Wednesday, March 28, 2012

It's OK to Say What You Think

I don’t know when or how the “Rockstar” stuff started in this community. I came into it in 2007 and I honestly didn’t know anyone from Adam. After spending some time online I saw some names were thrown around more than others but I didn’t really know one more than the other. I attended my first WPPI in 2008 and I was FLOORED to see girls squee-ing and giggling about taking a picture with Jesh de Rox. I had no clue who he was other than some guy who reminded me of a hippy from the 60s (mind you, nothing is wrong with that, my Dad was one). I mean sure, some of these people had amazing work and worked with some pretty awesome people but fangirling over a picture with them? Really? I met Jerry Ghionis and asked if he was a photographer. True story. I’ve somehow maintained that attitude throughout my career in the wedding world. I know who the “Rockstars” are now but I have never really held them above others in the field.

At that WPPI, I took a Plus Class with Mike Colon and to be quite honest, it just didn’t live up to my expectations. He seemed like he knew his stuff but the format was kind of crazy and I really felt more frustrated than anything at the end of the class. When I was on DWF a few weeks later people asked for reviews and I gave an honest review of my perspective of the class. There were a few people that shamed me but for the most part it was accepted well. I didn’t realize it at the time, but back then most people went by the old adage, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Oops. After that I somewhat took my “say it like it is” mentality and ran with it. I haven’t looked back since.

Others have been slower to say it like it is online. For the most part photographers online tended to bite their tongues and keep their true feelings about workshops or wares that Rockstars were selling to themselves (and a few close friends). No one was willing to stick their necks out and say what they truly felt about the products and workshops because they were afraid of what the Rockstar would do. When I asked a friend who had a terrible experience at a workshop why they wouldn't say so publicly, they replied, "what if they get mad!??!"

About a year ago Scarlett Lillian hosted a workshop. Once the reviews of Scarlett’s workshop hit the interwebs and they were NOT rave reviews it seemed to start a slow trickle, than a flow of people standing up and saying their honest thoughts about products, workshops and seminars by other photographers. However, they are often anonymous and sometimes you can tell they are still a bit watered down. I feel that we really are getting there with getting honesty in the wedding photography business. The past year has really given me hope that people are finally rising above the hero worshipping and not being afraid to say it like it is. This past week I feel that we as a community have came even further than before with not being afraid to voice our dissent when something is not right. I have been SO proud of my fellow photographers this week for taking a stand.

So what I want to do is encourage you to speak your mind and say what you think. I promise you that good or bad, you will be OK! I am living proof that pissing off a Rockstar (or ten) will not hurt you in the least. I still have a great career and am still booking weddings. Heck, while I was making waves yesterday, I managed to book a wedding with one email! My clients don’t know, nor care, that I made a new enemy today. However, my fellow photographers know my feelings and some have even told me that by my saying my peace about things, they’ve had their eyes open up and are so happy I was brave enough to take that step. I can’t even begin to tell you how many people have thanked me for my honest reviews I’ve done here and how they had a similar experience or that I’ve saved them money (even though they’ve said they are afraid to comment and say so).

Keep in mind, saying what you think ≠ slamming. I hate that so often people see a review that isn't oozing with compliments and immediately call that reviewer a hater or even funnier, jealous. Just because you disagree with a viewpoint does not mean that one is a hater or is jealous. Remember to not get personal and stick to the facts. Keep it classy when/if giving an honest review or critique.

Say what you think and trust me, you will be OK. You will still book clients and who knows? You may even make a friend or two.

Corey Ann is a wedding & lifestyle photographer from North Canton, OH. She is a mix of everything - fashionista (runs Clothes for Pros, clothing suggestions for photographers), travel guru, deal hound and geek rolled into one. She's had a website online since 1997 and a blog since 1999. When not plotting world domination or her next trip, she can be found reading one of the 100+ books she reads a year. Follow her on Twitter.


  1. I appreciate your honest critiques, and even when I don't like hearing it- I take it to heart as an opportunity to improve. Products, people, and services only get better when people are honest with one another. That's what all of the new review services are about, from Yelp for places, to WeddingWire for vendors, to Fisheye Connect for photo workshops. Honesty has always been the best policy. ;-) I'm so glad you have the courage to share your thoughts in public, and that Photo Lovecat can be that place for you - and anyone else who is courageous enough to put their face on an honest and objective review. ;-)

  2. I totally agree...but jealousy is just part of the game, you'll easily overpass it if you're clean in your intents..

    Then, sorry to go someway ot, but those are just like my two cats!!

