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As Of Today – I Am No Longer A Photographer.

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Gavin Seim 4x5 camera 464x600 As Of Today   I Am No Longer A Gavin Seim (Twitter) (G+)

It’s been fun, photography. But I’ve moved on – I liked being with you and I’ll cherish what I learned. But I can’t be a joke anymore. Today I’m moving on with my head held high – Because, you see, words have meaning.

By definition, being an artist requires exhibiting skill and meeting some degree of standards. By definition, a photographer is usually one who practices photography as a profession. Practices, meaning by definition possesses knowledge of and skill in a given field. Is able to craft with. But the trouble is that’s ONLY by definition. The definitions have not officially changed. But practical use of the words has.

We live in a world that often abuses words. Eventually a word may become something different. Not by choice, but by fact. That’s what’s happened to photographers. Truth is, photography is barely recognized as a serious career anymore. It is simply owning a piece of equipment or saying a word. Perhaps the word was a mistake to start with, but we’ll get to that later.

Read carefully This is not a depressing story. It’s a story about moving forward – I have big plans for my work – I am not a photographer. And it feels AMAZING!

Recently I saw a veteran photographer who has likely done more jobs and taught more professionals than any of us will ever see. He gave notice that he was walking out –“So glad to be exiting what used to be a profession” — He said. It was a bit sad, but today I walk away in perhaps a different way. I’m not going to stop making images. But I’m going to stop being a photographer. I’m going to build a business not of selling photographs, but of custom furniture. This is not a new idea for me, but I’m taking it further.

I was fifteen in the early 2000’s – Y2k had passed with relative ease and digital cameras were just starting to get noticed. I would walk into the

gavin seim wall portrait show 300x217 As Of Today   I Am No Longer A Photographer.

Gavin’s Wall Portrait booth at a recent fair. Click for a closer look.

local drugstore and run the machine myself, cranking out 4×6 prints. I learned by trial and error (mostly error) and had no help from the internet. This was before everyone who owned a camera fancied themselves an expert. People were still taking snapshots. They just knew the difference. It took nearly a decade before I really started knowing what I was doing. I dumped film, became a digital kid and then came back to work with film and digital side by side.

See when I said I was working to be a photographer I was granted a certain respect. An expectation of study and skill was not considered optional. Even using a 35mm camera to photograph a portrait showed you were really an amateur. But when you said the word photographer, half the people in the room did NOT raise their hands.

Then a time came when an entire industry downgraded to 35mm digital that was actually worse than 35mm film. Only a few years before those same photographers would look down at anyone who used 35mm film because it was not good enough. You were expected to use medium format or larger for most work. The likes of which today’s SLR’s have still not rivaled for quality.

I know few anymore who are making a good living from photography. There are some, but it’s those who understand business and have a good approach – So YES, you can make it. But It’s almost embarrassing to speak the “P” word now. Saying you’re a photographer garners no respect – It’s akin to saying I have hair, I drive a car, or, I take showers.


Arelated a video we recently produced on the idea of wall furnishings.

What Happened?

Perhaps the industry caved? Professionals and organizations did not demand high enough standards or properly educate customers. Camera makers went for the numbers and big sales, telling everyone they could be a pro and make money money money. It was a business after all and perhaps we can’t blame anyone. We all had mouths to feed and what had stemmed from 150 years of rich photographic history changed in a blink. We barley had time to realize what was happening. New photographers were also part of it – At some point they LUSTED so much for respect that they DEMANDED to be called photographers right NOW, even though they had no training or real experience who are you to say I’m not a photographer” they cried.

They got their wish – Everyone finally started calling everyone else a photographer because they had a camera in hand. The problem was that while that sounded nice, it applied to everyone else with camera too. EVERYONE became a photographer overnight, but almost no one actually studied the light, presentation or art that had been the staple for hundreds of years. They simply demanded in a rather socialist narrative that they be part of the group. When everyone was an artist, no one was. The respect was gone.

Consumers no longer needed us – Today most people no longer know what a quality photograph is. They now pay people to make photos in which dad looks abusive, mom looks fat, the kids like Oompa Loompas and the dog looks mangy. People are literally selling photos that are worse than snapshots and consumers don’t know the difference. But they are realizing that they don’t need to pay for them because anyone can do it.

In 2012 I produced a film called EXposed. It did something few were doing  – It looked at the craft and science of image making. It studied Zones and light and ratios and exposure. Simple but little used things. It said that if you want to make serious images, you must get serious about your foundations. As of today that film has generated about a great deal of sales around the globe and just won a HOT ONE Award from Professional Photographers of America. Foundations have been ignored for so long that image makers of every level are realizing they need to take a step back.

Perhaps there’s hope. It seems many people want to understand craft. But how to make great images (rather than how to fix them) is so little spoken of today that people have literally forgotten the basics. Perhaps in time that desire will make the word photographer having meaning once again. But for now…

I Am No Longer A Photographer!

gavin seim wall decor 447x600 As Of Today   I Am No Longer A Photographer.It’s not that I no longer using photography. A Chef still cooks and a sculptor still chisels. I will continue to learn and teach photographics, but that does not define my trade.  This is business. I must grow and Raise The Bar. A smart businessman does not describe his trade with a word that has no value to his customers – The word “photographer” once had meaning, but it has been twisted beyond recognition.

Today I stop claiming it. I am no longer a photographer by modern definition. Which is the only one people recognize anymore. I’m going for more than being a photographer. Over the years I have become an art decor maker and I will sell myself as such. A sofa is more valued than a family portrait today. But the fine furniture I make will become the centerpiece of your room – I recently displayed my wall portraits at a large county fair. People were blown away. They simple are not used to seeing images used as wall decor and they liked what they saw. I received more interest and respect than I’ve seen in years.

There is another aspect here: It’s what thinking of ourselves as camera operators does to our perception and thus the result of our work. It’s not just a word. Master portraitist Ken Whitmire taught me the value of this premise and of the wall portrait itself. We should not be photographers. Not only because the word has come to little meaning today, but also because by it’s very meaning it lacks merit.

Ken teaches what may be one of our biggest mistakes. That was allowing the public to regard us as photographers in the first place – It’s a bit like to referring to Hemingway as a typist or calling a Surgeon a Cutter. We allowed our profession to be named after our tools and in so doing we degraded the value of the work we produce. Not only in our own minds, but the minds of others.

If you are professional trained to plan and prepare meals at a fine restaurant you call yourself a Chef. But it’s true that you still are a cook. Hemingway might, by strict definition, be a typist, not an author. And yet descriptive words have meaning. I’ll wager most chefs would not call themselves cooks. In fact they might not enjoy being offered that title. It’s only words, but they do have meaning in our work. If we don’t respect it, neither will others.

I make fine wall decor. Custom furnishings. Do I use photographics to achieve this? Yes, but that’s only a part of what’s involved – In fact far less of my time is spent “taking photos” than on the other elements involved in my process of planning and execution.

I will continue the business of being a Portraitist, a Pictorialist and Filmaker. Of sharing ideas in hopes that I can help Raise The Bar. Yes, there’s much more to business than what you call yourself.  But I believe that in time the consumer may realize that hiring a “photographer” means nothing in itself. They will realize that people without experience are duping them and many will seek out those who can do more.

Words have meaning. They should be respected. But let me be CLEAR. I’m not talking about simply changing your verbiage. I’m talking about fundamentally changing your own PERCEPTION and PRODUCT – If your mindset does not change, neither has your business. It’s taken me years to fully accept and apply this fundamental change in my work. But I’ve finally let photography go. I have not only left the word behind. I have truly changed what I produce. I make fine furniture for walls.

As I stop being a photographer I call to those who value craft, light and presentation, those who are willing to learn their trade before claiming to be a master. I invite them to join me in being makers of fine art decor for people’s walls. I invite others that have little experience to LEARN this trade of Wall Portraits (see article) and aspire to become a part of it. I invite consumers to come back to a time when life was simpler and the things you put on your wall were not pics, snaps or paper trash. They were treasured heirlooms.

What’s next? I have to keep refining my presentation, my brand and my approach. I have work to do, but I have to a plan. If you want to follow along check out my newsletter or subscribe below.

As of today. I am no longer a photographer – I’ll look for you on the other side. Gavin Seim


Raise the Bar – Check out the Trailer for Gavin’s new Miniseries, PHOTOGRAPHICS.

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LEAP Motion From a Photographers Perspective – A Leap into REALITY!

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by Gavin Seim:

Day One: I’m going to get brutal with the reality of how the new LEAP Motion handled REAL WORK. If you want to save time here’s my initial impression.

LEAP does NOT leap out of the box and work well – Maybe that will change in time, but this feels like pre-beta and does not make my work easier.

leap 600x502 LEAP Motion From a Photographers Perspective   A Leap into REALITY!I pre-ordered early and my LEAP finally came today after what must have been more than a year. It had been so long it was almost like magic just to hold the box. WOW, I thought. I can now control my computer just by waving my hands. Minority Report, here I come.. I’ve not actually seen that movie. Is it good?

Anyways that a little voice inside said “Gavin! Though shalt not count thy leaps before they hath jumped” But I still rushed to my studio to try it out. “The waiting will pay off” I thought.

Well, LEAP worked. Sort of. It reminds me of many an encounter with voice recognition software. It looks great in the promos. Then you use it.

I could talk like a hot shot and say how amazing it is and how high tech I am. Because the idea really is cool. But the reality seems to be that LEAP is mostly useless for me right now.  The first thing I realized was how they made it look really pretty, but barely indicated what I needed to do actually use it in the real world. Perhaps that was because there was little practical use. The goofy games hold little interest for me. I want to get something done.

On my production studio desk nothing gets real estate that does not do it’s job. From my precision corded laser mouse to my Medium Wacom tablet. A device has to do something well, or it goes in a drawer.

Once I finally got calibration to work (not pretty on my Mac), I Installed Better Touch (an app that allows for custom commands). Sadly I could not even make it “practical” for the simplest of movements.

First Test: I started with a hand gesture for right and left arrow keys, thinking it might be useful for sorting images in Lightroom. Nope. Unless I held my fingers just right it did not even see the gesture. Trying to think about your hand, while also holding it in the air becomes very tiring VERY fast. It’s mentally and physically frustrating. In practice I ended up waving my hand slowly, then furiously over the device just to browse images with poor results. Not a good sign. Back to the keyboard.

Next Test: I wanted to control the mouse in hopes of using Leap’s touted precision to do things I do with my Wacom, or even basic Finder work without my mouse. Since Leap gave no indication during setup that this was even possible, it took a few minutes to realize that I needed a free app called Touchless. I installed that from Airspace (the app store for Leap) ran orientation and it started to look good. Reality soon set in.

Again I started simple, hoping to use Leap to control the mouse for simple but precise painting, burning and dodging in Photoshop. I got little functionality in Basic Mode so I switched to advanced and got a working curser where I could touch and engage the click – Sometimes. That was when it was not doing random zooming, window switching and the like. I even managed some basic painting and burning. But it was totally unreliable. Sometimes the click would engage and the tool would work, sometimes not. Sometimes it would change the window or do something else. Sound like something else? Here’s looking at you Voice Control.

I know it’s new and I will spend more time with it. But the truth is a great device usually works from the start. If they had simply given us solid reliable mouse/touch integration it would have been a GREAT start. But the reality is this is not even comparable to a mouse or a tablet in ANY practical sense. Since it lacks that, it’s little more than a gimmick with a few games and trinkets attached. So far.

After a year of waiting. Leap is essentially useless for me in any practical sense – I hope this changes, but if they could not give us BASIC functionality after all this time, I fear we’re in trouble.

I know I’m being harsh. But it’s the reality of it for today. I’m trying to be a beta tester. I paid for this. The potential seems real. But I waited, hoping they would get it right. They did not. This looks like another piece that will end up in the drawer. That said I will keep trying for awhile and see if it gets better. If I have a new revelation, I will update this article.

Pro Photo Podcast #93 – Fiasco’s, Fishing and Photography

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It’s road trip season. Check out Gavin’s road trip article for a huge list of resources.

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Today’s Panel… Gavin Seim Bary HowellScott Jarvie

This week Gavin and Barry talk about the latest topics and then dig into some stories of past photography adventures.

This episode brought to you by the Seim Effects and the award winning EXposed Workshop.

PPS #93 Forum Discussion HERE.

Main Time Indexes:

  • 00:00 Introductions.
  • 01:40 Barry Speaks
  • 17:55 A bit of video discussion
  • 24:30 News and LR5 talk
  • 34:30 The Stolen Facebook Photo Fiasco
  • 52:20 It’s Story Time
  • 1:18:47 Picks and Fishing
  • 1:37:25 Scott Jarvie Joins in


EXposed Workshop win’s a hot one award.

Gavin Road Trip Journal

Gavin’s road trip article with a list of gadgets.

VIDEO: Selling Photos as Fine Furniture.

Canon C100

Graphene Camera Sensor.

The Stolen Facebook  Photo Fiasco.

Jarvie’s Faith in America Project.



SLR Pro Dot

Bucket Boss Jumper Cable Bag.

Epic 25ft Jumper Cables

Barry –

Stool with tool storage.

Air Display – iPad

Rapela Scatterrap.

Scott –

Jumper Power  Box
(Here’s a heavier duty version)

The Case of a STOLEN Photo & Facebook’s PUNISHMENT – Of the Victim

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Look to Wind theft combo 600x234 The Case of a STOLEN Photo & Facebooks PUNISHMENT   Of the Victim

OK true story here. Many of us have been here, but this one has a few plot twists.

It all started on a dark night in May.

Well lets skip the prologue. Above is an image I shared recently showing how Matt Black Photography took my photo “Look To The Wind”, edited it badly and posted it on his FB Facebook page as his own image. It’s a page littered with other peoples work and even a Windows desktop wallpaper claimed as theirs. So I posted about it and soon many of you went over and called them out. The page admin proceeded to delete my photo only and all comments from people that had called him out on the theft.

The Crazy Part is that a day layer Facebook removed MY post of the image above from my Seim Studios page and told me what you read below. I was BANNED for 12 hours from Facebook for unnamed violations. It seems nothing is happening to the photo thief. I call this a Facebook Spanking. I had one awhile back and I wrote about it here.

To top this off, the next day when I was allowed back into the land of the social, I posted the screenshot you see below explaining how I got banned – I then got banned AGAIN for posting about being banned for posting about the photo. Say that three times fast! At that point I did what I should have done to start with and started writing this post.

Facebook Removed The Case of a STOLEN Photo & Facebooks PUNISHMENT   Of the Victim

What I saw when I logged in later that day.


But Wait, It Gets Better: So The page owner, someone named Sam, messaged me making excuses. Apparently he is actually concerned about the fact that he is a thief and I have the evidence. He claimed he was being slandered and that it’s NOT his fault because his ex-girlfriend was messing up his page while he was in jail – No joke.

I didn’t believe him, but I was not looking or a fight. I offered to let it go if he corrected it and fessed up on the page with a simple apology. He obliged by calling me names and informing me the photo they stole above was mediocre and that he would report me if I continued to slander him.

I don’t know where the whole truth lies, but I do know this all sounds like the makings of a hit song. Maybe a country western reggae. Something like this.

I went to jail in summer
My girl was one my Facebook page
Never should have made her admin
She stole photos all o’er the place

But back to business. What does all this mean to those of us trying to run legitimate business’s

Solving Our Three Fold Problem:

Problem 1 – People stealing our photos – In truth I think the best way to deal with that is to publicly call them out and hold them accountable. If need be, whether on a website or social page, you can even file your own DMCA take down request and the host of the image has to respond. Just search for how to file a DMCA complaint. I have done it many times for stolen content and it usually gets results as it bypasses the thief and goes direct to where he’s putting the stolen content.

Of course you always want to take screenshots of stolen content as I did here because it will likely get taken by the thief down when things start heating up. Finally, you can of course take a legal route. A stern letter from a lawyer, or even the legal team at Professional Photographers of America (if you’re a member) usually gets fast results. If worst comes to worst you could sue, but unless there are actually serious damages that’s probably more than most want to take on. Less lawsuits are better I always say and I prefer to resolve things without the lawyers and judges.

Problem 2 – Finding when and where your work is being taken – This can he tough. In my case a nice follower sent me a tip, but who knows how many people are using mine or your images that don’t own them. One handy resource is which allows you to search for a specific images all over the web. For some images it works great, but it is a giant index and not nearly every photo in the world is in it’s archive.

You might want to check his page for your own images. But along that note is a site to watch and report to called Photo Stealers. It’s a blog that posts about people who steal photography and us it as their own. They names names and show the evidence.

We don’t have any one solution, but we can be proactive. Just keep your eyes open and don’t be worried too much. The truth is that when someone steals my image like this I do need to deal with it, but this goofball did not really make any money off me. Do mark your name on your images so it’s clear you own it, but DO NOT freak out and plaster ugly watermarks on your work, ruining the presentation. It’s not worth it. More on that in this article on branding and signatures.

Problem 3 – Is the sheer incompetence of Facebook – And sometimes other sites for that matter. Vague terms and undefined punishments are the norm in the social world. A page that you spent years building could disappear overnight because someone does not like you and some desk jockey in a far way land opts to punish or even banish you entirely from Facebook. Their draconian practices for policing content are beyond shameful. Even as an advertiser who spends thousands on Facebook ads I have no contact, no approach, no recourse.

I am close to calling it quits with Facebook. It does nothing but cost me money anymore and frankly gives me very little return since pages get almost no interaction unless you pay compared to a couple years ago. In fact, the payout is very small even when you do pay. But that’s something we covered in this article. In the end you have to weight the pro’s and cons. I’m moving gradually away from Facebook. trying other spaces like Google+ and more importantly my own newsletters that I control.

Windows 7 2 600x259 The Case of a STOLEN Photo & Facebooks PUNISHMENT   Of the Victim

A wallpaper from for Windows. The page owner messaged me claiming he was in prison until January and his girlfriend posted my photo. Funny how this one was posted in April.

The best solution? I don’t have all the answers, but these are a few of my thoughts. But when it comes to Facebook I’m trying to get away. We’ve come to rely on them too much and the lack of care they have for users is quite clear. Even if you’re not vocal and opinionated like me, you could run afoul of Facebook gaining only damage to your business. You may not even know why it happened.

My little secret is this: Many have stopped their newsletters because of sites like Facebook – I’m learning that if you build a solid list and send quality content people enjoy it. In fact, they respond much better they do on social networks where ads and information overload have jaded them to all but the most titillating posts.

You can subscribe to my newsletter here or below – When FB becomes useless, that’s where I plan to be. The content is good there and it comes on our terms. You might considering building such a lit of your own. It takes time and cultivation. But it’s an invaluable connection if you do it well.

Good luck, Gavin

Pro Photo Podcast #92 – The Long Long Podcast

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Video  Selling Wall Art – Photos as Fine Furniture 1 600x338 Pro Photo Podcast #92   The Long Long Podcast

Check out the free business video from Seim Effects

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Today’s Panel… Gavin Seim Jody SmyersMark Tesky Ben Horne

Gavin is home and the crew catches up on the latest and shares some ideas for 2013. This is a long one because we missed an episode last month. Lots of goodies in the after show as well. Enjoy.

This episode brought to you by the Seim Effects. And the PHOTOGRAPHICS the Film.

PPS #92 Forum Discussion HERE.

Main Time Indexes:

  • 00:00 Introductions.
  • 07:15 What in the news.
  • 40:45 A bit of video & Magic Lanterns
  • 51:30 Ideas of 2013 Lightning Round
  • 1:03:40 Social Networks Lightning Round
  • 1:16:45 Being Unique
  • 1:35:40 Picks
  • 1:58:30 The AFTER Show



Everyone is getting saddled with Creative Cloud

Canon says ML Firmware will not void warranty.

VIDEO: Selling Photos as Fine Furniture.

Facebook Charging for pages. A few tips.

Samson Airline Micro Mics

Trek Pack.

Journal of Gavin’s 3 month road trip.


Mark – Canon C100 and Atmos Ninja Recorder
Ben – Lee Wide Angle Hood
Gavin, Loquat SyrupPlatine Fiber Rag paper

Jody – Vello Gear Free Wave

PHOTOGRAPHICS FILM Succeeds it on Kickstarter – Closes Thursday.

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Back the film on Kickstarter and and save $$ on the download, DVD or Blu-Ray. Once the Kickstarter phase ends, pre-orders will be available on Seim Effects.

Photographics Trailer Final6.mp4 400x224 PHOTOGRAPHICS FILM Succeeds it on Kickstarter   Closes Thursday.So what have we been up to over here at Seim Studios – We just returned from 3 months on the road and a lot of work on a brand new project. A film called PHOTOGRAPHICS that takes on the artistic aspects of photography and what makes a great photograph. A journey through history and art techniques in a way that has never been done before.

We’ve already filmed a lot, but there’s more to come. We got the film accepted to Kickstarter where pre-orders have been coming in and we more than made our funding goal. We’re really excited about where PHOTOGRAPHICS is going and are eager for it’s November release. The Kickstarter pre-order backings have helped pay the bills and we’ll be working hard over the summer as we plan the the wrap up of this completely unique film. I hope you join in. It’s going to be good.