I've just been thinking a bit about the last year. It's been nearly a year since I decided to start the Photo_Douche account on Twitter. To be honest, I figured I'd play around on it for a few weeks. Maybe crack a few jokes, goof on the photo industry a bit, and then get on with my life. 345 days later, I have about 630 followers, met and talked to dozens of people both publicly and privately on Twitter about what is going on out there. I've been given, without provocation, insider info a few stories that eventually broke fairly big (At least in our small world that is the photo community). Here is a bulk of what I've learned during this experiment in anonymity:
1. People everywhere seem to be as frustrated as I am with where the photo industry, in general, and the wedding photo industry, specifically, is going. Qualified, talented photographers are losing out on jobs to newbies with nothing more than a slick blog, a decent camera, and some photoshop actions to help sell themselves. I've said it before, and I'll say it again-I'm not against the newbies. At all. There are a lot of VERY talented people starting up. There are also a lot of hucksters and wannabes who think they can fake it until they make it, and those who are selling the dream to them one workshop at a time. I am for people learning their craft and learning their business before hanging up their shingle and calling themselves a professional. I've heard too many horror stories from people about how they hired a photographer just starting out, and the photographer just could not deliver. It saddens me and I believe it gives the whole industry a black eye.
2. What really surprised me was how many "bigger named" photographers are fed up with stuff too. I had a few of these people send me Direct Messages talking about stuff. Names that, honestly, surprised and excited me when I saw them in my email. A couple of them telling me they were behind what I'm doing and to keep it up. It's half of what kept me going.
3. Every time I try to get out, I get sucked back in. It's like being in a gang-or the mafia! :)
4. Have we, as anonymous Twitter handles, made a difference? Possibly. I feel that, if anything, we've opened the eyes for a few people. Showed them there are better ways to learn photography than to drop $2k on a workshop that is basically no more than a rah-rah session and a gangbang shootout. I look back to the Escalate seminar from last year. Did us making a fuss over it lead to them giving it away for free on the internet? Did it lead to people complaining publicly about workshops they've attended where they felt ripped off? Did it lead to a site like Fish Eye Connect where you can rate and review these workshops before spending countless hundreds, if not thousands of dollars? Who knows?
5. I've met a lot of really great people. People I would gladly hang out with offline. We'll be the grumpy guys in the corner, throwing back bourbons and bitching about stuff! :)
6. I've been on the fence about keeping this account. It's actually given me quite a bit of anxiety more than a few times this year. Nightmares, nervousness, etc. Once Fake Dane got outed, I figured the witch hunt was on, and I might be next. Not that it would make any difference in the grand scheme of things as I don't think that I've really personally offended anyone. I've tried to keep an even keel and an open mind throughout. I've had my opinions changed on issues and people many times during the year. It just wears on me from time to time and I wonder if my time would be better off spent doing slightly more productive things.