Should You Shoot ‘Edgy’ Work for Your Portfolio?

Should You Shoot ‘Edgy’ Work for Your Portfolio?

Recently a photographer asked about whether or not “Fantasy” makeup or “Avant Garde” images should be included in a commercial photographer’s portfolio.

The work he was specifically asking about was a kind of shoot one sees a lot on Model Mayhem… multi-colored makeup covering most of the face. This seems like something a lot of photographers like to do, and it is quite prevalent in some circles.

While answering something like this is always tricky, it is also important to get everyone on the same page first. What comes below is MY response, and should be taken with the understanding that it is personal and comes from my viewpoint. Please seek additional viewpoints if you desire.

First of all, I didn’t see the work as Avant Garde at all. Avant Garde means on the bleeding edge, and this work is not even close to that. While it is good work, it is not bleeding edge.

A group active in the invention and application of new techniques in a given field, especially in the arts.
Of, relating to, or being part of an innovative group, especially one in the arts: avant-garde painters; an avant-garde theater piece.

The work was good, solid work with “fantasy” makeup as the feature. Fantasy makeup work is a staple of Model Mayhem shooters (Please do not read a negative into that, as it is not implied.) It has been around for a long time and shows no trend toward going away.

That’s fine.

The poster asked “if this kind of work in my portfolio would actually benefit me?”

Soaring to New Heights
Photograph: Joshua Gaede

My answer:
That depends. A book full of it? No, not really, I can’t see where that would work for you at all. I am not aware of any marketplace that uses this kind of work. Not fashion, not glamour, not beauty, not lifestyle… possibly a case could be made for doing it for a consumer client base. I do think it would be a pretty difficult marketing situation – as you stated, it is NOT the mainstream.

While there are some mainstream uses for edgy work, and

As something added TO your body of work, or an aside project, it would be fine.

My bottom line feeling is this: I simply am not aware of a market for this kind of work as an ‘emerging’ photographer. In fact it may actually be a problem in some situations.

Showing this work to a magazine editor may create a lot of questions as to what you are thinking is fashion/beauty work. As a former art director, I would immediately think of MM and wonder who the client was. Since the work is so personal, it may not be something that could be used commercially… ask yourself what client would want this kind of work?

Not beauty products.
Not lifestyle products.
Not fashion or glamour.

So it is left as a photograph for the model / MUA / photographer.

Again, that is fine for a single portfolio shot, but as a group it has no commercial value. And it doesn’t show the three most important things you can show in a portfolio.

1. a unique vision
2. the ability to solve a problem
3. an understanding of what kind of work is marketable

There are others, for sure, but these things should always be in the fore of thought when working toward building a portfolio.


As something to do to hone your skills, or if you simply love to do it, then KNOCK YOURSELF OUT. Absolutely! Personal projects are whatever the photographer wants them to be. And if you LOVE this kind of work, then you absolutely should continue… just be mindful of some of the thoughts above.

Remember, this is only MY opinion. And I am not FotoGawd!!!!

However, I would ask if you could find this work being used commercially anywhere (and the handful of ‘editorial’ images in Vogue or Elle, really don’t count as they are fairly rare. And when assigned, are usually given to already known photographers who may not even have a ‘fantasy’ headshot in their book)?

That search will indeed be enlightening, whatever you find.

HOWEVER… shooting personal work is very very important. And shooting what you love is vitally important for not only creative reasons, but to keep the camera and the eye busy.

And work like this, or whatever YOU think is the edgy work that you do, is great for projects and a personal viewpoint to show clients what YOU think is cool. Creating a project of “Fantasy” makeup makes a lot of sense to me within the context of a ‘Set’ of images.

Remember that it is more important to shoot than it is to filter out because of what you THINK someone would want to see. Good work in any genre will lead to more good work in that – and other genres.

See you next time.

