Archivi categoria: lessonslearned

4 Lessons for Photographers from the Story of Desiree Genera

On Wednesday night, a developing story kept popping up on my feed featuring Katrina Ortiz (a photo client) and Desiree Genera (a photographer). Initially, Katrina posted positive feedback regarding her hired photographer after receiving an edited image in digital format.

Like most clients excited about their most recent professional photography session, she made it her profile picture and couldn’t wait to see the rest.

Desiree had posted on Facebook that the rest of Katrina’s maternity session would be complete and available for viewing on Tuesday (3/14/17), 2 weeks ahead of the photographer’s initially-stated timeline.

At 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Katrina checked in via Facebook messenger to see if her photos were complete.

Clearly, from the exchange, Desiree was not happy to be interrupted while trying to do the editing. For her, this meant Katrina would now have to wait the full 4 week turnaround time instead of receiving them 2 weeks early.

Despite this news, Katrina politely backed off and apologized for the interruption. Katrina thought it was over until just a short while later she noticed she was a topic of discussion on Desiree’s personal Facebook page.

Desiree was openly discussing the altercation with her audience and even went live on Facebook, expressing her annoyance with the interruption. In these live videos, Desiree described the need to fix her client’s wig, stretch marks, fat, cellulite, etc. You can view the videos below (warning: there is plenty of foul language):

After seeing this happen right on her own news feed, Katrina’s opinion of the quality of service offered by Desiree changed. She began recording the live videos and sharing them on her page, as well as explaining to her friends what took place.

The story then quickly spread across Facebook. Some people expressed sympathy and suggestions to Katrina given the rudeness she had to endure, others began attacking Desiree’s photography business.

Desiree seemed to welcome the traffic, spending the day uploading new videos, as well as sharing old ones related to her business. Perhaps she was holding on to the adage, “all press is good press” because, despite the incoming negativity, her videos and posts were racking up views and interactions.

She went as far as to suggest that she would soon be “cashing in” on all the viral attention.

Katrina then requested on her Facebook for those following the story to report the images on Desiree’s page to get them taken down.

Many went a step further, leaving nasty messages, comments, and negative reviews on her brand’s marketing accounts. Others were tagging local and national news outlets in an attempt to bring an even bigger spotlight on the story.

Now, I didn’t bring this story up to tell you that it’s not a good idea to conduct business in this manner — if you were considering doing so there probably isn’t much hope for your business’s future. However, I found so many things in this story that have huge implications on our industry.

#1. Mixing Business and Personal Life is Dangerous

Whether you are deciding to go live on Facebook, or determining if you need 2 separate Instagram accounts for the various aspects of your life, it’s always worth considering your audience.

Most importantly, who you choose to discuss the quirky and infuriating intimacies of our industry with can always come back to bite you in the butt. This is most dangerous on social media, where…

#2. More than Just Your Friends are Watching

Curated feeds are designed to promote posts that get the most interaction. All of Katrina’s phone videos on this altercation now have tens of thousands of views. Even Desiree’s videos completely unrelated to the exchange have had a dramatic increase in traffic.

If it’s interesting enough, your message (positive or negative) can quickly spread around the world. Despite the fact that all the live videos Desiree shared are now deleted, along with many of the associated posts, screenshots and other people’s recordings live on. Remember, every time you post you are starting a fire that you may not be able to put out.

#3. Beware the Tribe Mentality

Katrina has every right to leave a negative review if she is dissatisfied with the photography service she paid for. Like all of us, Desiree has to accept the possibility of negative feedback with every image she delivers. This is all part of a single transaction.

However, as soon as the story spread the tribe mentality took over. When people are acting as part of a large group, they are far more likely to exhibit hatred. One commentor even offered to push this story to her Facebook group of over 20,000 mothers to help punish Desiree’s business.

While I find Desiree’s response and videos unprofessional, I do not think she should be at the mercy of a massive group that was uninvolved in the transaction.

At the same time, her continued defiance and traffic-relishing tells me she’s not very upset by the negative attention. After all, our society has been known to catapult people to fame simply by hating them enough. How bout dah?

#4. What’s Obvious, Isn’t.

In this instance, Katrina felt she had every right to stop Desiree from using the images to promote her work. Some commenting even suggested that “if you already paid for these (photos), they don’t belong to her anymore”.

While the photographer here may have made some questionable decisions, she does still retain the right to the images she captured.

When our entire day-to-day is based around a specific industry, we tend to assume that the standards of our industry are glowingly apparent to the public. Back when I waited tables at Chili’s, I scoffed when a guest was unaware that the salad garnish in the Quesadilla Explosion Salad had onions in it. Those guests were not chefs.

Your clients are not professional photographers. It is our job to educate clients on all aspects of the photography service, as well as outline it within contracts. Failure to do so leads to incorrect assumptions by those hiring us, as well as the general public.


It’s never a good idea to go off on the struggles of our industry on a social media platform, regardless of how infuriated you are. Be wise to any message that you put out to the world, even if you think just your friends are listening. Educate your clients on the specifics of both the industry as well as your brand.

As photographers, we are trusted with people’s memories, personalities, and passions. We also carry the weight of their imperfections. It’s best to treat them all delicately.

About the author: Robert Hall is a wedding, portrait, and commercial photographer based in Michigan. You can find more of his work on his website, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

What I’ve Learned Fifteen Years Into Photography


I’ve been doing this long enough that I honestly can’t remember why or how I started. I mean, I remember my origin story… but as an adult I also know that is probably a distillation and summary of what exactly went on. There are no easy lessons now.

