We Need To Be About Our Work

July 12, 2012 | • Philosophy Shop Talk

Recently a guy made a web site touting a top ten list of things you can do to help start your photography career. I’m going on a rant and it’ll be the last one for awhile. If you care to read it, hit “more”. If not, no worries. I need to get this out of my “system” and then I should be good to go.

So this guy makes a top 10 list for starting a photography business. Sound like a joke? Good. Because it is.

I won’t name the guy nor will I link to site. If you know who I’m talking about, fine. If not, don’t worry about it. Evidently he could not stop the sh*t storm he created with it and has taken it down and is currently “revising” it with feedback from 5,000. That’s a heck of a long email chain to keep up with. I’m going to go on a rant and I hope  he reads this and ponders it for the revision instead of just blocking everyone who disagreed with him. You know. Like he did the last time. I, and many others, tried to engage him in civil conversation and we were blocked, ignored, and dismissed. Ok. I’ll blog about it then.

The reason for this rant is:

A) I, and countless others, care far too much about our craft to let this thing slide.

B) He’s not a photographer yet he’s trying to help you become something that he isn’t any more. Huh?

C) His “system” is was full of crap. It’ll be interesting to see his revision.

D) He took a big steaming dump on the shoulders he stands on and it pissed a lot of us off and I have to vent.

This guy has built a nice fortune (nothing wrong with that) for himself on the shoulders of the wedding industry. Those shoulders we stand on stretch for decades. Many photographers have gone before us armed with 12 shots loaded in a Hasselblad. They built the industry that many now work in. Countless hours of dedication have been invested and passed forward to us today. He and his mousketeers have taken a steaming dump on top of those shoulders and it both saddens me and angers me.

If you are just getting started in photography I know how new everything can feel. I know the excitement that each milestone brings. That first time you nail that sun flare shot. That first job you book. The first time you see your work in print. It’s these milestones that keep you going. That builds your excitement. I get that. I know that. We hit those milestones and we love it. But understand this, you’ve only just begun to crack the surface of photography. While you feel you may be in over your head, you have no idea how deep this rabbit hole goes. While certain things seem so completely new and fresh to you, understand these are things that have been around a long time and you’re going to run into a lot of folks who aren’t so impressed. Been-there-done-that sort of an attitude. Don’t write those people off as mean. Just understand for a second that the rabbit hole is deep and you haven’t gotten that far into it yet.

Please go read this awesome blog post by Spencer Lum. Please read that. Please. Take it to heart. Realize it’s dripping with truth. Please read it.

I have wasted way too many hours getting sucked into conversations talking about this system thing and have I “seen-the-twirling-girl-in-the-Mercedes-video?” Yes. I have. Last I checked, Jesus didn’t die on a cross so I could make videos of myself driving around in a drop top Benz. If that’s the case then Jesus seems to like hip hop far more than photography. (Here’s me being grumpy BTW.)

I’ve wasted too much time on all of this. It pisses me off. It raises my blood pressure. I need to just walk away. Breathe. Be about my work. It’s just photography. We aren’t curing cancer here. It’s just a job. It’s just pictures. That’s all. But I can’t let it go. It’s like a rusty nail stuck in one’s foot. It has to be removed or it won’t stop bugging you. I wish I could remove lame web sites like this because they are adding far more noise than signal. Be the signal folks. Be the signal. Drown out the effing noise.


I once heard a photographer say “Jump in over your head and swim for the top!”

There’s a few problems with that. A) it sounds like you’re trying to swim back to where you already were. The quote wasn’t, “Open the hatch of the sunken submarine and swim for the top.”  B) There wasn’t a mention of all the dead bodies you’d pass on the way up. All those dead bodies (broken dreams and careers) are those who were trying to do the same thing you are trying to do now. Hard work. Dedication. Time. Patience. Some good luck here and there. (Luck favors the prepared.) Tenacity. A deep and abiding respect for the craft and the industry and your peers both young and old. That wins the race. No 10 step system. No fast track. No specific camera body or lens. No $16,000 spent to ride the rainbow for a day. 30 days to a better career? How about 30 years to a better career?

Why did this web site ruffle many of our feathers so much? Because of the stupidity in it. Because anyone who is new who might come across it might think it’s actually good information. It came from a guy who won this award, and that award, and this other guy over here called him the Golden Boy. This information must be good! Umm. No. It’s not. Please. For the love of the craft. Don’t listen to this crap.

Direct quote :: “Cameras these days are so good and getting better so the old photographers who tell you that professionals should be shooting in “Manual” mode are clueless.”

OMG. OMG. OMG. Clueless? Clueless? See that dig at “old photographers”. Steaming. Dump. On. Shoulders.

This guy got started in the photography industry and then bowed out as soon as he found a better deal. He didn’t shoot professionally for very long and he hasn’t shot at all on a professional level for quite some time. And now he wants to help you get started in the business he has little experience in. Sounds like an awesome guy to listen to. Want to know how to market software to a specific industry? This is your man then. He’s got that down. How to build a sustainable life long photography business? Yeah, maybe you should look elsewhere for advice.

That one quote above tells me that he and all his minions that wrote this thing have no idea how cameras have operated in the last three or four decades and beyond. Light meters are light meters. Spot, average, matrix, and the like have all been around since film. So has AV, TV, P, M and all the rest of it. Last I checked, 18% grey hasn’t changed in a very long time. Cameras are cameras. Let’s say you are in Av mode. It’s metering the scene based on the meter setting you have set. It then averages what it reads to 18% grey. Takes your aperture setting, the ISO you’re using, any EV compensation setting you’ve made, and then calculates a shutter speed based on those factors. Done. End of story. Who is looking clueless now?

Some cameras are trying facial recognition to find exposure. Some are using color meters (Nikon has been doing this since film). Some are trying this and that but at the end of the day… It’s a box with a light meter. They aren’t any better at taking photos then they used to be. Just remember that the smarter the camera gets, the dumber the photographer will be. Wake up and smell the photons.

Direct Quote :: “Spray and Pray. Shoot a lot, and if you forget what to do with your camera, just click it into “P” mode and shoot away.” :: Here’s the first one that had everyone up in arms…

P is for pathetic. Would you want your caterer to forget how to cook chicken and just microwave it? Do you want your officiant to forget your names and just call you “him” and “her”? Do you want your accountant to spray and pray? Your doctor? Your mechanic? Your lawn care guy? Why on God’s great green earth would you want your wedding day covered by someone who has forgotten how to use their camera? WHY set that low of a bar for those getting into the industry? Weddings aren’t school. You’ve got one shot to get it right or screw it royally. Oh! Don’t worry. Most of your first weddings will be for friends and family he says. The perfect people to screw over with bad photos. If you’re having to spray and pray then maybe, just maybe, you need to get your business started on a different kind of job. Like portraits. Portraits are a great place to start. Learn on jobs you can redo if you need to. Don’t screw with someone’s wedding day by not knowing what you’re doing. Period.

Don’t give someone who doesn’t know what they are doing the confidence to boldly set out and keep not doing what they should be doing. Think about it. If those of us who care about this craft actually didn’t want new photographer to succeed then we would be applauding this guy and his site. We’d want all new photographers to go and read it and…. fail.

Do you have to start somewhere? Yes. Are your first weddings going to be award winning? No. But weddings sure aren’t the place to “forget what to do with your camera.” OMG. Listen. If you get into spots where you forget what to do with your camera at a wedding you’re in a horrible spot with your skills and knowledge. Horrible. Wretched.  You need to take care of that ASAP. Do not be that photographer who sprays and prays. There’s no way you should be taking pride in what you do if this is how you are operating. Learn. The. Craft. – Books. YouTube videos. Kelby Training.

Build a foundation of knowledge first then strike out carefully. Of course you aren’t going to be dripping with talent at the start of your career but don’t think for a moment that customer service trumps quality product. That is the wrong way to approach photography. This person wants you to believe that, in the client’s perspective these days, the person you are is more important than the work you create. What’s going to be sitting on the client’s shelf twenty years from now? You or your work?

Direct Quote :: “Even though the world has changed some photographers haven’t so you’ll certainly hear people who strongly oppose my view on this. Don’t listen to them.”

From the guy who had to take it down and revise what he said because of the strong opposition. Love it. Want some ketchup with your words?

This guy goes on and on and about the “old photographer” mentality. From shooting, to pricing, to products, to service, to philosophy and he reminds you over and over to not listen to them. Not to pay attention to them. Just listen to him. You know. The guy who barely ran a photography business. He starts his whole thing off with “Read it. Believe it. Share it.” Can you say cult leader? I can. I can say that. Ugh. Again. Pissing on the shoulders he stands on. Remember your elders homeboy. Honor those who built something you get to stand on. Or start a cult. Either way. It’s all good. (Zack is getting grumpy now!)

He’s a big advocate for the digital age. Physical products are going the way of the dinosaur. What your brides want is digital. So buy into his digital fulfillment system. Albums are old school. Come to the new school.

Question. When is the last time you had to replace the batteries in an album? Update its firmware? Pay a monthly fee to keep the album on display? How many times have you had to transfer your grandparent’s wedding album to a new media or format before you could view it? If the wedding album maker who made that album went out of business does the album disappear off the shelf? Ever pick up an old wedding album and look through it? The feel of the pages. The smell of it. There’s no app for that. There is such a remarkable beauty to a wedding album. When is the last time a burglar broke into a house and had to make the split decision on stealing a laptop or a wedding album?

Here is a completely random photo I took while on our family road trip this summer.


When you meet a photographer who has been in business for 20+ years I’m sure there is nothing you can learn from them. You, who forgot how the camera works, I’m sure you’re in a position to call the old man “clueless”. Yeah. News flash! It’s the person, grumpy or not, that has been in business for 20+ years that you need to take to coffee and listen to what they have to say. If they are pissed off about something, there might be a reason for it. You might want to know what that reason is. Or you could listen to a software salesman tell you it’s just better to be nice and make friends than learn the craft, respect those who have gone before you, develop style, and work really really hard. On your own. For not much pay. For some time to come. Naw… that’s no fun. I’m sure you don’t want to be like the old traditional wedding photographer who mainly focused on portraits and detail shots because that is not what’s popular today. Oh wait. Oops.

Speaking of “taking them to coffee.” This guy mentions that when he was starting no one would let him assist them. I hear this gripe from a lot of people. “I contacted photographers asking to help and no one got back to me or they just said no.” I’ve started a new blog on Tumblr. It’s a Q&A blog. You can ask me anything you want about photography. I specifically address this in this blog post.

I could go on and on. I’ve gone on far too much already. If you haven’t seen this system don’t bother. I won’t go into the all the advertisements and pushes for his software. It’s just an infomercial at the end of the day. How many times do we flock to watch those? The guy wanting to help isn’t doing so. Look. I’m not saying he’s doing this out of some evil manipulation. I know the guy. I’ve had dinner with him. He does want to help but he’s gone the wrong way about it and has lost sight of where he comes from; has seemingly lost the respect of the craft, and is quickly losing the respect of photographers in doing so. He’s also not helping by using photos in this thing that he hasn’t gotten permission to use. I spoke with one person about an image on this site of his. “Did he get permission to use that photo?” “No. We’ve been trying to get in touch with him about that.” Good going, holmes! Well done. You get a pony ride!

Does bitching about this mean I’m working hard? No. It means I’m not going about my business. I’m all talk and no game right now. That’s got to end. In a way I’m thankful for this system thing. It’s inspired me to do a few things. One, is the last blog post I made about doing some experiments at weddings. The second is I’ve started the Q&A blog over on Tumblr that I mentioned earlier. In my attempt to add signal to the noise I’m taking questions about photography. Anything you want. Hit me. Can’t promise I can get them all but I’m trying. And if I don’t have a great answer I’m starting to pull other folks in who can give a better answer. I’ve currently answered 200+ questions. One of the better ways to navigate the blog is to hit the archive page. Or just hit the random button. If I can figure out a way to organize it better I’ll do it. Open for suggestions. Right now it’s just an open fire hydrant. Stop by and have a drink. :)

If you think for a second I’m complaining about new photographers I’m not. I’m complaining about people leading them down the wrong path.