Save $20 on my UDEMY Courses by using the code “Lighting Essentials”. This makes the price only $30.
My CreativeLIVE course on “Tabletop Product Photography” available here.
My CreativeLIVE “Lighting Essentials Workshop” available here.

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts
It Costs What It Costs

It Costs What It Costs

I purchased a car yesterday. I haven’t bought a car for a while, always getting the wife’s hand me down… heh. But with the new business, a new ride is imperative.

It was pretty painless. I told them straight up that I had no time or energy for haggling (and they actually do not do that either). I wanted their best offer and if it was good I would take it and if it was not good, I would walk. Simple. I wanted their best effort and price and I got it. They came back with three proposals, and I took the middle one.

I had done my due diligence, knew the trade in value for the blue-rocket, knew my credit score and the rates that should accompany that, and also knew the markup of the vehicles both used and new. Research is a bitch, but a beautiful bitch for sure.

I kinda laughed to myself, as the ‘three price guideline’ is something I preach a lot. And true to nature, I took the middle offer.

Drove home in a new car. And a new car payment (also something I have not had for nearly 10 years. LOL.

And as I was driving home I thought about the most recent chapter I did for my PRO group at Project 52. Project 52 is a weekly assignment website I run for serious photographers, and the PRO group has been instrumental in working toward being a pro this year. The goal was to make sure every photographer was equipped to work in a year, and indeed had gotten a gig. So far, so good.

The post was called, “It Costs What It Costs” and I am bringing it to you unedited.

I would love to hear your comments and ideas for this concept. (Radical, I know… heh.)

Week Twenty Seven, Project 52: PRO Group (Jumping to Pro)


No more.

No less.

In Danielle LaPorte’s new book, “The Firestarter Sessions” she describes a situation where a junior executive had a brilliant idea – one the big bosses loved.

However, after she started costing it out, she found that it was a lot of money. All those hidden costs and travel and rentals and such.

She feared that the proposal would be shot down.

When she next saw her boss he asked her when she was going to get started and she was a bit surprised. “Did you see the cost estimates,” she asked?

He shrugged his shoulders… “It costs what it costs.”

You can get the book here:
(Affiliate Link)

I recommend it wholeheartedly.

So what does that mean to us?

How often have we been asked to create a bid, give a cost estimate, reply to an email with a figure that would be ‘in the ballpark” or otherwise prepare a budget for someone else’s money?

It can be one of the scariest things we do. But do it we must.

And we have to do it well. We have to do it professionally. We have to do it without soiling ourselves and curling up into a fetal position whimpering for that simple time when the cubicle was our friend.

In other words, we have to get it done like a professional.

And remember that it costs what it costs.

Client to you: “… and we need two shots from above the second story patio area, shot down and with a lot of angle to it. Shoot it from the middle of the foyer area.”

You: “Well there are no structures there to stand on, so we will have to bring in a scissor lift. I will get an estimate on the rental for a day.”

Client: “Well, we don’t want to spend any more than the estimate I gave you.”

You: “I understand, but scissor lifts cost more than half of this estimate.”

Client: “What, you don’t have one?”

You: “No, ours is in the shop in Milan, so we will have to rent. If you want the shot from the middle of the courtyard, it will have to be from a scissor lift. And they cost what they cost.”

Ya know…

Now for sure it is a good plan to always try to help your client budget well, but budgeting yourself out of the tools you need to do the job the right way is just plain crazy. You will remember they said no scissor lift, and so had to improvise with one of those silly kite things.

They will not. They will only see the fuzzy images from the hanging camera.

It costs what it costs.

Does that mean that you can’t find areas in the estimate to shave a little here and there? Of course not. Find them and whittle them away, but always remember the shot you want to get – need to get – must get – in order to satisfy both the client AND your own vision.

And that shot costs what it costs.

We have spoken at length about the line item approach to bids, and how they benefit both the client and the photographer, but it is so plainly clear that the costs are what they are when you see the items so plainly listed.

