 - bad sony colors - ok so it's not just me!
As for #13 - VSCO filters: some are great some not so much and sometimes you just need to adjust the white balance and the contrast slider.
#18 - couldn't agree more. Top of the line lenses are good for video and certain niche applications but 90% of the time you can't tell the difference. My old Nikon af-d lenses are cheap, relatively compact and produce great images on any camera.

ProPhotoRGB is a waste of time. The vast majority of colors in this space can't be reproduced on screen or on print. If you can't see it on screen or on print you are negatively affecting predictability and adding unnecessary workflow overhead.

Let the flaming begin...

Errick Jackson's picture

I honestly don't know of anyone who actually edits in the color space. AdobeRGB has always been the go-to for every pro I'm familiar with.

Thanks for your reply! We occasionally see ProPotoRGB files come into the print studio. We hear everything from "I like the idea of using a color space that includes colors we can't see" to "I'm hoping for the day that color printers support ProPhotoRGB" . Then you get the users who convert down to output profiles using RelCol and wonder why their channels clip! Ummmm maybe because 75% of your file is out of gamut? Just sayin'

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