I want new folks coming into the industry to learn the craft of photography so they aren’t forgetting how to use their camera. I’m just so sick of the snake oil salesmen pulling in the new folks into their garbage and bad mouthing “old” photographers. This industry wouldn’t be alive at all if it weren’t for all those “old” photographers.  These “leaders” and “golden boys” are setting a low bar by trying to be nice and tell you it’s ok to be mediocre. Sorry. The bar you’re trying to hit (being a photographer)… we can’t even see it. It’s way up there. It’s a moving target. Always getting higher and higher.

I’m tired of all the bad flash products, bedazzled camera straps, 10 steps to an easier life, culling and editing services for new photographers (my thoughts on that), OMG-look-at-my-shoes-pants-dress, cars, mansions on the hills. Nothing wrong with all that. Nothing. More power to you but let me tell you folks, you look at people who have it “all together”, well, it’s just reeks of working hard to maintain a public image. The most truly successful photographers I’ve ever met are bleary eyed, drive old cars that need new tires, and have holes in their shoes. Some of the finest, most bad ass photographers working a camera today aren’t even on twitter. They don’t have a blog following. They’re busy with a camera and they’re chasing the light. Not the following. Not the car. Not the fame. Not the new product to flip and sell to all of us. If they are writing a book their pen is a lens and their ink is light. You want to aspire to something? Aspire to that.

I’m gonna be about my biznazz. That’s making pictures.

Sorry. Just a public rant hoping that it helps purge the anger. I care about this stuff. When I see these fauxtographers piss on the shoulders you and I stand on it makes me mad. It makes me want to do all I can to never associate with anything they are a part of. Let’s run our cameras. Not our mouths. Let’s do that for awhile. Sounds like a good plan. Or “system” I should say. I don’t know how long I’ll let this post live. I just needed to get it out there. I may take it down in a few days. We’ll see. Just letting you know up front that this is just a purge.




UPDATE :: 99 Spray and Pray shirts are out in the world and that’s that. We aren’t going to make any more of those but more limited shirts are in the pipeline. It’s a fun way to raise money for a good cause so we’re going to keep making different ones.

Remember to read this blog post by Spencer Lum. If you are wanting to get into weddings and really learn the craft then you must attend a Foundation Workshop. The What If Conference looks promising. Michael Howard is trying to get Musea off the ground. His head is in the right place. There are good sources of education and information. Don’t waste your time on infomercials.

Here’s my new motto…



  • Amanda Reseburg said on July 12, 2012

    word Zack. word.

  • CHRISTI FALLS said on July 12, 2012

    Amen! I’m not going to even get into the ‘spray and pray’ mentality so prevalent these days, but I do admit getting sucked into the ‘social networking/blogging’ aspect instead of just creating, back when it was old school…just me, a subject, camera, and processing film in a darkroom.

  • Michael Howard said on July 12, 2012

    Dude! I know this has been eating at you for awhile and I’m glad you’ve finally let this out. Thanks so much for speaking up and fighting for the craft! Also thanks for the Musea shout out! I greatly appreciate it!

    I believe the industry, at least the wedding industry, is in the midst of a shift for the better. So many people want to get back to the craft of things and I’m glad you are letting your voice be known. Thanks for sharing and for fighting for what you believe in!


  • Martin Kim said on July 12, 2012

    There are nothing wrong with rants. I love reading rants that actually has a valid point, value, and meaning that aren’t biased emotions. This is your opinion on the way you see it and it’s great that you’re lecturing and educating at the same time. Awesome always Zack!

  • RW Boyer said on July 12, 2012

    hmmm, yes – care, actual care and understanding – not a rant just an observation that care and understanding is not dead but I can feel the despair in your words. Maybe it should be called wisdom. Something that is not understood at all until you actual have some. I think the despair emanates from the fact that 99% of the “new media” aka web is actually produced by people that have none.

    Take a deep breath and try to deal with people like they are your children if they act like it.


  • Zachary Long said on July 12, 2012

    Foundation has been on my to-do list as soon as possible, thanks for the other links. No mention of the Gary Fong book? http://thephotographyscoopblog.com/2012/07/10/its-almost-ready/

  • Ivan Boden said on July 12, 2012

    Zack, I agree with you 1,000%!!!!

  • Che said on July 12, 2012

    Good looking out Zack!!

  • Don said on July 12, 2012

    Are we talking about “The Tony Robbins of the Wedding Industry?” (Face palm…)

    Zack, I can sense your anger, but I can’t say that I can relate since I never bothered myself to find out more about this guy. And from the sounds of it, I’ll stay uninterested. In every industry, in every sub-culture, there are the sharks, forever looking to pounce on the uninitiated to turn a quick buck.

    Just keep doing what you’re doing; your voice will eventually be heard by those who continue to search for the signal above the industry din out there.

    And now that all this is off your chest, what say we get back to our regularly scheduled programming, shall we?

  • Zack said on July 12, 2012

    @Don – Amen


  • Brian Powell Photography said on July 12, 2012

    You trimmed your beard since I ‘saw’ you last.
    Love the random photo entry.
    And of course you’re spot on as usual. Hope you get some sleep tonight 😉

  • Ed said on July 12, 2012

    I’ve been waiting for this post Zack. Good for you. Excellent comments that need to be said, but unfortunately, this isn’t the only guy selling snake oil. I got suckered into joining an organization last December that does the same…I won’t name it because it will start a fire storm here, but they do have a magazine geared toward “Professional Photographers”…and they license images in the magazine from Veer (Corbis’ Micro Brand). It has me pissed – how can an organization that supposedly helps develop “professional photographers” support them buy licensing under valued work from other photographers? I’ll bite my tongue…nuff said from me. We all live, we learn, and we all get on with it. As you say…it comes with experience.

  • Daniel said on July 12, 2012

    Love the Winnebago Man quote at the end, lol!

    “I dont want anymore bullshit from anyone…” Here’s a link to the video from where it came from.

  • Butch McCartney said on July 12, 2012

    This industry needs an enema.

  • Stephen said on July 12, 2012

    I like how you waited so long before releasing this post. It has been so long since said said fella released his system that i had actually forgotten about it. I am thankful you have reminded me of it because now im going to get of my arse and bust said arse making great pictures for the clients i love. I also think we need a new motto for some new shirts “manuel mode for life”. Keep doing what youre doing Zack. Youre doing awesome things!

  • Van said on July 12, 2012

    He’s not doing as well financially as he’d like everyone to believe. And his software is mediocre at best.

    Thanks for keeping it real. I see you & Gary Fong as crusaders for the integrity of our industry. Btw- there are many “old photogs” out there making six figures- but they are too busy to be instagramming their latest high dollar purchase or tweeting about the amazing coffee shop they just found. Holla.

    We need more people like you knocking sense into heads out there. There are too many drinking “his” kool-aid – including personal friends of mine (and they practically defend him to the death!)

  • Jayce said on July 12, 2012


  • Josh Ashdown said on July 12, 2012

    As a fairly new and eager photographer, I can certainly back up your comment about wanting to lead new photographers down the right path. I have your One Light DVD and both Creative Live course…why? Because you by far laid out the craft and info the best. So…when you say that’s what you care about, your instructional work backs that up with force. Keep it up my man.

    On a side note….sort of. If you are fairly new like me (or been shooting a while too)and are thinking of what instructional videos to purchase; you can’t go wrong with Zacks stuff. I have a Kelbytraining account, Lynda.com account, NAPP Account, Photovision Subscription, TONS of books and DVDS and buy Creativelive classes. Although all are very good, I would be a lot better off and in a lot less debt had I started with Zacks philosophy. This man really does care about the right way to start out. In addition he really does pay respect to those whose “shoulders we walk on” in photography. Thanks to Zack I now LOVE Karsh and a few months ago I had never heard of him. Not to mention I now know a host of other great photographers who paved the way; who I had never heard of before Zack. Everything he said on here about his intent is backed up in his work, blog and instructional videos.

    By the way…I was in no way paid for this :-) I just have mad respect for Zack and what he does for photography.

  • Don said on July 12, 2012

    Forgot to add: Miss Aretha wants to give you a big kiss.


  • Leif Hurst said on July 12, 2012

    Thank you for being a man of substance. I’ve been exposed to you for a little over a year now and not once has it ever crossed my mind that you’re trying to earn a buck off your audience, this site, or peddle a new product where you make a backend off of it. You do this because you love the craft and nothing more.

    Do you have stuff out there for sale, yes you do. But, it’s different. It’s the let me tell you where I screwed up (debt) and what is REALLY really important to know so you can get there a *little* faster than what it took me. Also, you could go months with never knowing you have a product for purchase because your photography is what is front and center. I wonder why… might be that you’re a photographer. Just a shot in the dark.

    Honestly, I read stuff like this and it makes me want to support you, Meg, and your family. Not because I’ve been sold to, but because I believe in the way you’re doing things. I bought Dedpxl from MagCloud not because you forced it down anyone’s throat but because you said, “hey, I made this thing. If you like it cool, if not, no worries. Bye.” That was it. No glitz, no salesjob, no steps or snake oil. Put it out in the world and if it takes off cool, if not, no worries. No one likes to be “sold to” anyway. Not in the long run.

    I believe that someone’s work, blog, workshop, or whatever; if it’s good, it will find its audience. You will be successful as long as you define success as fulfillment. Change your expectations and you change the game completely.

  • Zack said on July 12, 2012

    @Leif – Thanks. Thanks for seeing me. It’s how I try to run my life and I’m glad it’s working. I appreciate your comment very much.


  • Christian Melgard said on July 12, 2012

    How & when can we get a ‘Spray & Pray’ t-shirt??
    Great idea!

  • karen linnell said on July 12, 2012

    you are epic! going to go out with my film camera tomorrow and then read Understanding Exposure, again. xoxox

  • Karen Linnell said on July 12, 2012

    forgot to say, please don’t take your post down. thank you.

  • Joe Dallas said on July 12, 2012

    Zack, this is one “old” photographer who appreciates your need to rant on this. I love for new photographers to enter the field, but only if they learn the craft and work to improve. The real “system” looks like too much work so the “fauxtographers” sell a load of crap to all the newbies and sorry to say too many buy into it. Let’s keep on fighting the good fight and make this industry better. Right on Zack.

  • Laura Cee said on July 12, 2012

    Love it! I am an amateur and I even know that stuff is crap.

    Most days I feel like I don’t know wtf I am doing and some days I feel like “Yeah I got it!” one of those milestone days you speak of.

    But what I do know is I only shoot in manual.

    I had a father who taught me, it doesn’t matter what you do, just know what you do and do it right; learn the basics and the rest will come naturally.

    I have always been drawn to this art of photography way before digital but life dictated things and here I am now learning digital never having worked with film. BUT my dad is in my head telling me to learn the basics, know your craft. I can’t take the short cut BS way, it’s not part of my fiber or how I was raised. Besides if I did my father would rise from the dead and kick my ass if I did anything less of the right way.

  • Megan Dougherty said on July 12, 2012

    I love all your latest blog posts! Even though I have been reading your blog for a couple of years, this is my first comment. You always have great points and can always stand behind them. You really get me thinking about what I REALLY want from my business and how to not end up being the same as everyone else. I like how you keep it real and are about just uniting and educating photographers (the right way, no less!) – because in the long run we all just love to create. Keep representing Atlanta (my home as well)!

