Friday, December 2, 2011

"Mom Photogs"

The more and more I am learning about the world of photography - the actual business of photography I should say - the more I realize I don't like a lot of "pro photographers."

There is this huge issue in the photography realm about moms like myself buying a DSLR, learning how to shoot, and starting a business.

Pros HATE it.

I don't know if some of them are bitter because they are still paying off their photography degree student loans, or if they are just threatened by the shear amount of competition out there. But they hate it. Its on photography forums. Its on photographer's blogs. Its everywhere. They aren't ashamed or hesitant to knock the moms like myself who are just getting started.

I want to ask them...

Didn't you start somewhere yourself? You know, before you became a pro?

Or were you just born a FABULOUS photographer completely proficient in photoshop?
Have you stopped learning new things now that you're a pro? Because you know it all already.

After all, you are a pro, right?

Here is my side of the coin, professional photographers. I have heard plenty of your side.

I live in a world where money is tight. Very tight. We are a one income family and my husband is enlisted in the military. We scrape by paying our bills, our car payment, putting food on the table, and preschool tuition for one of my three children.

I love to take pictures. Its been a hobby of mine for a long time. I bought my DSLR when my first child was born because my silly point and shoot wasn't fast enough to catch her quick movements.

I have a very strong appreciation for photography and always have. For good photography I should say.

I love it. I want it so badly. I have researched many times online for the perfect photographer to capture my children. To make time stand still. To create that beautiful image of my babies.

But the bottom line is, no matter how many times I have researched it, no matter how many times I have planned it, no matter how many times I have pleaded with my husband, the fact remains, we just can't afford it.

We can't afford my taste in photography.

So, I've gone to JC Penny. I have gone to Portrait innovations. I have taken pictures myself. And fortunately, a few wonderful pro photographer friends have taken some pictures for me throughout the years. I even invested in a better lens once to try and improve my own skills!

I finally decided this year to learn to use my camera in manual mode. I figured, if I can't afford the kind of photography that I desire, then I am going to learn to create it myself - or as close to it as I can.

I enlisted the advice of a great photographer friend, and then from another, then another. They taught me the basics. I practiced, and practiced, and practiced. I have taken thousands of pictures in the last 4 months. Practicing. Learning. Growing.

After a little while, friends noticed what I was doing and asked me to do pictures for them. I agreed to do some for a small amount of money and some for a barter of services. Word of mouth got out and I found myself doing more and more of these inexpensive sessions. I realized that I could start a real business!

Starting in January, I will kick off my business for real. Real rates. Real website, Real business.

If I am somehow a threat to you and your "pro" business, I apologize. I thought I was just taking pictures for my friends (and their friends) and making a small amount from it. I am not trying to earn a living.

I am a full-time mom.

And now I am an on-the-side photographer.

Exactly HOW am I hurting the industry? By providing a service to families who otherwise couldn't have afforded family pictures in the first place? If anything I am probably stealing business from Sears, JC Penny, and The Picture People!

Lets compare this to vehicles. I heard one photographer compare this issue to luxury vehicles...She is a pro. Her service is a luxury. She charges accordingly. Her photography is beautiful. Very beautiful.

I think there are plenty of people who drive luxury vehicles. Their BMWs are beautiful. Their Mercedes lack nothing. They are also expensive. They are WAY out of my budget.

So, I drive a Dodge Minivan.

Is Dodge ruining the auto industry by putting out more affordable not-quite-as-fancy vehicles?


They simply appeal to a different group of people. People like me. People on a tight budget.

I see a similar trend with photography. There are some amazing photographers out there producing images gorgeous enough to make me cry. But I could never ever afford them.

Then there is me. Maybe I am like a Dodge. Very dependable. Appealing to many. Not quite as "fancy" as the BMW.

I am more affordable. And I promise to stay that way. I produce images that appeal to a particular group of people. Maybe not the BMW crowd, but definitely to a pretty big crowd.

So, to all you pros that I annoy by just doing what I am doing, I'm sorry. Learn to produce a better image than me. Go market yourself better. Do whatever you need to do to get yourself more business.

But leave me out of it!


  1. Randi, I think you really put this issue into a great perspective. You are exactly right - the pros had to start somewhere. I doubt there are any out there that started with the skills they have today. If you don't grow in your business, you are going to put yourself out of business rather quickly. I love your photography - I think you have done some amazing pictures. I have seen your photography skills grow over the past several months (and I'm no pro either - just observation from my very limited point of view!). I hope your business does well. Good luck!

  2. So well said! It is so hard to find a good option between penny's and the "pro" who charges $1000 for a photo shoot and a handful of 8x10s. I very much appreciate the people like you who bring affordable yet gorgeous pictures to the table!

  3. I LOVE this post b/c I feel the same exact way. I do this because I love this, not to take away their business. People can choose to use whoever they want to, if its them great, if is you or me wonderful! You put into words exactly what I have been thinking about while trying to write up pricing for everything. Man, I wish we lived closer :)