And remember that the top line – the “Fee” is not adjustable without a giving up something on their end. It is YOUR FEE, and it is non-negotiable. You cost what you cost.

If this makes you feel strange or somehow uneasy, I would suggest you re-examine this part of the business.

You have spent untold hours and learned exactly the skills you need to pull this gig off. Even if one of the skills is how to pull the gig off without really knowing how to pull the gig off. Yeah… it’s an art.

Your value is set in stone when you say that you cost what you cost. That the image costs what it costs. That the production costs what it costs.

These value propositions are not frivolous, they are immediate and palpable. They help steel you against those who would devalue your work. The value you put on yourself is a deep and exciting venture… it can define you to your client.

It can define you to your crew.

It can define you to your mom (who always wanted you to be a doctor like your cousin).

And, most importantly it can define yourself to you.

When you know your value proposition, the value of the work that you do, and how others see that value, that fear and loathing thing about doing bids goes away.


How do you redefine your value?

Find out what others think about the type of work that you do. Ask your clients what they value most in the work you do – and in the work they get from your competitors.

Take a mental note of what you are currently charging and ask why?

Are these numbers you simply pulled out of your… out of thin air?

Or are they industry standard issue run of the mill prices?

Cause, you know, you are just a standard issue run of the mill photographer?

And we all know how much in demand those runofthemillboringassplainvanilla photographers are. Yeah, baby. They are rockin’…


What is the value of your work?

What you demand for it.

Does this mean you can skip the part where you bust your ass to make really incredible, better than most, over the top creatively killer images?


We are taking that as a given. This is week 27 for God’s sake, your work is not in question here. You can shoot. You can edit. You can prepare and pack.

You can make scribbles on that check list you have.

We are accepting the fact that you are already a better than average photographer. You are a talented and up and coming shooter that needs to be charging what you are worth. (This is after the pre-set “get every gig” approach discussed earlier… we are transitioning a bit now to the real world.)

Assistants are important. They hold lights. They build sets. They carry heavy stuff when you are deep into the “OMG, what was I thinking when I said I would do this shot without seeing the location first. Where’s the nearest bridge… OMG OMG…” thinking.

They are part of your team.

They cost what they cost.

Sets are a valuable part of the shot. They can be shoddily constructed and fall apart every time the model steps up to it, or built right so the shoot can smoothly move ahead.

Sets cost what they cost.

Yeah, we shoot digital. That means that sometimes we need to see what we are doing right at the shoot. Digital techs make the shoot go smoother, and keeps you assistant doing what they do so well.

Digital techs are important and, surprise, they cost what they cost.

If you need something to make the shoot go smoothly and with less problems, it probably has a cost associated with it. That cost is generally set by the vendor, service, technician or talent that provides that special something.

They all cost what they cost.


Plan a big shoot and line item all the things you absolutely need to do the shot you planned. What do they cost?

Can you do the same shot without them?

If the answer is no, then you have your base.

(Look, we can always find ways around some costs. Borrowing a motorcycle instead of renting one is great if you have a bud with a Harley. But if you don’t, then the headaches associated with trying to find one to borrow or rent is a cost item for your client to have itemized.)

Clients know this stuff too, you know.

Sure they want the least expensive way to go… saving money is a good thing.

But they also know that scrimping on art will never win them another client. Doing good work does that. (And if you are thinking… “yeah right… not the clowns I work with…” then stop working for clowns and step up to the clients who do value the work well done.

And they can see through a poorly executed bid. They know what things cost to do it right. And they want to be sure YOU know them too.

So the next time you start to put a bid together, just remember… “It costs what it costs.”

Bid accordingly.

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts
The Secret Is…

The Secret Is…

… that the secret doesn’t exist. There is no secret. Has never been a secret.