  • Oli said on July 12, 2012

    Damn legend dude. Well said.

  • Paul Pratt said on July 12, 2012

    Well said Zack, well said.

  • Scott Kretschmann said on July 12, 2012

    Brilliantly said. Not even most of his “minions” agree with him, not those that actually shoot for a living at least.

  • jacob mengelkoch said on July 12, 2012

    you wreak of authenticity. thanks man.

  • Matt B. said on July 12, 2012

    Great post Zack. I’ve wondered what you would say and how you would say it. All I can say is, “Wow!” Thank you for this. I hope this post has the same type of impact “Transform” did.

    Before you decide to take the post down, consider reworking it into a guide for new photographers. If you take out the direct references to “Reverend Jones,” and make it about avoiding these types of “photography mentors” in general, you could help thousands of new photographers.


  • Josh Ashdown said on July 12, 2012

    I think Leif expressed what I was trying to say much better than I did myself…lol. I second his comment.

  • Angela Kohn said on July 12, 2012

    Can’t say how much I appreciate this post. Damn good rant!

  • Danie Bester said on July 12, 2012

    I too was naive when I started out, but to think it is easy to start a career in photography, is just stupid. Blood, pain and sweat it took. Thanks for standing up Zack. Well said!

  • JD Kruger said on July 12, 2012

    This ‘rant’ as you are calling it or as I see it, thing that needed to be said, has inspired me to do two things. One, cover all but the M setting on my camera with tape and two, buy a T-shirt.

    For me, having the ‘easy’ option of throwing the camera in AP or SP has crippled my learning curve.
    I have learned so much faster when shooting with a meterless manual only film camera.

    Thank you,

  • Micah Jones said on July 12, 2012

    Go Zack! The first time I saw this “system” I thought it was just some new product to sell more crap to the new photographers. A few days passed and I started to see an explosion of photographers freaking out over it and I thought “wow, I’ve got to see this.” I finally checked it out and… holy crap! I was so utterly horrified over what I was reading and seeing I felt I needed to bleach my eyes. The total disregard and disgusting attitude toward all the great photographers (of which I look up to) who came before us… I was quite angered. And that part about the camera… OMG! I shoot all may photographs in manual and always have. Grrr! I honestly thought those modes were for people who aren’t professional photographers and want a nice expensive camera. I couldn’t believe people who claim to be pros and charge money were using automatic. We have to protect the art of photography from people that promote this garbage. It is very discouraging what is happening in the wedding industry and frustrating. I think there is so MUCH bad photography out there that it has completely blurred the lines between what is good and what isn’t. I don’t think most people even know what is actually good professional photography done with proper technical skill. All over FB any day you can see people praising others for their wonderful work and it is blurry or blown out (photos that should have been deleted on site. There are so many technical errors in the majority of photography (and those published) I wonder are they that bad or just lazy. No one taught me in person. I had a passion and went out and found everything I could available to me to learn and teach myself. When you referred to the wedding industry as a cult, I could so relate. It has pushed me even more to pursue fashion and commercial and you have helped me with your posts and videos. I have learned more from just reading and watching videos from great photographers like you and Chase Jarvis and you didn’t ask me for money or preach to me about “serving”. I have to say I love your comment about Jesus too. Jesus wouldn’t be anywhere near this garbage. He would be telling him to go to his brothers and ask forgiveness! I’m proud of you dude, keep it up! Me and my brother are two young pros who support you all the way!

  • Libby said on July 12, 2012

    From a blog post I wrote about your initial rant on this subject:

    “Those pitching the Snake Oil are just a rung below the morons pitching get rich real estate seminars on late nite TV infomercials. And why do they succeed? Because they appeal to the lowest common denominator. Promises of easy money, no knowledge or experience needed, and instant success. Guess what? They never mention the hard work.”

    Thanks Zack. Don’t purge the post. All here needed to be said.

    I saw the site in question when it was up. It was the perfect complement for what I call the Best Buy Photographer – the ones who run down to the big box store and get that DSLR with stars in their eyes about the road to riches in easy money photography. Just one thing though – in the long run, it doesn’t work. You can only spray and pray for so lone, and the longer you do it, the lazier you get. Eventually things catch up with you.

    And just a note – I’ve bought some nice lighting gear from the fauxtographers who have already failed because they couldn’t figure out how to use the stuff 😉

    Thanks Sweetie ! You’re the Best!

  • Nikos Kyriakidis said on July 12, 2012

    Wow Man

    You jest make t my day



  • Libby said on July 12, 2012

    @Don – “Are we talking about “The Tony Robbins of the Wedding Industry?” (Face palm…)

    Don I saw the site and you hit the nail right on the head.

  • Michael said on July 12, 2012


  • Oz said on July 12, 2012

    Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap.ClapclapclapCLAPCLAPCLAPCLAPCLAPCLAP!!!!

    The more I learn from you the more I respect you, sir.
    Thank you for sharing you knowledge, experience, passion and love.
    Thank you for caring, thank you for what you call a rant (you’re just showing your unbridled PASSION sir!!).

    I know you have a lot of followers, readers, students. However the majority if us will not tell you how we feel.
    So take our support, respect, admiration and damnit just plain awe, and multiply it exponentially!
    If you do so, you’ll begin to realize what an effect you have on the world.

    Thank you sir.



  • Martin said on July 12, 2012

    It’s not difficult at all to find the photographer you are referring to – and here’s a website setup by someone else to specifically advise people that the 10-step guide is just so bad!

  • Joris said on July 12, 2012

    Hey Zack, I’ve been following this subject since you first tweet about the system (without you tweeting about it I wouldn’t have heard about it in the first place). I also remember you saying that he refuses to talk to you, but on Twitter (http://tinyurl.com/c9qv559) he says he’s waiting for you…. So wouldn’t it be time to grab a beer?

    Don’t get me wrong (I’m on your side), but wouldn’t it be better if the 2 of you would start helping new photographers together instead of this?

    As a starting photographer I know that his system sucks and that it is very very hard to stand next to the rabbit hole without an idea of how deep it is. I’m taking every opportunity to learn the craft, I thing that the two of you can build something amazing together instead of fighting.

  • Peter Burkwood said on July 12, 2012

    Love this, great read Zack…


  • Erwin said on July 12, 2012

    Hi Zack..

    Wel said!
    I consider myself as someone who just took his first dip in the rabbit hole.
    Came across ‘The System’ you talk about and immediately threw it away in the garbage bin..
    You are right.. photography is an art and skill which takes talent, dedication and much time to learn.


  • Iain Anderson said on July 12, 2012

    HEY ZACK… #shutupandshoot !

    We got your back.


  • AlenPasalic said on July 12, 2012

    i really dig you as a person and like what you do, have a respect for your work (i am not the biggest fan of it but i think you make a solid stuff) but…this is just a huge waist of time my friend and i dont see the reason why you want to help someone that will follow so much stupidity as -Direct Quote :: “Spray and Pray. Shoot a lot, and if you forget what to do with your camera, just click it into “P” mode and shoot away.”

    No srly, if you are that stupid i dont want to even waist my time on you!why would you do that?
    that person will never be a photographer and it is better to fail right from the start then spend everybody time and money and drag that person on his dreams to be a photographer.

    Same as in “American Idol”, if you are bad go home!stop doing this shit…you are not for it and that is it.

    i am with you, that blog is a LOT of HUGE crap!but, any smart person that truly loves this profession will NEVER read something like “spray and pray” and say “oh photography is damn easy, i like it” because if you want to be good you will wake up every morning hating your guts why you are not better, i know i do and i dont spray and pray, i learned that from the start…let people fail, then this craft will be truly free from the Noise.

    huge respect to all of you, you are one great photo community.

    (sry for my english, i am not good at writing it.;)).

  • nate parker said on July 12, 2012

    that guy sounds like a wicked d-bag. and this was really entertaining to read even though I imagined that your blood pressure was high while you were writing this therefore being slightly bad for your longevity. have a great day Zack man!

  • kelvin espada said on July 12, 2012

    Did I miss it? How do I order my T-Shirt?

  • Matt said on July 12, 2012

    The photos, especially the random biker/dog one here are awesome. Love it.

  • PATRICK MONTGOMERY said on July 12, 2012

    And your point is?

  • JF said on July 12, 2012

    No comment about the industry. Snake oil anyone? No art in there, looks like a sleazy TV infomercial. Isn’t That the american dream. Hey, if you go low enough and get caught, just be a new born christian.

  • Spencer Lum said on July 12, 2012

    Awesome post, Zack! This topic is so necessary. I appreciate the mention for my article – if you’re ever out in Brooklyn, let me buy you a beer!

  • Christopher said on July 12, 2012

    All about the tee shirt. How could I pass something like that up?

  • Chris - Smudged Photo said on July 12, 2012

    Ace. It’s very easy when you’re just starting out to get sucked into this type of salesmanship. God knows I have. One recent creative live, all they went on about was this bloody expodisc so much so I convinced myself I should get one on a credit card for my next wedding. (Not saying they’re not useful) but it’s very easy to be convinced that you need to/must do something to take your work to the next level.

    Very few people seem to focus on actually, y’know, practicing, learning your camera. It’s all posing and submitting to magazines these days.

    Thanks for keeping up the good fight Zeck and pulling me back from the brink.

  • Chris - Smudged Photo said on July 12, 2012

    Zeck! Haha! Zack of course. This is what happens when your comment box doesn’t expand to the amount you type. 😛

  • charo said on July 12, 2012

    Oh Zack. I want that shirt. K thanks.

  • Emilie said on July 12, 2012

    Thank you for this post. THANK.YOU.

  • charo said on July 12, 2012

    Oh. I finally read far enough down the post. Gonna get a shirt. Nice job, Abeta. Need more late night random shit talking again. Also – I love this post. Damn nail on the damn head, again. And as far as I can tell, you spelled everything right. Love you much.

  • Ted said on July 12, 2012

    Amazing! One sentence that you said summed up my own fears about the wedding industry succinctly. But don’t get me wrong, I love weddings and the couples that I do photograph.

    ““Read it. Believe it. Share it.” Can you say cult leader?” Having been in a cult for most of my life, (I have left it after some super shit that they tried to force me into several years ago), that kind of mentality scares the shit out of me. The kool-aid and the kool-aid drinkers, then broken hearts from the kool-aid is saddening. People need to open their eyes and see life for themselves. Not what someone says they should do in their fashion.

  • Brandi said on July 12, 2012

    Well said as always. You are the anti-rockstar photographer, and yet that makes you a real rockstar. I’m tired of it too. I’ve never fallen for the bullshit and I never plan on it.

  • C.C. Chapman said on July 12, 2012

    HELL YES!!!

    Thank you for slapping some reality out there. Not enough.

    Loved the video intro. I listened to it while reading. Kind of messed with my head and had to stop :)

  • Lisa said on July 12, 2012

    THANK! YOU! You did NOT waste your time ranting. Your perceived wasted time was actually a much-needed spark for those of us who are absolutely passionate about this industry and improving our craft. And touché on donating the proceeds from the creative t-shirt to your community. LOVE that.

  • JC Ruiz said on July 12, 2012

    I couldn’t agree more with what you said. I feel David Jay is nothing more than a snake oil salesman. Selling everything to cure your ills. There is a lot that goes into photography from novice to expert level. There are no short cuts or easy ways. It’s a lot of hard work, sweat and occasionally tears. Thanks for saying what a lot of us felt.

    P.S. That shirt is awesome!

  • Rhommel said on July 12, 2012

    One of the best rants I’ve read in awhile. I, too, am curious as what the revision of ‘the system’ would look like.

    P.S I want that shirt!

  • David said on July 12, 2012

    I’d be interested in the T-Shirt but postage to N Ireland could be hit. Great post, we are all learners.

  • Jay said on July 12, 2012

    Don’t purge this post, Zack! Let this post live on. Forever.

  • Richard said on July 12, 2012

    Rock on ZA, rock on.

  • Steven Carter Hewson said on July 12, 2012

    Another great post from you Zack. I remember how I felt when I first read about this ‘system’. Shocked. By all accounts I am fairly new to professional wedding photography myself. Fairly new to charging people to shoot the most special, unrepeatable day of their lives. But I made sure I knew my cameras inside out before I even thought about becoming a wedding photographer. I am not new to photography. Or a camera. Or taking photographs with a camera. I have been doing that forever…

  • Allison Britton said on July 12, 2012

    You made your point perfectly in your previous post but I enjoyed you breaking it down.

    Oh and all the L and XL’s are sold out. Man I really wanted to get one.

  • David said on July 12, 2012

    Amen brother. ::fist bump:: Thanks for saying what I could never articulate quite as well as you. :)

  • Ken Toney said on July 12, 2012

    Zack, I couldn’t believe that dummy too when I saw it. Where can we get a Spray and Pray shirt?

  • Shelly said on July 12, 2012

    Hey Zack, I’m one of the ones that posted on your last post that I didn’t really get the point. After watching your video explaining the purpose of that post, it makes COMPLETE sense what you were trying to do there. All the pieces of the puzzle now fit. Thanks for taking the time to make the video. Your analyzation of the industry was spot on. You should do more video posts!

    Unfortunately I think until the big wedding photogs like Jasmine Star and the like start pushing the same respect for the craft, not much will change. But at least you’ve opened the door to the newbies who truly want to be in this for the long haul and learn a craft, instead of ride a trend. Thanks for sending out more signal than noise.

  • Terry said on July 12, 2012

    AMEN! I love all the points you made. As I say “Everyone that got a camera for ‘insert your holiday here’ suddenly thinks they are a ‘professional photographer’. Then they go around riding on the coat tails of true professionals. THEY are the ones who are devaluing photography services not only in the wedding industry, but in all areas and aspects of the photography industry.

    I have always believed in educating the client about the pitfalls of hiring one of these “soccer moms” or “guys with cameras”, but it will take ALL of the voices of professional photographers to even scratch the surface.
    In short, I applaud you sir!

  • Jason de Plater said on July 12, 2012

    You may sometimes shoot from the hip but you always write from the heart.
    Thank you Zack.

  • Eric T said on July 12, 2012

    I couldn’t comment on your post Zack until after I read Spencer Lum’s post.

    How true and insightful.

    I think we sometimes get caught up in the menutia of trying to be like someone else, that we forget our own inner voice, our own passion, our own path.

    A good reminder.

  • Rusty Tripod said on July 12, 2012

    I agree that many of the best have little or not presence on the internet. I get concerned when I notice so many “rockstars” repeatedly blasting Twitter and Facebook with their personal lifestyle posts instead of solid photography knowledge and insight. Lastly, as much as I love CreativeLive, an overwhelming black cloud that darkens their instruction is the insistence upon marketing, price, and presence, an almost maniacal emphasis upon presenting ego rather than vision and skill. The end result is a driving of the market to appearance, label, and one-upsmanship of ego to set prices. Brides are increasingly compelled to use price, name recognition, and externals to choose a shooter with little regard to whether or not the abilities of the photographer are relational to these. It is, indeed, frustrating.

  • Bonnie said on July 12, 2012

    I think “the system” guy appeals to so many because many people in our industry aren’t really in it for the love of photography. Rather, they are in love with the “idea” of being a photographer and the monetary and social rewards that they think come with it. Someone buys a camera and posts a few images online. Their friends oh and ah and tell them they are awesome and oh, they should be charging money!! Meanwhile, Ashton Kutcher stars in a Nikon commercial showing how “easy” it is to take amazing wedding pictures. So people jump right in, set up website, create business cards, but oh, they don’t actually have any idea what they are doing nor do they love the craft of photography enough to want to go back and actually LEARN the nuts and bolts. They need an EASY BUTTON. And DJ and his ilk feed right into that. More people jump on the bandwagon and the industry is filled with charlatans who fill their website with workshop images and tout how successful they are. Sorry, going to a workshop in France and winning a blue ribbon in the photography division at the local fair does not make you an award winning international wedding photographer. Of course, if you can’t actually make money with the photography thing, you can always sell something. And the cycle begins again.

  • Rick Bennett said on July 12, 2012

    Well damn. Large and XL tshirts are sold out already. I hope you and ab8ta do a larger production run some time.

  • Laura said on July 12, 2012

    Funny I chose today to read this particular post. Last night I had a unique opportunity to have some awesome PRO photographers review five pieces of my work. One of the photographers shot in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s in NYC. His work has been on the covers (and inside) of GQ, Cosmopolitan and Town & Country magazines…..talk about a resume. Anyway, I learned a great deal, took it all in and now have another mentor to help me in this wonderful world of photography. Old school guys ROCK! (And so do you!)

  • craig john said on July 12, 2012

    God bless you, you’re on a roll, Zack. 😀

  • Tony Thagard said on July 12, 2012

    Have you lost a few lbs? Looking good.

  • ziv koren said on July 12, 2012

    respect man !!

  • J Dreier said on July 12, 2012

    Zack, you nailed it with this post. I’ve been saying the same thing about the photo industry in my area (Omaha, NE) for years now. Other photographers just thought I was hatin’ cause, sometime, hatin’ is the cool thing to do. I love that photographers are now starting to stand up and take a stance against the mediocre state the photo industry has slipped into. Let’s hope this trend continues and we build this industry back up.

    Zack, again thanks for this post

  • Elizabeth said on July 12, 2012

    Amen, brother Zack!

  • Kat Braman said on July 12, 2012

    great article! always enjoy reading your thoughts on this bidness

    “Many photographers have gone before us armed with 12 shots loaded in a Hasselblad”

    some of us still do :)

  • Steve said on July 12, 2012

    The internet is a buzz with the “lists” to becoming a successful photographer.

    Every aspect of what someone thinks should and shouldn’t be done has been posted and re-posted on forums, blogs and facebook pages many times.

    Is it the gear?

    What type of gear?

    How to use the gear?

    What editing program to use?

    How to use that editing program?

    Is marketing more important?

    Where to market?

    How to market?

    How to shoot?

    What to shoot?

    Why to shoot?

    Every single day some “photographer” will publish a list of how’s and why’s that will make someone else a success.

    What is rarely discussed is the client. Without the client, you cannot be a success. They are the ones buying the images that you have created.

    Sure, it is great to have the respect of your fellow photographers, and it is great to have someone tell you that your images are pretty, but neither of those will put food on the table.

    You can buy the best camera, the best lights, the best editing programs, and you can be a master of them all, but unless someone is buying the finished product, you cannot be a success.

    If you really want to be successful in the business of photography, focus your energy on exceeding the needs of your client.

  • Johnny said on July 12, 2012

    Zack, excellent post! You are 1000% correct! Thank you for the “rant”! Love it!
    By the way, where did you get that “bullshit” sticker? I want some!

  • Christine Gallagher said on July 12, 2012

    I entered the world of weddings, back in the day of middle age men, shooting medium format at weddings. I was young, female, strong willed and by luck, I had some minor talent. I also entered the market armed a photo education, one where there was no P button. I busted my ass. There was no blogs, face book, twitter, style me pretty…. You had to know your craft because that is what you were selling, not a load of BS on a website about your “passion” with a picture of yourself holding a vintage camera, laughing in a field of grass. All of this is what pisses me off. The smoke & mirror effect that people like DJ have created. It clouds the minds of not only those hoping to enter the market but also the mind of our uneducated clients. I long for the day when the seats of WPPI are filled with people listening to people with experience, talent and battle scares, not people spouting off a bunch of BS about how you too can follow your dream, all while showing off a pretty slideshow, of stunning images not really created at a wedding in the first place.

  • Jester said on July 12, 2012

    Yes, yes. Don’t subscribe to “that” cult of personality…far better to subscribe to this one. Tom-A-to, to-MAH-to, if you get my drift. I strongly suspect that most of you don’t.

  • Kathryn said on July 12, 2012

    Preach it! Being a wedding photographer these days is kinda like being a bride these days… waayyy too much input, crazy high signal to noise ratio and NOT a lot of substance. Down with the WPIC (Wedding Photography Industrial Complex)!

  • Juan said on July 12, 2012

    Thank you Zack. I am PROUD to be apart of every wedding I get to shoot.

  • Laura Stone said on July 12, 2012

    Thanks for this post Zac (and Meg!). You have encouraged me to shoot for myself more frequently (ok, everyday on Instagram at least), and I have learned so much technically from your blog and DEDPXL. I hope you don’t ever remove this post because it is a signal that needs to be found by those who are looking, and maybe those who aren’t will stumble across it and learn something anyway.

  • Mike said on July 12, 2012

    Love it!! Learning the craft everyday.

  • Jen said on July 12, 2012

    No short cuts. Got it. I hear you.
    (Good philosophy for every time I’m tempted with those presets too.)

    Off to the trenches.
    Thanks for the redirect.
    (From one relatively new on the scene.)

  • CJ said on July 12, 2012

    Finally something to replace my aging One Light T-shirt. Thanks !

  • Rupa Kapoor said on July 12, 2012

    Somehow, and I don’t know why ;), I have a hard time believing that this will be your ‘last rant’ and let’s hope it isn’t!!! ’cause it’s the rants and the honesty to this industry that is so necessary and hopefully it gets just a handful of folks to start making a switch in how they think, how they shoot AND respecting the wedding photographer because it is bitch of a job – physically, mentally, all around. I do 3-4 day Indian-American weddings on the norm and I always find myself saying, I’m shooting ‘a wedding’, well, I’m not really, it’s more like 3 or 4 — just back to back to back!! And, every time, just one of those (long) weekends of pushing it, being “on” for 30-40 hours, gives me a reality check and so this year, I decided the same – less is more and I’m going to make it the best, make it about tehe client and deliver, period.

  • Chris Aram said on July 12, 2012

    I really appreciate you taking the time to say all of this. You are right and +1 to you, bro, thanks for what you do to provide and promote real education and not the ridiculous circle jerk that prompted this post in the first place.

  • rodrigounda said on July 12, 2012

    inspiring word as usual.
    zack you are one of those guys one shpuld invite a coffe sometimes.

  • Mike said on July 12, 2012

    I’m not into wedding photography but I find this whole mess pretty interesting and entertaining.

    Gary Fong’s take on the wedding industry is pretty hilarious, especially when he discusses Jesus in marketing:


    Keep up the great work Zack!

  • Davis said on July 12, 2012

    Oh no Zack! A wrinkled white sheet for a background! 😉 Love the post, keep up the great work.

  • Iris H said on July 12, 2012

    My grandfather used to say, “To be successful you need to be either the First or the Best”. Some of the personality cult presenters are successful only because they were the first on the scene to promote digital workshops with the enthusiasm of a roaming tent preacher. Being the best has never been their goal. Being successful has been their goal. You Zach are focused on being the best so bravo to you for holding up the difference.

  • wreckless said on July 12, 2012

    you were so bold & awesome when i first talked to you in 2005, you’re still bold & awesome. thanks for being both and more!

  • Symbol Photography said on July 12, 2012

    Well you chose one of my two points yesterday to speak about today… kudos for that.

    Now, how about using your blog power to bring to the forefront the issue of licensing and barrier to entry? I by no means want to keep newbies out… but i think they should have to go through some testing process. The PPA is a body with the ability to administer this. (On some level, not completely i’m sure).

