Apologies and Forgiveness

Ah, the danger of this business.

Today, I really hit a nerve when I wrote about hiring a professional photographer. Saying I pissed people off is more accurate.

I hope everyone who reads my stuff knows that I write with the best of intentions. I err on the side of brevity, which sounds abrupt at times. For that, I apologize.

I also hope everyone who reads my stuff takes away what works for them and ignores the rest. It’s only one person’s opinion. You must gather other opinions and form your own.

About ten years ago, I finally learned to admit it when I was wrong. I do it regularly these days. Well, I have been told numerous times over the past 24 hours that I am wrong. And I have been told in very mean spirited comments, which I decided to leave on this blog. I suppose these were in anger at what those people read into my newsletter. I am sorry the contents were misconstrued and I take full responsibility for the words–however insensitive they seemed.

Here’s the thing: I would have thought people knew me better by now. I would have thought my readers know I am doing my best to help. And I’m happy to listen to differing opinions. I’ve corrected myself numerous times over the years, and quite publicly in the newsletter and on this blog.

We all make mistakes. Forgiveness is a good thing, as is correcting someone with kindness.

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14 comments to Apologies and Forgiveness

  • Hi Alyson, It’s a shame you have recieved such nasty comments from people. I agree with your comments about using a profesional photographer and the reasoning behind it.I wish I could afford to hire one myself, becuase the image quality is so vital, especially when selling on the internet. Keep up the good work, for all those that have left negative comments there are many many more who appreciate your efforts! Cheers Michelle from Australia

  • Wow! That one nice note made my day. Thanks for taking the time to write it, Michelle.

  • Don’t apologize—you were right (and I say that as someone who has some incredibly BAD photos of beautiful artwork living on my web site…)

  • David Castle Art

    Alyson, your advice on professional photography was right on the mark for several reasons! You made clear at the beginning of your post that your advice was geared towards sales and increasing exposure – I completely agree that professional photography is key for those artist who are getting serious about sales and exposure. The audience for these two areas is unlikely to buy or tout your work when presented with less-than-professional-quality images of art. I also agree that this is a great area to stay focused on my “core competency”. For me it is painting, not photography. Doing my own photography (for anything other than “snapshot uses”) would sure cost alot more when I figured in the loss of painting time! Finally – it takes work to find the best photography services for your budget – I stopped complaining about the expense and put my energy into finding a service that has helped moved me foward in my professional art career. And yes, I approached this task as both an artist AND a business person – for example, I didn’t pay a bunch of money upfront before I saw results that I was happy with. Just my few cents worth… oh, and please keep up the great work. Your weekly action emails and blog make it easy for artists (well, at least most of them) to put to good use the advice that is relevant and timely to them.

  • Your comments about getting qualities photographs are important. I wish I had better photographs of some of my work I no longer own and am still hit or miss in this area. Alyson’s comments are not exclusive to her, good slides are important. I’ve heard it from professors, read it in art books, read it in juror’s statements. Though I’ve recently hired a prof. who takes better slides than I do I don’t think, however, that professional photographers are always the way to go. As illustrated by the comments in these two posts, art photographers are all over the board. Most end up teaching themselves how to shoot artwork–which is a different ball of wax then other photography. I’ve had good and bad experiences with prof. photographers. Before you hire one asked to see many samples of their work. Though I, myself, have not mastered it, I’ve seen many great slides taken by artists. Lisa Call, who posts on this blog is one of them. It’s good to remember that Alyson’s newsletter is free. I appreciate the free advice she offers and the venue for discussion provided on this blog.

  • Saying one needs to use a “professional photographer” is like saying one needs to utilize a “professional CPA.” Everybody knows they need to do it, but nobody wants to… But, just because we may think we can’t afford it, doesn’t make it any less necessary. Now, that doesn’t mean that just any photographer, (or CPA) no matter how good they are, is the right one for you. It takes work to find the right one – to find the right “fit.” We can “yeah, but” all we want, however the advice in that newsletter/blog post was “right on the money” – and isn’t that where we all want to be? In the money?

  • Cas

    Shame on those who turned their dissenting opinion into a public personal attack. I don’t think there’s any need for that after all that Alyson has given. That said, there have been times that my opinion has differed from her advice given, but I’d like to think I brought up my point in a professional, inquisitive manner instead of typing with my feelings. My own opinion on the matter is that it’s best to photograph (or scan) your own work if you have the capability and knowledge to do so and have your images turn out looking professional. Strive for the best, right? But if you don’t have at least a little knowledge of photography and especially of digital media, then leave that up to professionals – preferably one that a fellow artist who does similar work can recommend. And for goodness sakes – look to the future – slides are obsolete in almost every other discipline out there – learn about archiving digital files & sending and printing them out. The costs (not just monetary) of digital vs. using backwards technology to create slides is much more reasonable, not to mention that the rest of the world isn’t going to use slides forever, and is in fact phasing them out quickly in favor of the ease & efficiency of digital. It always amazes me how artists are some of the last people to embrace change when it comes to technology, but I strongly believe that those who do will have a leg up.