Lately I have been noticing a lot more “Secrets to Successful Whateverthehellitis-ness”. Secrets that are so secret that you can buy them in a book or an ebook or get them for a buck on your Kindle or iBook or download them bad boys as a PDF…

Real ‘secret’ that mass marketed stuff is, eh? It’s so ‘secret’ that you can purchase it for less than lunch.

I have never bought into the ‘secret’ mentality. Nothing is really secret. BC couldn’t get a BJ in the OO without the NYT finding out.

Secrets? My ass.

(Except for those aliens they have stored up there at Area 51… that is really secret.)

The real secret is so evident that it remains elusive in its ubiquitous. Trees, forest kind of thing.


Work, hard work, is the secret that isn’t.

And work is becoming harder and harder to define and engage. So many people want the results without the work. The answer before the question. The finale without the beginning.

Just tell us how you do it.

Just give us the answer.

Don’t make us think. It’s not fair. It’s not just. It’s not compassionate.

“No Pain – No Gain” has given way to “No Pain, It Hurts Too Much”.

But there is true joy in the questions – real discovery with the pain. There is exhilaration in finding out the answer to the question. And in the finding, a new answer never conceived may be found. A new answer to the question may lead to more new discoveries and pathways and…


When the answer is prepared for us, the pain of the exercise removed, and the ability to challenge the status quo eliminated, we simply become “perpetuators”.

Happily perpetuating what we were told. Perpetuators perpetuate.

And that is fine for the masses it seems. Young pop singers strive to sound like other young pop singers. Innovation that becomes hard to contain in a perpetuated box is turned away.

The safety of the secret is that since it has become defined as simply being as good as the other guy or as ‘hott’ as the new girl, it is very easy to perpetuate.

And the work becomes more effortless, and easy. The challenge of innovation and leading the way is cast aside for the joy and wonder of the beaten path.

Less work.

Less chance for failure.

Easier and faster outcomes… after all, we aren’t looking to be unique, we just want to be as cool as that guy we saw on Flickr last week.


We don’t.

We want to excel. We want to face a forest with no path and chop our way through it. We want to lift our vision to a place that few will ever see.

We want to fail… and occasionally fail hard.

Without failure, we are not moving forward. We are not facing challenges that challenge. If we win every creative battle we go into, we are not finding battles that are worth winning.

I have been thinking a lot about this lately. My own battles are producing scars and there are days I want to retreat and go have coffee with the contented ones. We can talk about stuff that doesn’t matter.

We can perpetuate the story, the view, the whole damn thing.

Maybe that would be cool.

Maybe I wouldn’t feel so alone. There is a certain glow of enchantment that comes with not trying too hard. Not falling on ones ass and bruising the butt as well as the ego has a sort of charm to it.

But the secret I carry is that I really kinda sorta hate that glow. I really don’t find it very interesting. Or stimulating.

If truth be told, the secret is that the work is more fun, more cool, more fulfilling and ultimately more valuable than the perpetuation of the status quo.

And I know you agree. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be reading this blog.

Now let’s go to work.

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts
Anatomy of a Shoot in the Middle of Nowhere…

Anatomy of a Shoot in the Middle of Nowhere…

“Well, ya’ll could ride with me if you want…”

He was walking toward us from his pickup truck in the cold, early morning light of Florence, Arizona. Wide brimmed cowboy hat and real cowboy boots. And he was all smiles.

Florence is a very small town southeast of Phoenix, and also the home of our state prison. We were standing in front of a little market that was preparing to open. “We” were myself, Jon Gabriel, art director and marketing guy for the Goldwater Institute, and Bob Dunn, Arizona rancher.

We were out to make a photograph of him and a fellow rancher that had just completed a 10 year study on land use and the Desert Tortoise. It had started with a problem and they had worked tirelessly to the end… a good end for them.

And the desert tortoises of Central Arizona.

“It isn’t that far from Florence, but it there is some dirt road,” Bob smiled as he shook my hand.

It was cold and cloudy, but I declined. I had a lot of gear in the car and if it did rain, it could be a problem in the back of his pickup truck.

