Photography Reality TV Show – Cast of Characters

I’m an observer.  I’m a people watcher.  I take in everything around me through my senses and try to figure it all out, and categorize – I’m really good at organizing and categorizing haha.   Some people go through this world completely oblivious, and others go through this world completely aware.  Being aware, these are my personal observations….

This is all typed up in fun. There are some sweeping generalizations here that are meant in a joking way.  I sometimes believe that a photography reality TV series with a cast of characters that fits every one of these categories would be very entertaining.

I guarantee you that if you are a photographer, you will fall somewhere within these categories, even if you cross over several categories at some point.

In reading the following, on one side, laugh a little, but on the other side realize – what creative and interesting people we all are.  There are opportunists that see a need and fill it.   Soooooooo interesting to watch things evolve….

The Blissful Hobbiest.   This person just loves photography.  She takes many pictures and puts them up on social media and dabbles in different areas, maybe even selling some prints here and there.  It’s fun, income is not relied upon, and she never claims to be a business.  She doesn’t really care about the photography industry.  She enjoys what she enjoys and lives life oblivious to much of the following.

The Purist Artist.  The purist artist tends to only produce an amazing gorgeous WOW image every once in a while to show the audience.  The image was staged, well thought out, styled and composed beautifully.  He can be all about photoshop editing or he can be all about film and darkroom.  He represents something specific.  This artist stands proud, not usually caring about profit or any of the industry bickering unless he wants to yell from the mountaintops, it’s all about ART and art only.

WAC (i.e.,Mom, Dad, Teen, Cat With-A-Camera).  This is generally someone who enjoys taking pictures but probably just acquired a DSLR.  She is new and starry eyed and loves this fresh taste of being a photographer.   She’s PROUD to say she is a photographer.  If she is annoying to “oldies”, you have to admit the innocence and newness is very sweet.  She posts some of her images on social media, and her friends love the them and “You should go into business.  You are amazing!”   She considers it and who wouldn’t.. “Wow, yes, maybe I should.  I’m pretty good.”  She “goes into business” and starts charging, but usually does not have insurance, does not pay taxes, is not registered as a business, and only advertises on social media.  What little money she does charge, does not cover any of her business expenses, and either she doesn’t realize she is not making money, or really doesn’t care because she doesn’t need the money as her spouse or sometimes even a “day job” supports her.  The reason we call them WACs is just because they haven’t yet defined their purpose but usually find their way out of this category fairly quickly.  (And let’s face it, many of us started right here….)

Needs-Confidence.   This is generally someone who may or may not have started as a WAC but really wants to help out financially in her household and wants to be a genuine business that turns a good profit.  This photographer generally follows the rules, is a legal business, and wants to eventually raise prices.   Eventually is the key, as this process of finding her worth can take YEARS, and not because years are necessary, it is because she just can’t find her confidence.  She is  really talented and definitely plenty talented enough to command good prices.  She usually workshop hops from one to another, enjoying the social aspect, but seeks that one thing that she can’t seem to find, that magic button that is going to give her the confidence or flat out tell her she’s good enough to raise her prices.  (if this is you, I want to say- feel your worth! you know deep down inside you have the talent! :))

Business Owner Straight Up.   This is the photographer who is all about business and turning a profit.  He does what he loves, but needs to support his family and many of these photographers get a bit cranky that the industry is not what it used to be.  Others, are die hard believers of certain things and are very vocal like  “In person ordering” or “only sell prints” or anything else that they feel strongly about because it works well for them.  These are the ones most concerned about whether this industry will survive and are usually polarized into two groups – the ones over here are bitter about the industry tanking, and the ones over there are happy with their profits and can’t stand that their fellow business owners are bitter. (Or anywhere in between).

The Do-Gooder.  This one can come in all varieties.  It can be from a Hobbiest to Business Owner but they are always willing to work overtime to do free photography for a cause.  Some are really good causes and Do-Gooders are very much needed in our society to fill a wonderful area of charity… however, some don’t quite grasp business concepts and leak a  “my client canceled because she can’t afford me, should I give her a free session?”, and frankly, those sometimes leave the Business Owner scratching her head.

The Workshopper.  The workshopper realized where much of the money went —-> teaching.  Some are business owners turned workshoppers (or maybe they do both to supplement their income) or their phones have stopped ringing completely so they begin to teach.  This doesn’t have a barrier to entry sadly.  There are great photographers workshopping and then there are those who have been in “business” less than 1 year teaching by regurgitating what they learned in other workshops that past year.  This sometimes can get a bit icky.     And yet another strange phenomenon of the workshopper, is some actually aren’t even teaching photography to photographers but yoga and relationship counseling to photographers.

