The Fstoppers guys and Devin Super Tramp are part of the problem.

This week I noticed two different, very popular photographer organizations reach out to their adoring fans for help with re-branding or re-working their images.

One was Devin Super Tramp. He asked for his fans to rework his YouTube page.

Screen shot 2013-06-14 at 10.44.23 AM

Devin Super Tramp makes his living on creating video content for YouTube. And he wanted someone to offer up their talents — gratis — to help him and his image.

I’ll explain it in more detail, but let me tell you, what Devin Super Tramp did … that was shitty.

And then Fstoppers — a photo blog who obviously sells advertising and has a what appears to be a solid business model — reached out to their adoring fans to re-do their logo brand.

Of course, if your work was chosen, you could win $2000. That’s cool right? But what about all the work volunteered by the 1,499 other submitters?

Well, they get nothing.


Both of these parties work in the field of photography, a field that is getting destroyed by levels of disrespect that make the SunTimes decision to fire its photography staff seem like pudding pie.

Photography, as we know it, is changing so fast. I’m one of the only photographers I know who does it full time. Most people struggle at it as a hobby. And while I’m waiting for a big break whilst making my living at it, I watch aspiring photographers give up their dreams often.

It’s not uncommon for people to think photography is easy. It’s pointing and shooting. Right. So grab your camera and come to my party or wedding.

If you do that, please stop.

Somehow publications know they can get young, hobbyest photographers to contribute their services for free. These photographers often spending WAY more time editing photos to submit to income-based blogs and web sites. And they’re doing it for minimal pay and a byline.

One publication called me once and asked me to shoot a festival — a three-day, many-band event — without so much as a small fee to pay for my travel. My pay would be a byline. I told them outright that they’re disrespecting one art form to promote another, and that’s bullshit. And it’s about fucking time we stood together and fought against the people who think they can get valuable services for fucking free.

But then you have two big names in the industry perpetuating this level of disrespect into the graphic arts community?

Fstoppers should be ashamed and embarrassed. Hey, redo our image — a service that companies pay upwards of $1500 to $10,000 for — and you all do it for us for free! There are others who pay much more for these services.

You know what, F-fucking-stoppers and Devin Fucking Super Tramp, you’re part of the problem.

Fstoppers is ostensibly out to help the photography community. But you’re a fuckup and a failure.

And Devin, I know your new $12,000 camera wasn’t cheap and your income is at least enough to buy it and maintain your gear.

It’s time to grow up and make our communities better, by leading by example. By showing that you’re willing to show those assholes who want us to work for free how we respect the art community as a whole.

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3 thoughts on “The Fstoppers guys and Devin Super Tramp are part of the problem.

  1. hey jeremy. i thought i’d add my 2 cents:

    it seems every vocation has it’s fair share of subjectivity, however many of them do not endure it the same way we do in the creative field. for instance: one may go to a doctor’s office for reason X, get an expert opinion, agree or disagree with it, and seek out a second, third or fourth opinion. In the end, the patient makes the decision, however obvious or convoluted, to trust in doctors 1+2, and disregard 3+4.

    a few things are key here, in my opinion.

    1—the patient considers the doctors an expert. they don’t tell the doctor how to do his job. they do not attempt surgery and bring in her version of it splattered across a surgery table. even if the patient does disagree, it is perfectly reasonable to seek out other opinions, which leads me to my next point:

    2—the patient is willing to pay (via insurance or out-of-pocket) for said expert opinions. why? not only because the doctors are experts, but also because the her opinion is valued, based on the belief that the doctor is indeed, an expert.

    3—the patient is willing to pay the doctors they disagree with. patients know, before making the first phone call, the cost involved. there is no debate that it will cost something, just for a simple consultation.

    in the creative field (where which i lump graphic design, illustration, photography, et al) the content is under far more subjective scrutiny. for whatever reasons, some clients feel like they are experts. because they have a pair of eyes and an ego. to them, those of us in the creative field are not experts, but simply producers. and in some instances that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. but in most cases, it is.

    it is because, to some clients, we are not valued. our opinions are merely a nuisance getting in the way, not an expert diagnosis for the communication problem that needs to be solved, and the years spent honing this ability is irrelevant. time is a meaningless commodity, because what we do is apparently so easy. many pages with much ranting could be placed here, but we all know what i’m getting at: sometimes, to some people our skills are undervalued.

    part of the problem is that we are making art. or at a minimum, a visual representation of self-expression. and with self expression comes ego. ego, in a commercial or professional context is something that has to be managed. many times i have been asked to illustrate something, and given a sample of the style that it should fit, which looks nothing like how i illustrate. but because i can illustrate (like fixing a car) i can produce what the client wants, right? there is no value placed on how i draw, it is simply that i am able to.

    another problem is the proliferation of attainable equipment and software that are at our fingertips. years ago, a Keyliner, Filmstripper or Photographer were valued. they possessed a skills and equipment that enable them to make something that you could not. these days, a pirated version of photoshop and an iPhone are enough for someone to hack their way into the creative field. the fact that equipment has become more reasonable in terms of cost isn’t a terrible thing in and of itself, however it does enable some users to pole-vault the years of training, experience and maturity that come with learning the tools.

    when Fstoppers try to crowd source a logo, it does indeed add to this mentality. [a side note: did anyone else notice that they posted the work that they had a design firm do for them? apparently it wasn’t good enough. regardless, i hope they got paid for the work they did, and i find it in slightly bad form that Fstoppers would even show it.]

    Fstoppers also doesn’t see the value in what a graphic designer does: they only allowed a week! to your point Jeremy, a solid identity takes weeks if not months of research, concepting and development. bear in mind that people are doing this in addition to their 9-to-5.

    so what is the solution? i agree with Jeremy in that those of us in the creative field should not indulge those who do not value what we do. it’s more than a slippery slope, its a fucking mountainside.

    additionally, we should be more selective of our clients. i know that sounds snotty, but fuck you if you think i’ll work for free. NO ONE ELSE would do that! no mechanic fixes your car for free, no one tells that mechanic what’s wrong with the car. no one walks into a doctors office and expects free advice, or tells the doctor he’s wrong, and since i’m paying for this goddammit i want an enema, not a physical!

    ahem, anyway, being choosy about clients is part of the trade. Milton Glaser said, and i’m paraphrasing, “only take a client that you would have over to your house and have dinner with”. that shit is gold.

    i’m also a firm believer in hard work. talent also helps, but nothing beats hard work. the success of someone in the creative field is not limited by the number of people that are in the field. hard work, professionalism and kindness will *eventually* move you to the next tier.

    if you’re good, then you’re good. don’t be too nice. don’t be too much of an asshole. do good work and work for good people.

    and for fuck’s sake, don’t give it away.

    1. Thanks for the response, Ryno.

      It’s a tough business to be both professional and creative, as you pointed out.

      I tried tweeting directly at Fstoppers and Devin, but I’m not sure they’ll give a shit.

  2. I think it’s only fair to mention that no one has to provide their work for free or enter into the contest. Successful photographers are great at marketing and creating value for themselves. If your argument were true, then the wedding market would be destroyed by all the new photographers willing to undercut the professionals. We are living in an amazing time where there is actually more work for designers, photographers, and media creators. I think this article hits the nail on the head:

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