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Thread: ‘Fake it till you have it’ – the early years

  1. #1

    Default ‘Fake it till you have it’ – the early years

    This article is targeted at photographers who are trying to break into the commercial field. By commercial, I narrowly (and generally) define it as any form of paid photography assignments for the sake of this discussion.

    Many of us would be exposed to the philosophy of ‘fake it till you have it’, either from motivational speakers in seminars or self-help business guides. The one thing which young start-ups face in the sea of other challenges would be experience. Most of us start a business, be it full-time or part-time, to seek assignments. In order to land a paid assignment, we are required to convince the clients that we are appropriately skilled and experienced in order to get the deal.

    Therein lays the problem. How does someone, who has very little or no experience, convince discerning clients that you have what it takes? I remember reading somewhere that says “Fake it till you have it’. I can’t remember the context which was used to illustrate this, and I do agree to this philosophy to a large extent:

    “I don’t have 20 years of photography experience, but I can certainly fake the confidence of someone who does”

    “I don’t have my own style, but I can fake one in the meantime. I’ll study the greatest photographers and their works like crazy and try to emulate them. During which I gain my technical competence. I’ll one day have my own style”

    And since this is a concept, there’s no limitation on how one can apply it to their own context. When do I stop faking? Do I fake having experience that I don’t actually have? Do I fake the profile of my clients to impress potential clients? Do I fake having awards which I’ve never received? The list goes on. Morality issues aside, some of this ‘faking’ can never be found out and might just help you kick-start your career. But some do carry heavy consequences.

    Faking awards can be easily found out. I can’t think of any fatalistic consequences apart from some form of shaming, which of course, is detrimental to whatever business/photographer’s image, which is counter-productive to the objective to begin with. Meaning that if your objectives to ‘faking’ whatever you are faking is to gain clients’ confidence and build a positive reputation, then the backlash will actually destroy what you set out to build in the first place.

    An even better negative example would be faking portfolio. This step is suicidal from the start. In some markets, particularly the Singapore wedding photography market, artists have gained their reputation in not just their skills and style. They have also gained admirers for their work. These admirers can be fellow photographers, or even clients. There are actually clients who can identify the authors of specific work. They love the images so much that some of these images get stuck so deep in their mind. It is also suicidal to try to risk stealing images from the portfolio of any photographer because the community is a small one, and word gets around really fast. The consequences on the company and photographer’s name can be so severe that there may be no turning back. It is also an obvious legal suit and punishment can be more severe than just monetary. Although ‘just monetary’ is undermining the financial consequences, which can even lead to bankruptcy in some extreme cases. Some paying clients of the photographers whose images to be stolen are actually well versed in law and might be in the legal profession and may have made certain disclosure agreements (photos not to be posted in places other than photographer’s website, for instance). So photographers, in order to protect their own rights, sometimes have to be harsh in handling people who steal their images. These clients may also for whatever reason take legal actions against the perpetrator, and it may not be money they seek.

    So the lone-ranger who wants to start up asks, “How does anyone begin their journey anyway? If I’m not even given the chance to shoot weddings, how in the world am I going to have a portfolio in weddings?” Replace weddings with the field of your choice.

  2. #2

    Default Re: ‘Fake it till you have it’ – the early years

    Here’re some ways which may be useful:

    Find a photographer to assist for. Many of the photographers pay very little or perhaps even nothing to assistants. This is not just the case here in Singapore, but a large part of the rest of the world as well. Many top photographers we know today have very difficult and humble beginnings. Even as assistants, there may or may not be chances to shoot what you want to shoot. But at least there’s a greater chance of building a portfolio in the area you’re keen to develop in the desired area. This is easier said than done, because some photographers who want to see a portfolio even before they get accepted. Just keep trying. Remember, these photographers have very little to gain (assistance which they may not actually need), and a lot to lose (developing a new competitor in a crowded industry).

    Volunteer for shoots. Where weddings are concerned, it is really easy to find someone you know who is getting married and try to tag as a photographer. Be mindful of interfering with the main photographer’s work, but also observe like mad. Take notes if necessary. Likewise for events. For fashion shoots, there’s TFCD (google if this is new to you) or paid model shoots. There are studio conducted classes which runs practical classes which you can take back as your portfolio. For products and food, read up and research on techniques. Lots of photographers selflessly share their techniques and experience all across the internet. And these products and food photography in your practice can also function as your portfolio.

    Once you’ve built a portfolio of sorts, you might also want to consider applying for a job at a studio, which gives you more experience to the stringent requirements of paying customers. This can help in understanding on how meeting expectations of paying customers can actually be a lot more difficult than imagined.