    They also have the Certified Photographers test, I encourage anyone to look at the sample question and be honest with yourself on how many you get right: http://certifiedphotographer.com/images/uploads/Sample%20Test%20Questions.pdf

    Website: http://certifiedphotographer.com

    There needs to be some barrier to entry to call yourself a professional. I’m a big proponent of this and I myself, will be certified (Assuming i pass) by years end.

    Again, I’m not trying to push anyone away from photographer or create barriers between newbie’s and old hats. I’m simply saying that there should be a qualifying body and licensing is a good idea.

    If you can’t pass the test and put in the time to really learn your craft, you shouldn’t be calling yourself a professional. Period.

  • Zack said on July 12, 2012

    @Symbol – While I think each working photographer should pass that test, I’m not an advocate for certification and I sure wouldn’t want PPA to do it. But that’s just my style. No certs. No unions. I’m a believer in the open and free market in the arts. But that’s a long conversation for later.


  • Mike said on July 12, 2012

    I can wholeheartedly vouch for Foundation Workshop as a way of teaching new photographers what’s REALLY important in weddings.

  • nicholas gonzalez said on July 12, 2012

    It truly is about the couple. I do weddings, but under the basis of the things you articulated. Ironically, I’ve only averaged 3 a year. I haven’t quit my day job yet for my real photographic passion- portrait and editorial photography, but you continue to encourage me to work hard.

  • Bobby Magee said on July 12, 2012

    As Scott Kretschmann correctly stated, “Not even most of his “minions” agree with him”…Love the post Zack, but this is just the proverbial straw for many. I have personally witnessed people be censored, posts removed, and removed from the “group” for openly disagreeing. Attempts at civil conversation get you nowhere unless you agree with him that he is right, or you are wrong. It’s beyond frustrating when customers lump our business in with the practice of the system, simply because we are customers of that company. Now the desire to be the most controversial business in the industry is affecting our business. Even the rockstars of that group were openly begging him to take that thing down. Some of us (especially my wife) have taken your suggested route. After years of being serious amateurs, we’ve spent a ton of time buying coffee for the “old photographers”, second shooting with them, reading books, watching videos, and trying to figure out how others captured certain shots by practicing at home. Learning and building a business the correct way. So happy that someone with a strong voice and ability to reach a broad audience has brought forward intelligent discussion on this item.

  • Jon-Mark Wiltshire said on July 12, 2012

    Marry me Zack.

    I have to echo the sentiments from Leif earlier in these comments. Thanks for being a man of substance, and not taking advantage of the people that make up your massive fan base. Hope to meet you one day, I think we would get along very well. But I was lying earlier. I’m already married.

  • L said on July 12, 2012

    being somewhat new to the industry (I have been shooting weddings only for 5 years) I want to give you the biggest high five for this. I worked with another wedding photographer when I started out and worked with them for several years and it was always about the new equipment, getting published, etc and it broke my heart when they would later talk shit about their clients to ME even though they were getting around 40 brides a year who were so grateful for the service. I quit and only started taking 5-6 weddings a year so that I could really REALLY focus on them. Its helped to no end and really allowed me to have a voice of my own and give them exactly what they wanted.
    Thank you 1000x over for saying what so many of us wanted to.

  • Mejrin said on July 12, 2012

    Zack, I agree with you

  • amy matthews said on July 12, 2012

    2pac vs biggy remix without the violence. discs rainbows and unicorns vs. hustle and hang that 20×30 on the wall. i suck in comparison to zack but agree 100%.

  • Eliud Matos said on July 12, 2012

    Amen Zach! Thanks!

  • Eliud Matos said on July 12, 2012

    *Zack. Sorry for the misspelling above.

  • Anna said on July 12, 2012

    Respect! Shared the video on my FB.

  • Robin said on July 12, 2012

    Been shooting for over 39 years…first wedding was April 13, 1972. I am those shoulders others stand on – I am that old school female shooter when there were few. I actually hold a degree in photography from a University. And, I have been frustrated with the cult of personality that has invaded an industry that has been nothing but hard, hard,(but rewarding) work for me for many years. I love the craft and I love your voice to keep the art form and the sweat equity necessary to succeed alive and realistic. Many thanks from us in the old school.

  • Meredith said on July 12, 2012

    I for one, Zack, have always appreciated your voice in this industry. Rock on.

  • Ronald said on July 12, 2012

    @ Micah, I agree with that completely. I have seen it on a page from someone, I dont know how he/she does it, but she gets dozens of page likes every day. Everybody goes oooh and aaah over the photos, but its utter tripe. I dont get it. When I showed a photo the other day at work, my colleagues went WOW thats sharp, look at the detail, its so clear. People these days dont know what a good photograph looks like.

  • Kristine said on July 12, 2012

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. It bothers me so much that photographers have become so greedy – greedy in trying to get the weddings that get published on the blogs…greedy in caring only about what will make THEM look good….and totally forgetting about their clients in the process. It’s SO refreshing to hear your thoughts on this – it’s about making the best images you can that best serve your clients. AMEN. All that other stuff should be an afterthought. Where has compassion for clients as people gone? They should never just be dollar signs. EVER. First and foremost as photographers, we are serving our clients and in doing that, we must produce awesome work that inspires them AND inspires us. Thank you again for such a great post. Thank you for caring about the craft.

  • kyle said on July 12, 2012

    zack…been waiting for this…you are a real inspiration,thank you.would love to meet up and have a brewsky…but im on the other side of the world!

  • Harold said on July 13, 2012

    My mind is reeling a little bit, great post and some great comments as well. The article by Spencer Lum was stellar and echos what I’ve been feeling for some time and I’m glad he said it. So well done. Lots to glean from all of this. Can’t believe this “rockstar” guy did that; what was he thinking? Lots of lessons here even for us aspiring photographers. I’ve had the good fortune to know a few Wedding Photographers and I take my hat off to them; tough job. I’ve shot exactly 3 weddings, not because I wanted to but at the insistence of someone else and they kicked by butt every time. On one occasion the photographer was the best man so he hands me his medium format camera and says here you take the pictures. Whaaa and I hadn’t shot anything remotely like that since high school. Fortunately the couple didn’t care they were on some multiple of marriages and the photos were not as crucial. But still; I felt like a total failure. Keep these rants coming we need to hear the truth because that’s the only way we will advance. Thanks!

  • alex said on July 13, 2012

    It’s sad it had to come to this but I am glad someone like Zack spoke up.

    Bought the tee.

  • Barb Lundberg said on July 13, 2012

    After reading this I count myself in a very good place in my aspiring journey of photography. I have no money for new equipment so it’s forced me to learn what I have learned on the equipment that I have. I have learned to say no to things that I don’t want to do or am not capable of doing. I have sat in front of the computer trying to figure out all of the delicate intricacies of making a beautiful memorable image until I’ve cried. I use a free blog because I can’t afford a really nice one. I have a very small following of loyal customers who tell me they still look at their images and feel a flutter in their tummy. And I still am convinced that I will never live long enough to do what I want to do for people with photographs. I’ve given away more work than I’ve been paid for. I faced down the green monster of jealousy from sitting in front of the computer and comparing myself to a myriad of other photographers whose work I didn’t even really like. And I learned to invest my money with true professional image creators like Shelley Paulson who I recently had the privilege to mentor with. Oddly enough I feel so good about remaining true to what I want to do and this article which I happen to see through a post on Facebook will allow me to sleep really really well tonight. Many thanks for a wonderfully written post.

  • Bryan Mitchell said on July 13, 2012

    I have been thinking about these things for a long time. I’m one of those 20+ years as a photographer. Every time Zack writes I feel like it came out of my head. I just never write because I suck at it and don’t have a following (don’t want one) so no one really gives a shit. Being a real pro photog is damn hard. I can’t count how many times I have wanted to quit and I lost the passion. I’m tired of the bullshit, mine included. I just need to get off my ass, shoot and fall in love with photography again. Thanks Dude.

  • Nathan said on July 13, 2012

    keep it up Zack, great post. I’ve shot only a few weddings and the reason i don’t actively seek them out is b/c they ARE such hard work! the stress factor is high and you’ve really got to be on your game to make sure that once in a lifetime day for the couple is documented properly!

    As usual, you have inspired and lit the fire. I’ve always been irked by those at best mediocre shooters who know how to market and do sales, but sadly think that the craft comes dead last.

  • IntaG said on July 13, 2012

    Thank you Zack, for ranting out.
    Based on “unmetioned” photographers advices i have whole bunch of “sprayerprayers” in my area. I do not mind new photographers coming in the market, but P for “Professional” or “Pray” does not work in wedding industry forever. Most of them are girls who just start with taking pictures of own babys and then listen to “unmentioned” photographers and his protege that you just have to pick up DSRL camera act professionally, have great marketing system and “you will be most published wedding photographer in a year”. Forget babys! Money is in wedding business. I had second shooter who could not understand why to shoot in Manual mode and why almost every time I can figure out my exposure correct. And why do you need flash outside on sunny beach? They are available light photographers. It’s cool now.
    Yes, I was the “stupid one” who spent years learning photography and the working years as second shooter for photographers who was my mentors in this craftsmanship. Yes, I did not have “balls” to book wedding for 2k when i did not have shoot any before. Sorry but there are so many photographers like this in my area. Its touchy subject for me.

    They get cameras and website and think (based on teachings) they should charge a lot to get respect and bookings. Forget to learn how camera works and how to achieve correct exposure. Blur it, make heads disappear and call it style. “unmentioned” photographers protege shots that way and she is successful…

    As I mentioned in my chat on CL with you Zack, i respect you and thank you for starting this topic.

  • Mike Guilbault said on July 13, 2012

    I’m in the same boat as Bryan above. 20+ years, most of them shooting 12 shots to a roll on a Hasselblad and tired of the bullshit. I’ve pretty much abandoned weddings (4 this year to clients whose weddings interest me) and shoot mostly commercial/corporate now with a few portraits thrown in. Thing is, I love it all but as many, fed up with the wedding industry. I often dread weddings now until the first click of the shutter and then all the excitement comes back.

    Just for a little encouragement, Zack, in your pursuit of your wedding photography experiments, 15 years ago I started shooting weddings MY way. After I made the decision, I approached my next wedding inquiry to allow me to “shoot it my way” and they agreed. I shot the wedding, selected the photos, designed and printed the album – and delivered it. Although I offered to change anything they wanted, they didn’t. In those 15 years (Before digital) I only had one bride request to change one photograph.

    Things are a little different now.. but your post is encouraging me to go back to MY way of shooting weddings. Thank you for that!

  • Richard Melanson said on July 13, 2012

    11:07-11:14 was absolute gold. Just a real treat.

    “Hey (makes motion with hands), this crap…stop it.”

    Great stuff as always Zack.

  • Durango CO Photographer said on July 13, 2012

    I heard about the article you are referring to, although I don’t remember the name of the person who wrote it. Thank you for rebutting it so nicely.

  • Seshu said on July 13, 2012

    Zack – another gutsy “keepin’-it-real” post. Please do NOT take this down. Everyone needs to read it.

  • senorito said on July 13, 2012

    This monologue is better delivered using a “Al Pacino” voice and inflection.

  • Marc said on July 13, 2012

    Every time this guy “D.J.” opens his mouth he puts his foot deeper and deeper inside. I’m surprised it hasn’t come out his @ass. There. I said it! He is a scammer at best. For someone that is supposed to be a successful entrepreneur he is a master at surrounding and shrouding himself in controversy. I’m really surprised he hasn’t learned to get out of his own way ad hire a public relations person. I really hope this last controversy puts a stop to his pandering.

  • Trevor Phillips said on July 13, 2012

    Well done. I stopped doing weddings this year after 25+. Tell it how it is.

  • Vic Román said on July 13, 2012

    W O R D !

