Easy leads to cheap. The established pros are howling. “These kids and AMWACs (another mom with a camera) are ruining the profession!” Well, okay, this is America, anyone with a business card and a camera is a pro. Nothing has changed; it has just exploded with the ease and immediacy of digital. Germany has a guild system. If you want to charge for your work, you have to go through a strict protocol. There are advantages. But somehow, the chaos of the “American way” seems to produce some of the most exciting work on the planet. In the world of portraiture, however, this unregulated process is not without collateral damage. We are in, as Ken Marcus stated “the self esteem business”. The effect we have on our client’s emotional world is considerable. Especially in the young, and even more so in young females, whose worth is, unfortunately, determined too often in society by their beauty. To help improve an individual’s opinion of their appearance is as powerful as a drug. Self esteem colors every minute of every day. For good or evil. So, as Marcus says: “if you are going to play with people’s self esteem, you had better damned well know what you are doing!”
If concepts like: precise facial views, corrective posing, and facial analysis sound foreign to you as a portrait photographer, seek out training. Photographing people for pay is a privilege and a responsibility not to be taken lightly. The “slow discipline of art” applies. (Robert Bly) Portraiture is a craft to be studied and perfected through effort and dedication.
So, click-on WAAPs! (wild-ass American photographers). Some will rise, some will die, but seek to learn your craft well and, as Hippocrates said, “first, do no harm!”
Master Photographer, CPP