Festivus is December 23.
For those of you unfamiliar with Festivus, you need to stop reading this and go watch “The Strike,” which is Episode 10 from the 9th Season of “Seinfeld.” I’m serious.
If you are a millennial and your parents never introduced you to the joy that is Festivus, then you need to text them right now and ask them why they don’t love you. If you are older than a millennial and are unfamiliar with Festivus, you need to take a good long look at your life, ‘cause I guarantee that you are missing other cultural references and your friends are probably talking about you behind your back. And odds are good they are using cultural references, which you wouldn’t get even if they were talking in front of your back.
Festivus is a holiday created to fight against the commercialization of Christmas and involves many traditions, including the “Feats of Strength,” and “Airing of Grievances.” I realize it’s probably too early to begin the Festivus traditions, but, I’m going to go ahead and air a grievance, because in the words of Frank Costanza:
“I GOT A LOT OF PROBLEMS WITH YOU PEOPLE!”
Namely, the cheapening of a great industry.
Notice I didn’t say “the cheapening of a ONCE great industry,” because it’s still great. I mean, so great. The kind of great that tickles your toes and makes you feel glad to be alive, kind of great. But, there is no denying, the industry has been cheapened.
Now, this didn’t happen with the introduction of new technology. I know that is the en vogue scapegoat, but make no mistake—the professional photography industry hasn’t been cheapened by the fact that we can take pictures with our cell phones. Or that a digital camera is now the cheapest it’s ever been. NEWSFLASH: people have been taking their own photos all our lives. This isn’t new, not by a long shot. People have had that ability for a very very very long time.
No, the professional photography industry has been cheapened by those WITHIN the industry; by the very hands that hold the cameras.
How did they accomplish this? By not caring enough to do it right, and in so doing, changing the tone and perception of the industry as a whole.
Oh my gosh…it feels so good to air that grievance. Kind of like when you get home after a wedding and take off your bra. And now that’s it out there, let’s continue.
A lack of professionalism in a professional industry will change an industry-any industry. And that’s what we are seeing today. We are reaping what we’ve sown. We haven’t wanted to offend anyone by insisting they DO IT RIGHT, so we have stayed quiet. Our professional organizations are slow to take a stand because those doing it wrong pay membership dues. They buy workshops. And webinars. And actions. They are a proverbial gold mine for those who care more about money than they do the industry. In fact, we’ve seen almost an embrace of this cavalier attitude toward the industry by the very people who have the power to change it.
And the people who are hurt the most by this? The people who care enough to do it RIGHT.
See, those profiting off this lack of professionalism will simply move on when the industry shifts. They will become Life Coaches, or Business Coaches, or Nutrition Coaches, or whatever type of coaching is popular at the time. They are no more invested in this industry than those they fleece.
And those not doing it right will eventually get frustrated and either decide to take it seriously or simply move on to something else. (Note: It’s Festivus Season and it’s time you know the truth: I am not now, nor will I ever be interested in selling skincare, makeup, leggings, oils or <fill in any other MLM business> So sending me a message about joining your team will go unanswered. Unless Grey Goose has some sort of MLM program that I’m unaware of, in which case, hit me up.)
Who suffers the most are the hardworking professional photographers for whom this is not just “something to do.” Those who make their living with their cameras day in and day out. Those for whom this is not just a passing fad until something else comes along. Those who work tirelessly for their clients and whose hearts feel like a lead balloon when they see the industry they love cheapened by those who don’t care.
So, if you call yourself a professional photographer, care enough to do it right. If not, there are hundreds of other options out there for you.
<deep breath> Okay…I think that did it. The grievance has been aired. I feel better. Thank you for listening.
And if I’ve upset you, then we shall battle it out during the Feats of Strength. I’ll see you on December 23.