  • More interesting to me is how this discussion brought so many out of the woodwork…The spectrum of negativity to positivity has increased, thus broadening the conversation…I suppose we all have our darker sides that although not pleasant, make discusssion more real…I just like reading all the opinions and visiting the corresponding websites…and somehow the dynamic has more tension when comments are balanced…from a sales perspective, artistic as well, I think it points out that even mild controversy drums up interest…

  • Alyson, The comment Cas made brought to mind a question. What is your opinion on digital vs. slides? I’ve notice arts organizations are slowly transitioning from accepting slides (for grant proposals, etc. to digital images) but many still don’t have the funds for good digital technology. I think it’s still best to take slides and have them scanned afterwards. What’s your opinion?

  • Blair

    Dear Alyson: I read your post regarding photographers and I must admit that at first I felt a little edge of attitude forming on my part, however I realised that your advice was sound and I needed to correct my thoughts, and read the article with an open mind. What I came away with is that if I do not value my work enough to use only the best representation of it, then how can I expect my potential customers to value my work. I compared the picture on my web site, which I took, with one in a magazine and I would not be too interested in my work from my picture. Once again you are giving solid advice. My attitude on the first read arose from the fact that I knew my pictures are not up to snuff, but I did not want to admit it seeing I took them. If I am going to do this art thing properly, then I need to have someone like yourself who is not afraid to speak the truth even if it hurts a bit. Thanks Blair

  • Alyson, your newsletter and website are awesome and you always have great advice for us. It is much much appreciated. I know I personally have you to thank for the huge advancements my art career has taken in the past year and a half – I wouldn’t be here without you. I’m sorry if my post yesterday was in any way viewed as rude. It was certainly not intended to be. I simply disagree with you. My point is/was that hiring a professional is not as easy as it sounds. Without any sort of knowledge on what constitutes good photography an artist can’t make an educated decision. I feel that artists must learn at some basics in photography. At least how to identify it when they see it (which I learned isn’t as obvious as it sounds when we are talking about little 2″x2″ pieces of plastic). Some thoughts to expand on someone else’s thoughts in your comments about digital images. Given that digital images are so important these days I think there is going to be some level of competency needed in handling these beasts akin to labeling a slide and putting it into the mail. Slides are easy to share – digital images are not so obvious. In my opinion, a basic understanding of web quality vs. print quality digital images is essential. What are pixels, what does dpi mean? How can you tell how many bytes your image is so you don’t accidentally mail a huge file to someone? If you have an 800×600 pixel, 300 dpi jpeg and someone asks for a 700 pixel wide jpeg at 72 dpi how do you convert it with degrading the quality? How do you rename your image to fit the specifics for each venue? These are some pretty basic skills that I don’t think I could live without. Slides had 1 format (although a zillions ways to label them that took no special skills to figure out). Digital images are complex and require some technical skills. Sure skills you can hire out but given how frequently I’m emailing images or creating CDs I can’t imagine what the cost would be to not do it myself. Well beyond my budget unfortunately. Alyson absolutely agree with your message – professional *quality* images are essential. I just disagree that hiring it out is the only solution to achieving that quality. I don’t believe that by doing it myself I have in any way hurt myself. While it took quite a bit of time to learn the skills I can now photograph a group of work faster than I could drive it to the photographer, then drive back a few days later to pick up the results. While this is not my “core competency” I’m now not only saving money but also saving time. Maybe some day when I’m a very famous and well off artist I will again hire a professional photographer as I will be so busy signing autographs and such I won’t have time for such things. But until then I have found a cost effective solution that I feel works for me.

  • Wow Alyson – I read your piece about hiring pro photographers and didn’t find anything to get upset about. That said, I have to agree with the others here who have decided to they can do a better job themselves. I’ve decided that hiring a pro for big bucks is just too iffy. Especially now that I have a digital SLR, a calibrated monitor, and Photoshop I find I can get a much more accurate image of my work than a pro photographer – and with much more versatility in the output (on CD, printed, or slides – all from one digital image). Things don’t always turn out perfectly, but it’s better than paying for 20 blue slides of a painting that had very little blue in it. And hey, if it’s not perfect, it’s back to the keyboard.

  • Osbock

    Wow! I guess the good thing coming out of this is all the discussion, but geez, I don’t think you said anything to offend anybody. I did want to make a comment about digital vs. slides. I don’t think it’s either or these days, you need both. I recently went to a seminar (that I blogged about in Answering the Call) about submitting to juried shows. Many juries are still set up mostly around slides, and while they may accept digital submissions, the standards for projection etc, could leave you at a definite disadvantage. Put simply digital projection for the most part sucks, and unless the work is juried on a properly calibrated monitor, your work could end up looking washed out miscolored, etc. even if the source images are wonderful (You can’t always blame the photographer!) One option, is once you have found a photographer that can represent your work well (even if it’s yourself) have them shoot digital and get slides made from the digital files. This too requires color correction, but once you’ve established a relationship with a Professional imaging service, they can provide you with ICC profiles, etc. needed to make this happen. If that all sounds like gobbledy gook, then you’d best leave it to a pro. Assuming you have proper license to them, once you have the digital images, you can resize them for web work, and order slides on demand forever…. Kevin Osborn

  • Alyson, I was shocked to read some of the comments on the previous post, so pleased this post has positive comments, I agree with you about good photos, but finding a good photographer is not always easy, especially if you live in small rural communities or like me a small island, I know I have got to take the same route as Lisa Call and others that learnt about photography enough to do it their self, I would never put photos of my work for sale better than the real work because I want people to say when they see my work ‘wow it is even better than the photo’ not ‘but it is not as good as the photo’ thank you for all your freely given information,