    Wedding photography is a ruff biz.I’ve done it and would do it again if needed to feed the family.

    Oh and the word you were looking for is trample …

    trample [ˈtræmpəl]
    vb (when intr, usually foll by on, upon, or over)
    1. to stamp or walk roughly (on) to trample the flowers
    2. to encroach (upon) so as to violate or hurt to trample on someone’s feelings
    the action or sound of trampling
    [frequentative of tramp; compare Middle High German trampeln]
    trampler n

  • Jesse said on July 13, 2012

    Good words, Zack.

    Would appreciate it if your friend could load up some more L t-shirts on his press and crank a few more out.

  • Rich Demanowski said on July 13, 2012

    Great post, Zack. You’ve hit the nail on the head.

    About the shirt … I love the idea, and I love what’s been done with the S A and P … but I think the M needs to be for “Mastery”, because manual mode is the only place to learn that.

  • Rich Demanowski said on July 13, 2012

    I’ve been shooting portraits for a living for 10 years now, and I still consider myself a beginner.

    I look at photographs that I admire, by people whose work I aspire mine to become like, and I see that even though I’ve been using cameras for over 30 years, and even though I’ve been doing this professionally for a decade, I still have a LOT more to learn. My work is still in it’s infancy.

    A query – That final image in the post, the one about not wanting any more BS … can I “steal” that? I’d like to link to it on my FaceBook feed. I think my readers would appreciate it. :)

  • Tim Skipper said on July 13, 2012


    First I want one of the Spray And Pray t-shirts, please post how we can get them.

    Second Hope you don’t mind, but I’m linking to this blog today. Photographers new and old need to read this.


  • eva said on July 13, 2012

    you lost your coolness with censoring comments….

  • Zack said on July 13, 2012

    @eva – I don’t censor comments unless they are just straight up trolls or get out of hand. Haven’t censored a one on this post.


  • Chad Thompson said on July 13, 2012

    I assume you’re not talking about Canadian photographer Steve Simon and his “The Passionate Photographer: Ten Steps Toward Becoming Great” book. But then I don’t suppose he’d be caught photographing a wedding.

  • Zack said on July 13, 2012

    @Chad – Nope! I love Steve and that’s a great book. It’s a full book! Not the infomercial I’m talking about.


  • Trisha Waters said on July 13, 2012

    You are awesome. I loved this post, I loved the video, and I love that t-shirt. Thanks for all of this :)

  • Julia Noack said on July 13, 2012

    I think I may be a little bit in love with you. :) Thank you for your passion for our craft!!!

  • Martin Bobovsky said on July 13, 2012

    Great article. You just could not get it better.
    R.E.S.P.E.C.T 😉

  • Harv.! said on July 13, 2012

    Hey Zack, hope all is good…
    “The most truly successful photographers I’ve ever met are bleary eyed, drive old cars that need new tires, and have holes in their shoes. Some of the finest, most bad ass photographers working a camera today aren’t even on twitter. They don’t have a blog following. They’re busy with a camera and they’re chasing the light. Not the following. Not the car. Not the fame. Not the new product to flip and sell to all of us. If they are writing a book their pen is a lens and their ink is light.”
    This made me smile because it’s so accurate. Many people think there’s a secret recipe for success in photography, but there really isn’t…there’s a lot of sacrifice involved that most don’t understand.

  • Andy Mills said on July 13, 2012

    You know, it’s the people who buy into this “system” I feel sorry for. People who won’t know any better until it’s (probably) too late. Those “tips” just build you up on shoddy foundations that will eventually crumble.

    I’ve been taking photos for as long as I can remember, possibly ever since I could hold a camera and press the shutter. I have worked with film, developed colour and B&W film and prints myself (I still have my enlarger and gear), I did take a break for about 10 years before jumping back in with digital in 2005.

    I have been learning from people like Zack on CreativeLive, as well as UK based photographers. One, who I really admire is now in his early 70s and still shoots regularly (he really is an “old photographer”). He only retired a couple of years ago and still does stills on the occasional film set. He’s using digital and is using strobist techniques, and everything a “young” photographer would.

    He’s shot actors (Sean Bean & Pierce Brosnan to name two), politicians (including prime ministers), royalty (including her Maj. IIRC), rock stars (Rolling Stones). Because he knows his craft, he has been sent all over the place, including being flown abroad to shoot Pierce Brosnan – why fly someone thousands of miles rather than hire a photographer locally? Simply because he knows his craft and his way around a camera, he has over the years built a reputation and people who hire him trust him to get the job done.

    If you live in the UK, possibly even abroad, there’s a very good chance you’ve seen at least one of his photos somewhere. Yet, chances are you’d not even heard of him.

    He doesn’t suffer fools gladly, but he’s one of the nicest, down to earth and helpful people I know.

    If you want this level of success, or even a fraction, you will need to learn your way around a camera and to not rely 100% on its technology. If you don’t, you’ll get dropped in it one day and found out big time.

    As for me, I’m 42, and I still don’t feel ready for the “big time” (admittedly, I don’t shoot enough). Perhaps I never will. Perhaps I need to dive in the deep end. I still feel as though I’m bluffing my way around a camera.

  • Olof Berglund said on July 13, 2012

    You are so amazing Zach. It is always inspiring to hear a humble guy like yourself speak up for the industry. When I read the first post, I got a bit confused. Through my few years of shooting, I haven’t realized this grudge in the industry. Actually, when I first got into shooting more seriously I was terrified of shooting weddings (haven’t shootin’ any so far either) because of that I believe that it must be really damn hard. I’m about to start shooting some film this summer and I hope that it will humble me even further and teaching myself “the old way” of really working the image before releasing the shutter. Lastly, thank you again for this post as well as all your other internet presence. Respect to you!

  • Julie Prichard said on July 14, 2012

    Well said…I shoot M..and am proud of myself for knowing how to do it.

    This post reminds me exactly about several rants from Dave Grohl…about how musicians needs to know how to play their instruments and read music…instead of letting technology make music..that’s resonated with me as does this post.

  • Scott in AZ\ said on July 14, 2012

    Holy shit! That was one of the best posts I’ve ever read. Unfortunately I see this exact same mentality being promulgated in my other favorite art, Music. And how’s it working out for the music industry? LOL. But hey, karma is a bitch, no? :)

  • Otto Mendez said on July 14, 2012

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Lisa said on July 14, 2012

    I’ve been shooting for over 15 years. Not saying I’m the best at it, but I know my camera regardless of digital or film. I like to think about what I am doing. I love the feel of hunting down light and how it will react with whatever settings I think are best. While talking with another photographer, I was called old school and that I know to much about my equipment. Dude, said it was unnecessary. I was on my way to a massive stroke. It upset me that much, but I realize it was a great thing. I know my cameras inside and out, with natural and artificial light, and I don’t spray and F**cking pray! I love and respect what I do and will continue to learn from those who feel the same. Don’t take down this post you made. It needs to be up to help people to show some respect to all old and new to this field. I wear the old school badge with pride, my man, and look forward to more of your work.

  • Tina said on July 14, 2012

    Thank You SO much for the what was just intended as a rant. As a fairly new photographr in the industry I have often found myself wondering whether I’m going mad, as I’m striving to learn and improve and get ever better at what I do, and so many around me follow the “don’t stress so much, it’s good enough” philosophy … Your rant has in fact made me feel like I’m on track in my thinking, so thank you!!

  • David Wegwart said on July 14, 2012

    Hi Zach,

    that was a good watch and an interesting perspective. I don’t know the site you were referencing, but I do see a lot of forum posts about how you have to have the best brand, and market like crazy to be the best in the industry. Sal Cincotta is one that comes to mind, although he does not espouse that being the ONLY way, just that you need good business savvy to make it, more so than good photography (his work is great though, so its easy for him to say).

    Anyhow, I am still enjoying the one light t-shirt and laughed really hard when I read this one. You could just skip photography and do t-shirt graphics for a living you know.

    Best, D.

  • Lora Carr said on July 14, 2012

    Now, if we could just get these “photographers” off the stages and away from the podiums at our industry conventions where eager, wide-eyed newbies furiously take notes and drink the digital kool-aid that these rock stars are pouring. Nothing worse than a professional who’s profitable business is not derived from shooting sessions, but rather from selling actions, templates, how-tos, workshops etc., stands at the photographic pulpit and tells me how to run a successful photography business.

  • Zack said on July 14, 2012

    @Lora – You said “Now, if we could just get these “photographers” off the stages and away from the podiums at our industry conventions”



  • silmasan said on July 14, 2012

    Didn’t know who you guys are talking about, so I did a little probing and found this DJ guy:
    “David Jay (born April 24, 1982) is an American asexual activist. Jay is the founder and webmaster of the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN).”

    Wrong DJ, I think? BUT, an asexual activist DJ definitely sounds a LOT more interesting than a “P”-mode-shooting DJ! I love “Manual”! I love using my hands! And I love using my fingers too, especially my middle finger and my thumb (both hands)! (OK, forget what I said about the other DJ because apparently I love my life as a ***ual being as well)

  • silmasan said on July 14, 2012

    If kids are reading this page, then please don’t be confused by my comment above: those are the fingers you use to rotate the focus ring on the lens, and also the aperture and shutter dials on the camera body. Just so we’re clear!

  • Matt Everett said on July 14, 2012

    I just want to say, I’m Matt Everett and I support this message.

    All I can add is that I think it’s unfortunate that these “rockstars” will probably be sticking around for a while. Without some kind of massive movement in the industry, they have one thing working in their favor–merchandising. That’s why they’ll continue to dwell on the “stages and away from the podiums at our industry conventions where eager, wide-eyed newbies furiously take notes and drink the digital kool-aid that these rock stars are pouring.” As long as there are cameras, software, gadgets, etc to sell, I see this sort of thing continuing and I think that’s really sad.

    The thing that I found most perplexing is that people felt great about this “system.” What does it say about something you do if anyone can do it in 10 effortless steps. The prevalence of this kind of thinking is exactly what is undermining the not only the wedding photography genre, but the photography industry as a whole. I’ve seen my share of awesome wedding photographers who can blow me out of the water when it comes to skill, but I’ve also seen a disproportionate amount of “fauxtogs” who some how get by on being able to mash a button on a 5d and “the tilt.”

  • Sissel said on July 15, 2012

    Thanks for saying it and saying it well. I second everything above. The “system” really really pissed me off. I have since completely distanced myself from anything and ANYONE close to this guy, including the infamous star. I don’t trust anyone near him. Have fun in Hong Kong. Steer clear of soup de anus.

  • John Harvey said on July 15, 2012

    Zack, thanks for posting this. Hopefully it’ll keep new photogs out of trouble. And by the way, That’s the cleanest P/FJ I have ever seen, and as a professional truck driver I’ve been in damn near all of them!

  • Paul Hodgson said on July 15, 2012

    Doff my cap to you Zack…well said.

  • Michael Bennati said on July 15, 2012

  • joe buissink said on July 16, 2012


  • joe buissink said on July 16, 2012

    Ohhhh…. and I AM a “P” mode shooter. But…. it works for me :)

  • Fuzzy Duenkel said on July 16, 2012

    THANK YOU for speaking out! I’ve often felt we needed a younger voice to shake those up who think it’s fine to shoot without concern for light, then slap an old faded foto filter on it, then laugh at those of us who know that lighting is a key element to the storytelling ability of an image. That look may be cool today… but what about tomorrow when that starts to look… old.

    I TRY really hard not to sound like a dinosaur when I try to educate those who are demolishing this business, but all I ever get are snickers from people who know better than I because apparently my 35 years of experience means less than their overnight “success” story.

    You have my respect, man!

  • Chad Moore said on July 16, 2012

    Absolutely brilliant. Love that line about chasing the light, not a following.

  • Carlos Bruno said on July 16, 2012

    Agree 100% and disagree in 100% as well …
    It was YOUR advice (and you repeated this to exhaustion to go against what everyone is doing … to be ORIGINAL!
    HE probably (like me) watch and read all your things … do you remember saying that, don’t you?
    BUT again … YOU have to be blamed to not explain (explicity) WHAT “we” have to go against to … maybe the California sun burnt the rest of the cels that the painting-for-hair he used to use did …
    He just decided to follow (in a wrong way) your and that f%$#@ stupid book from that other f@$%#@ pretender phogot that try to put you in a “Fast Track” …

  • David Dack Maki said on July 16, 2012

    Rock on! Love your “Many photographers have gone before us armed with 12 shots loaded in a Hasselblad” line! I would love to see a new photographer use a film camera with a light meter and get a good photo! I don’t think they would know how to load the film.

  • Sarah Rico said on July 16, 2012

    TWO WORDS…THANK YOU! I am new to the craft and love every.single.solitary.AUTHENTIC.second of it. So far my biggest challenge is weeding through all the hocus pocus “take my pill and you will see immediate results” BS. I want to be good at the craft not the pitch, I look forward to that journey (good and bad) and I am sickened by people who are hellbent on robbing me and all of us wanting to truly LEARN of that journey…or at the very least doing everything they can to divert us “youngins” from what is REAL TRUTH with their offerings of “lollipops and candy” from their “windowless white vans”.

  • P Thomas Lambert said on July 16, 2012

    After over 30 plus years of quality photography, I have pulled the plug. I cannot compete with those who miss inform Wedding Couples on what to expect in their wedding photography.
    So I will concentrate on my Portrait Photography Work, unless some BoZo Photographer is out there touting that he shoot 4000 images just to get one good portrait.
    Zack, you need to get your message out too the Couples out there looking for a Quality Photography, and let them know the truth.

  • Jeffrey Jacobs said on July 16, 2012

    Hi Zack!

    WOW, you are so right on!! As I listened to the video, I found myself cheering outload, thank you!

  • Jen said on July 16, 2012

    Great post!!

    Wish I knew who the “photographer” was! I guess it is no secret, but I am just in the dark . :) Anyone want to clue me in for curiosity sake? Email me!

  • Jaime said on July 16, 2012

    I think i hear ya Zack..you mean go do your time at Def Jam Records or Death Row if ya wanna be in the game for a long time and be respected at the end of your time OR you could go over to CEMI/SBK(Vanilla Ice-To The Extreme) and even though you might have some instant success(40million sold) by ripping off the Rock god fathers(Queen&Bowie) and not giving credit where it’s due(well he did eventually)…you might end up regretting it down the track….

    P.S-Please bring some of those S&P t-shirts to K.L Zack..I want a signed copy from a god father of art! 😛


  • Tamara Watson said on July 16, 2012

    Hellz YES!

    From a photographer who has loved 20+ years of shooting in M.

  • John Wiley said on July 16, 2012

    Very well said, Zack!

    Sometimes Goliath has a damned good reason to shoot back! 😉

  • Chuck said on July 16, 2012

    I’m just an old guy learning new tricks. Thanks for the honesty, God bless you brother….

  • Wolfshark said on July 17, 2012

    David jay…… Lmfao That guy….sigh. Yeah.
    Get em’ Zack.

  • Max said on July 17, 2012

    Hey I thought you outlined it all in “How to be a SUCKKSESSFULLL photographer QUIKLY”! Dang, it’s not authentic is it? Seriously though, thanks for calling it like it is – there is no substitute for passion, hard work and perseverance.

  • Herbert Hendriks said on July 17, 2012

    Bingo, first time i visited your blog: The truth about photography. As Henri Cartier-Bresson once said: “Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.”
    This is especially true for Weddings. It’s the obligation of every photographer to give it’s very best to capture the most beautiful day of a couple in the best possible way. If you want to be a profesional, you have to act as one and take our responsibility in this. Professionals deliver, period. No matter what.
    I’m no profesional, i’m striving to be one. Since 20 years. I’m in it for the long run, to learn the craft, not for the quick money!

  • susieq3c said on July 17, 2012

    This gets a big standing ovation from me!!! See me standing? Hear me clapping wildly???

    Amen brother!!!

    And thanks for giving me the courage to listen to my gut instincts about photography. And thanks for reminding me that it’s a long haul and if I’m going to do this thing right, then I must be all in for a very very long time. As long as I have breath, can see, and can lift a camera to my eye, I’m in.

  • Sandrino | CuevaDesigns said on July 17, 2012

    Bravo, Bravoooo! (as I clap)

    Keeping it real…love it. Please keep this post up and re-read it before you shoot the weddings you are planning. I am sure it will bubble your blood…. Now TAKE that anger and frustration and shoot the wedding and see how the pics come out. With your talent with lots more passion (and fuel) behind it will make for a great follow up post of the wedding. Haaaaaa!!! You are doing it ZACK style!

  • Yvette Gilbert said on July 17, 2012

    Amen! So good to hear the voice of reason stand out from a cacophony of rubbish.
    Zack, have you seen this? http://www.grablunchbox.com Gotta love the part about EVERYONE is a photographer as long as you have something with the capability to take pictures… I’m buying a scalpel tomorrow, and opening my surgery the day after tomorrow :)
    Thanks Zack for fighting the good fight!

  • Matthew said on July 18, 2012

    “Respect!” (said in my best Ali G voice) Thanks to you Zack, I set my camera on manual one day and never looked back. The mode selector dial even broke, such that P, S, and most of the fancy little automatic settings don’t work. I didn’t realize it for a long time because I never use them. I decided not to get the camera serviced because in a way it reminds me that I don’t need those options and it forces me to craft better pictures. No spray and pray here!

  • kuro said on July 19, 2012

    Zack, I love you man. Thanks for the skills you have been teaching me.

  • Simon Lynch said on July 19, 2012

    This should get your blood boiling…


    And to defend this sellout in the threads… her husband…

  • Aaron said on July 19, 2012

    Thank you for this post. You’re the first major professional photographer who’s made me feel slightly less alienated in the photography world. I’ve always been into photography strictly as a hobby, but didn’t Get Serious about it till last year and, quite frankly, I felt like I’ve crash-landed on the wrong planet. I come from the music world and, needless to say, music rock stars and photographic rock stars are *wildly* different animals. You don’t really see a lot of actual rock stars writing up PowerPoint presentations and selling snake oil Get Rich Quick schemes. I see 15-year-olds on YouTube who are dead serious about learning how to play guitar or bass or drums and treat it with far more reverence than this “spray and pray and OMG HOW MANY AF POINTS DOES IT HAVE?????” mentality I see in photography. It seems like people just have little to no interest in learning how to use their cameras. At first, I was perplexed by this, but then it made perfect sense once I realized they see photography as merely a way to rake in cash. Obviously, we’d all like to be paid for our work, but coming into this with $$$ in your eyes is absurd: 1., there are far better ways to make money and 2., have some respect for the work and creativity involved in this field.

    And, yeah, I totally prefer to shoot manually. It’s just funner that way. (I even set my WB to K and dial it in.)

    Oh, and Yvette: that lunchbox site is hilarious/pathetic. “Photography is no longer for the photography elite.” Funny, I didn’t know there was a “photography elite.” I love how everything is an “elitist conspiracy” now. Of course, “elite” is just a euphemism for people who have talent/vision/work ethic vs. people who don’t but hey none of that stuff is needed anymore because anyone can take great pix with their mirrorless cams!!!11

  • Philip Thomas said on July 19, 2012

    Aah. How refreshing to read. You’ve just spouted off everything that I wish I could write as well as you.

  • AzFlyer said on July 19, 2012

    Beautifully stated, Zack. I listened to a recent interview with David Jay and he stated the reason he started his website was due to not a lot of resources out there for beginner photographers. Huh? This just shows that he learned he could make more money out from behind the camera and spew his garbage elsewhere. Zack, you’re awesome as ever and keep up the great work and fighting the good fight.

  • Luis said on July 20, 2012

    Thanks Zack!

    You are the shoulders I stand on!!!!

    Regards from South America!

  • Anthony Ray Sanchez said on July 21, 2012

    You’re absolutely right, Zack. Amen!

  • Mauricio said on July 22, 2012

    In my opinion, professional cameras such as the 5D, D700, etc shouldn’t even have a P mode or full auto. It’s ridiculous. It’s like putting a good wine in the fridge: you can do it, but is not the way it is intended to be.
    Putting a full auto on a $3500 camera is sending the wrong message. I know it’s all about the big bucks, but the truth is if you are not interested in learning the craft, then you shouldn’t buy a 5D. Go get a t2i, put it in full auto, and you’ll get the best photos of your dog you’ll ever see.
    This guy has no idea what he’s saying, and his “teachings” are very discouraging. It reminded me to Bush, saying that even a D student (as he was) could become president. Good things take time. Good things take effort. Photography could be very cruel at times. You’ll love it, you’ll hate it. It will make you feel like you are in the top of the world, and the next minute, at the bottom of the pile. But if you are truly devoted to it, you’ll never leave it. You might ignore it for some time, but eventually, you’ll return to it.
    This guy doesn’t have the slightest clue of what photography is.
    Regards from Argentina (and sorry my english is far from perfect).

  • Jay said on July 22, 2012

    The shirt is sold out in my size. But, I’m thinking that instead of that shirt, I’d like a shirt with a picture of you wearing that shirt. Please let me know if you’ll consider selling those.

  • Gerard Sexton said on July 23, 2012

    Well said Zack.

  • Henry said on July 24, 2012

    One reason I love using my XPro1, it does not have a ‘spray and pray’ mode.

  • brek said on July 25, 2012

    fuck you zack. you full of shit mate. not buying no fuckin tshirt. i dont care about your tumblr. dont care about your blog. fuck twitter. fuck this.

  • Zack said on July 25, 2012

    @brek – Glad to be of service! Really glad you fucking stopped by long enough to leave a fucking comment. Anything I can do for you just fucking let me know!


  • brek said on July 25, 2012

    I am not a hater, as you understood, thanks for that. I am a big fan of you for a long time now, I just hate this respect thing! C´mon! we have to rebel, or at least think we are. Thats what the masters are expecting from us… We can ALWAYS can do something different, I preparing a shoot of a 50 feet cliff dive, its to make fun of a famous photo here of some guy going down this (dangerous) cliff to catch sea food.


  • Daf said on July 26, 2012

    Another Gary Fong link – I didn’t know he did rants like this!

    As well as ripping the hell out of a threatening letter – he touches on the subject of just “having a go” at wedding photography as per the target of your rant.

  • marcie said on July 26, 2012

    Hi Zack,
    Love the rant, bought a shirt (2 actually).

    I’m sure you ended up selling more than you expected to. Do you know when the shirts will be made/shipped?
    We are going naked here until we get them. 😛

    FYI: I tried calling the phone number on the paypal receipt and the number wasn’t working.


  • Robert Williams said on July 27, 2012

    Thank you for saying this and loudly!

  • Matt said on July 28, 2012

    This is fucking killing me. I’m dying to know who and what caused you to rant!! Would the initials be DJ?

  • Zack said on July 30, 2012

    @Matt – Yep!


  • Pedro Santos said on July 30, 2012

    Have a big breath Zack :) :) :)
    continue your great work…

  • Naco Rautenbach said on July 30, 2012

    Nice one Zack!

  • Silje Mowatt said on July 30, 2012

    As “not yet a photographer” I really love this post ! I Must say that after reading this, You are my new idol ! I actually found you through Digital Rev on youtube.

    I can’t say that I’ve read about this guy you talk about, but it’s good to see that the respective photographers and the people in the business that know their shit (excuse me for my language) are trying to take care of us newcomers, and are welcoming us into the business. Love it !
    I’ll definitely keep a closer eye on you and your work Zack ! You’re brilliant !

