I have taken a look on the website, which is linked under your user name. Sorry to be blunt but that's what I think: the website was made by an amateur and clearly looks like this.
The website itself looks very unprofessional and cheap. I guess that's what it really is. A decent wordpress theme for photographers costs less than $100. An alternative would be Squarespace, which is more comfortable to maintain. But it is focused on the US market and without the online shop it's hard to justify the costs. With your background in netwoek engineering it should be quite easy for you to maintain a website.
The second and even worse impression I got came from your pictures. There are a few good ones among them but the majority of them should not be shown on a professional photographer's website. Under exposed, flat lighting, bad framing... all can be found. The kid potraits are great and professional looking but the family ones aren't. Don't show them.
Hi Scott, I thought Robert was being pretty harsh with his comments so would like to give another view from someone thats more local with many friends in the same marketplace.
... thing is Robert's comments are bang on after looking over your website and photography, I now even think that Robert was being kind. Sorry.
Maybe others can give some advice, but I really don't see anything that says professional level there.
As you are complaining about other faux photographers charging less and taking your work, I would imagine that they really are doing at least as good a job or probably much better than what you are offering and taking the work quite rightly.
You must either have huge kahunas or a misguided sense of talent, or maybe just too many friends & family that give you support because no person in their right mind would start a business with these shots and website.
This doesn't mean you can't succeed, it just means you really really need very quickly get to grips with understanding
1. Photography in general, style , lighting , processing - look over 1000s of other established photographers and photography business website and really see the difference in quality and style. it's miles ahead from what you are offering.
2. Understand your market, if you wish to continue to produce work of similar quality then you will only be appealing to the lower end or those that cannot discern between someone having a go and someone that is talented & experienced photographer. And will always be competing with newbie amatures and those doing shoots for little or free.
3. Don't put professional photography services all over your website, if you are still learning - I get the feeling this is the case. Everyday I see people on Facebook setting up joe blogs Photography services just because they are starting to take a few decent shots. Photography takes years to get decent at it and don't rush it by thinking you have to advertise Pro, because you want to say you're beginning to get better than others, ( but again this is so subjective if you can't really understand the quality of what you are producing)
Enjoy shooting more of friends weddings, kids and makeovers but don't charge money until you know before the shoot that you will be supplying great work regardless of the circumstances.
And that point brings us back to the 'other faux' photographers that you are concerned about. They are not fake they are just more realistic about their skills and experience and hungry for more experience and not bothered about the money. That way they can experiment make mistakes and learn from that without too much pressure and in a year's time they will prob be producing some pretty decent work.
I really think you should be exploring this side and get your photography up to standard first, I imagine you've done this a few time with friends and family to get told you shots are great ' you should be a pro' and then decided to 'go pro'
I did a quick search to see what other photographers are offering in the area and there are quite a few with not much better style and websites tbh! Which is mental in this day and age. Maybe look further afield for inspiration and aim you sights higher and this will get more attention. Having a shop/ studio is key to attaining a higher profile in this business and getting a good graphic designer on board to give you some great branding will help loads but this has to work with your photography to.
Think cleaner, simpler more natural light.. actually pay attention to daylight and work with it not against it! Don't ever do 'sexy' glamour if you err towards 80s cheese especially with people past their prime. Glamour and Boudoir photography should be treated very carefully. There are some really great people doing it well and lots trying to copy really badly.
People lying on the background is always messy, shadows mixed with footprints and creases need some good retouching to keep it natural
Don't ever do HDR, selective colour / B&W , watch your skin tones just desat a little.
Being professional is as much about taste as ability, we are the leaders of style do not copy the masses bad photoshop tricks!
Don't ever try to retouch if you can't, there's some really bad examples there. minimise funky angles.. so 80s / 90s and only a few can get it right. Less wide angle learn to use primes 50mm and 85mm they will simplify your options and get more consistent results.
Don't over process, just some contrast, desat maybe a little vignette and warmth. Experiment with very subtle split toning. Leave the highlight and shadow sliders alone mostly.
Are you a photographer that started in the 80s? If so it's time to rethink what you deem to be cool, sexy or funky as I think this is biggest issue overall in your work.
Have fun, break your bad habits give up the website and work a day job doing test shots with friends for free and most importantly dream / think / visualise every day of the next piece your going to produce.
Study more fashion based work rather than cheesy glamour and second rate wedding stuff. World class Fashion photography covers so many genres but what sets it aside is the temperament it's made in. Edgy , documentary B&W, natural light, effortless, dreamy, high end studio etc . But what they have all got is the right style and end look for the subject, location etc.
Don't post the latests pictures straight away publicly. Wait a day, re-edit them down only post 2 or 3 by all means send them all to the model.
Remember a portfolio is the very best of your work not all of it. Less is more. One good shot is worth 100 mediocre ones.
Wow - some harsh kick in the nuts there!
I do agree the website needs work - this was thrown together quickly and I agree with this 100%
As for the photographs being basically "crap" I really don't agree with that at all - "crap" is in the eye of the beholder after all and one mans "crap" is another mans canvas hanging on his wall.
I have looked at local photographers too and I really don't see how one of my studio shots perfectly exposed (metered) using a Lastolite Hilite box and four Elinchrom guns can be compared to someone who is using, basically, a sheet and a light.
I may work as a network engineer but that doesn't mean I am great at websites - any help would be greatly appreciated.
I also post a lot of my pictures on here and other forums and they are very well received and commentated on by other photographers so some of the harsh comments are very unfair - especially when all I was asking in the original post was how we all cope with amateurs stealing our work.
This has got very personal and I really dont appreciate that - we could all look at each others work and criticize it all day - HDR for example is the Marmite of photography, some love and some hate it, but I have sold many HDR prints and they are some of my most commented on.
Here is a link to my Flickr page - if anyone wants to pass comments on that:http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott_mcphee