    As a parting gift, I would like to quote from one of my favourite bands - Coldplay “Nobody said it was easy. Nobody ever said it would be so hard”. Every single photographer who allowed me to apprentice under them told me the former. It’s not going to be easy. Now I’d like to add to that. It’s actually a whole lot harder in reality than what it sounds. If you truly have conviction and work hard (and smart) enough, have lots of patience, the rewards are immeasurable.

  3. #3

    Default Re: ‘Fake it till you have it’ – the early years

    Thanks for the informative read.
    Whatever it is, do not be like this guy here in this thread: http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/showthread.php?t=400951
    He is literally faking it

  4. #4
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    Default Re: ‘Fake it till you have it’ – the early years

    Quote Originally Posted by XenoBaka View Post
    Thanks for the informative read.
    Whatever it is, do not be like this guy here in this thread: http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/showthread.php?t=400951
    He is literally faking it
    yes! he/she really is a big faker! beware!

  5. #5

    Default Re: ‘Fake it till you have it’ – the early years

    Quote Originally Posted by shinken View Post
    “I don’t have 20 years of photography experience, but I can certainly fake the confidence of someone who does”
    You have quoted 2 different things. First is faking, the other is copying. If the person is faking 20 years of experience, the end results will show the difference. Singapore is small and word will get around, photographers like that are usually out of the biz within a year or 2.

    Quote Originally Posted by shinken View Post
    “I don’t have my own style, but I can fake one in the meantime. I’ll study the greatest photographers and their works like crazy and try to emulate them. During which I gain my technical competence. I’ll one day have my own style”
    This is copying, there are photographers who have copied techniques and lighting from books and magazines. This path is possible and most clients in commercial photography don't really care about personal styles. It's sad but true. They just want their products to look good. There are a few photographers in Singapore who have done that and have been very successful.

    The Zohan

  6. #6
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    Default Re: ‘Fake it till you have it’ – the early years

    Quote Originally Posted by Zohan View Post
    You have quoted 2 different things. First is faking, the other is copying. If the person is faking 20 years of experience, the end results will show the difference. Singapore is small and word will get around, photographers like that are usually out of the biz within a year or 2.



    This is copying, there are photographers who have copied techniques and lighting from books and magazines. This path is possible and most clients in commercial photography don't really care about personal styles. It's sad but true. They just want their products to look good. There are a few photographers in Singapore who have done that and have been very successful.

    The Zohan
    Let's face it, we wouldn't have so many bubble tea, pork floss bun and now donuts.

    Technique and angle can be copied easily, just look at the Wedding Portfolio section and you'll know what I mean. One of the best things I've learnt about wedding day photography is that no one would be able to copy your instinct. Look at the top tennis and badminton players, what makes them great is not just their speed and technique, but instinctively they know they should be at the right spot to gain the advantage. To translate that into photography, the million dollar question is, when do we hit the shutter to get the right moment?

    In the commercial realm, when everything is under the photographer's control, it's down to how you create rather than capture the moment because you can recreate it by using the line "Try again"

    Can understand why most of the successful photographers are the ones who keep pushing their style and experimenting with ideas because it won't be long your assistants picks up your technique and start copying you. So by the time they or competitors figured out your tricks, you would have moved on to something else that will take people another few years to copy

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    Default Re: ‘Fake it till you have it’ – the early years

    Quote Originally Posted by kairospix View Post
    yes! he/she really is a big faker! beware!
    the person doesnt exist thats wat they said when i clicked the link
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  8. #8

    Default Re: ‘Fake it till you have it’ – the early years

    Can we expound on this thread? It is an interesting read in times like these.
    Canon 40D, 10-22, 35, 70-200
    http://theserialhobbyist.multiply.com

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    Default Re: ‘Fake it till you have it’ – the early years

    it is a nice reading

  10. #10
    Senior Member glennyong's Avatar
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    Default Re: ‘Fake it till you have it’ – the early years

    that link was a 18yr old who did the leeching....

  11. #11

    Default Re: ‘Fake it till you have it’ – the early years

    not wanting to be the idiom police, but the correct phrase should be "fake it till you make it".

  12. #12

    Default Re: ‘Fake it till you have it’ – the early years

    Quote Originally Posted by shojibake View Post
    not wanting to be the idiom police, but the correct phrase should be "fake it till you make it".
    Not trying to be defensive, but I did mean 'fake it till you have it'. They mean rather different things in this context, if you read the posts. Title wasn't meant to be an idiom anyway.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: ‘Fake it till you have it’ – the early years

    so is faking bad?

  14. #14

    Default Re: ‘Fake it till you have it’ – the early years

    Hello,

    Quote Originally Posted by NMSS_2 View Post
    so is faking bad?
    only if you get caught.

    Seriously, it's a breach of ethics. Singapore is a very small town, it takes years to build up a good rep and 1 bad incident to destroy. The choice is yours.

    Z

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