  • James said on July 30, 2012

    I feel you brother. We are here to serve.

  • Tim K said on July 31, 2012


    Love the post… was going to go Atl with the wife, but other things came up. I was planning on going by your studio since it would have been only 20 minutes away from the hotel we were staying at. :-( Would love to be able to order a t-shirt! Hope you guys print more of them soon!


  • Richard said on August 1, 2012

    Mr A (I’m sorry I don’t know you well enough to call you ‘Zack’).

    On the subject of experience – and that’s what we’re talking about afterall – there’s an great difference between, say 22 years of experience (wide and deep with the associated skills sets and knowledge)and one year’s experience repeated 22 times.

    I know which side you and most of the photographers I have met – amateur, professional – are on. This guy and his advice is clearly coming from the looped experience school. We must all keep experiencing and learning!

  • Hugo Fonseca said on August 2, 2012

    You had me at “hello” brother. I will be following you on M mode…

  • Arnold Ramirez said on August 2, 2012

    I want a spray and pray shirt please make more thanks Z

  • Zack said on August 2, 2012

    Spray and Pray shirts are done! There’s 100 of them out in the world and that is that. On to the next one!


  • Levi said on August 9, 2012

    This post is fantastic, Zack. I stopped following said photographer on Twitter a long time ago when his passionate anti-Apple posts became annoying.

    I was at a local community photographers’ ‘meet-up’ around three years ago and something made me stop and think. There were some godawful photographers there who claimed to be fantastic, but at the same time, could teach me loads about the foundations – exposure, dynamic range, stops of light, etc. I’ve come into photography in the digital age where everything looks appealing because it’s ‘easy’ but, as you say, we can’t forget the paths paved by those who’ve come before and worked hard to figure stuff out the manual way. We’ve all gotta learn those basics.

    Top stuff.

  • Michael Davis said on August 10, 2012

    I think this is a good article from Fstoppers and has some bearing on this discussion.

  • Arno said on August 15, 2012

    Zack! You couldnt have said it any better. Im still new in Photography and fell in love with it because of the message photography brings to people, not how many likes you got on Facebook.

    Thanks Zack, Im an avid follower! You say it like it is and I value that greatly.

    Learning so much from you.

  • Frank said on August 18, 2012

    found this surfing a few links from your post( i.e. http://ground-glass.com/): its pretty on target:


    Love the rant by the way:(Zacks beer free tab just went up by 1!)

  • Munya Chawora said on August 18, 2012

    Man, to think that there are people like that is crazy. I have been doing for photography for 2 years but have exposed myself as best I can. Shooting wedding and fashion and I know there is soooooooooooo much to learn still. My biggest regret is not start this when I was young during film, so I revived my dad’s cam from 1976 because that’s where it began and I think for anyone to to even think about getting into photography, you must have an understand ing of film. Personally that guy’s first quote about photographers shooting maunal mode was the what made me crack. Never have I heard such crap. I not and top pro but even I know that’s crap. I shoot 95% manual and AV or TV if I’m doing fast moving objects but hardly. I understand why this heated you up and props to speaking about it

  • Penny Sylvia said on August 22, 2012

    WORD!!! Dang Zack I couldn’t have said it better myself! LOVE that you put your face and voice and not just in writing! LOVE THAT! RESPECT that!

  • Jay said on August 25, 2012

    Inspring blog Zack. I’ve been developing my skills as a photographer for a number of years whilst maintaing a full time job in a very high pressurised environment. On top of that I am a father to my beautiful son. Often my photography has had to play third fiddle to being a father and a job that I’ve come to hate – working in the front line of homelessness. The clients I have helped support over the past 10 years have kept me going for this long but the frustration at either not having the emotional energy or being jut too darn tired to pick up my camera has often left me frustrated… and sometimes depressed.

    I’ve spent a lot of emotional energy trying to learn this craft and I’m still at the beginning of something wonderful. I’ve been mentored by a professional photographer that I trust and have tried to be as much of a sponge for knowledge as my 40 yr old brain allows but I have continuously felt that my day job has restricted the path I’ve wanted to walk. There is a wealth of bad info on the net and then there are pillars of the photographic community such as your good self! I’m quitting my job in two wks and start my degree in 4 wks.

    Whether this is the right decision remains to be seen but I am excited. I have an opportunity to indulge my passion that I did not think possible. I feel alive and hungry. I should have done this 20 yrs ago but back then I was more interested in living a rock star lifestyle… erm, without being a rock star. There are many pitfalls in life… I’ve supported many good and vulnerable folks over the past ten yrs. But with respect to photography… so long as there are guys like you Zack, many people will hopefully avoid the predators within the industry. Thank you… You and your teaching have been and continue to be a great inspiration.


  • jen said on September 10, 2012

    “OMG-look-at-my-shoes-pants-dress, cars, mansions on the hills. Nothing wrong with all that. Nothing. More power to you but let me tell you folks, you look at people who have it “all together”, well, it’s just reeks of working hard to maintain a public image.”

    A- FUCKING- MEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Paul S. Robinson said on September 13, 2012

    WoW, Zack this is telling it like it is. I apluad you for standing up and speaking out. There are far too many with the attitude that there is something wrong with doing it right. Keep the faith man you are in good company of scores of photographers who teach and preach doing it right in the camera and with the camera in MANUAL mode. I’m with ya!!

  • m.a. said on September 16, 2012

    Thank you …. No, your not wasting your time.

    It needed to be said OUT-LOUD …

    Love of the ART

    Note: Sometimes I feel those before me and want to honor them by doing my best work.

  • Daniel Holman said on September 20, 2012

    Well said Zack

  • Julie Mixon said on September 21, 2012

    This “old photographer” appreciates, respects and has learned so much from your “signals.” Thank you and please keep it up! I don’t know about you, but respect goes a whole heck of a lot further than loads of money and rock star status. Thanks again!

  • Mario Kluser said on October 1, 2012

    Out of curiosity I did a search and found some of that crap. I have some principals. One of them is: if somebody tells me that he knows something about photography and then lists a bunch of lenses without even mentioning the aperture I end the conversation immediately.

    Whenever I see and hear you talking somewhere I grab a coffee and listen carefully. This is what I do when I know someone with a lot experience is going to motivate me and will flatten my learning curve.

    Last year I purchased your workshop on Studio Lighting from Creative Live. You lowered and shortened my learning curve by a couple of years. I truly wouldn’t be able to take the studio shots I take today, though I ever find something to improve. However, your explanations felt like every piece of the big puzzle was falling into place.

    Whenever I mention you to somebody who never heard of you I say: What Cesar Milan is for dogs is Zack Arias for strobes.

    Don’t remove this blog post. It’s part of who you are and a big part of who serious photographers feel and think.

    Thanks for all your great work,

  • Tammy Keefer said on October 1, 2012

    Great rant. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I would love a t-shirt, but question – is it possible to have one made without the “Shut Up and Shoot” part added? Thanks again.

  • Zack said on October 2, 2012

    We’ve sold all we’re going to sell!


  • Larry said on October 7, 2012

    Zack, keep ranting. Aspiring photographers need to hear this message. I’m happy and hopeful now that my 16 year-old son (and new aspiring photographer) has recently discovered your wisdom. And I feel very fortunate to have participated in your workshop. Respect!


  • Deji said on October 8, 2012

    I really liked this part of your post:

    Just remember that the smarter the camera gets, the dumber the photographer will be.

    And it’s quite amazing to see the depth of your knowledge… If you are in need of a pro-toge, I’m your man :) . In my home country, we’ll say:

    “No mind the ye-ye man” ………. (ye-ye translates as “joke”)

  • Kung'u Kiuna said on October 25, 2012

    “I don’t want any more bullsh*t from anyone…and that includes me”


  • Jan Groningen said on October 25, 2012

    This rant really hits home, ’cause we all know the condescending remarks from fellow photogs (even non) once you mention your business. Yes, it really takes guts to jump into the wedding photography business and leave the comfort zone of one’s studio or outdoor ventures.

    Wedding Photography on your side of the Atlantic is at a tremendouw quality level en just about every wedding looks luxurious en truly joyful. Respect for those who did the shooting en postwork.

  • Paul Crouse said on October 30, 2012

    Wow, it is nice to hear someone who knows what he is talking about.

    It is so refreshing to hear your passion, your respect and your intelligence.
    You are a great antidote to cynicism.

    Paul Crouse
    Kyoto, Japan

  • Jeff Cruz said on November 27, 2012

    Catching up on your blog posts Zack. Word’em up! Just remember, not everyone from Canada is like that guy…eh?


  • Attila said on November 30, 2012

    Thanks Zack. I hope this wasn’t the last one when you raised your voice.
    In fact I hope you are not the only one who did/does/will do this for the actual Photographers.

    Nowadays when everyone is a photographer who has a camera (-phone) it’s good to know that I’m not the only one who’s annoyed by these GWCs (guy-with-camera). Unfortunately they are everywhere and as I recently learned they are among us a long long time ago. :)

    I was interested in getting into the wedding business but I always knew it’s an extremely hard work with a huge amount of responsibility. Like others I thought I don’t have the gear, then that I’m not good enough but everyone who saw my work recently, said I am crazy. So I looked around and had to realize that the amount of CRAP in this business is just unbelievable, not only bad photos, but horrible ones.
    Before this “system” guy appeared there were already tons of people who looked at photography as business ONLY. People who bought a camera, put a professional (btw, does that have a meaning anymore, other than $) photographer sticker on their chest and started spraying weddings/people.

    Bottom line is that until being a photographer won’t be licensed there always will be imitators and GWCs and as long as people are being cheap and want everything for free they will have customers too.
    At the end they might just do us a favor by cleaning the path for us to the CUSTOMERS who are looking for and appreciate quality.

    Regards, A.
    Atlantic Picture Photography

  • Adjie triwibowo said on December 3, 2012

    Totally agree with you zack!
    I pray that somebody will hack and wreck his dumb*ss blog
    Better yet, i wish that he is deprived of all internet acces 😀
    Because his idiocracy is a menace to the photographic society

  • Marleen said on January 21, 2013

    So glad to see this ‘rant’ is still up. I photographed my brothers wedding a few years ago and I think I did a decent job but I still know I’m no professional wedding photographer. I did go out looking for the ‘System’ just now. It’s still down even though they planned to have “an even better version in a couple of weeks”.

  • Nycks1 said on February 5, 2013

    ur the man!

  • Jozef Povazan said on February 7, 2013

    Well, I teach photography and even my beginners students understand that without fully controlled M exposure mode there is no brighter future for them :) . Most of the people these days spray and pray and I always ask them if they know how much would it cost me in film era to spray and pray with my medium format camera and 120 rolls of films…. People got spoiled with DSLR and they feel PROs !!!

  • Nathan said on March 22, 2013

    Sometimes I don’t shoot manual because I’m more concentrated on the subject and capturing images in moving light. If you shoot in manual, good for you. If you don’t, good for you. Just shoot.

  • chong said on July 26, 2013

    Hey zack. I m also a Fuji XE1 owner. Right now Im looking for a trigger to shot my hotshot flash. You got any suggestion?

  • Zack said on July 26, 2013

    @chong – Any trigger will do the job. The new Pocket Wizard X units work well. I haven’t tried the cheaper versions you can find online so I can’t speak to those.


  • Carmen Blike said on August 9, 2013


  • Belinda said on August 17, 2013

    Well Said!

    Bummer there’s no more shirts. As soon as I saw it I wanted one!

  • Emily Exon said on February 27, 2014

    Amen! I am not “new” to photography, but I am new to the industry and I like your passion! So thank you!

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