What You Can Learn From a Fauxtographer

These days everyone’s a photographer. Companies and potential clients are checking out your social reach on instagram more than they are checking out your site or blog. This has given rise to “fauxtographers” These are people who love the image of being an artist but are not so interested in the actual nuts and bolts of being a photographer.

A person who tries to jump on the photography band-wagon by “Pointing-and-shooting” hundreds of terrible pictures, which they will upload to myspace [or Instagram ~ JT] in an album titled “My Photography”, “My Art”, or “Critique My work”. Always followed up by the person adding “Photography” to their General section, or adding “Photography is my life…” to their About Me.
Bulletin posted at 5;34 by Jake: “Guys check out my photography”
Bulletin posted at 5: 41 by Jake: “C’mon guys I’m a photographer now, check it out” Definition by Urban Dictionary

However, before you write these people off as “posers” or think that because you can capture a stunning sunset and can edit properly in Lightroom or Photoshop that you are somehow better than them, check their followers. Typically these fauxtographers do one thing better than most photographers and that is marketing. They love promoting themselves more than their photos.

Promote Yourself

One of the best things that I learned from these people is the art of promoting yourself over your photos. If you asked them to explain the “exposure triangle” they would draw a blank. However, if you ask their friends or any of their “clients”  they would talk about this fauxtographer as if they were a master of photography. The reason is that these guys know how to speak as if they are a master of photography. They are confident and charismatic about their image not just their images. This is something that many of us do not know how to do well. If you have ever wondered how a fauxtographer got so popular, image over images is key.

Think about the “celebrity” photographers like Chase Jarvis, Trey Ratcliff, and many others. They not only take great images but they live the lifestyle and have an image that people admire and look up to. The fauxtographer is creating the exact same persona. Yes, people who know them or who have years of experience want to throw-up when their images are posted or when they comment about how “inspired” by the “summer life” they are. However, the fact of the matter is that they are selling their image as a creative and as a successful photographer better than you.

You should also start to get some photos of yourself doing what you love and get those out there. One of the strangest things I realized was that there are very few images of myself with my camera in hand. These photos of you in action, show your audience that you are out there taking great images. The fauxtographer probably has a surprising amount of photos of themselves taking photos because they want to show off that precious image that they’ve been crafting.

Know the Game

I am always shocked to the thousands of followers on instagram that follow certain fauxtographers. Their photos were mediocre at best (not saying mine are any better…) and yet they get tons of engagement. By using different apps and playing the “like/unlike” game they game the system and that makes them look a lot more creditable to the untrained eyes of potential clients.

It is not all smoke and mirrors though. Many have invested more time into their sites and their online presence. Their sites look pro and the copy on their about pages is loaded with those “powerful” sentences that make it look like they live, breathe, and sleep photography…. despite buying  their first camera a few months ago. What they lack in photographic knowledge, they more than make up with image-building skill.

Stay Current

People like myself tend to stick to one style and then slowly change into another at a glacial speed. However, fauxtographers jump around from style to style. Shooting portraits to food to fashion. They are all over the place and that works for them as many potential clients just want a “photographer” rather than a professional one. At times the “jack of all trades, master of none” works for clients that don’t care about the quality so much as a cheap photographer to simply cover an event.

By staying current and not getting to invested into a certain style means that you can adapt to the job. While I would tend to learn more about your personal style, this is one way to get your name out there. Though I wouldn’t recommend it, it does allow you some interesting opportunities and keeps you from getting labelled as “just a landscape photographer” as I recently was labeled.

Such a great amount of talent here.

Create a Tribe

If you have ever read anything about entrepreneurship recently it is all about your “tribe” or your first 1000 true fans. I never paid too much attention this and it has shown is some of my lack-luster events. However, the one thing that I noticed is that many fauxtographers are really good at building a tribe of loyal family and friends. Ones that believe in what they doing and are willing to overlook poor quality photos and cheesy gimmicks to gain followers.

Creating a group of people that truly believe in what you do is a great way to build authority. It will also help with any project that you want to get off the ground. Starting from scratch is difficult and takes a lot of work to build the kind of trust needed to get those shares/likes.

Get with the Best

One of the annoying things about fauxtographers is that they are everywhere. They seem to seek out the influencers and stick to them like glue. This seems logical to do but yet many photographers have this “solo island” thing going on. Yes, they follow good photographers and comment on their photos but not to the extent that I’ve seen or heard fauxtographers doing.