We followed Bob out along a small paved road for about 20 miles before we turned south on a wide, paved, semi-washboarded road. Directly in front of us was a mountain range and directly over it were some very ominous clouds.

I was thinking we would turn in at each ranch we came to, but we kept on chugging up that road… farther and farther into the desert.

No bars. Yep, we were without cell phones and the storm clouds had mustered up quite a rain for us. It poured like crazy and we slowed to about 30 mph as we bounced over washboards and flew through running creek beds.

We didn’t have to suffer the rain long though.

It quickly turned to snow.

Yes… snow in the Arizona Desert. I mentioned that it was pretty cold, right?

The “bit of dirt road” turned into about 50 miles of dirt road. Hard, dirt road. I was beginning to think it would have been wise to check the gas tank before heading out this far into nowhere, but I figured they would have some gas at the ranch if I needed it.

I don’t know why I thought that, it just felt good to think about as we were without cell phones on a now tiny dirt road way far into the desert in a snow storm.

Finally we headed up a hill and around the bend into a wonderfully grand house in the middle of a rustic, working cattle ranch. We were greeted with an astonished… “You drove THAT all the way up here?”

I guess PT Cruisers were not the choice of ranches where the roads were less than hospitable. Who knew?

(As to why I am driving a PT Cruiser… it is a long and painful story.)

We were invited in for lunch and to wait out the misting snow and rain, and we met some of the nicest, and smartest, folks around. There were a lot of PHD’s in that room of ranchers. More than one each. Land Management, Sustainable Ranching, Land Use and Water Rights…

As I said, some really smart guys.

As fast as it came in, the rain dissipated and we headed outside for the shoot.

We had chewed up about an hour waiting for the rain to subside and both of the guys wanted to get back to work.

I grabbed my two bags, one camera bag and my Standbagger Grab-n-Go with two speedlights, two stands, a mini boom, two umbrellas and a set of triggers. In the car was my Profoto kit with an extra battery, four stands, a larger boom, some modifiers and two additional sets of triggers.

Camera wise, it is the same kit I carry for nearly every shoot. Canons, an assortment of lenses from 20MM – 200MM and my Minolta Meter.

I set the gear up on the porch and moved it to the very saturated grass as I built the lighting. I used a couple of speedlights on a boom, and radio triggers to fire them.

Radio triggers that didn’t seem to want to cooperate in the still misting air.

A quick trip to the car for my backup kit, and we were up and ready for that first test shot.

“Thanks” they said and started to walk off.

We said we were coming up to do a picture of them and I just did one.

Ranchers near Superior, Arizona, 2012

This was from the first set of images we did on the little bluff. Behind them and out of sight was the stables area, and I loved the clearing storm clouds for the backdrop.

We explained that I will probably do several more shots and I got the sneaking suspicion that they then figured I must be new if I have to take more than one.

Sometimes I feel the same way.

I did a shot of Bob and Walt (Meyer) on a little spit of land overlooking his stables and then I realized that this big ol’ tree was just the thing I needed to give the image a bit more context.

Still using the speedlights, we got them under the tree and relaxed, talking about the land and the great weather we were having. Right on cue, the dog joined us. We also included Walt’s daughter, Katie Cline in this shot as she was a big part of the study.

I got six shots, and the shoot was over.

“Got lots to do…”

I was shooting to a square format, as the original designs were to be square. A change in design meant a change in the imagery, but that was not a problem. I shot with some room around the subjects to give the art director some wiggle room with the images.

Here is the image as was used in the 2011 Goldwater Institute Annual Report.

Goldwater Institute Annual Report Photograph by Don Giannatti

And here is the original image as shot.
Goldwater Institute Annual Report Photograph by Don Giannatti - no crop

Sometimes you get all the time you need to shoot, and other times you better be prepared for not having much time at all. This was unique as after driving for nearly two and a half hours, I would have expected to have a bit more time. But that was not the case. The storm had eaten into my shoot time, and now it was down to a matter of a few minutes.

