VLA New Mexico

Spray and Pray – The new photo paradigm?

Richard Charpentier Notes from Rich 3 Comments

I truly make an effort to stay away from saying anything about other photographers.  Everybody has their thing, the hook and originality that makes their own work unique.  But over the past few months watching things on social media I’ve been seeing a trend that really bums me out.  The spray and pray photographer seems to be cool with clients.

Yesterday I received a few automated messages in my inbox.  I subscribe to this photo list and that photo list.  I’m on Facebook, I finally understand Twitter well enough to not get car sick trying to keep up with conversations, etc.  A lot of info comes through my computer everyday, and incredibly enough the non-spam gets looked at.  Back in my engineering days I’d read 100+ e-mails a day and could filter what was worth looking into, and what was just internal communications (job justification).

The automated stuff I saw yesterday caught my attention.  A “photographer” was posting their recent work.  In bulk.  And I mean bulk.  Shoots from the past few weeks totally well over 2,000 images.  Unedited, un-filtered……everything from every one of the shoots.  Client X received a notice of 193 images for their review.  Client Y had 206 images for review.  Etc.  The images were on a social media site, not even a private site for their review.

What was included?  Each entire shoot.  Out of focus images.  Horrible lighting images.  Awkward images that were totally unflattering to the client.

With every shoot I used to do I had a formula.  It was based on learning from masters (which I’m not one of).  1 hour of shoot time deserves around 3 hours of my “post processing” time.  Post processing isn’t just editing.  It’s proofing, it’s selection, it’s weeding the crap out of the series and trashing the junk.  Once you’ve selected the “better” images you go back through again.  You re-sort, re-select, re-evaluate what you saw.  And then you junk things again.  And you pick the cream of the crop.

That’s what you show the client.  You put thought into it.  It’s important.  The images are for your client, and they deserve your time if they’re paying you.  Well, that’s how I operate.

Interestingly enough, I kept up with the threads that I got spammed with yesterday, and you know what I saw?  Notes of thanks, and great job from the clients to the photographer.  And I wondered, “Do I see things differently, because 97.3% of those images were out of focus and made no sense, not to mention the client’s eyes were closed from blinking.”

Seriously, I think the bar has gotten set really low for paying clients.  Of course, the payment has gotten really low as well.  Spray and pray seems to work after what I read yesterday.  And it’s a shame.  Photography is an art.  Painters don’t slap out 200+ pieces a day that got no attention.  Sculptors take weeks, months, years even.  Engineers spend years designing buildings, networks, aircraft, etc.

What is happening with the images we see?  Make it cheaper, roll through more clients in a day, and don’t even self edit.  Fire away and give them a DVD of everything. Just stick every image up you shot and hope they don’t notice the nose crust in photos 28 – 74.

For me, Saturday’s shoot including drive time, setup, talking with the client, etc., took over 4 hours of time.  From that 4 hours I have 9 super solid images that could run on any page of any magazine nationwide.  I have 20+ images I liked, but those 9 will do the job.  I spent half of Sunday reviewing, re-selecting, and finally doing minor edits from the selections.

Maybe I’m just too picky.

To the “Spray and Pray Photographers…”  If this is the market we’re in, it’s all yours.  I’m going to continue striving to do my best, and work on other revenue streams to make a living.

Comments 3

  1. Rich,
    I think part of it is we got into photography when film was the only viable option. When each shot costs $.25 (back when .$25 was worth something) you learned the basics a lot faster.

  2. Here I am, catching up with your blog, as I am diggin’ it. I am not in the same category of photography as you. I see something pretty, I shoot. So it is my cousin on a shoe string wedding begged me to photograph it. I unwillingly (she threatened me with ex-commuication, and she is my favorite.) agreed to do so. Did my homework and was VERY lucky to have the best day a November in California can bring. Many useable photos for her memories. But then she shared with my sister. So sis ask me of the same. She currently is not talking to me as I did not have a single shot worthy of printing paper. So sad. Wish me luck on my family relations, but I appreciate what you say here as it is what I did by means of honor. So I appreciate your approach to photography, makes sense to me. I feel validated in my statements as I have a sibling not talking to me right now.

  3. Post

    Oh, sorry it hurt family relations! That sucks. But yes, photographers have to be ready to shoot in any circumstance during a wedding, and need to have the necessary gear and skills to pull it off no matter what. At least you didn’t charge them for the services, which many folks would do.

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