  3. fotografo - cute cats!!! Even when the intent is clean and done with love, it can still be misinterpreted or twisted and taken the wrong way. We all have to deal with this at some point and we can either choose to let it shut us down in anger or fear, or we can continue on knowing that we cannot be responsible for the feelings of others, only for ourselves. I know I've unintentionally hurt people when I didn't mean to, and when someone has taken the chance to have a straight forward conversation with me about why it hurt them, I've been able to apologize and take their feelings into consideration. However, many people just shut the door and don't even talk about it because they know it's not something that you said, but rather something that they internally have to fight with on their own.

  4. Oooooooo pretty kitties!! :D

    I know that jealousy is part of the game - I'm not a jealous person by nature (and would totally own it if I was) so my intents are never born out of the green eyed monster.

    Thank you Alyssa & fotografo for your lovely comments :D

  5. As I said yesterday on Twitter, you're acting like a real "leader" because a leader leads by example, not a lot of talk backed up by inaction.

  6. Great article! Love hearing the non-sugarcoated side of things..

  7. "I am living proof that pissing off a Rockstar (or ten) will not hurt you in the least."

    AWESOME!There is a young photographer in my local community who WORSHIPS and fashions every single aspect of her business and life around some RockStars and frankly, it is so sad. She is a bigger fan of them than herself and her own work...which looks exactly like theirs :/ (editorial style: aka unimaginative and boring.

  8. I must have my head buried in sand. I just heard about this "rock star" discussions just yesterday. I'm probably trying to hard to be a "work star" that surfin' on the net.
    I LOVE the attitude (and altitude) of your post and applaud non destructive critiques aimed to improve and not to tear down.
    Thanks & Hugs

  9. I'm a no-name photog from a town not even on the map and have been in business going on 3 years. I've never been to WPPI or the like but have been to one speaking tour engagement. I really didn't have anything bad to say about it, only that there was plenty of opportunity to spend more money on their products afterwards. That person has since decided to not sell a single thing on his tour this time around and other speakers joining will not be selling anything either. Just sharing of information, which, in my opinion, should be the point of going on a speaking tour-TO EDUCATE, not sell. I think that's what's been lost these days.

    Too many photogs haven't earned their "teaching" stripes and have essentially traded in shooting for selling their "fabulous secrets" that "you too can be a success...yada, yada.." and charging an arm & a leg for something that is really just a motivational talk to pump people up but really not offering anything of substance. Once they have you roped in on their sob stories and crocodile tears, they then bring in their "sales pitch punches" and play on your emotions some more in order to get you to buy their "stuff." To say that I am relieved that this issue of "rockstar" mentality and photogs who trade their cameras for "teaching" when they shouldn't be, is an understatement. It's about damn time. I was about ready to launch a free ebook that would be titled "The ONE Secret Every Photographer Should Know" and when you open it, it would have this on the first page "Newsflash: There are no secrets." I would then elaborate, but you get the idea.

    So, yes-I am glad the tides are turning, even if I am a no-name photographer from a town not even on the map. Thanks for this post today and now I feel better getting that off my chest. Onward and Upward. ;)

  10. Thank you all so much for your comments. Truly. It's been a long day but you guys really make me smile. Thank you.

  11. Corey,
    I believe you are in for some backlash for expressing your honest opinions. Personally I have always appreciated your "real" opinions and assessments of products and workshops. Thank you for standing up for what you believe and not caving into social pressures.

  12. So far, I've only received backlash from one source which was pretty full of hate. I managed to make it through with one cocktail and a lot of support from unexpected places. I'm pretty certain that I can survive the rest.

    Thank you for your comment :)

  13. Ho Corey, Just trying to get my head around what that letter was about. Is there some article you wrote or a tweet or something that sparked it, something that could at least provide some context?


  14. Thanks for the refreshing post. I have often wondered how great a product really is, or if the photographer promoting someone else's product is mostly doing it for the affiliate commission. Are all the pricing guides and business plans really worth buying?

    I have listened to Jesh's "Beloved" seminar online and have wondered if the big price tag is worth it. I like the idea and think it can't be too hard to come up with questions. It "Beloved" worth it?

  15. Here is someone who told the truth - finally

    And I've read others too. It's sad that some attend these workshops aspiring to create "that look" when the real truth of the matter is that if your skill and creative ability was worth anything at all, you could come up with your own distinctive signature for photos.

    The workshop groupies want instant solutions though, and earnestly striving to come up with something original doesn't even seem to factor into the equation. That's why some of the sham 'shops continue to spring up in droves.


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