I watched a two hour Periscope yesterday. Okay, I didn’t watch all of it because, well, it was two hours. It wasn’t an instructional video or a behind-the-scenes of a photo shoot. Rather, it was a workshop giver going into great detail about the current drama in her life with her workshop attendees. It sounded kind of like this:
“And then I said…”
“And then they said…”
“And then I saw a screenshot”
“And then they lied…”
“And then they wanted refunds..”
“And then I said you have to prove you’re pregnant if you want a refund”
I only watched ten minutes, but within that time, I heard enough humblebrags for a week:
“I change people’s lives.”
“I have screenshots of how I’ve changed people’s lives.”
“I’ve saved people’s lives.”
“You can find the police report of how I saved someone’s life,” etc…
And then it all became too much and I punched the couch. I mean, love seat. (Okay, I didn’t really, but I DID roll my eyes a bunch) It went on and on and on and after I heard the speaker telling certain people to “go to hell,” I turned it off. Of course, the silver lining in that scenario is that if you were in hell and on fire, I’m sure she could still save your life, so that’s good.
And then I woke up this morning to find that a photo thief who had stolen images a couple years ago, and had made up fantastical stories about his camera gear being stolen out of his car at a Walmart, is now BACK, baby. He’s changed his name yet again (I think this is the 4th name revision) and is now offering mentoring. No, you didn’t hear that wrong: M-E-N-T-O-R-I-N-G.
And then there is the photographer who promoted her recent workshops as creative and imaginative places of learning and did so by plagiarizing word for word someone else’s popular workshop. ‘Cause it doesn’t get more creative and imaginative than plagiarism, right? But now it’s all okay because…Jesus.
And I look around me at this really really wonderful industry and I marvel at how it has all turned into a made-for-TV movie. Normally, one would have to go into the girls’ bathroom at a middle school to hear stories and see behavior of this caliber.
Now some would say none of this is anyone else’s business. And I agree to a point. I mean, how someone runs his/her actual bona fide photography business is not any of your business or mine. (And by “business” I don’t mean “workshop”) BUT, what we allow to occur within our industry, though (ie. theft, plagiarism, workshop scams, etc…) affects all of us. To paraphrase Kevin McCallister in Home Alone: “This our industry; we have to defend it.”
See, you can’t do this. You can’t be a scam artist, you can’t lie, you can’t cheat people, you can’t do all these things and expect honest, hardworking people to be okay with it. You can’t expect to do these things and then post onto Facebook asking Jesus for forgiveness and expect it to all be okay.
God is not your “Get out of jail free” card.
The way I see it, if you are a thief and a liar and horrible person and have a come to Jesus moment and want to start over with your business, then Go with God. Seriously. I wish you well. Go take your pictures and live a good life. We all make mistakes and that should not prevent you from opening a studio and continuing on with your life and your craft.
But to angle yourself onto the speaking circuit in an attempt to make money off photographers? To claim professionalism while speaking a she said/she said story for two hours on Periscope? To steal other people’s words?
THIS IS WHY I DRINK VODKA, PEOPLE!
It’s also why the waters are so very very murky; all the scams and mistruths and people pretending to be that which they aren’t is the equivalent of dropping raw sewage into a crystal clear stream. Nobody wants to bathe in that water or even get near it. And it mucks up the environment for everyone who lives there.
This is our industry. And if you love it like I do, defend it. And then maybe, we can get back to where it means something once again.
About The Author
Missy Mwac is a photographer/eater of bacon/drinker of vodka and a guide through the murky waters of professional photography. You can follow her social media links here: Facebook, Tumblr. This article was also published here and shared with permission.