10 Misconceptions About Photography

Today I want to dispel 10 common misconceptions about Photography.

Woman in fur coat
Photography is not just for the rich and famous.

1. Photography is expensive.

Price is often the deciding factor for many people when they think about whether to pose for a photo shoot. More people than ever before in history are picking up cameras or smartphones to create images, so there’s definitely no shortage of competition to keep prices low. It’s important to realize, however, that you always get what you pay for.

2. Photography is cheap.

I disagree. It’s one of the few things that increases in value as time passes. When homes are destroyed by floods, fires and tornadoes, the loss expressed time and again as the most hard-hitting is the destruction of family photos. Images are priceless!

3. Only the wealthy and celebrities invest in professional portraits.

While portraits are signature possessions of the affluent and the famous, there’s no rule that the rest of us have to make do with dull, uncreative, badly created images. I love transforming ordinary folks into the stars of their own image makeover, capturing their fantasy lives of glamour. It just takes some imagination and a photographer who can guide a client on how to optimize their portrait. Yes, those among us who are blessed with great genes may often have their photo made, but a good photographer can enhance the best features of anyone with some encouragement, creative lighting, a makeup artist, and expert retouching to remove blemishes, wrinkles, etc.

Cassie-Jones-34SC4. Portraits are only for special occasions. 

We’ve been trained to think that we can only sit for portraits for when time rolls around for school yearbook photos, a church directory, our wedding day, or when we become high school seniors. But I’m here to tell you that you need no special reason to have a photo shoot. You can have portraits made because it’s a Thursday. Go for it! Special occasions give us the impetus to act and add special meaning to an image, but there’s nothing to stop any of us from posing for photos simply because we don’t need a reason.

5. Photography is just pushing a button.

This may appear to be the case if you’re watching a photographer work, but there’s a little more to it. Okay, some inexperienced photographers will simply put the camera on automatic and rely on the circuitry to produce a decent reproduction of someone’s likeness, but experienced photographers know that the best portraits are preceded by research into the subject’s preferences and personality. Observing and manipulating the light is key to a top quality portrait. A monkey can press a button, but most of the time, only professional photographers can get THE shot under varying light conditions when the pressure’s on to produce.

Steven Stiefel6. Photo shoots are for women, not men. 

I’ve noticed that females are eager to set up photo shoots and go to a great deal of preparation, looking at the process with enthusiasm. Many males, but not all, regard that same process as something akin to scheduling a root canal. High school senior boys are far more likely than senior girls to have their shoot scheduled by a desperate mother who is fighting some deadline to get pictures done. I think males may be concerned about how they’ll be portrayed in the portraits. They worry about looking girly. Part of my process is reassuring them that they’ll look awesome and mom will be happy. Sharing cool portraits of male celebrities can usually offer reassurance that they’ll look cool.

7. Photo shoots are uncomfortable to get through. 

As I just described, many people compare photographers to dentists, both offering experiences they dread. But I go out of my way to make my photo shoots fun and easy to get through. There’s as much skill in handling people as there is in working a camera. Joking around or getting them to talk about themselves lightens the mood and causes most people to actually enjoy the process of sitting for a portrait with me. If someone isn’t sure how to pose or what to do, I offer my expertise from decades of advising others on the same.

Beautiful smiling girl8. Portraits are boring. 

WRONG! Bad, assembly-line portraits made by the official school photographer operating on volume sales (and spending as little time as possible with each subject) may be uninspired and unoriginal, but portrait photography is inherently fascinating to any creative photographer. The pre-shoot consultation (when we talk about style, mood, theme, etc.) is crucial to elevating an ordinary picture into a memorable and beloved image. You can always liven up a straightforward photo shoot with something fun and zany just for giggles. It’s a challenge to express the range and depth of emotions and someone’s personality in a one-dimensional medium.

9. Portraits are a frivolous purchase. 

I’ve already given my opinion on the value of photography as a purchase. It may not be an absolute necessity if one is forced to choose between photography or the baby’s milk, but as an investment, it’s a great one, especially for the people we love. I’m reminded of the day when I was working at a newspaper and a family came in with an obituary announcement. All they had to remember this man they were mourning was a tattered old snapshot that was out of focus. That seemed rather tragic and has stuck with me over the years. Vanity or a quest for immortality (in one sense) may be motivations for some, but leaving something for people to remember us by is a practical consideration. I certainly love to look at photos I made of my father and my brother, both of them gone before their time.

10. Photos merely capture my likeness, so snapshots are the same as professional portraits. 

This is a rather unsophisticated take on portraiture, but ignorance is bliss. I find that many people have simply not yet been exposed to the great potential of a photo shoot that, perhaps, incorporates careful planning, a great location, genuine expressions, and the unmistakable touch of a makeup artist and/or professional retouching. So many times my phone has rung after someone sees images I did for a friend or family member and says, “I want that too!” And the great thing is that quality photography is more accessible to the average person than ever before in history.

Don’t wait another day! Schedule a photo shoot while you’re motivated to act. I don’t care if I create it or someone else. Capture the beauty of these moments and your human spirit while you have it on your mind.