‘Professional’ photographers? I think not!

Earlier this year I was talking to a friend and bemoaning the fact that I had lots of old or unwanted photography equipment lying around, but I won’t use ebay as it seems to be full of crooks. He suggested using Facebook and gave me a handful of good links. I’d never used Facebook groups so I was keen to test it out and sure enough, within days of putting my first item out there, I sold an old camera bag that i didn’t want. Excellent I thought, time to get rid of some filters, lenses, an old flash, and a load of other bits, and maybe put the money to good use on my craving for the new 5D Mk III which is £2,000.

All was fabulous for a month or two until I got a message from the owner of one of the groups saying my post to sell a lens had been deleted and she had to ask me if I was a dealer, as there’d been complaints from other members of the group. I assured her I was not a dealer at all, and she said OK and  I continued selling stuff. I also joined 2 more selling groups and posted the same ads there. One night I made a mistake…norty me! One of the rules on almost all of those groups is that you cannot discuss someone’s price, unless you’re genuinely negotiating. I hadn’t read the rules, so I asked someone did they know that the price they had on their second hand camera was very close to brand new price? I was promptly made aware of the rule and apologised and backed of. I’d forgotten all about it until a few days later when I had an item for sale, and this bloke decided to come in my thread and be sarcastic about my asking price. When I politely told him to get lost he then reminded me what I’d done a few nights earlier on another thread. Well says I, does 2 wrongs make it right? Anyway. I deleted the thread so his posts would disappear, but he made some more on my next one. And the next one…and the next one! For 4 solid hours he hounded me around that group, ruining every thread I started. I even posted in his private FB and asked him to stop. But he refused and I was forced to block him in the end.

Another guy, I wanted to buy his camera. He was selling for £450 and wanted me to transfer the money direct to his account. The group we were part of recommended an escrow company called Transpact. They take the buyers money, when the buyer has received the item OK they release the money to the seller. It’s a flat fee of £2.99 and it had worked fine for me before so I suggested we use that. He asked what it was an I explained to which he replied “Sounds like a perfect scam to me!” I tried to explain it wasn’t and the group themselves recommended them but he wasn’t having it. His attitude stank and he was really quite insulting. He was…a professional photographer!

Now, weeks later I was on a wedding photographers group, full of pro photographers. A great place to learn methinks. A row started which the often did in that group, and a woman who was central to the row message me privately for whatever reason, and said “I really am not a c… you know.” I said “well I have no idea who you are really but if they say you are you must be because how could they be wrong! :p” Indicating the arrogance of some of the group and how they behaved.
Within a minute she had complained to the group admin that I had privately messaged her and called her a c…  When I was asked I tried to say what had been said, but the guy from the other night who hounded me came in and started slagging me off also. *sigh* Very childish…and I was banned. Well, that’s not such a bad thing. I’d joined the group hoping to learn, but found they were very scornful of anyone new, and anyone who was not a pro. All in all, no loss. However, at this point my opinion of pro photographers has diminished significantly.

So, I carry on. Selling in selling groups, buying bits and pieces, and chatting in threads for fun and learning. And indeed I was learning, and being inspired.

I finally raised the money for my shiny new 5D Mk III, but within weeks it was faulty so had to go in for repair. (It was eventually replaced) so I placed a spoof ad in the groups I was in asking for a second hand one for £1,000. Who knows if I might have got one or not, but in one group I got some severe abuse for doing this from the ‘Pro’s’. Comments were such as “Do you not understand the real value of equipment?” Do you want everything for nothing!” “Buy cheap and sell for more you rip off!” and they were some of the nicer ones. I was actually flabbergasted, but my nature is that I hate keyboard warriors who think they can abuse others’ from the safety of their bedroom. So I politely kept explaining my stance and my basic argument was, “Does it actually affect you?” I deleted the thread in the end as it was so full of nasty comments and started a new one. Same thing happened. And again, and again, and again. 7 times. If these are pro’s, what were they doing with their time!!

I messaged the admin of the selling group and explained what was going on and … I was banned!! He explained politely that I had caused an uproar and so he’d had to delete me from the group. I was genuinely shocked and hurt. That’s like kicking a child out of school because he got bullied. Annoyingly, the same thing was happening in the other 2 selling groups too. To cut a long story short, I was banned from those also for the same thing, and I learned later that one man was admin on 2 of the groups, another was admin on all 3, and yet another was admin on a different 2 of them. They all knew each other and were all friends and were all…professional photographers! I wish I didn’t have to admit that this upset me greatly. Firstly, I’d done really well selling stuff on the groups, got rid of loads of unwanted kit, bought lots of stuff new, and made a few contacts. To be targeted with such hatred by so many people who are supposed to be professional was shocking. I could barely believe what had happened. I’m not soft, or overly sensitive, but I was quite sad for some time that people could be this way, like a pack of dogs.

