The Overuse of Adjectives

I get it. A self-employed photographer wears many hats. There is no marketing, accounting or human resources department. It’s an army of one. If you don’t tell the world how great you are, who will? (maybe your clients, but thus I digress)

There is no denying the power of social media in advertising. Why do you think every company and human being on the face of the planet is Twittering or setting up a Facebook fan page? Why blog when you can tag clients on Facebook and immediately get feedback and comments from all your friends and clients? People who can’t take a minute to share a comment on a blog will spend all day leaving comments on Facebook.

It just so happens that many of my friends on Facebook are photographers. It can be an isolated work experience. Most of us are sole-proprietors. The industry specific water cooler talk, gossip and trend awareness all happen at conventions, forums and through social media. But lately, I’ve noticed a trend happening in my global network. And I’m not alone…

On any given day, I see post after post from photographers about their most recent wedding, e-session or whatever clients as the most amazing ever. How they or their clients rocked the shoot. At some point, you wonder if they actually are hearing what they are saying. And then you start to become jaded to the adjectives.

As I was pondering this in my head, I came across a wonderfully written blog post from Des Moines, Iowa photographer and friend Mindy Myers about this very thing. With her permission…

So one of my gifted photographer friends was telling me how tired he is of hearing people talk about their amazing shots all the time.

“Look at this amazing shot I got last weekend.”

“DUDE. This. Shot. Is. Amazing.”

He was not really commenting on others’ work, but more on how we can numb ourselves to the true meaning of amazing.

I feel like I do this, in a way, with the couples that I photograph. I gush about them almost to a point where I think they are embarrassed to send too many of their friends and family to the blog! I feel like there is the potential for me to dumb down my relationships with them because I am too liberal with my affection for each couple.

A photographer’s job is not just to record what is going on around them, but to watch the story that is evolving and the relationships involved and to try to figure out how to capture it. By the time these blog posts go up, I have invested myself, fully, into these couples. Some of them start out as siblings or attendants at past weddings. Most come in for an engagement shoot (or two).

By the time I am blogging their wedding, I have spent hours and hours looking at their images, perfecting each one and reliving each moment. I get a front-row seat on the wedding day from the getting ready photos through the first dances. I keep watching when everyone else turns away. I see the way they treat their spouses, their parents, the catering staff and the limo driver.

For most of them, I get to see the true essence of the grace they are exuding on their wedding day.

And, naturally, I also see them with a mother’s eye. I can’t help but notice the way their parents are watching. I wonder what it will be like when each of my four daughters gets married. Will they find a man this nice who tears up when his bride walks in the room? Will they be respectful and kind to the people around them?

So, although I am not as eloquent with my words and have the tendency to gush, I can guarantee that when I say I “loved this couple”, I really did love this couple. When I say they were amazing, I mean it.

Perfectly and eloquently stated Mindy! I’m just as guilty for abusing adjectives. When I realized what I was doing and recognized it in my colleagues social media updates, it gave me serious pause. I think in large part this is why I stopped blogging about every wedding I photographed. Every bride is beautiful on her wedding day and every wedding has a story to tell. I pride myself on finding that story and capturing authentic moments. Are my couples amazing? Do they totally rock? Without question.

But how about all of us letting our work stand on its own for a while? If you think it’s amazing and totally rocks your world, then say so in the comments! And finally, for the record… I know who Mindy’s gifted photographer friend is!

Leave a Reply

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Steve Z

    I dunno, sometimes it’s time to blog the latest shoot and are at a loss of what to say. I never go so vanilla to say amazing. I just say it was marvelrificlious.

    Whatever you do, just don’t call it EPIC.

    1. Randy

      Steve… I concur! The overuse of adjectives is not so much about blogging, but Facebook status updates. Our lives have been reduced to 140 characters of adjectives. EPIC never fails!

  2. Fritz

    The problem is, we can’t post anything negative about our clients, which sometimes is a little limiting, isn’t it? One can’t say, “Dude! I just had the most amazing bridezilla ever and she was awesomely horrible!”

    1. Randy

      Well, you could CHOOSE to say something negative, but that would probably be a bad choice in so many ways. On the other hand, my point was letting the photos speak for themselves and again, we’re not talking about blogs. I’m talking about jumping on Facebook or Twitter and telling everyone you just “rocked” a high school senior portrait session or just got back from the most “amazing” wedding. The couple totally “rocked”! It’s our job to find the story and not get hung up on the bridezillas. Either that or we could just start a Facebook page about what NOT to wear to a wedding… or perhaps talk about the horrible tyranny of strapless dresses…

  3. Jackie


    I love reading your posts and reflecting on the ways photography and writing are the same and different. We writers fall in love with our stories (but also in hate until we wrangle them). I think with a picture you can look at it and know if it is amazing but a writer doesn’t always have that kind of perspective about her story. I may have confidence, but someone else has to read it, or when I read it outloud to someone else, I realize what’s not working (and I get to re-write, not so possible with photography). And for sure writers have to let our work stand on it’s own without too much “it’s amazing” going on.

    Your work stands on it’s own for sure. But the one time I had professional head shots done, I liked it when the photographer told me which ones he loved.

  4. Michelle Saxton

    I love this! This is something that bothers me a lot, yet as photographers it can be difficult to blog about a session, find adjectives to use and still make it real and sincere. I am doing my best, but your blog has made me remember why I need to do it more.

  5. Joel Yana

    Randy, what a thought provoking post. It was a very refreshing to read a photog blog post that differed from the usual modus operandi of many other photography blogs. In the last few years it seems like one of the big catchphrases used by us photographers in our posts, tweets and Facebook status updates is “so-and-so totally rocked it in front of the camera” or “I love rocking it out with my camera”. All I can visualize is some photographer who has worked him/herself up into some other realm of consciousness, doing nothing but rocking back and forth with their camera, silly grin and all, while their clients look at them completely bewildered. =) Going forward I’ll be mindful to avoid abusing adjectives and maybe blogging my images without an accompanying write-up.

  6. Randy

    Thank you Joel. I think it’s great when photographers share the process of creativity, especially about their shoots. I get tired of every photographer expressing how amazing their clients are. Try to find the things that are different and unique about the couples you work with. Share that in your blog posts. I enjoy reading the things that you would not know from looking at photos alone. The things that show you really connected with your couple and appreciate their unique personalities.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I sincerely appreciate it!

  7. Gursimran

    Randy, your blog is great… I’m glad I stumbled upon it.