The World Tour Photographer.  This is an offshoot of the workshopper.  Some take it a step further and tour the world selling out large auditorium seats to photographers.     Some tour and have wonderful things to teach while another may try to convince the audience that she has a full time studio filled with clients, homeschools her six kids, hubby has a dayjob/career, and she cooks dinner every night while world touring – wow!  I want some clones of me too!.  But I will interject with one thought – please let’s leave the face off the side of the tour bus.  It gets a little obnoxious.  😉

The Prop Seller.  This is an offshoot of anything from WACs to Business Owners.  Not making enough photographing clients or had some free time, decided to make a prop, it turned out great, let’s sell it…. now let’s open up an Etsy store and sell lots more.  Hats, wraps, you name it, you can buy it.  It’s out there.

The Reseller.  This individual is a good shopper.  She spends hours online finding things that she can resell to photographers from wholesale or importers and puts them together beautifully at high prices for photographers to covet.  Most commonly, there is a Big Cartel or an Alibaba site involved, but being innovative, they have bridged the gap to get these items in masses to photographers.

The Designer.  This is usually a former photographer that found a knack for designing things – marketing packets, calendars, design templates – they have a talent for making ordinary items into beautiful designs that look “yummy” and sell these to photographers, and photographers can’t get these things in their hands quick enough even if they end up never using them at all.

The Affiliate Master.   This person usually has positioned herself in the industry a certain way – maybe a popular blog that is for photographers “by photographers” type of situation that has captured an audience waiting to see what the next new product on the market will be.  She sells anything and everything that is her own or is something that was created by another photographer, and she will market it fantastically, as long as she receives her affiliate kickbacks (sometimes the kickbacks are 50% of the product owner’s profit – that’s bold, but she commands it).  Big launches create hundreds of thousands in revenue for the Affiliate Master.  Marketing works, that’s for sure.

The Motivational Life/Business Coach.  This is someone who is telling others how to live the dream, find their happiness, and be a success, and now you can sign on the dotted line so you owe me $900/mo for the next year.  Sometimes these work well for photographers and other times, they need an intervention once they start parroting exact phrases from the coach like a robot.  Many of these coaches have never owned their own photography business or have never worked in the trenches with other photographers and still fill seats.

You-Tube Star or Starlet.   This is the photographer who is the cute stylish preppy girl who posts videos of her perfect life, her perfect business, her perfect hair and makeup tips in a cheerful happy, you-know-you-love-me way….and “I don’t know how to light people, I just do it this way… cause I like it…. I’m bored, whatever… “.  Some sit back and say “what does this have to do with photography?”  Doesn’t matter.  It sells.

The Mogul.   This is most often times an ex photographer who has special “mind-control powers” (haha) in the form of genius marketing techniques that has found that selling certain products to the masses is going to get him $100,000 cars and imported marble bathrooms.  He usually tops out at a few million in revenue per year.    He makes judgments and gives advice about the industry but has not a clue what it is like to be one of today’s photographers that relies on clients to pay the bills.  He creates catchy phrases, and his followers chant those phrases over and over and if you don’t do the same, you aren’t part of the team…. Usually it’s a bit of an absurdity when he puts his foot in his mouth publicly or discusses giving back but the give back is when YOU enter your credit card info right here to be one of the cool kids…. no one cares, they are happy to pay whatever the price.

So there ya have it…. a fun look at the photography industry.  Humor is so important in every day life – I had to learn that from my husband – guess who picked out all of this pottery?  😉

I love to sit back and observe…. and I always will.  🙂   I hope you understand, that nothing was meant to be derogatory – we should all be able to poke fun at ourselves.  This industry has changed so much, and sometimes, even if one of these categories annoys me, I realize how inventive and adaptable people are.  It’s fascinating.  It truly is.   You have to hand it to some of these innovators and opportunists.   Some of these people need to be plucked out of the photography industry and into major businesses internationally as I will call it how I see it – they are truly BRILLIANT.


and then there’s this…… a blog comment I received, “Hello,
This blog is well furnished with wood flooring.The designs and descriptions are excellent.Very nice post…Thank you…”     I’m not sure what that means.  But okay.  Here’s to blogs well furnished with wood flooring!


About Jodie Otte

Maryland Newborn Photographer and Child Portrait Artist, Jodie Holstein-Otte, specializes in unique photography of newborn babies, kids, and families. She works on location in Harford, Howard, Cecil, Anne Arundel, Baltimore and other areas throughout Maryland. She uses both both natural lighting and soft studio lighting techniques.

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