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The following is catered towards wedding photography, mainly because of all the photography industries out there, it’s most feasible to make a living shooting weddings. There are definitely those who are financially successful doing commercial, fine art, or landscape work. But the truth is, they are few and far between.

In addition, I will be making some generalizations based on my experiences and my knowledge of the industry. Like everything else in life, there are exceptions to the norm.

A few years ago, whenever someone would tell me, I want to become a wedding photographer too!, in my naïveté I would immediately exclaim Yea! Go for it! But nowadays, my responses are not quite as enthusiastic. On one hand, I still want to say, You HAVE to pursue your dreams! On the other hand, I also want to say …

10 reasons NOT to become a professional photographer

Running a photography business has little to do with photography. If you think you should go pro just because you love photography and friends say good things about your pictures, think again. Being a photography professional has little to do with actual photography. Sure, you’ll shoot your weddings on the weekends, and there’s always editing to do. But ever consider how much of your life you’re going to end up devoting to emails, contracts, client meetings, advertising, troubleshooting, networking, researching? You are the human resources, IT, admin, marketing, sales, and accounting departments all wrapped up in one. And those responsibilities can be a rather significant part of your job. How much experience have you had running a business?

2. You can earn more working full time at Starbucks. It is true that there are some ridiculously rich wedding photographers out there — they live in mansions, drive Ferraris, live a rock star lifestyle. But according to US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2008 the average professional photographer earned $26,170. If you worked full time at Starbucks, you would be making about $35k/year. You’ve also heard about their awesome benefits, right? The truth is, many among the new generation of professional photographers are able to do what they do because they still living at home, or have a S.O. or spouse who is working full time helping to pay most of the bills. Do you ever plan on raising a family or buying a home? Good luck with that on your $26k income!

3. Your workweek is almost twice as long as the average person’s. When you have a full load, expect to be working at least 60-80 hours per week. Do you know who else works long hours like that? Doctors and lawyers. Guess how much they make?

4. Weekends are work days. Ask any wedding photographer, and they’ll tell you about all the birthdays, parties, baby showers, movies, (friends’) weddings, graduations, dinners, and trips they have missed out on. When the rest of the world is out relaxing and sleeping in and hanging out and having fun, you’ll be waking up at 7 in the morning to shoot someone else’s happy day.

5. You get to pay for your own health insurance. Forget about company benefits. As a professional photographer, you get no health insurance, no 401k, no paid vacation, no sick days, no paternity/maternity leave, no subsidized higher education, nada.

6. You get to pay for your own equipment! You thought camera equipment as a novice was expensive? Wait till you get to the pro level! And add in equipment insurance, business insurance, workshops, laptop upgrades, desktop upgrades, program upgrades, studio rental (unless you work from home), album and print samples, etc. Sure, they’re all business write-offs. But they’re also all money out of your pocket.

7. It’s easy to book jobs if you’re only charging $2-3k/wedding. If you’re excited because an engaged friend of yours is willing to pay you $2500 to shoot their wedding, and you think that this is a sign you should go pro, keep in mind that booking at $2-3k is a piece of cake for any half-decent photographer. The question is, how much do you need in order to earn a living? Do you realistically think you can one day stop budgeting like a college student if you only charge $2500? According to a recent CNN report, the average federal government employee earns about $116k/year in wages and benefits. They generally don’t get fired even if incompetent, clock out everyday at 5pm, and are entitled to hefty pensions when they retire at 55. How much do you want to be compensated for your 80 hour weeks? $50k without health benefits?  $60k with no P.T.O.? Then you need to be booking at a minimum 15-20 weddings/year, and charging at least $4-5k each. How many years do you think it’ll take you to ramp up from charging $2k to charging 2.5x that amount? Most do not think about how difficult it is to scale up.

8. The immigrants weekend warriors are coming to take over your job! These people work during the day as accountants, engineers, IT professionals, etc, and during the weekend, they shoot weddings. Because they already have a stable income, most of them are content charging $2k/wedding. (You’re probably currently one of these yourself.) But if you want to make this a full-time job, how do you expect to compete against an exponentially growing number of people who are delivering a service virtually for free?

