There are a lot of photographers "faking it" until they "make it."
Since some people misinterpreted my last post on percentage of full time photographers in our industry, let's be clear about what I mean by "faking it":
- suggesting that a portfolio full of images created at a workshop came from hired jobs
- telling clients that you've been photographing weddings for 5 years when 4 of those years you were just attending as a guest and bringing your camera along
- creating styled bridal shoots and wedding set-ups and passing them off as real weddings
- using images created by other photographers to represent your own professional portfolio
- using models that you've done trade work for and claiming they hired you
- claiming you're an award-winning photographer without actually receiving an award
- selling with images from photographers that are no longer part of your company, or are not a regular part of your photography team
- passing off your images as a second shooter as if you were the primary shooter
Deception of any kind is just wrong. What makes me sad is that there's a lot of it floating around in our industry and because clients and newer photographers can't tell the difference between what's real and what's not, they can get sucked into it like a moth to a flame. I've even heard of workshops that advocate people "fake it until you make it," but I really don't see a lasting business strategy in that. Having confidence in your abilities wherever you are- yes, but saying you have experience that you don't- no. The minute your colleagues find out what you've been doing- you've lost their respect for you and your business because they won't know what else you may be lying about. Also, you're only putting yourself in a really awkward situation when you claim to have more experience and then find yourself in a situation in which other people are taking a financial risk on you bringing that to the table, but you can't.
I have so much respect for people who are humble about their situation and can sit down with a couple and say, "look, you're my second wedding and I'm giving you an awesome rate because you're putting a lot of trust in me." I really don't see the need for people to lie about where they came from or how long they've been in this- if people like your work, they really aren't going to care how long you've been in the game- so why lie about it? There's actually more power in being real and honest- which helps clients be more understanding and knowledgable of when and if something goes wrong, and establishes a level of trust and respect built on honesty. That honesty helps you create a better connection with your local photography community- which becomes your first line of help if something goes wrong and you need a backup.
An honest business will always outlast a business built on a foundation of lies.