Here are my fifteen year lessons:

  • Photography is communication. Why I do something is 80% of what I end up doing. I like to tell stories with photos. Even when I’m producing a single image, I focus on the story that it tells. Is this “best view of x city” or is this “How I feel at x location” or is this “This is how it feels to be x person”. I feel I am wasting my time if I am not communicating some emotion with a photo. The 100 million people with smartphones are doing the straight documentary recording of environment. If I want to be something else, I need to step up to the next level of communication.
  • One photo is the key. When I was in my early days, I would take a lot of photos because I thought that was the path to one great photo. Now I have transitioned to thinking that meditating on a single photo that distills the moment is the way to think. Spend time being in a place or a time: feel it, understand it, think about how to portray it. I still take more than one photo, but it is always in seeing that one first that I shoot a few chasing it and know when I have it. Capture and move on.
  • Understand that what you do is for you. Your vision is yours. It should communicate to others but ultimately if you hinge everything you do on others opinions, you’ll never do anything great. Consider what other people see. Be receptive. But your vision is what you will always be enacting and ultimately if you photograph by committee you’ll never get to that perfect recording. Be communicating always, but communicate your own mind and trust that others will be able to interpret. Maybe they won’t, many people are not properly understood. But if it is true to reality, somewhere and sometime it will be received. You get what you get right now and you have to let go of anything else.
  • A photo is an extraction. It is a simplification. It is reality seen through certain limitations. It is those limitations that make a photo. Four straight edges and a 2D simplification of reality. You need those limitations to make this an art—if you are trying to 100% capture reality you are not taking a photo and it doesn’t make sense. A photo is a haiku. 17 syllables and done. Without those walls, you’re lost. So embrace the walls and find a way to express everything there is between them. There will always be something outside the walls, but that’s okay too. Do what you can and that’s all you can do.

Oh and process your images. Simplifying your vision is key.

Editor’s Note: Want to compare these lessons to a newby? Check out “What I’ve Learned My First Year Into Photography,” the article published right before this one.

About the author: Patrick Beggan is an award-winning portraiture, event, and landscape photographer based out of Bellingham, Washington. You can find his work on his website, or by following him on Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and 500px. This article was also published here.

14 Things I Would Tell My Younger Self Starting In The Photography Industry


I was internalizing a dialogue I had the other day after seeing a mistake someone made on how they presented their thoughts and the reaction it received, when I realized that what I was actually doing was telling myself what I wish I knew early on in my career. It encompassed some mistakes along the way, and some key points that I feel some people may benefit from reading.

You will not agree with every point, and don’t worry, you shouldn’t. At the very least, you’ll agree with and consider one of them. That is what is what I hope to achieve.

Without much banter, here’s a few things I wish I could tell my younger self when I started out in the industry.

#1. Be open minded enough to understand that just because you do not like it, it doesn’t mean it’s bad.

#2. Stop being offended and start bring proactive.

It’s really easy to say when something bothers you. Do something about it and use it as an opportunity to prove to yourself that your idea was in fact the better one. If it bothers you that much, do better and improve upon what’s already there in your own life instead. At best, think of it as a new-found business venture or free education!

Make a difference instead of making no difference.

#3. If you do not like something and they did not ask for your opinion, it’s probably best not to leave your thoughts.

If you do not know if they’re open to it, they probably don’t care and there’s a good chance they’ll also dislike you for it.

#4. Feel free to discuss politics and religion, also feel free in knowing you are alienating half your audience. If you have clients follow you, you’re harming your business.

#5. Trust your instinct.

It’s better to go on instinct rather than over-analyzing, whether it comes to color choices or editing selects… or your life.


#6. Be concise and direct in your communication.

People go through plenty of messages, no one wants a five paragraph essay when it can be compressed into a few lines. Know when to elaborate and know when it’s not necessary.

It’s an art, study those that have mastered it.

#7. Make sure the client’s name is spelled correctly.

Ask me how I know! My name is Pratik, if you can re-arrange those letters in your head, chances are I’ve been called it.

#8. Not everyone is going to like you and your work and they will go out of their way to let you know.

Keep saying it until it doesn’t bother you. Say it one more time. It will save you lots of heart-ache when the anonymous heartless folks take aim at you. It’s a past time for many.

#9. We’re all going through something awful in our lives, that alone should be reason enough to be kind to each other.

Why be the reason someone has a worse day than they’re already having?

Empathy over negative energy.

#10. “Because I like it,” is good enough validation for your personal work.

You don’t need to justify and explain your every action. Sometimes, intangible decisions based on emotion cannot be articulated into words.


#11. Be stern about your worth. If you can’t do a project at a certain rate, don’t be sorry about it.

They’ll try a million ways to haggle you, but focus on those who can afford your worth rather than mope about those that can’t. It’s a part of business that the best charge a certain rate and most people cannot afford them.

#12. You’ll never win against a closed-minded person. Don’t waste your sanity.

#13. Don’t bend your words to give in to what people want to hear.

No matter how many times they ask you the same question in different ways, or how forceful they are with your words, don’t change your meaning to make someone else happy.

Compromising what you actually meant to say will end up serving as a receipt for what you promised to do, even if you don’t want to do it. There’s no faster way to burn-out.

#14. Leadership comes with making lots of mistakes, and being crucified for them.

Know that it’s a part of the process and the fallout from these mistakes paves the path to your success.

The best places take the longest to get to, so start paving.

And quite topical, here’s a quote regarding leadership from a character on Game of Thrones that I recently watched, which he expressed right before a moment of life and death.

“Do you know what leadership means, Lord Snow? It means that the person in charge gets second guessed by every clever little twat with a mouth. But if he starts second guessing himself, that’s the end. For him, for the clever little twats, for everyone.”
— Ser Alliser to Jon Snow

About the author: Pratik Naik is a photographer, high-end retoucher, and instructor. He offers his professional services through Solstice Retouch and his training through Retouching Classes. You can find more of his work and writing through his blog, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. This article was also published here.