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
Alex Yakimov's picture

I agree on all counts, except #2 which I am not sure. I found GFX50R worth looking in to.

user-233725's picture

Marketing your photography to other photographers is the marketing equivalent of trying to sell shoes to a shoe salesman. Sell your photographs to people who buy photographs.

Jeff Walsh's picture

Uhh, #9, someone want to explain?

greg tennyson's picture

There are plenty of photographers who made a career of photographing their "influencer" friends. The people that made it are busy working instead of writing Fstoppers articles so we never hear their stories.

Ivan Lantsov's picture

author gets paid by letter is imbecile

Hyperfocal measurements are a waste of time.

Almost every fanboy who argues about which camera brand has the best sensors is probably missing their exposure by a whole EV or more. So, all the photographer with the "worse" sensor has to do is nail their exposure, and the joke is on the idiot who has the "better" sensor.

Never listen to anyone who says "it's just a matter of personal preference" when it comes to arguments about ergonomics and menu interfaces. There is such a thing as actual superiority and inferiority. Get over it.

Adobe camera raw has become a caveman sledgehammer designed to beat tones and colors into submission as rapidly as possible. Capture One is a precision instrument designed to allow a diversity of results from incredible accuracy to organic creative vision.

John Titley's picture

24 is the only one I disagree with (and I don't even own Sony)

John Titley's picture

My unpopular opinion is that 99.9% of people (including professional photographers) would not be able to pick the difference between a full frame and a crop sensor image, printed at 1000mm x 1000mm, shot by the same (professional) photographer, using pro-level equipment, at an ISO of 5000 or under. Times have changed, attitudes haven't.

David T's picture

>Hair and make-up is not something to cheap out on.

Agree, even though I feel like Hair stylists are even more important than make-up nowadays. Models may have flawless porcelain skin that requires little work, but they never wake up with good hair.

Anyone is capable of taking a truly great photo on a cheap camera.

Take a look at this photo taken by a New Zealand beekeeper using a Kodak Retina: https://www.adventure-journal.com/2013/01/historical-badass-sherpa-tenzi...

Eddie Johnson's picture

Not sure if I can post a link here, but I will.... What do 500 assholes say. I think this is very relevant to criticisms on social media today. http://www.collegehumor.com/video/7038727/trustworthy-reviews-from-500-a...

K G Albertini's picture

Shooting a portrait with shallow depth of field doesn't make it a good photo of the person.

Pete Tapang's picture

I would say people that say composite photography is cheating are people who don't have the skills or the ability to do it. Much like number 21.

"Colors from Sony cameras are horrible."
It doesn't matter what colours come out of the camera as long as they're consistent. If you generate ICC profiles for your cameras, the colours look the same (accurate) from all of them.

I've seen a few people shit on photoshop and create all this convoluted reasoning on why you shouldn't do it and get it right in camera. Partly true about getting it right in camera but I think they just suck at computers and couldn't use photoshop to save their life.

Vaidotas Darulis's picture

Yep. Many books go through lots and lots of editing from other people before they get published. Music albums go through enormous post-production done by mixing and mastering engineers to make it sound nice and tight. Why photography should be the art-supreme and remain pure in that matter?

Medium format rules (maybe APS-C too) because I own it at the moment :-D

Haha. It's almost as if you taped my rants.

Charles Gaudreault's picture

33 - because your an industry pro doesn't mean you are a better photographer

Vaidotas Darulis's picture

This one needs context. In a sense of doing commercial photography work, being an industry pro does mean that you are a better photographer than just another person who like shooting. If photography just means creating nice images or nice stories that's different.

SHIBU GEORGE's picture

Why jpeg when you have the option to shoot in RAW.

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

SHIBU GEORGE's picture

Yes, kind of. Good observation.

SHIBU GEORGE's picture

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?

SHIBU GEORGE's picture

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.

Benton Lam's picture

"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.

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