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Friday, October 2, 2009

What it costs.

Last time I checked, I'm not a household name, SF Chronicle or not. Some of the commenters on the online version of the paper (SFGate) seem upset that I'm giving away my services for free. And in doing so, am taking away their ability to make a living.

I'm sorry, but I have to laugh. Brittney at Sparkwood & 21 makes the argument better than I can:

Take better pictures than everyone else, and you'll get paid before they do. But don't begrudge someone their hobby. Don't pretend that exchanging "modeling services" and writing the accompanying story isn't a fair trade.

Just because you have a big fancy camera doesn't mean you get to be a pro automatically anymore. Technology is making nice cameras more affordable, opening up the field to more and more. You don't get to be/stay a pro because you got their first.

Do good work. Try harder. Then you can and will make your money, and you won't have to worry about the amateurs.
***

I wonder about the people who leave those comments. I mean, can they really be serious? (Aside from the dig about my website, "Flash is sooo 90s", which I'm not sure exactly why that's bad but then I'm no computer genius.)

Up until that article in the paper came out, no one who commented there had a clue to who I was or what I was doing. I can't imagine that any of my subjects had been considering portrait sessions with other photographers and then cancelled them when they found out they could do something with me for free. Truth be told, the people who find out about me generally do so because someone else they know has done it, and they are enthusiastic about the idea of being part of a larger project.

They also want to share their story.

They are storytellers in their way. The photo shoot is almost a secondary thing for them.

It makes me wonder about abundance and lack and the perception of how big our own piece of the pie is. I've written about this before, because I find it so curious that people really don't see what a wide, wide world we live in. Even if I took portraits every day for the rest of my life, I wouldn't capture all the faces and stories in San Francisco. And what that has to do with taking away someone else's income baffles me.

There isn't one way to take photographs or reach out to people. People come to me because they like what I do or want to be part of something. Why should I be the only avenue for that? Just last night, someone wrote to me about wanting to start a project like mine in the city where he lives. I spent a good 20 minutes outlining how I got started, how I work and what a great idea I think it is. Really, because I do. What if there were i live here projects in all kinds of towns and cities? And people enjoyed meeting new people and sharing stories? Even in San Francisco, there's room for more.

I know quite a few SF photographers now who are on the same page. Many of us, like Plug1 and Brad and Thomas Hawk, do portraits and share stories like I do. I look forward to seeing their work and encourage them as they do me.

And all of us are "amateurs," in our way. Perhaps the pros need to realize that there's more to photography than stamping out the competition. There are faces for everyone to go around. More than one lifetime's worth, in fact.

12 comments:

namastenancy October 2, 2009 at 11:58 AM  

What a fantastic, fantastic reply to the sour, mean spirited comments! I hoped that you would be spared but I think that some the people who post there are a bunch of sharks! Yes, there's enough and more than enough to go around. Yes, to vision and energy and creativity and talking to the person on the street.
But most of all, YES to you!

Greg October 2, 2009 at 1:35 PM  

Pardon my language, but those naysayer commenters at SFGate can suck it. They are a useless bunch of people, posting nasty crappy comments on anything and everything. You could have a story on "cure for all cancers found " and a good percentage of the commenters would crap on it.

Besides, real professionals aren't so insecure. By this gang of commenter's logic, Flickr, Photobucket, Facebook, Picasa, and every other photo sharing site should be shut down, stat.

This is not the olden days, we are not beholden to a scribe class run by the elite, this is one of the things good about our techonological era, the democratization of publishing. That means that yes, the dork commenters can post away their trivial insecurities, but it also means people like you who add something fun and interesting to our lives can contribute as well. Bravo to you, and keep on rocking.

Chipmonkey October 2, 2009 at 2:43 PM  

the supposed anonymity of the internet has a tendency to let people put on their @$$hole hats freely... unfortunate.

if that guy thinks photogs working for free is taking away from his business he is never going to succeed in building a photography business.

julie - I don't think we can be friends anymore you are totaling stealing my business!

p.s. will you take my picture for free?

(xoxoxo)

Char October 2, 2009 at 4:46 PM  

good way to say, suck it because that's totally what I would say. jealous wenches

An Open Heart October 2, 2009 at 5:40 PM  

Julie,
Your project and photography are fresh, inovative and inspiring....you have talent, spirit and HEART...any TRUE PROFESSIONAL would be inspired by you to look inside and step up their game...they would/should be the MOST supportive....YOU GO GIRL and DON'T LOOK BACK!!!! woooo hooo!

S

~K October 2, 2009 at 7:04 PM  

Jules the fact that people are taking pot hots at you simply means you are just that good. Here you are some amateur with a cheapo camera by photography standards putting up material as good as any pro! You should wear that criticism as a badge of honor that says you are the real deal.

Just Jules October 2, 2009 at 8:01 PM  

would they be happier if you charged? ridiculous. The price of fame (wink wink, nudge playfully)

We know you, and what your intent is. Stay close to your friends.

Brad October 2, 2009 at 9:11 PM  

Really sad some people are so unhappy they need to throw stones at your creative achievements to feel good. Is it that hard to applaud the success a fellow photographer has earned? Sheesh....

AphotoAday October 2, 2009 at 9:18 PM  

You know, while I was reading the (few) negative remarks, I had to check the URL because I thought I had somehow ended up with losers at some forum on Craigslist... Pay no attention to the nay-sayers -- they were just Wannabes...

The person with the snide comment about Flash being so '90's is just plain wrong -- XML is a relatively new innovation for Flash and is the wave of the future. The only somewhat valid reason not to use Flash is that some businesses block it because they don't want their employees watching YouTube videos all day... But for a photo site it makes perfect sense and looks beautiful.

I think it was a great article, and I've been bragging about you to my friends... I think knowing you is a kick in the head...

My sincerest regards, Don and Kitty

Colleen October 2, 2009 at 10:15 PM  

Julie, after reading a bunch of hateful, disgusting shit in response to just about every Chron story on homelessness, I've decided the best policy is to simply ignore all reader comments on SF Gate. The comment section is just an open window to some of the most demented disgusting thoughts that run through people's minds. I have read death threats directed at colleagues of mine just because they have the audacity to work to better the lives of homeless folks. When people have not only the ability to publish the first unformed BS thing that comes to their mind in reaction to a story, but also the chance to do so with complete anonymity, there's no end to the vile stuff that is spewed out.

Bossy Betty October 3, 2009 at 8:12 AM  

Life's all about Karma, baby! Your generous spirit and willingness to help others is what this life is all about. You go, Girl!

Louis Duke October 7, 2009 at 12:52 PM  

They are all just jealous, don't let them get you down.