9. Most people cannot tell the difference between great and average photography. I don’t think I really need to explain this point, right? But here is the significance of this statement: if the average couple cannot see the difference between your work and Uncle Bob’s weekend shooting, why should they pay you more? To them, your prices are just overinflated. Not only are weekend warriors and novice photographers competing with price–they are also competing with perceived quality. Such is the nature of the industry you are thinking about making a career of.

10. Most never make it. Of the photographers I know who started out around the same time I did, the majority of them are either still struggling to make ends meet, or are seeking another career path. And every week, countless “established” photography studios are going out of business. Most likely, you’d just end up becoming another statistic.

Wasn’t quite the rosy picture you expected, huh? I know that many of us photographers often give off the sense that ours is a glamorous lifestyle. We travel to exotic locations, do what we love, are part of the happiest days of people’s lives, are among beautiful people, get to be our own boss. But that’s only one side of the coin. There’s a good reason why we don’t talk about all these other things. I urge you — before making plans to turn your interest into a career, count your costs. If being a professional photographer was as fun and easy as most people think it is, then everybody would try to become one. Which, I suppose, would explain the sudden glut in the supply of wedding photographers — along with the subsequent (albeit smaller) exodus from the industry. However difficult you think it is to become a successful wedding photographer — it’s likely even harder than that, and there are many things I have also left off this list. Is any of this giving you pause yet?

Or after reading all that, are you even more resolute in becoming a professional wedding photographer? Then perhaps — just perhaps — you have what it takes. If you have been following my blog and facebook for awhile, then you know how much I freaking love my job! And trust me, the benefits faaaar outweigh the drawbacks I talk about above — at least in my experience. At a later date, I’ll be posting the real answer to “What should I do to become a professional photographer?”

p.s. If you would like an automatic reminder, go ahead and add yourself to the email list at the top right corner. Or you can also subscribe to my blog on your RSS reader.

p.p.s. If this is your first time reading my blog, I just want to put it out there that I’m not saying all this to discourage new competition or anything like that! I’m all for the free market, and my philosophy is “Go big, or go home!” Several dozen photographers have told me that I’ve been an inspiration for them to jump into the industry, and I am currently also personally mentoring a handful of local photographers — so much for equipping my competition! =P This post was written to encourage people to think seriously about their plans before betting the whole house.

p.p.p.s. Looks like this entry is getting reposted around the web. Feel free to chime in anytime! Would love to hear what you have to say.  :)

p.p.p.p.s. For a hard look at some of the numbers, here is a veteran photographer’s perspective. Here‘s another.

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  • Sophia Q. - Thanks for this blogpost. I’ll send it to everyone that has asked me “you spent HOW MUCH on wedding photography?!?” and then looks as me skeptically.ReplyCancel

  • Tweets that mention FAQ: What should I do to become a full-time photographer? (or, “10 reasons NOT to become a professional photographer”) » Junshien Weddings & Portraits -- Topsy.com - […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Junshien Lau, Joanne Namocatcat. Joanne Namocatcat said: RT @junshien: FAQ: How can I become a professional photographer? (This is a MUST READ.) http://bit.ly/27rWW9 […]ReplyCancel

  • JulieLim - Junshien, thanks for this post… I’m not even close to shooting a wedding yet and I am so scared especially after reading the list BUT if I really want to make it to the top I cannot let anything stop me. Same goes for other wedding photographers who are trying to make it out there.ReplyCancel

  • Chris Chen - great post my friend…..clients don’t know how much time we spent on post processing their images. They think it’s a 8-10 hour gig.ReplyCancel

  • Ian - Well said… These are definitely all the things I thought about and it’s good seeing it from you as somewhat of a reality check.

    ***You get to pay for your own equipment!*** <== NOT fun.



  • saphoto - this is all 110% true.ReplyCancel

  • hien ngo - thanks for the great words Junshien!ReplyCancel

  • donald lee - great post.ReplyCancel

  • Quincy - dude! So So So So So VERY True! great words!ReplyCancel

  • uberVU - social comments - Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by junshien: FAQ: How can I become a professional photographer? (This is a MUST READ.) http://bit.ly/27rWW9ReplyCancel

  • Ingrid Joy - Amen to that!ReplyCancel

  • Sean - Man, number 8 hits so many artistic industries hard. Your post rings so true, and it’s painful.

    To play the Devil’s Advocate though, number 2 is a little misleading. The person working at Starbucks is an employee, while a photographer is a small business owner. As with any business owner, the photographer’s job is to claim as little as possible for income tax (which is most likely how the Bureau of Labor Statistics gets its information). Associated business costs can be written off of revenue, and many businesses are “inventive” in their accounting. Businesses also pay less tax than regular workers.

    On a different topic, when are you going to take a vacation and visit us up here in the Great White North?ReplyCancel

  • saphoto - and weekend warriors bring down the market price of quality wedding photography national average hahaReplyCancel

  • leland wong - I’m looking for a job.ReplyCancel

  • Kevin Isabeth - While this post is scary and probably very true, it hasn’t put me off wanting to be a pro photographer. Thanks for the facts of life chat.ReplyCancel

  • Faizal - yes. spot on! i never thought about all these before.
    great post!ReplyCancel

  • Kim Nodurft - Wow! I just had this very conversation with a wonderful girlfriend I did a wedding with this weekend. I felt like I was bursting her bubble. But I love her and don’t want to see her suffer. But she’ll be walking away from a very lucrative career that anyone would envy in this economy. One other thing people need to consider before jumping into weddings, there’s nothing more difficult to shoot (if you’re doing a good job). Just because you love photography and bought a bottom of the line camera in the “Pro” level ie. Rebel or D90, doesn’t make you capable of taking on the low lighting conditions for a wedding. You need YEARS of excellent shooting before walking into a wedding.ReplyCancel

  • Tammy - Pretty much why I say “no” when people ask if I plan on doing full-time! That, plus I’m not really a small business person, especially if it takes up weekend time. :PReplyCancel

  • Paul D - Okay. This list is somewhat of a reality check but I think it is misleading. Many of the points directly have to do with business choices. (1 through 7 and 10). Most photographer’s fail for the same reasons that most small businesses fail – lack of planning. A good business plan will actually force you to ask yourself all of the pertinent questions and come up with answers. (health insurance, equipment costs, rate, etc.)

    What is completely absent from this is the freedom and joy that comes from doing what you love. “Working” 80 hours a week is nothing if you love what you’re doing.

    I am looking forward to reading the real answer.ReplyCancel

  • Kenneth - Great thought-provoking list! Does #9 mean that there’s still hope out there of making it as an average, mediocre photographer? (Okay, okay, stop throwing the tomatoes!)ReplyCancel

  • KS - As someone who is a “weekend warrior,” this is an enlightening post, although I have a few things to add:

    1. Everyone starts off doing $2-3K weddings. But, people get what they pay for. Better photographers will charge more for their skill, and although not everyone can tell the difference between a decent photographer versus an artist, there are always people willing to pay for better photography.

    2. Photography is eReplyCancel

  • KS - As a “weekend warrior” myself, this is an enlightening post, although I have a few things to add:

    1. Everyone starts off doing $2-3K weddings. But you get what you pay for. Better photographers will charge more. It’s plain economics. And although not everyone can tell the difference between a decent photographer and an artist, some people can. There will always be a market for the talented. And I would venture to guess that pro photographers *prefer* the discerning bride that can tell the difference between average and great.

    2. Yes, photography *is* expensive, which is why people start off as weekend warriors. I bet most/many photographers started out that way. These people (including me) get the experience they need under their belts until they have the skill that justifies leaving their day jobs to become full time pros.

    3. Long hours: Do they matter if you love what you’re doing and find passion/purpose in it? I’ve always believed that if you land a job that you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.ReplyCancel

  • Raymond Chou - Well said Junshien. I can attest to a majority of your points. Tis true tis pity.ReplyCancel

  • Article Disappearance? - […] This Was on the DPS twitter. Is this what you were looking for? __________________ JRG1979 Sites:flickr Gear: Nikon D90, Nikon 18-135 mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S Nikkor Lens, Nikon 50 mm f/1.8D Nikkor AF Lens, Nikon SB-600 AF Speedlight Flash (Its OK to edit and re-post my pictures on DPS) […]ReplyCancel

  • Mike - Great job with writing this. It spells out the unspoken truths very well.ReplyCancel

  • Karl Johnston - well that was fucking depressing.

    though sadly true

    I think I must be the only pro photographer out there trying to become a weekend warrior. To be quite honest I would love to be full time, and I am currently..but to face reality I would rather do what I love, enrich peoples’ lives through my photography and work a different job, with more protection, benefits, more insurance, more satisfaction and possibly a consistent income.

    I love running businesses, building them…but there’s only so much you can do to be different and now even the best photographers, the most reputed photographers, the best image creators on our planet…aren’t really professional photographers (they’re WWs)

    And there’s nothing wrong with that.

    But man, is it really damned difficult being an artist in this day and age.

    And there’s also nothing wrong with that.

    Though, who says you can’t do both? The average person changes career paths 7 times in their lifetime..why do you have to stay a pro photographer or an accountant or an astronaut or a pole dancer or whatever? I’ve changed career paths twice, nearly changing it for a third time in the past 10 years.

    I’ll still continue doing what I love, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to just stick to that and that alone…like was said in #1: “You are the human resources, IT, admin, marketing, sales, and accounting departments all wrapped up in one.”

    One thing I’ll say..running my own business as a pro photographer has taught me more about life, business, myself and other people than any other job I’ve ever had working for someone else in a job I didn’t believe in or want to do. I’ll still continue doing what I do, and in the meantime if something better comes along..well I’ll go do that for a bit, so should all of you..what’s tying you to doing one profession ? Branch out, evolve, adapt..that’s business after all.ReplyCancel

  • anastasia - i’m using this as a reference. this is a good post and thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Peter G. - Very accurate. Very realistic. Very honest. Great post!ReplyCancel

  • Jenny - Very well said Junshien ! I think I’ll just refer to your post whenver someone ask me that same question.ReplyCancel

  • Eric Farewell - Ahhh yes, I’ll be sending lots of people to this link in the future… THANK you for taking the time to write all the stuff I’ve had to repeat over the years.ReplyCancel

  • Weekend Links | iffles.com - […] a professional photographer, and I always respond with an emphatic “no”. This list of 10 reasons NOT to become a professional photographer touch upon some of my reasons why (via […]ReplyCancel

  • Tracy G - They are charging even less out here…I am such an idiot…lol.
    ah so.ReplyCancel

  • Budianto Chen - True, but I’ll take that risk, let’s see next year which path that I’ll stand on. Thanks for the post..ReplyCancel

  • KarmaGarda - Nice post, found it a very interesting read. I agree with all your points accept one. You’re post title is invalid. It should read:

    “10 reasons NOT to become a professional WEDDING photographer”

    seeing as that was the only area you dealt with! Apart from that, about time someone said it.ReplyCancel

  • KarmaGarda - Sorry about the typos! Also, I should clarify, maybe it should be titled “event photographer” as opposed to just “wedding”ReplyCancel

  • Les liens de la semaine #8 at Event-pics Blog - […] 10 raisons pour ne pas devenir photographe professionnel […]ReplyCancel

  • Best of 2009: Fashion shoots and blog posts recap » San Francisco Bay Area Wedding Photographer - […] “10 reasons NOT to become a professional photographer” Unquestionably THE most explosive post of this blog. This article has been read by almost 4000 people, and has raised a few firestorms around the web. See what the fuss is about. […]ReplyCancel

  • Procks - |
    KarmaGarda – Nice post, found it a very interesting read. I agree with all your points accept one. You’re post title is invalid.
    It should read:
    “10 reasons NOT to become a professional WEDDING photographer”

    I totally agree with this reply.
    The article mostly covers about the Wedding Photography.
    And another major fact is that more than half of the wedding photographers are Amature-photographers who like to call themselves as Pro-photographers.
    There are many successful wedding photographers as well. Why dont we take those references.
    And about competition, It’s every where so thinking about working in a non-competitive environment, I guess wont be practical.
    I’d love to work 60-80 hrs a week on what I enjoy than
    to suffer from 42 hrs/week which i dont enjoy.ReplyCancel

  • Arielle - Soooo well said! You know how to put in word clearly, reality.ReplyCancel

  • Cristiano - Man! What a sobering list! I think I’ll keep my photography to a hobby. ^^

    I work as a pastor and I think I’ll one day make a top ten list for becoming a pastor! I think it’s sorely needed.ReplyCancel

  • Tweets that mention FAQ: What should I do to become a full-time photographer? (or, “10 reasons NOT to become a professional photographer”) » Junshien International Photographers | San Francisco Bay Area Wedding Photography -- Topsy.com - […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Christina Chen, Ryan Chua. Ryan Chua said: Another MUST READ for aspiring wedding photographers out there! This one is by pro wedding photographer Junshien… http://fb.me/LDFkIq4l […]ReplyCancel

  • orange county photography - NUTS!I did a really long reply to your post but my internet crapped out and I lost it all! Oh well, just wanted to say that it was a great post! Nicely done!ReplyCancel

  • Robin - Hardcore and sobering. I’ve said that I have no idea where my photography will take me but all I know is I want to keep learning.ReplyCancel

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Hello again friends,

My 10 days in Laos has wrapped up faster than I expected. It’s been one crazy trip that has had me experiencing and tasting and feeling and smelling things I never expected to–some of which I’d gladly try out again, others … not so much. For example, I can now say that I’ve eaten the delicacy of rotten fish paste. I’ll let you figure out which category that falls into. =P

Currently, I’m writing this on a night bus on the way from the Thai border city of Nakhon Phanom to Bangkok. People say that the mountain roads we’ll be going through are prime places for ambushes and hijackings. In between mustering all my strength not to throw up from the endlessly windy roads, I’ll try to keep an eye out for bandits in the dark. No promises, though I wonder if vomit gives you a +3 defense bonus. Barring any sneak attacks, in about 12 hours we should be pulling into the city just as the sun rises over the horizon.

It’s amazing what happens to you once you put yourself in the path of adventure. To give you a sample, since I woke up this morning …

* I watched a chicken lay an egg … in a child seat.
* avoided a sudden downpour, only to have a Vietnamese girl accidentally dump a huge bucket of water on me and my camera bag while I was peacefully walking on the street. Neither I nor my camera bag is waterproof.
* while crossing the Mekong River on a ferry, I watched dragon boat races held in celebration of the Buddhist Lent festival.
* a hungover Lao guy tried hitting on me, even following me in the tuktuk all the way from the border to the bus station. I made up a story about a girlfriend waiting for me at home, but it didn’t quite deter him. It’s already hard enough trying to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak much English. But hungover + smelling of alcohol + friends with the tuktuk driver (why did he let that guy on board??) + gay + persistent = …… interesting??
* a baby elephant strolled through the station. Nobody did a double-take, so I suppose that’s what baby elephants do over here all the time.
* I spent half an hour chatting with a friendly Thai worker who was telling me about the mother he had not seen since she moved to America. That was 30 years ago, and all he has of her now is an address in North Carolina. Will you ever go to visit her? I asked. He was silent for a moment, and then replied, America is too far away. How can I visit?
* a Jehovah’s Witness missionary from Korea came and struck up a conversation. In a smattering of English, he encouraged me to travel and learn as much as I can while I am young, before the body starts breaking down and the mind becomes slower. He also told me how, when he was my age, he too looked younger than his age and hated it. But now that he is 50, people guess his age correctly, and that makes him very happy.
* While I was walking by, a beautiful Thai girl smiled at me. I smiled back. Should I have walked by a second time? =P

Over the next few days, I will be in Malaysia and Singapore to visit friends and family, do a couple photoshoots, eat some good food, and head back to the States. It’ll be good to be home again, if only for a week. =D

Alright I should wrap this up now before my stomach decides to release the contents of today’s mystery lunch. If you’d like to follow me on some of my (mis)adventures, go ahead and add me on facebook! I hope all of you are doing well! I feel like I have been away for so long. How much of your lives have I been missing out on?? Let’s catch up. :)

twitter 224x70 So, this is what its like to live your dreams? Sweet! facebook 70x70 So, this is what its like to live your dreams? Sweet! rss 70x70 So, this is what its like to live your dreams? Sweet!

  • SophiaQ - That sounds so exciting! I think the word you’re looking for is “creepy” in reference to that guy hitting on you :P. But you must come over when you get back and tell us more about your adventures over there!ReplyCancel

  • Jason Wang - Hahahaha…I’ve lived in Thailand toooo many times to know that if a Thai girl is just *way* too beautiful, then you should just keep walking. Because if she’s waaayyyy too beautiful, then half of the phrase “Thai girl” is probably not correct… =DReplyCancel

  • Elaine Marie - “+3 Defense” had me laughingReplyCancel

  • saphoto - hahah im with the +3 defense haha so you’ve managed to eat OH DANG paste eh? hahahha dude, is ur camera gear ok? what the heck? i like the chicken laying a egg in a childs seat hahahaReplyCancel

    • Junshien - @Steve: Dude… that wasn’t no oh dang paste, man… that was …. ugh. I’ll show you a picture later. hahah
      @Jason: Phew! Then it’s a good thing that girl was cute-beautiful, rather than beautiful-beautiful. =P
      @Sophia: Fo sho! I’ll drop you guys a line once my traveling slows down later this year. :)ReplyCancel

  • Stories from Laos: part 1 » San Francisco Bay Area Wedding Photographer - […] and everything in between. It would be no exaggeration to say that this was one of the most incredible experiences of my […]ReplyCancel

  • Stories from Laos: a teaser » Junshien International Photographers | San Francisco Bay Area Wedding Photography - […] and everything in between. It would be no exaggeration to say that this was one of the most incredible experiences of my […]ReplyCancel

As a photographer, I always strive to create art that shows my clients at their very best. I find good lighting, shoot from their more flattering angles, draw out their personality, and in Photoshop, I will edit the image to bring my vision to life. My clients hire me because they want to look attractive, beautiful, lively … but still themselves. For a portrait to stand the test of time and remain impactful, it has to maintain a high degree of authenticity.

And so when I look at virtually every single piece of fashion and commercial advertising out there, I am simultaneously intrigued and troubled by the extensive use of makeup, photoshop, and ridiculously beautiful models. We are constantly bombarded with messages that entice us towards a standard of perfection that is not only unnatural, but frankly impossible. And by impossible, I mean the fact that even when celebrities and models have gone through hours and hours of makeup application, their pictures still have to be extensive edited before they’re approved for publication. Facial imperfections are removed, thighs are slimmed down, the skin is lightened, noses are minimized, bust lines are raised, eyes are repositioned, etc etc. I don’t mean to bag on makeup artists or models at all, and I have friends in both industries whose work I highly respect. What I am trying to say is this: what is expected is something not even the most beautiful among us can attain. 

We protest that true beauty is within. We say that we just need to “be ourselves.” (But what does that mean, anyway?) However, the truth is, we are still a product of our environment, and none of us–whether guy or girl–can escape that subconscious realization that we are not measuring up.

So when the fashion magazine French Elle decides to publish an issue featuring eight celebrities without makeup or Photoshop of any kind, it’s cause for some degree of celebration. Sure, these celebrities are incredibly good looking to begin with, but a decision like this gives me hope that at least some imagemakers are feeling a little pressure to return to something real and authentic.  (via The Frisky)

french elle no makeup issuefrench elle no makeup issue

What do you think? Beauty is something we should all strive for in life, whether it’s in our appearances or our work or our relationships. Yet how do we balance the pursuit of genuine beauty against the media’s unhealthy standards? And do you think that decisions in the commercial world, like this “no makeup” magazine issue and Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, might slowly turn into a trend away from our current plasticized/botoxed/photoshopped version of beauty toward something more natural?

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  • Tammy - Nice move that ELLE’s making. It’s about time someone new stepped forward to take advantage of the undercurrent of dissatisfaction brought on by all the Photoshopping in the commercial industries. I do know that Dove’s been doing this for years–I can always recognize a Dove campaign simply because they seem to be the only company that consistently focuses on “real beauty.” Kind of sad that so few (if any) are following their example.

    I also found it kind of unnerving when guys asked me to Photoshop them to look slimmer. GUYS … not girls. (I’d like to believe that my girls feel comfortable with themselves, at least when they’re with me.)ReplyCancel

  • estherjulee - they still look beautiful! :)ReplyCancel

  • Gerald Ho - i think it has a lot to do with a renewal of the mind. Like you said, we are a product of our environment. I think we have to start redefining beauty once again. Perhaps, to begin with is to remind ourselves that what we see on mags and etc are not where beauty is defined……

    just a thought..:)ReplyCancel

  • yanni - wow.. that retouching website surprised me.. i thought they were beautiful already..ReplyCancel

  • Matthew Saville - I think that’s bad-ass and awesome. Bravo to both the magazine and the models. And you know what? They still look beautiful. One note though- Not only did they avoid photoshop etc, it also looks like they intentionally went with a cool hue / tone to the images overall, which gives a clinical, sickly look to any fair-skinned subject. VERY interesting, considering they could have easily done a “no photoshop” image with a slight warm cast to the white balance. (Since warmth is 10x more flattering by default. I’ve taken “hotter” (pun intended) portraits (w/o PS) than these with AVERAGE women, let alone stars / supermodels, simply by finding a flattering pose and warm light… I’m just sayin’! Bold move on the magazine’s part!


  • Kim nodurft - Oh, I totally agree with you! It’s an unrealistic level of beauty that’s sending our teenage girls into anorexia. Even the stars don’t recognize themselves in the images. I need to go buy this issue of Elle just to support it. With this economy I’m hoping women (and men) who would have done plastic surgery will reconsider. We seem to be coming back down to earth as a people and living a higher quality of life with this economy. We’re spending more time with our families and less time keeping up with the Joneses. I hope this helps turn this trend around. Thank you so much for blogging about this.

  • Ruby Slippers - Well said. I LOVE those pics without any make-up or touch-ups – it really redefines what beauty is and what we should strive for! (That said, I know I look better with makeup on! Haha)ReplyCancel

  • Renee Adams - Wonderful. Let’s have an American issue!
    I was so impressed with Kim Kardashian’s response when her unretouched photo appeared on the website of a magazine, and people put the before and after up side by side. She said, “So what if I have a little cellulite” Let’s have more so we ladies can stop being as neurotic and men can see what real women (even goddesses) REALLY look like. We’re still beautiful in our natural containers :)ReplyCancel

  • Ace - I find it very ironic that you would discuss the overuse of Adobe Photoshop when it is evident that a large sum of your photos spend a great deal of time in post processing (Adobe Photoshop). Case in point, the contrast and saturation levels in your photos are highly unnatural and the lighting of the photos are either way too dark or way too light and in most cases it looks as if you try to make up for it in Photoshop. I think it would have been more authentic or genuine if you would have posted that you admittedly spend quite a bit of time in post processing instead of saying that you find good lighting and take pictures from more flattering angles.ReplyCancel

    • Junshien - @Ace: Lol … not sure where the hostility is coming from, and I usually don’t respond to trolls, but for the benefit of my other readers, here’s my reply to an otherwise legitimate question! =D All the images on my blog and website have obviously been post-processed. I’ve made it clear a couple times before in my blog, and everybody knows that my images are not straight out of camera. My clients see my befores and afters when booking me, and they know very well my editing philosophy. In insinuating that all I said I do is find good lighting and use flattering angles, I guess you completely missed the 2nd part of the sentence when I wrote “in Photoshop, I will edit the image to bring my vision to life.” Nothing gets your point across as effective as a selective reading of the text, eh? =P

      On my list of future blog entries is one about my editing philosophy. I’ll be explaining why images are processed a certain way as well as showing a handful of before and afters. My post-processing is done to bring to completion the vision I had in my head prior to shooting each image. I bring out my clients’ personalities during the shoot, and after post-processing, they still look like themselves. I don’t photoshop noses, reposition eyes, increase bust sizes, make lips fuller, etc etc. Which really was the point of the blog entry, not a call to arms to not use Photoshop! lol

      Anyway… thanks for your time! And if you enjoy being a troll, please go somewhere else. I don’t think I’ll be feeding you again. ;)ReplyCancel

  • Ace - I apologize if I came off as hostile I can see how it would appear that way. I just think that a lot of your photos look unnatural and I found it interesting that you would write about it as if you did not. Nevertheless, I do like the portraits more than the wedding photography as the people in the pictures look as if they are enjoying themselves rather than feeling uncomfortable in front of the camera.ReplyCancel

  • Karen Stringer Qiang - Junshien did a fantastic job for our December Wedding in 2007. He captured our best and funniest moments. Junshien really made our 12 bridal party feel comfortable and well appreciated.

    Thanks Again Junshien!

  • christina - One specific commercial that reminds me of all you said is a makeup brand, I think Covergirl, with Drew Barrymore looking overly tan with loads of eye makeup. I’m certain just about every picture I’ve seen of her has been doctored, but this in particular was over the top, whereas the pictures from Elle are simply gorgeous, and it’s because their natural beauty makes its own point. Even in my day-to-day, what strikes me about friends and strangers that’s beautiful often isn’t what everyone would doctor, it’s just a combination of their beauty and naturalness.ReplyCancel

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