Soapbox – Over stepping the line

My Articles and Babble

It is always nice to receive emails from people who enjoy looking at your work or who find inspiration in it, then there are those asking for a bit of advice or how was that shot info and I am more than happy to reply when I can.

Then there are the emails that really over step the line and get your goat. The email below is one I got a few weeks ago from a photographer I have never spoken to before and who also has Australian images on his site.

There is the saying “There is no harm in asking” but I don’t know why photographers expect other photographers to release this kind of information. “How are your cards printed” yea sure no problem…. “what’s your best product line and what’s your sites product turn over….” bugger off.

I had to get my General Manager to send a reply to this email. It was different to the one I wanted to send.

Would you also like my company business plan and MYOB account profile. Gee wizz.


Hello Matt,

I am a landscape photographer over here in NZ and am in the process of upgrading my site.

I am wondering if I can ask a couple of questions of you regarding your product lines if you don’t mind. Do you sell many of your greeting card packs ? They look really nice – are they digitally printed or off set printed ?

How is your canvas / triptych side of things going ? Do you mind letting me know what are the best products / sellers for you and approximately how much product you turn over from your site ?

Really nice site by the way and of course great images.

Hope all is well.


(name with held)


8 thoughts on “Soapbox – Over stepping the line

  1. It’s unbelievable what some people say. I get it all the time in the gallery, how are you going, how many do you sell, and because I’m a little jaded by it all these days I reply by asking them what their salary is. They look at me incredulously like “how dare you ask me that”, when it is exactly what they are asking. Unfortunately, a lot of it I find is tall poppy sindrome, they want you to tell them that things are dire, that you are in chapter 11 bankruptcy so it makes them feel better, because they are great photographers and damn it, they should open a gallery and sell their 6 megapixel compact images because they have a picture of the eiffel tower or santorini…etc etc. I just laugh at it all these days, but I always ask myself if i’d write an email to Peter Lik or Ken Duncan and ask them how they are doing!

  2. To paraphrase Joey from Friends: “You’re so past the line you can’t even see the line. The line is a dot to you!”

    It’s amazing what people will ask, I like that one about saying “what’s your salary”. People will ask “so how much did you make on that sale” etc. I have a rule that goes “the price is between me and my client, no one else!”.

  3. Mike when I had my display gallery open in Warringah Mall for 6 months the intrusive questions I got asked about sales and profit margins etc make that email I got look tame.

    You guys with the full time galleries have to endure a lot and you need a thick skin.

    Flemming… that line in Friends is a classic and describes that email well.

  4. Hi Matt. I run my own exhibitions and have a year-round market stall(in rainy England!) where I sell my photography and I get that kind of question constantly. While it’s always great to talk to other photographers It does drive me insane when I’m interrogated about the financial health of my business by a total stranger! I’ve also lost count of the times I’ve heard ‘too expensive’ or ‘too cheap’ from other photographers, I suppose I need to grow a thicker skin… Although, thanks Michael for your response, I hope you don’t mind if I use it! Cheers Matt and keep up the great work!


  5. ive never had salary question since im only 18! ut having said that I have been told by gallery managers that I am too young to know what i want, how to really use a camera, that I have no real knowledge of photography, can’t expect to be getting decent results at this age and dont know any one in the field! I was told all this when I looked into some gallery space for an exhibition and she had never seen my work, or let me even talk about myself and my work and passion! To tell the truth I wanted to yell at this bitch and bring in a nice big beautiful print and say “im 18 what do I know about cameras!?”
    When she said I knew no one in the field I saw a great name opportunity and dropped a little “well I do know this Christian Fletcher guy…”
    she actually listened a little more after I mentioned i knew the guy!

  6. Dylan its crazy how some people think and stereotype. That is the kind of attitude you will come up against over and over again in this field. Take it all with a pinch of salt. Most negative comments are based on jealousy of what you can do and what someone cant.

    Trust me this wont be the last time you experience it.

  7. Dylan, mat is right, but you have great work at a young age and all you need to do is let your work do the talking, the public will be the ultimate judge of your success, and your understanding of what is marektable is the key. A retail space gives a massive boost to your profile, but it’s not the be all and end all. All of the great photographers in the UK like Charlie Waite, David Noton, Joe Cornish haven’t had galleries, just exhibited and they are some of the best know photographers in the northern hemisphere (where all the population and money is). The key is to never give up.

  8. Michael, your statement “never give up” is the key to success. At 69 I am just beginning to make a few bucks on my photography. Wish I had the kind of work Dylan has at 18. I would have had a different career. I guess we all get those prying questions and I just let them roll off. Glad someone likes my work enough to ask. Good or bad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *