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.

Robert K Baggs's picture

Robert K Baggs is a professional portrait and commercial photographer, educator, and consultant from England. Robert has a First-Class degree in Philosophy and a Master's by Research. In 2015 Robert's work on plagiarism in photography was published as part of several universities' photography degree syllabuses.

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Previous comments

Isn't No. 14 and No. 20 a contradiction of each other, or am I reading it wrong?

Yes, kind of. Good observation.

For most people photography is a passion/hobby, they may buy some expensive toys just like people buy cars, why some people are bothered about it?

For most people photography is a passion/hobby, they may buy some expensive toys just like people buy cars, why some people are bothered about it?

If you actually spend time in the business or craft, you realize that the list is true.
If you don't like the truth of it, sorry, you don't have enough experience to show you the depth and range of your ignorance.

"Shooting film in the digital age is photographic masturbation. It may be self-gratifying, but it doesn’t do anything for anyone else."

It is self-gratifying, and I do photography for me. So what's the problem? Besides, there's a lot of money being made by *ahem* masturbation. :p

#2 and #3. I didn't belive this "oh, it's so good" talk myself, but once I brought few rolls from the Iceland I changed my mind. It's a different type of quality you can't see, once it's digitalized. I guess that sounds like masturbation enough, but trust me, you'll want to take this Yashica Mat 124 or Fuji GW 690 on every trip. Even if I can't take MF, I'm bringing FF camera and slides on the bigger trips, the best souvenirs you can possibly get.

How about: The walls of hell are lined with overdone HDR and fake bokeh.

The landscape argument . . .

There exists apps that will show you "all the best placements" to take "great photos" . . . a huge amount of sheep actually use this stuff. they go out on a trip, spend thousands of dollars for their lifetime voyage, tap into their stupid app, and take a same perspective photo (all in a second) that has been shot at least fifty trillion times before . . . and it is boring, worthless, a useless piece of sh*t like they are, because they are just too lazy to try and learn how to interpret light, how to use it, how to understand it, and if necessary, WAIT for an hour, maybe days, until it is just right.

That interpretation is experience, that is intelligence, that is artistry.

They don't know how to make a camera work (sing), they don't know how to do anything . . . except spend money then blame their incompetence on everybody else.

They "own" fecesbook, instagram, etc, and that is why the quality?????? of imagery is so bad.

Oh this thread is so good! This reminds me of the good old forum days. I don't see so much honest discussion these days and this proves that there are many common things that all kinds of artist are not comfortable talking about due to this ,,expected backlash''. It's way more interesting to bring in some adversity and I love seeing people defending their opinions.

Many male fashion photographers are into it just for the girls. Nothing wrong with that, musicians do that as well lol just sayin

some/most of those seems quite popular ... and true ... personally I dislike LR presets trend ... and Id love to cross country in Ford T, BMW is shit these days anyway ;)

I love this article. I agree with 90 percent

Congratulations on your cynical sh*tpost.

I especially love # 13 because VSCO has already discontinued all their presets. So...good job?

I'm also not sure what film is supposed to do "for others". I'm pretty sure a lot of photographers make pictures because they enjoy doing so all by themselves.

The really good breakfast I had this morning is just self feeding masturbation. That bagel didn't do anything for anyone else.

My controversial opinion is that we're all idiots and spend way too much on the internet. Now get out there and shoot.

Doing well on social media doesn't mean you're a good photographer.

Photographers who watch Youtube for 5 minutes and then call them selves professional Photographers. There is no substitute for experience.

Having a nude body in a photograph doesn't automatically make it a good photograph.

Just because you shot 25 images of that bird or that model or whatever doesn't mean you need to post every single one of them. If you can't edit yourself down to one or two good images from the series, you've lost your audience because it's just too tedious and boring to look at any of them. Less is more!!

It's Lightroom, not an emergency room. Try to get it right in camera and save yourself a lot of time, effort and headache.

"It's Lightroom, not an emergency room" Now THAT is a tasty bit.

In camera colour profiles mean jackshit when you colour grade your images anyways.

30. Pretty much all wedding photography is trite lifestyle garbage.

"Photoshop is the most valuable talent of a modern photographer." - ha ha ha ha ha.... I haven't laughed this much in a long time!

Most competition judges are not judges, but egotistical critics who can't see great photography beyond their own tastes.

#24 used to be true-ish, but not anymore, the current generation cameras have great colour science.

Agreed. There’s nothing more cringey than people posting their self proclaimed ‘fine art’ work.

If you’re calling your work ‘fine art’ - it ain’t ‘fine art’.

#13. VSCO has a TON of great, neutral, pleasing, and traditional presets. The disgusting looks were actually popularized by the presets that came in their footsteps (LXC, Tribe, Red Leaf, etc).

My favorite that is not included: Other than your clients and your family, no one cares about your photography.

I say that not to be cynical. I do so because a) it's generally true and b) it sets a very high standard. If you want more people to care .. you need to give them a reason to do so.

13 was hilarious.