The lesson here is that if you are hanging around mediocre or less-than-serious photographers and secretly hoping to be great, it is not going to happen. If you are surrounded by great photographers that motivate you to get out, shoot, explore and up your game then you will improve.  For the fauxtographer it could be all about name-dropping and association. For you, it is about building networks of great photographers that can help you.

Create a Lot of Content

If you ever look at those 365 projects you will see that not all are great shots. That’s not the point of them. They are training you to get out and get photos. The regular practice of taking and posting new images on a daily basis is what many of the social media platforms love. The fauxtographer isn’t concerned with putting their best images forward for a portfolio review at all. They are posting daily to show how awesome their lifestyle is. Their feeds are full of snapshots of their “fauxtographic” awesome life eating pasta at restaurants and bragging about their “work” as if they were specifically asked to take a photo of their spaghetti with their iPhone.  However,this is gold for most social networks as the regular posts keep followers engaged. Their followers don’t care if they are getting paid next-to-nothing to shoot an event or if they are giving their stuff away for free. They want to see content, whatever it may be.

As a true photographer, seek to post as often as you can. Reward your followers with great images and conversation about the places and experiences you have had. This will create the tribe that is needed to get your name out there and to get those sales/clients.

So there you have it, everything you need to combine you awesome photos with the tricks that fauxtographers use to get their name out there without actually taking great photos. I know that this post may sound negative or that I am jealous of some people. In some cases, I am and I think that you are too. We work hard to get great photos, understand how our cameras work to push the limits and many get nothing in return. Then some dude buys a new camera from best buy and suddenly they have thousands of followers and they are booking clients.

However, the thing that I want you to take away from this is the idea that while these “fauxtographers” may not be putting in the work to get better images, they are busting their butts promoting themselves and that is something that we should look into. It is fine to sit on the sidelines and roll your eyes when you see a blurry image with a passionate description about how creative they are. The thing is that you also have to look at why people are following that person. Why they are maybe booking them over you. Then suddenly that “fauxtographer” becomes something more.


  1. Steve Robinson Reply

    That’s a brilliant article Jason. It totally resonates with me. I get the feeling our photography minds are very similar and from what I’ve seen of your work, our landscape photos have a similar style too. I do try to avoid Fauxtographers at all costs. You can spot them a mile off, either looking at their photos or meeting them in person. They irritate me to the core. I’ve only just joined instagram and it’s so true what you say about average photos having a ton of likes and gushing comments. It’s quite depressing to see and for a moment I wonder why I bother, but then i realise I bother because I love landscape photography, first and foremost. Any recognition I might get or any money I make is just a nice bonus. Having said that I’ve been terrible at using social media to try and “get myself out there” so I’m making more of an effort to now. I’m going back to the UK, in July for a year, with enough money saved to not have to work so I can concentrate on photography full time. Could be a make or break year. I’ve felt stuck on a level lately where my photos are generally of a decent standard, but I’ve yet to produce a killer image, with a true wow factor . It seems elusive at the moment, but I guess the more time I have available to dedicate to shooting and post processing, the better chance I’ll have. Anyway thanks for posting this. It was a great read.

    • Jason Teale Reply

      Thanks Steve! This was something that I have been pondering for some time now. I am glad it resonated with you! Judging from your awesome shots I get the feeling that we view the photographic world the same way!

      • Skyler Reply

        Fantastic read Jason! I sat uninterested in social media for so long, never had the drive to stick to it like I see others do. But no more! I think the great take away here is content over quality, perfectionism destroying marketing productivity. My new mantra is “make, create & share!” Share Often!

        • Jason Teale Reply

          Thanks Skyler! I think that is the best way and I am pretty sure that with your level of talent that it will work wonders for you. I know for myself I always thought that if my photos were good and I shared them with my tiny little circle that it would somehow lead to bigger thing. The reality is that we must work social media to our advantage and understanding how these fauxtographers got to the level that they did is part of the solution. Combining that with pure talent and skill like what you have will take you to amazing places. I can’t wait to see more from you!

      • steve Robinson Reply

        Hey cheers for that Jason, I love your work so it’s good to hear that from you. I think it’s a pretty good bet that the Fauxtographer will never really improve their work. The reason being, they already think they’re the greatest, so will never feel the need to learn and improve. I’ve even seen faaxtographers crowdfunding for medium format setups and they haven’t even mastered the basics of shooting with an sir. It’s cringeworthy and what makes it worse is people give them the money! I tend to be riddled with self doubt as a photographer, so my entire mindset is on trying to improve and get better. That’s all that matters at the end of the day.

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