But is he famous?

Mar 27, 2012

Stephen and I went to Sallee School yesterday in Kansas City. We like to make sure we are participating in ongoing training in the photography and photography business world, in order to be better photographers and business people for our clients. Sallee School is a tour that brings photography and business information to cities across the nation. We were fortunate enough to see JB Sallee and Richard Sturdevant speak yesterday. We had seen the Sallees when they came through last year on the Turn the Key tour with Lori Nordstrom, and we were very impressed with them, so we were really excited to go see JB speak again. We had never seen Richard speak, but he was a real treat as well! What an artist!!

When we got home, I told the following story to Xander, our 11 year old son, when he asked how the seminar was:

“We had a lot of fun! We learned a lot. The only thing that was frustrating was there was this lady behind us that talked through the whole thing. For everything the speakers said, she had a comment. I finally tweeted ‘Sallee School with @jbsallee would be PERFECT if the girl behind us would STOP TALKING!!!! #howrude’. JB replied to my tweet saying that it WAS rude. A few minutes later, he decided to give a prize of a Sallee School pass, and he picked a tweet and it was mine! So, dad and I got to move to the front row, and JB said we should move to the front on the other side of the room so we could see better, so we did. I thought that was pretty awesome of him!”

To which Xander said, “Is he famous?”

I had to think about that for a minute. I finally said, “well, he is famous in the photography community, I guess.”

To which Xander said, “But, is he FAMOUS?”

So, that got me to thinking… what makes a person famous? I decided to look up the definition, which I do on a LOT of words, because you just never know (In the words of Inigo Montoya: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” ) and Merriam-Webster says famous means these things:

1. Widely known
2. Honored for achievement

Synonyms include big-named, celebrated, famed,  noted, notorious, prominent, renowned, star, visible, well-known.

JB is widely known in the photography community. He has been honored for achievement numerous times. He is famed and celebrated, prominent in the industry, and definitely well-known. I guess this makes him famous, which puts him in a list of other famous photographers. However, are these photographers really famous? Yes, by definition, they are, but I think they are only famous within the photography community. As a photographer, I know of a lot of other photographers, but when I mention a name to someone outside of the community, they haven’t ever heard of them… even the so called “Rock Star” photographers. Plus, it is not always a good thing to be famous in our industry. There has been a lot of drama lately revolving around certain photographers who teach things to new photographers that really don’t help them to succeed in the business. This does a disservice to the entire photography industry and community. So, I don’t want to group JB into that same group…

JB is one of the photographers that tours and teaches. There are many of those who teach, but are ridiculed for no longer shooting, rather they make their money off of other photographers. JB is NOT one of those photographers! He is still shooting for his own business. The most refreshing thing that JB shared yesterday is that we are ALL living in a down economy. He didn’t lie and say he is still getting the same averages he did when the economy was up. He is a very honest person, down to earth, very kind. I was VERY impressed!

So, if being a famous photographer means that you are no longer shooting, or you are shooting but you employ the “Spray and Pray Method” of photography and “fake it til you make it,” and you are lying about the amount of money you make in your CORE photography business(this means only money made from photography, not training, not products you sell to other photographers!) to inflate your worth to other photographers so they will attend your workshops… then no, JB is NOT FAMOUS!

As I said, we really enjoyed Sallee School and cannot wait until they come back to KC! The cost is very reasonable and they always have coupon codes to help make it even more affordable! See? Even that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!:)