In the end we got nearly 30 shots total – including the test shots. There were so many places and ideas that I had wanted to do that it was a bit disappointing that I couldn’t keep shooting.

The final shot looked pretty good, and the client liked it a lot. So I count this as a successful shoot. This was one of six portraits we shot for the annual report, and all of them were unique in their own way. I may share some of those stories as well.

I really enjoyed this shoot, and working with Jon was a blast. We made it out of the mountains and to a gas station with no problem and by the time we were back in Phoenix there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.


I was recently on creativeLIVE and have received some rave reviews of the workshop. If you are interested in taking a look at the workshop, you can find it on creativeLIVE’s web site here. I think it is a tremendous value and if you are unable to attend any of my workshops, this may give you a ton of information you will want to have to push your photography to the next level.

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts
Increased Client Interaction is Better Than The Alternative…

Increased Client Interaction is Better Than The Alternative…

Think about it… the more you interact with your clients, the more your clients see you as a part of their business.

No, I am not talking about stalking, or going overboard with emails, mailers, phone calls, texts, tweets and facebook status thingies… I am talking interaction.

Too many photographers live in a bubble… work, deliver, wait for more work. It is very passive, and these days passive may not be the best way to get more work.

Increasing your client interactions could help get you remembered and top of mind when assignments come in. Staying in the game so to speak, being ‘engaged’ in the work you and they do is more exciting anyway.

Add to that the fact that people love to work with busy people, keeping your clients abreast of your new work, published images and personal projects is another way of letting them know that you are constantly creating new work.

You want to make sure that you aren’t overdoing it, and random calls of “hey… what’s up” are going to lead to “I’m sorry, he’s not in at the moment” calls… got it!

So we have to figure out when it is appropriate and proper to make contact with the client without making them hostile

Consider these points of contact. All of this comes after the initial assignment, what goes before is the topic of myriad posts.

1. A note just before the shoot keeping the client confident that all production is on schedule, locations locked down, MUA’s and craft services set, and more.

2. Deliver the images with a personal note about the shoot… what went well, how excited you are to be working on this project. This note can accompany the electronic delivery as well as any other kind, so don’t forget it.

3. BTS shots /videos are fun for your blog visitors, as well as for your clients. Taking a few great snaps showing everyone hard at work, having fun, CREATING the work is a great ‘share’ opportunity for your client. And of course, for you.

4. A personal note after the shoot was accepted… NOT an email, a personal note – on paper – in ink. Seriously. This is another way to put a new image in front of the client you just worked for.

5. Finished off a new portfolio, or story on your site? Great, let your clients know by sending a link. “Here is a new set of images I just finished for…” They have hired you in the past for your creativity, so why not show it off when you get a chance. (Thinking that clients are checking your website every week to see what is new is fallacy. They aren’t.)

6. Did you see something in a magazine or online that you KNOW the AD/Editor would love to see… great. Send them a note or a DM and let them know about it. This one is a bit tricky, as you MUST know that they would be interested. (You know how you find that stuff out? You listen… listening to what they are interested in is part of the fun of this business. We meet talented and fascinating people at every turn.) Do this rarely, as it has more impact when it is rare.

These are all ideas that can help you stay in front of your clients, and even some who are not yet clients, but that you have some rapport with.

However, there is one big caveat… these are NOT ploys or tactics. You should have a general interest in sharing your work, working with the clients and being interested in them and their work. If you are not, these will seem stilted and boring and – in the end – do more damage to your work than help it.

Be genuine and real… and remember that it is far easier to keep a client than to develop a new one.

Have you developed any new ways to keep your work in front of clients? Share if you like…

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts
The Olympian Image Dust Up… Are There Lessons?

The Olympian Image Dust Up… Are There Lessons?

