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⚠️ Photographers Be Careful: Fake Photography Gurus Are Everywhere

Updated: May 17

a person holding a bunch of $100 bills

Photography is an art that captures the beauty of the world around us. In recent years, photography has become a popular pastime for many people-- including both enthusiasts and pros. However, with the rise of social media, it has also become a breeding ground for fake photography gurus.

Fake photography gurus are people who claim to be experts in the field of photography, but lack the necessary skills, experience, and education to back up their claims. These gurus often use their social media presence to sell workshops, e-books, and online courses that promise to turn ordinary people into professional photographers overnight.

Ahh, yes-- "Selling the Dream." This is the age-old ploy of fake gurus everywhere. The universe of photography isn't immune from this tactic. As a matter of fact, it's everywhere!

"Selling the dream" is a term often used in the context of fake gurus and self-proclaimed experts who make grandiose promises about achieving success, often through expensive courses or mentorship programs. These individuals use persuasive language and flashy marketing tactics to lure people in with the promise of a better future. They often rely on emotional manipulation and fear-based selling to create a sense of urgency and make people feel like they need their products or services to succeed. However, in many cases, these gurus do not have the qualifications or experience they claim to have, and their promises of success are often hollow. Their primary goal is to make a profit by selling a dream that is unlikely to come true, and many people end up disappointed and out of pocket as a result.

It's not a simple black and white situation. There is a continuum of fake gurus: From the fairly benign self-appointed experts funneling unknown newbies into their "Mastermind" to the highly targeting evil actors out to swindle the unknowing out of thousands of dollars with their courses which promises huge success as a photography pro.

Common sense would dictate: Boy, if this person was so successful earning $15K per wedding (and they are booked solid) why would they be wasting time (or how would they have the time!) to be swindling others with a shitty course? ...But, yet people fall for this all the time. The allure of riches is that strong. These people prey on that vulnerability, and the unwitting buyer doesn't realize until it's too late that the only person making money is the one selling the course...

There is no way to really know the financial impact of fake gurus across the universe. It seems no accurate statistics exist. My assumption is that it is way in to the billions of dollars. Yeow.

If you're interested in photography and want to learn from the best, it's important to be able to spot these fake photography gurus. In this post, we will discuss some of the key warning signs to look out for when trying to identify a fake photography guru.

1. Lack of experience

One of the easiest ways to spot a fake photography guru is to look at their experience. A true expert in the field of photography will have years of experience, a portfolio of impressive work, and a list of satisfied clients. On the other hand, a fake guru will often have little to no experience, a poor portfolio, and few, if any, satisfied clients.

2 .Lack of education

Another key indicator of a fake photography guru is their lack of education. A true expert in photography will have undergone extensive training and education, either through a formal photography program or through years of apprenticeship under another professional photographer. A fake guru, on the other hand, may have no formal education in the field, and may rely solely on their self-taught skills.

3. Unrealistic promises

Fake photography gurus often make unrealistic promises about what their courses or workshops can offer. They may claim to teach you how to take professional-quality photos in just a few days, promise that you'll make thousands of dollars selling your photos online, or show you how to be "fully booked"...all the time! In reality, the process of becoming a professional photographer takes time, dedication, and a lot of hard work.

4. Lack of authenticity

A true expert in photography will have a unique style and a distinct perspective on the world. A fake guru, on the other hand, may lack this authenticity and simply regurgitate common photography tips and tricks that can be found online. This lack of originality is a key indicator that the guru may not be the real deal.

5. Poor communication

Another key warning sign of a fake photography guru is their poor communication skills. A true expert in the field of photography will be able to communicate their ideas and concepts clearly and effectively. A fake guru, on the other hand, may use vague, confusing language, or may simply repeat common photography jargon without truly understanding what it means.

6. Lack of transparency

Fake photography gurus often lack transparency in their marketing and business practices. They may use fake reviews or testimonials to promote their products, or they may claim to have worked with high-profile clients without any evidence to back up their claims. A true expert in photography will be transparent about their business practices and will have a track record of honest and ethical behavior.

7. Lack of social proof

A true expert in photography will have a strong social media presence with a large following of engaged and supportive fans. A fake guru, on the other hand, may have a small or nonexistent (or fake) following, with little engagement on their posts. This lack of social proof is a key indicator that the guru may not be as knowledgeable or experienced as they claim to be.

8. Idealizing the Success "Lifestyle"

The age old approach of giving the impression of a fantastic lifestyle... expensive cars, lavish clothes, lots of money, and travel. Boy, they "idealize" what success is! Well, this is a manipulated version of success that plays on people's desires of "want," and the fake gurus know that... and use it to lure you in. The more a photography guru is trying to use money, or a luxury lifestyle to lure you in... the more you should probably run the other way.


If you're interested in learning photography, it's important to be able to spot fake photography gurus. By keeping an eye out for the warning signs outlined above, you can avoid wasting your time and money on courses or workshops that promise more than they can deliver. Remember, the process of becoming a professional photographer takes time, dedication, and hard work. There are no shortcuts or secret tricks that can turn you into an overnight success.

It's important to do your research before investing in any photography workshop or course. Look for reviews and testimonials from real people who have taken the course or workshop, and be wary of overly positive reviews that may be fake. Additionally, don't be swayed by big names or impressive credentials. While a famous photographer may be a great teacher, there are also plenty of talented photographers who are not well known but who still have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share.

Finally, don't be afraid to ask questions and get to know the instructor before signing up for a course or workshop. A true expert in photography will be happy to answer your questions and will be transparent about their background, experience, and teaching methods. If you get a bad feeling about an instructor or feel like they're not being honest with you, trust your gut and look elsewhere.

The world of photography is full of talented and experienced professionals who are eager to share their knowledge with others. However, it's also home to many fake photography gurus who make unrealistic promises and offer little to no value to their students. By learning to spot the warning signs of a fake guru, you can protect yourself from wasting your time and money, and instead focus on learning from those who truly have something valuable to offer.

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