Anyway, I found more groups to be part of not for buying and selling, just for chatting and meeting like minded people. My experience was that the vast majority of the groups was filled with professional photographers, often the same bunch in all of the groups. The attitudes, the abuse, the childish behaviour, unbelievable. I was brought up on a  rough estate but the sheer and consistent disrespect for anyone in these groups was worse than that. It was appalling and I blocked people like mad and left groups constantly. In all the years I’ve been on the internet I can honestly say I have not seen behaviour so bad as from professional photographers.

Another group was started by a photographer specialising in lighting. His knowledge is almost boundless and the group got off to a fantastic start. However after stating on a thread that I was a fan of one particular wedding and portrait photographer, the owner and admin of this group messaged me privately stating the man I was a fan of was not really that good, was arrogant, and had moved abroad as he could not make it work here! I was dumbfounded. Later it became evident that he had been successful in his recruiting because a thread started up and they mauled this guy in it. They were so rude, and I was moved to post myself and say they were like a pack of dogs. All of them, long term professional photographers, all of them nothing better than schoolyard bullies.

I finally found a really professional sounding group: the National Photographic Society. I observed for some time before posting, and there was not many fights in there. So I started contributing to threads in a simple way and it was good. Until a thread started one day, named PC Vs Mac. Now as you know I’ve tried long and hard to get an iMac to work in my camper, but they simply use too much power compared to a PC. So I said that and offered the figures, and explained I’d love a Mac, but this was where a PC scored over them. Instantly I got attitude from one of the members, who turned out to be non other than the guy who said using an escrow service to buy his camera was a scam! I trod carefully so as not to upset him, but he was having none of it. He was insulting, sarcastic and sneering in all of his comments. I finally told him that I recognised him and he clearly had an issue so we should take it private. He’d ruined the thread by now with his sarcasm and insults, as had one or two others who were joining in. I did message him and he was the most arrogant, insulting, rude person ever. I explained over and over that my opinion was simply a matter of 5 tests and here were the results but no, he was not having it, Mac’s could not possibly be that bad blah blah blah. Finally he called me a freak and blocked me.

Interestingly, I made a post on my own FB status about how I was a bit fed up with these so called pro photographers, especially when you go on a semi-official, professional group like the National Photographic Society. You just expect things to be better! Which in fact they were, I was insulted by fewer than I would be on other groups lol!

Anyway, the Chairman of the National Photographic Society, who had asked me earlier for some info he found interesting and I’d located it in my archives and he didn’t have the decency to say thank you, messaged me regarding the thread. I am ace at reading tone, even from text. Remember, for almost 8 years I’ve moderated chat rooms, I’m skilled at reading people even when they’re just typing on a screen. And I knew instantly that this chairman was not the friendliest of people. However I was polite and he said that I was unfair for knocking his group in my post. (He saw my status as I had friended him in order to pass him the info he had asked for)

I explained how I felt and he agreed that I had kept my temper and that in fact he not only had commented to this rude guy that I had kept my temper, but also that he ought to wind his neck in. I replied, why didn’t you tell him to stop? Ban him for 24 hours? Or at very least apologise to me on his behalf seeing as you’re the Chairman of the group. But no, all he was concerned about was how I was dissing his group, saying it had thousands of members and I had met only one bad one. In fact it has 1800 members, and I’d met about 4 bad ones in that thread. But that wasn’t my point anyway. He himself was part of the thread with Abusive Man, and whilst he says he messaged him and told him to wind his neck in clearly that didn’t work, but not one word was said in public on the thread to support me. And over the next 2 days not one time did he even say, I’m sorry that you had a bad experience there. He banged on at me for 2 days about how I was in the wrong for dissing his group, how I was wrecking 5 years of hard work, how I was being unfair and bitter. You know what it reminded me of? Cynical old people who blame a short skirt for the reason a woman got raped. That was his attitude, I was the victim, yet I was in the wrong for complaining about it. So, chairman of the National Photographers Society, you can repeat over and over your claims that it’s my fault for whingeing about being insulted and abused, however I think you had the opportunity to stop what was happening, and fix it afterwards, and you did nothing except have a go at me. Bullying might work with frightened kids in school, but bullying adults to get your own way simply shows you for what you are.

So, as you can all imagine, professional photographers, in general because not every single one is the same, are so far in my experience, arrogant, insulting, rude, abusive unhelpful and spiteful bullies, and they’re allowed to be by the admins who run the groups who are also usually professional photographers.
Let me advise anyone who has an interest in photography and wishes to join a Facebook group to learn and to meet like minded people. You need to be strong, block a lot, ignore a lot, and don’t get involved too much. Even when people seem to be your friend they turn out not to be. One group of amateur photographers I am a member of is excellent. Full of happy, helpful, friendly people who just like taking photographs. It’s called Lets Talk Photography North East. There is another one, a pro group where I have never even seen an argument let alone a fight, it’s called Brett Harkness Photography Training and is owned and run by the renowned wedding photographer. He’s a good guy and doesn’t really come in and spout rules, I’m a landscape photographer and I feel at home there, although his group is primarily focussed to weddings.

Wow, that’s probably the longest post I’ve ever made in almost 8 years. That shows my strength of feeling for these awful people. but right now I see an interesting thread starting in Lets Talk Photography North East so I’m off to join in!

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