Over the weekend a ‘controversy’ began with a small firestorm of criticism of the images of American Athletes taken at a “media event” in Dallas. The images show cut off limbs, torn background papers, shooting off the sweep, terrible lighting and a longer list of amateur fuckups. What else can you call them?

You can see those images here.

There are a considerable amount of people wanting to find excuses for this work: It was a media event, he didn’t have control of the situation, there was too much pressure, they are out-takes and on and on.

While there are many with good intentions who want to find ‘reasons’ and/or ‘excuses’ for the photographer, I would like to point out that the images he shot were taken at the same event that these photographs were taken.

The ‘reason’ for the bad imagery doesn’t fly when you see what others did. He chose his equipment poorly, shooting terrible angles with light that doesn’t work. His choice of lenses and angles are completely his… he owns them.

The light was NOT brought in by the photographers, but set up by the event coordinators (also known as PR hacks). But as a photographer you need to KNOW what to do with problems like this.

The excuse that they are ‘outtakes’ and were not assigned doesn’t fly either… they are currently on CBS site as images of the Olympians. So clearly he and his agent – and CBS for that matter – consider them worthy of publication. (Get that creepy skin crawling thing… maybe the photographer who keeps telling us that photography is dead is right… I hope not, but then you see this…)

As to the pressure and the time constraints and all the other ‘waa waa waa’ shit… buck up or go home. This IS a stressful, time constraining, full on pressure cooking time. This IS what the professional photographer – at least those who cover media events – has to deal with every day. Every Damn Day.

If the heat is too strong, go home. And that is OK too. I am NEVER gonna do this kind of gig as I know MY own constraints. I think it is important that we all know our limits.

In the end, we have a photographer who took terrible images and felt they were good enough to show. We are now free to believe that they are or are not good enough to view. CBS agrees and has published them on their website.

So maybe we are wrong… maybe these are amazing, edgy, hip, cool, ‘out of the box’ images that we little simple people don’t get. Maybe… Maybe not.

I believe they are some of the worst images I have seen in a long time – especially bad because the photographer had interesting subjects to work with… Olympians. Even with the obviously shitty light, there could have been ways to make the images work. Others did… at least they did a better job.

(To the asshat who put up a wrinkled flag for a background – get another job you incompetent twit.)

Now, for sure, there could have been other things that could have caused this to happen… maybe gear was not familiar or whatever. As to making them ‘hip’ or ‘edgy’ may have been attempted, there is no evidence that shooting people on ripped seamless and squatting away from the light is either hip or edgy. There is no reason to assume any reason other than this is the photographer’s vision.

There may be some lessons for the emerging shooter here:

NEVER let a photograph out of your possession if you are not proud of it. It’s YOUR image. You OWN it.

NEVER show your bad work, only your best. (We all shoot shit while working to the final image… those are called sketches or whatever, not for public consumption.)

Admit failure: Although it rarely happens, there may be days when it simply doesn’t come together… for whatever reason. Man up. Screw the Pooch and be on with it. Admitting failure on one assignment is better than having to defend obvious shit for the rest of your career.

We are only as good as the last gig we do. A thousand great images will not be enough to keep these images from tarnishing a well respected career. These photographs will be attached to this guy for a long long long time.

That is both unfortunate and a hard to watch lesson.

(UPDATE) It is entirely possible that these are NOT Joe’s best work, and that the edit (or lack of one) could be to blame. That is very possible, and if that is the case, it is more than tragic – it is nearly criminal. Sometimes we are contractually obligated to deliver all the shots, and that could have been the case.

But in the end, it will be these images that are now associated with him.

And yes – even if this is a case, it is a powerful lesson.


I was recently on creativeLIVE and have received some rave reviews of the workshop. If you are interested in taking a look at the workshop, you can find it on creativeLIVE’s web site here. I think it is a tremendous value and if you are unable to attend any of my workshops, this may give you a ton of information you will want to have to push your photography to the next level.

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts