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“Fauxtographers” go away!



“Fauxtographers” (according to Urban Dictionary):  A person that claims to be a good photographer when in reality they just set their camera to automatic mode a start shooting. This person also happens to fumble over photographic terms or has no knowledge of the terms or switches the color mode to monochrome and calls it artistic no matter what the hell is in in frame.


Its a word that we hear a lot in this industry. I, even, at times have used it referring to newer photographers. I was recently looking through some pictures of my old work that I had pretty much blocked out and was actually pretty shocked at how bad I was. Like, I was BAD. I shot with a hot pink point and shoot camera and obviously only shot in automatic mode. I edited with Picnic and by “edited” I mean “destroyed every photo”. Lens flares shooting out of eye balls, selective coloring, even going as far as to completely changing a clients hair and eye color. But I thought I was amazing, like I thought my work was VOGUE quality. Even typing that is making me have a little chuckle fit in Starbucks right now. I remember shooting one of my first shoots and showing off the CVS printed photos the next day in school, casually and arrogantly saying “lets just say, I think I’ve found what my talent is”. I probably did something douchey like wink and then walk away, just leaving them all stunned with the beauty I had just presented to them.

But what I didn’t know, I was a fauxtographer. I was the DEFINITION of a fauxtographer. Did I know what ISO, shutter speed, aperture, or even what lens I was shooting with?? LOLOLOLZZZZ hellz no. Were there times that I boosted the saturation up to 100% but it still wasn’t enough so I had to save the photo and then reopen it so that I could boost it up even more? Absolutely.

No one starts off with the experience of a pro. We all had to experiment and figure out what was good and what wasn’t. For example, in the very beginning I decided to do a newborn shoot. I have no clue why I thought that was a good decision but I charged a whole $15 an hour for a shoot and I needed the money. Im sure my monthly subscription to Picnic was coming up so I decided to book this inquiry. Well I start researching newborn photos and what I saw was a lot of little babies laying on big huge piles of junk. So I figured Id give that a go! I pulled out some suitcases, wooden crates, globes, vintage cameras (pretty much anything that was “vintage”) and stacked it all up into a 4 foot tall pile and laid a little pink blanket at the top of this mess. I then find a list online of things photographers should have when doing a newborn shoot. One of the items was a hair dryer, it didn’t really explain why you were supposed to have a hair dryer but you better believe I had one there! Then the client shows up and there I am, standing in front of what looks like some kind of garage sell, holding a hot pink point and shoot in one hand, a hair dryer in the other, and a big ol’ smile on my face. Her eyes nervously jolt from the “set” to me, back and forth, kind of like a squirrel on a road seconds before you run it over. I could read her expression, “this psychopath is about to kill my child”. I tried to reassure her with my calming voice (another thing on the list for newborn photographers “a calm, soothing voice”) and said “I know it looks a little sketchy but I promise I know what Im doing, I see this type of thing on FaceBook all the time. I’m a professional”. She glances at my pink camera from best buy then back at me. **nervous laugh**. “Ok so what do you want me to do?” she says, obviously still plotting an escape route in her head. “Just stick it up there on that blanket.” IT!! I CALLED HER PRECIOUS ANGEL BABY CHILD “IT”!! She lays the baby down and the pile begins to shake a little. She’s obviously about to pass out. She’s now sweating and kinda had this weird little twitch thing happening with her left eye. I look at her and say “ok now let it go (called the child “it” once again) and you can go sit in that chair over there”. “Wait what?? You want me to just lay her here?? I can’t at least keep one hand on her and you can crop it out??”  “lolz she said “crop”, she clearly knows nothing about photography” I think to myself. I convince her to step a few feet away and begin to work my magic that the Lord gifted me with. I assumed that the hairdryer was for the baby to stay warm, so I am now photographing the child with my pink camera in my right hand and shooting it in the face with the hair dryer in the left hand. The kid wasn’t pumped about 50mph, 100 degree winds hitting her so she began to cry and move. The pile starts violently shaking. Its about to come down. My garage sale set is about to crumble to the ground and its going to bring a 3 day old child down with it. Mom jumps in, grabs her, and says something like “ok I think we’re done here” and walks out. She leaves and Im annoyed. I start packing up my props and call my photog friend who is a newborn photographer.

“OMG like seriously this mom was just so annoying! Like she was so uptight and didn’t trust that I knew what I was doing at all!”

“Well what were you trying to do?”

“That thing where you put the kid on a pile of suitcases and stuff”

“Why did she not want to do that? Did she not know that you were going to composite it?”

“dafuq is a composite?”

“umm… Where you take a photo with her hands holding the baby, then one without the baby, and then overlay them and erase out her hands……..”

“Wait? What? does Picnic even do that?”

“OMG HUNTER!! YOU JUST STUCK THE BABY UP THERE BY ITSELF?!?! Thank God you didn’t hang the baby in a net from a tree or something”

“Omg calm down! I would have never done that!”    *Puts net in bag*


My point is that I was a fauxtographer. I was a fauxtographer AF. I literally almost killed a child. But I grew out of that and gained more knowledge and experience. The fauxtographer in me slowly went away (lol sorry about the title, I’m sure you’re now realizing this isn’t a post of me complaining) and I became more and more knowledgable about this career. And every single professional photographer reading this once was a fauxtographer but it went away for them too. So why do we now make fun and insult people just starting out?? I mean, yeah, there are people out there who don’t really know what they’re doing right now, but have they almost killed a child? Probably not. We are the “creatives”. If the world were a cafeteria, we would be the weird, indie table in the corner. The table full of kids with pink, spiked hair and tattoos of geometric shapes that mean nothing. We don’t exclude people, we include everyone! Because we’re cool like that. We can’t be so scared of competition that we put people down and poke fun at them. Thats what the douchey, jock table is for. Theres room for everyone here.

If someone calls you a fauxtographer, just say “well at least Ive never almost killed a baby like the Three Nails guy did” then twirl on them and walk away. (I bet y’all thought y’all had made it through this whole post without one Beyonce reference. HAHA NAH!).


Here’s a few examples of some of my early stuff compared to my newer work. Like I said, fauxtog AF…




Feel free to share this post if you agree!

-Hunter Leone

May 4, 2016 - 10:59 pm

Karen Melissa Ingram Roe - This post seriously made my day!! Thank you for the share!!

May 4, 2016 - 11:00 pm

Fara Gonsor Smith - Obsessed with this post! Thank you for your transparency and your heart for teaching. May God continue to bless you always. ☺️

May 4, 2016 - 11:00 pm

Marlene Botta - Love this

May 4, 2016 - 11:04 pm

Amanda Myree - I assume maybe this was inspired by what was probably a FLOOD of emails for your job posting. I’ve followed you for years now, and what amazes me the most is you never seem to forget where you started. Love this post, Hunter!

May 4, 2016 - 11:11 pm

Emilee Marie Self - So incredibly true! Remember where you came from and help others when you can. Stay humble and never prevent yourself from learning. Ahhh all of it.

May 4, 2016 - 11:11 pm

Kathryn Onrubia O'Toole - I love this! Thanks for a great article.

May 4, 2016 - 11:12 pm

Carrie Lopez - Perfection. I often wonder if I’ve grown out of my fauxtographer phase yet. How do you know when you’re out of it?!?

May 4, 2016 - 11:12 pm

Jennifer Rice - Well said! My first shoot (*free* btw), was a newborn…. I had three kids and thought “eh, I got this”…. O.o Ummmmm…. hella not even close! When I start to feel like my work completely and utterly sucks all I need to do is look back on any previous work and it not only puts me in my place (as far as being critical of others) but it also reminds me how far I’ve come. I feel like I’m good but I’d LOVE to be amazing some day. It’s def on my bucket list ;)

May 4, 2016 - 11:13 pm

Debbie McNinch - I”m crying I’m laughing so hard! For the record… I think you are wonderful and your early work should go for millions one day!

May 4, 2016 - 11:13 pm

Nichole Graner - Thank you for being raw!!!! No really thank you! Awesome!

May 4, 2016 - 11:15 pm

David - Love it! Thank you for sharing! :D

May 4, 2016 - 11:18 pm

Bailey DeCresie - This is the best post Ive ever read!

May 4, 2016 - 11:18 pm

Stefanie Carlson - Wait… All that set up and no newborn photo?

May 4, 2016 - 11:21 pm

Misty Baisden - This is so great. Thank you for sharing. :)

May 4, 2016 - 11:32 pm

Charlotte - I still want to know what the hairdryer was supposed to be for!

May 4, 2016 - 11:32 pm

Tegan Odum - Oh muh gosh.,seriously, thanks for posting. Im am still very new and with lots to learn. Im not a pro by any means but remember my early stuff. I had a bright red point and shoot and looking back my photos were horrid. Bahaha. I’m sure I feel the same way about this year’s photos, in about 3years. Lol awesome!

May 4, 2016 - 11:38 pm

Morgan Fabrizio - Can I love this a million times!

May 4, 2016 - 11:39 pm

Nicole de Haven - Love this!

May 4, 2016 - 11:40 pm

Laura Ludwig - I feel like we are the same person right now. Lmao. Well. I didn’t almost kill a baby. But the whole part about editing (even down to Picnic)
Definitely “been there, done that”

May 4, 2016 - 11:47 pm

Sara Walsh - This is the best article ever!

May 4, 2016 - 11:47 pm

Christina Bingham - Exactly! And same thing with “Momtographers” like I’m literally raising a person and juggling a small business and you’re acting like I’m not a big deal. Hun I’m the definition

May 4, 2016 - 11:53 pm

Jenna McCollum - This. THIS! YESSSSSS!

May 4, 2016 - 11:57 pm

Molly Humphrey - This post is so great!

May 4, 2016 - 11:59 pm

Tanis - Funny stuff, and a reminder from where we all started. The images of the boys… is it the same boy? It totally could be! Love your work <3

May 5, 2016 - 12:01 am

Kimberly Frizzle - This is great! Not only are you a great photograher, but a great storyteller as well! Thanks for putting a smile on my face!

May 5, 2016 - 12:06 am

Carmen Hall - Love this!!

May 5, 2016 - 12:07 am

Jen Lyon - I freaking always love hearing those stories! Lol! It always inspires me when haters hate, forgetting we all started somewhere! It takes amazing people like you to always take the time and be there to share your amazing knowledge, to get us to the level we hope to be : )

May 5, 2016 - 12:17 am

Tiffany Wayne - Amazing ☺️

May 5, 2016 - 12:19 am

Celine Rachelle Reese - This is so important! Thanks for sharing this. Also your transformation is incredible!

May 5, 2016 - 12:19 am

Alyssa Turner - This is fantastic!

May 5, 2016 - 12:24 am

Ashley Sanchez - This is one if the mist fantastic things I’ve ever read. HAHAHAHA!!! So much truth. Love it!!

May 5, 2016 - 12:25 am

Lisa Quillen Blatz - I love this! Must share

May 5, 2016 - 12:26 am

Michelle Marie - I’m so glad you showed the before and after because you know we were gonna ask…lol.

May 5, 2016 - 12:39 am

Willow Arlen - This post is amazing! Bravo for coming out and being honest about where you started. You’re right that we all (as photographers) started someplace similar, but it’s refreshing to hear someone admit it in such detail!

May 5, 2016 - 12:39 am

Crystal Lin Vara - “I literally almost killed a baby” hahahaha We all start somewhere. Great post!

May 5, 2016 - 12:45 am

Julie Turner - Love this!! Made me laugh too..

May 5, 2016 - 12:46 am

Sarah Davis - Thank you for this share! I seriously thought it was going to be something else entirely. You are freaking amazing – thank you for the inspiration!!!

May 5, 2016 - 12:56 am

Tasha Zeringue - Haha! I just started following you. I am now realizing you’re quite funny!

May 5, 2016 - 1:02 am

Becky Gronquist Tough - This was wonderful to read, thank you :)

May 5, 2016 - 1:06 am

Kaili Herr - That was a great post!!! Lol at first glance at the title I thought “is he really going to diss on these ‘feuxtogs’ when we all basically started out as that!?” Haha but I read on and I think your post had a great message!! Thnx for sharing!

May 5, 2016 - 1:33 am

Crystal Heatherly Young - I’m dying because this is the most relatable thing I’ve read today! There’s still hope for all of us. I didn’t almost kill a baby but I think I may have gave one diarrhea once. Long story! Thanks for being grounded and reminding us we all began somewhere.

May 5, 2016 - 1:52 am

Joy Woods - Your current work makes me swoon! Thank you for sharing where we ALL come from. :)

May 5, 2016 - 2:28 am

Bari Baskin - I was laughing so hard I was crying. This was fantastic! Great points, fabulous humor. Thank you for this!

May 5, 2016 - 2:33 am

Jennie Davis Davis - Dang … glad you didn’t quit!! Love this post!

May 5, 2016 - 2:59 am

Crystal Kells - This is amazeballs! Lol. Total fauxtog here too when I started ; )

May 5, 2016 - 4:11 am

Alora Gress - I’m at the “called the child ‘it’ once again.”
And I HAD to stop to comment. I’m
Laughing so hard I’m crying. This is SO good.

May 5, 2016 - 4:15 am

Amanda Hobbs Photography - Good read! We have all been there. Thanks for the good laugh and a little self relection. Your work is amazing!

May 5, 2016 - 4:41 am

Peep Show Pixels - Such a great post, laughed the whole way! Your very inspirational. But how can you tell when your out of the fauxtographer stage lol? Sometimes I feel ill never get there…. Tho I can’t stop creating!

May 5, 2016 - 6:24 am

Michelle Koebke - Loved this – we’ve all been there. Best then & now pics ever!!! New fan.

May 5, 2016 - 8:49 am

Rayn Galloway - Hunter,

I just broached this same subject in my very first blog post. I like the term “aspiring photographer” because fauxtog sounds so derogatory and I really think that each fauxtog aspires to be something great. I’ve stopped getting angry with them and realized everyone starts somewhere.

They’re also filling a niche that I can’t, people who want picture takes and can’t afford photographers. In steps our aspiring photographer with their $25 sessions, they offer a service that I can’t and gain knowledge and experience along the way. I’ve started reaching out to them and building up those who wasn’t true help in growing.

Here’s my blog post with some of the VERY WORST pictures I ever put out there!

May 5, 2016 - 11:50 am

Amanda Apple Veronee - I’m not a photographer, but that was a good read and so true for other industries! Thank you for sharing what may be embarrassing to you but helpful to others!

May 5, 2016 - 12:33 pm

Bobbi-Jo Grenier - Best thing ever written I love that you promote encouraging fellow photographers instead of tearing one another down.

May 5, 2016 - 12:36 pm

Karen Belcher - From humble beginnings come great things

May 5, 2016 - 2:30 pm

Tegan Odum - Oh muh gosh! Yes. Thanks for posting this! I’m no pro by any means.still have lots to learn, but this reminds me of my beginnings. I had a metallic red point and shoot and my photos were horrid! Bahaha

May 5, 2016 - 3:47 pm

Denise Karis - Super well written!! I love laughing at my early work – everyone has a phase and matures as an artist!

May 5, 2016 - 7:12 pm

Rebecca Colunga - I needed to see this soooooooo bad!!! I love that you posted those self proclaimed “VOGUE” photos too! Ha ha ha! It’s all about the journey…thank you for sharing!

May 5, 2016 - 8:17 pm

Donnalynn Murray Dolan - Here’s how to avoid the entire Fauxtographer issue: offer your services free of charge to an established and experienced and successful PRO photo studio and learn everything you can AS WELL AS take photography classes. For a year. Then and only then should you even THINK about claiming you are a professional photograpner ESPECIALLY when it comes to wedding photography. This is what I did back in the day and learned medium format and large format FILM cameras and watched a pro at work. Having a mentor is the only way to go. Claiming to be a REAL photographer just because you got a fancy new digital camera doesn’t make you a pro. Our industry should require licensing by PPA and WPPI before these Fauxtographers are allowed out the door. It’s giving our industry a bad name. Join your locat PPA Guild and PAY YOUR DUES before you ruin someones wedding photos or any kind of photos. PLEASE!

May 5, 2016 - 8:21 pm

Jenni Starcher - This is amazing haha. Feeling a bit better about that selective color photo that popped up in my memories from 6 years ago (thanks facebook). I deleted that bad boy!

May 5, 2016 - 8:54 pm

Kim Thao Pham - You are freaking hilarious Hunter! But yes, we’ve all had to be a fauxtographer at one point, some more than others. Great article! And I love the before and afters!

May 5, 2016 - 10:03 pm

Alliena Kyger - I am a “Fauxtographer”.. I absolutely love taking photos. When I do a shoot I always say “I am not a professional. I make no promises.” I don’t know what all the fancy settings are, but I’m learning. Or at least trying to. Thank you for giving me hope of maybe someday graduating to “professional.”

May 5, 2016 - 11:44 pm

Kristian Williams - I just shared and dedicated to a friend of mine who encouraged me to keep going. Enough that I was able to move out of the fauxtographer stage :)

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