I rarely put other people's blog posts on my site, but when my friend Andrew Waddington asked me for my opinion on an essay, I was intrigued. The more I read, the bigger the smile spread on my face, and by the end I was laughing out loud. 'This is gold!' I told Andy, and I just had to ask him for permission to publish it here. If you enjoy this post, check out Andy's work on his website. He's quite the character and he has some beautiful shots from around the world.
* If offended see final comment below.
Ok so you work in Walmart and you want to be a 'pro' landscape photographer. Don't worry, it doesn't matter that you can't afford the latest DSLR. Modern 'pro's' rarely print anything so you don't need a high megapixel camera. Remember if anyone ever writes to ask for a print you can always explain that you sold the last of the 500 limited edition 60x80" prints to Bill Clinton. If you really have no money try asking for help from sites like GoFundMe, you're going to have to come up with some complete bullshit; perhaps say you need money to fly to your mother who's dying in hospital. Remember this is unethical and you will never go to heaven, but it's just one of the many lies you're going to have to tell if you want to be the best landscape photographer. Try to imagine you're a Nigerian fraudster with his first laptop, just like that Nigerian you will have to learn to lie, lie, lie. You're going to have to embellish everything you have ever done. If this seems unethical just remember everyone else is doing it, probably more than you think.
So first things first, you have those Walmart shifts and you only get two weeks vacation a year. Landscape photographers spend months on location waiting for the right light don't they? Not to worry, just start taking photographs of the sky, preferably sunrise or sunset. You can do this on your Walmart smoke break out at the delivery bay. Don't be concerned if the big delivery truck is in the way, your new Photoshop skills are going let you blend all sorts of foregrounds in here instead. Remember landscape photography is 90% Photoshop 10% photography so spend your time accordingly.
When mom asks what you want for Christmas ask her for some fake Facebook friends, they're easy to bulk buy. Start building up your social media pages,if you're fat and spotty use someone else's profile pic, find someone better looking and use their image, if you're really serious you can even use a hot girl's profile pic. It's also a good idea to manage a bunch of fake Facebook accounts, you may need these in future. If you're ever accused of being a lying cheating scumbag these fake friends can come to the rescue backing you up and claiming your detractors are all internet trolls.
Remember don't post any of you own 'work' yet. Be prepared to spend a lot of time kissing social media ass. Share other photographers work, do this a lot. Remember people rarely spend more than 3 seconds looking at photographs online, so if you share other peoples work a lot of folks will be too busy to realise it's not your own. You'll be gaining notoriety without ever having stepped beyond the Walmart loading bay.
- When you finally get a chance to go out into the woods remember to shoot something that has worked for someone else before. This is known as comp stomping but don't worry with over 7 billion people on the planet there's always going to be people who think your 'work' is original, especially when you learn how to add one of those Walmart sunrises.
- Photograph anything religious, you might fake a cloud to look like the face of Jesus. Or how about a shot of a rainbow over a church with a bolt of lightning hitting a big billboard advertising beer.
- Sponsor a child in Africa, ok so you can't afford it on the Walmart salary once you have the picture of the starving child you can cancel the monthly bank debits, remember to keep bullshitting on social media long after you stopped paying. Who's going to know!
- Fly the flag for the LGBT community, even if you're a complete homophobe remember top politicians do this so it can't be wrong.
- Tell all your social media friends how much you love babies,dogs, cats etc.
- Leave subtle hints on Facebook that lead your 'friends' to believe your best buddies with Peter Lik. Drop comments about Vegas galleries and multi million dollar deals.
- Allude to having spent time in the military, as an internet hero you can be who you want to be so let people assume you have special forces training. It works for Bear Grhylls.
- If you find a composition that just doesn't work don't be afraid to experiment. Remember hardly anyone will realise you swapped one foreground with another, there's no integrity in landscape photography, only art.
- If you struggle with photoshop you can always pay someone to do the processing for you. Remember you can pay for this with just a few extra shifts at Walmart, consider it an investment in your future as a 'celebrated artist'.
- If you can't get out to shoot consider buying stock photography, remember you're going to turn it into your own art with one of those loading bay sunrises.
- Once you get established as a self acclaimed 'fine art photographer' you're going to want to enter some competitions. With a bit of persistence you'll win one of these, they're easier to win than you might think. Most competitions are run solely for profit, the judges are frequently clueless and can't recognise fake content. With a competition win you will then be able to legitimately proclaim yourself as an award winning, internationally renowned photographer. You can even start writing about yourself in the third person. Nothing sounds more professional than "has received international fame, won countless awards". Remember to market yourself ruthlessly, use terms such as 'highly acclaimed', 'at the top of his game', 'admired', 'the Ansel Adams of colour' etc.
- You need to have had at least one run in with a bear, mountain lion, various poisonous snakes, sharks etc. Remember to also write about those avalanches, hurricanes and near drownings.
- Bombard National Geographic with images for their 'Your Shots' page. This is a truly worthless accolade but if you get an image in the magazine you can now lay claim to being a National Geographic photographer.
- Above all remember; if anyone belittles you or tells you your images are fakes stand proud, you are after all an artist. Even if you get caught lying remember there's no such thing as bad publicity.
- So you never made a single print, not to worry, now's the time to use the Walmart printer to tun off a bulk run of gift postcards. Sell these in packs of 100 for $5 at the local farmers market, then tell your social media following that you just sold hundreds of prints. Remember to add a shot of a UPS truck so people assume you had a huge order.
- Create fictitious competitions with one of your award winning prints as the prize, it doesn't matter that nobody will ever win, remember this is a totally unregulated industry and the only way to the top is to market ruthlessly.
- When you're doing your real job in Walmart keep an eye on the new fancy cars coming in for an oil change. When you see a fancy top range 4x4 get a photo taken of you at the wheel. You can then tell you social media 'friends' you're thinking of buying one, ask everyone to suggest a colour, remember this keeps the bullshit flowing in both directions.
- Look out for the latest kit coming on the market, read a review, then change the wording so everyone thinks it's your personal review. People will then believe you are trusted by Nikon, Canon, Sony etc.
- When asked about your favourite picture, talk in some mystical way, tell people it's still out there, sound like you're completely in touch with nature. People need to believe shit, so let them think you're a mountain man, it's just you, your camera and your trusty 4x4.
- Tell everyone that you're looking for a sales manager and a couple of general assistants. Remember bullshit is just marketing. Bullshit baffles brains.
- Frequently end your Facebook posts with quotes from famous people it will make you appear cultured and intelligent.
- Never let anyone know you process on a laptop in your bedsit flat. You process in one of your 'office suites' on the latest most expensive wide gamut monitor which was personally calibrated by Bill Gates' assistant.
- Start running workshops, again remember this is an almost entirely un-regulated industry, you can run riot with almost nobody to stop you. Meet clients at gas stations or motels this way nobody can chase you for a refund when they discover you're a fraud.
* This article is meant as a fun tongue in cheek, rib tickling poke at fame obsessed digital landscape photographers. In no way is this aimed at any one person, Nigerians or Walmart employees. If you feel offended perhaps ask yourself if instead you're actually feeling guilty. If you really are a consummate professional landscape photographer then i wish you the best of natural light.
Andrew Waddington is a complete amateur photographer who's never made any money through photography, his only desire is to produce six wonderful images to hang on the wall. He hopes when he grows really old those six pictures will grace the wall of his care home, whereupon he will gaze at the images and remember the beauty of the natural word, rather than be reminded of spending hour after hour creating 'faux-tographs' on a computer. If you're one of the few photographers with morals please share this blog post and congratulate yourself for choosing an honest approach to photography.