You’ve seen the lists. I’ve seen the lists.
Lots of established photographers want to tell you how to succeed.
Ming Thein, Erik Almas, Aaron Nace, Douglas Sonders and the dude at fStoppers … they all want to help you with “tips”, “tricks,” and (imagine ginormous quote marks) “ADVICE”.
EVERYONE gives advice on how to succeed as a photographer. Photography blogs are learning paradises that leads to amping up your Photography, but that takes time away from you time.
Have you ever noticed, nobody gives advice on how to fail as a photographer. This is a list for all your wannabe failures out there.
Failure is quick, easy and fun.
So here are seven, sure-fire ways to fail as a photographer.
1. Invest in absolutely nothing.
Don’t go to this recommended equipment list. Don’t buy a camera, several lenses, a flash or two, a backup body, a couple strobes with remote triggers and receivers. Don’t order a computer with Photoshop and Lightroom. Stay the heck away from a camera that costs more than your car.
If you invest in any photography equipment, you’re life would be a miserable triumph.
You would have failed to fail.
Having gear might encourage you to flip that camera on, point it at something, adjust your settings and fire off the shutter … maybe more than once.
Save your money. Buy a cat.
2. Do not — I repeat — do not get any paid work.
Want to fail as a photographer? Easy. Don’t get any work. Sit on the couch and pet your cat.
You win for losing. Sweet job.
Now go fist bump yourself and make sure you do pow hands.
3. But! … if you do land a job, make sure you dress like a slob.
So you landed a job with a new client. After you get over the fact that you’ve failed to fail, make sure you show up like you’ve been shoveling manure all day.
Or show up to jobs in shorts and flip-flops.
You’re an artist! That’s what artists do!
You know you’re going to be hot carrying around all that equipment. You know you’re going to work up a sweat lugging that 70-200mm from the car to the studio.
If you’re a women, dress down. Torn jeans, a wrinkly t-shirt and bedhead are essential. Skirts and dresses would be a disaster.
If you’re a guy, don’t press your shirt. Definitely don’t wear a tie. Don’t buy a pair of good shoes. Don’t get a haircut or shave.
To all of you, showering and brushing your teeth is obsolete for at least eight to nine days. Just show up in your pajamas and make sure you leave your lens on Manual Focus the entire day.
Score III for failure!
4. Bark orders like a drill sergeant.
When you’re setting up for a family portrait, don’t strike any sort of rapport with your subjects. Rush them straight in front of the camera and start firing off exposures. Point out how big your lens is. Tell them how much it cost. Say things like, “Listen to that shutter. Isn’t that cool?”
Make sure you yell at grandma to hurry up. Say things like, “Are you deaf grandma! Turn to the freaking left.”
If the client hasn’t left yet, go with straight profanity and egregious insult.
THEY WILL LOVE IT!
If you’re shooting a wedding, make sure you strike a cord with the bride by saying, “Smile, you’ll probably be married longer than your parents.”
Did your assistant brush you while reaching for a stand before it falls on your head, slam him or her with insults and tell them if you wanted to be touched, you’d sit on the couch with your cat.
Is your model a complete jerk? Tell him or her.
Make them cry.
Scream things things like, “Do you know how long it’s going to take me to Photoshop your face?”
5. Don’t balance your flash or strobes for ambient light.
You’re on location for a photo shoot and it was too pricy to buy gels to cover your flash or strobes to balance light to the main sources you’re in, so don’t.
Everyone LOVES the look of yellow tungsten light that muddies up your backgrounds when firing off a daylight colored flash. Everyone loves it when your ambient areas go green when you’re under florescent lights.
So make sure your photography has so much mixed light that it looks like a Roll-A-Rink during a couple skate.
6. Show nothing or show EVERYTHING. Nothing in between.
You just finished a shoot with a hot model, amazing makeup/hair and the sweetest lighting ever, and your failure meter is off the charts excited to throw everything straight in the toilet.
So don’t show your friends, fans and family what you’ve done. By all means, keep your shiny work from anyone who might enjoy seeing your art.
Or do the complete opposite. You just completed a portrait session with no less than a bazillion images; post them all! Invite people to your house — don’t give them any food or drink — and go through each one, one by one. Explain what you were thinking at the time of each photo. Explain what body part your cat was licking during the squinty-read-the-bottom-of-the-eye-chart shot.
Tell them some of the insults you hurled at the models.
Your audience will absolutely LOVE to dislike you.
Make sure you point out all the things you would have Photoshopped, but didn’t. Show the clothing designer how many glaring errors they had in their construction. Show the prop master how you can see some prop glue and it would take too long to Photoshop it out.
Verbal abuse is absolutely key to failure.
Not to mention, if you’ve managed to have any sort of relationship with a clothing designer or prop master, you’re already a failed photography catastrophe. Big time.
7. Do not get a mentor or make friends with other photographers
Other photographers only want to steal your ideas and ruin your reputation. Don’t associate yourself with anyone else who might constructively criticize or help you grow by sharing techniques. Your bubble is your strong hold.
Run, don’t walk, from newstands laden with photography magazines. Light afire any bookstores with photography books. Congrats! You’re a failure and an arson.
And abso-freaking-lutely … do not [please, oh pretty please] … do not watch free tutorials. Stay as far away from the pro tutorials as you can.
Twenty five bucks could go toward bigger and better things, like cat food or a 50 White Castle hamburgers.
Make sure not to memorize techniques that Aaron Nace explains. Absolutely do not learn keyboard short cuts in Photoshop. Do NOT buy a Wacom tablet no matter how many times Aaron says how it will enrich your photo editing.
You don’t need to grow. You don’t need to learn, Because you’re a know nothing. And know nothings are the fastest way to seizing ultimate failure.
Congratulations! You are now a failed photographer
Finally, you’ve got that Photography failure bug out of your system. You’re ready to be that French Fry cook you’ve always dreamed to be.
Fist bump. Pow.
*No cats were harmed in the writing of this list.