Something has happened in the last 24 hours which has horrified me, and brought me to a place where I am even more peaceful with my digital file allowances, and policies for online viewing. I want to share this story with YOU, because it seems so simple, and so easy, and probably nearly cost me my reputation as a photographer, and as a business owner.
Someone named Ashley is saying she works for me. She is telling people to go see my site and see MY work, along with offering HER phone number, saying she is out of business cards. I employ NO SUCH PERSON. The work on my site is primarily shot by me, and the few images that are not mine were shot by Brandon Wittwer, Heidi Hathaway or Eden Kilcoin. All these people work with me, have been mentored by me and do excellent work. I don’t know who Ashley is, but boy—I’d LOVE to find out.
I recently had a few tense moments with a bride who hadn’t read through her contract, or even the letter enclosed with her digital files. BOTH say very clearly that images from my company must have my logo attached to be presented online in any way. I have had other photographers (not many) say “why bother? People will download them anyway.” I bother because of THIS. There are photographers this past year that have launched full websites with gorgeous images, NONE OF WHICH was theirs. These people have booked brides and portraits from consumers who love those images, and expect ones similar to them in style, and technique, when the person they’ve hired has lied to them and portrayed her/himself as someone capable of such work.
Now that anyone and everyone has a great digital camera, many many many every day are hanging out their shingles, and calling themselves photographers. I wish them all luck. I do. I came from nothing, and I built this company through hard work, and hard knocks. They can do that too, if they stick with it and continue their educations and their diligence. They have great cameras, they may have a great eye, and they may have growing technique that will get them far. I hope that for them. What they do NOT have is the experience I have. They do not have the list of clients I have that speak well of me. They don’t have decades of beautiful photos to show at meetings or online. Know what else they don’t have? This list in my head of times I have ALREADY screwed up and disappointed people, and done what it took to make things right and learned the hard way how to make my clients happy, and how to work under excruciatingly challenging conditions.
Bottom line: I am never out of business cards. No one who ever represents me will ever be out of business cards. Call ME about your photos. My number is here, on my website, on my proofing site and all over the internet. I book the people who go out on my behalf, and that is a verrrrry rare occurrence.
Ashley, I am going tonight and shooting portraits of the band you told someone you’d shoot. Thank you for the left-handed referral. If I ever find out who you are, my lawyers and I will make an experience for you that you will NEVER forget. Until then, I’m looking for you, and now at least 2000 other people are aware of you too.
I am a Fort Wayne Indiana Defiance Ohio professional photographer!
Friends, I’m asking you to share this. I worry that this is way too common in this business now. I worked hard. They can work hard too, and I wish them all success in the world, but they DO NOT get to ride on my coat tails!
This is a picture of MY face photographed by Brandon Wittwer. (Thanks B!)
Isn’t it a shame anyone has to do something like this?!