Scam Photography Websites You Should Avoid…

It’s unfortunate what has happened to a lot of websites where 90% of the postings are basically paid advertisements, and anyone who speaks out against the conventional wisdom on those websites regarding specific brand names will be sought out and banned because they threaten the profit the site is making by being “friendly” to a specific brand.

As you might expect photography has unfortunately fallen victim to this sorry state of affairs and most popular sites and channels are quite simply just mouthpieces for large corporations. If you’re looking for a nice healthy debate on photography as opposed to cult like nut jobs spouting incessant bullshit, I have compiled a list of sites to avoid like the plague.

DPreview.com

First, a little background on DPReview.com. Well, one basic fact really, Amazon.com bought DPReview.com a few years back and now DPReview is quite simply just a driver for Amazon.com affiliate links. This isn’t a community of like minded individuals seeking to better themselves, it’s a mixture of paid posters, paid articles, trolls, and noobs who know nothing about photography, bickering and screaming and creating fake content to try and sell their products to people who don’t know any better.

Ask yourself what reason would Amazon have to buy DPReview.com? Is it because Jeff Bezos just loves photography and the photography community so much? No, they want everyone to buy expensive camera gear from Amazon! Hey, there’s nothing wrong with that, but be honest about what DPReview is.

I don’t have anything against Amazon.com, in fact I shop there for a lot of things, however DPReview.com has essentially been twisted into a mouthpiece of Amazon’s sales empire. It’s popularity combined with it’s direct link to Amazon’s store make it a prime target for guerilla marketers. And it seems yelling and screaming about how great a product is, then belittling and bullying naysayers, is the marketing strategy of 2020. Anyone who tries to be rational on this site will probably be banned in short order. Anyone who responds to the angry and abusive paid trolls with anything other than the most obtuse politeness will be banned in short order. (For some reason the trolls never get banned) There is no room for anyone to express an opinion that doesn’t agree with the prevailing thoughts of the article author’s. If the article is pro Sony, you will be jumped on by a pack of chimpanzees for spouting anything other than the most effusive praise for Sony in the comments.

If that sounds like fun to you, by all means, join up and join in the “fun” playing along with all the crazy BS.

After spending way too much time on this site and getting banned a lot just for voicing an opinion or disagreeing with the trolls, I’ve come to realize the fact that…

dpreview is clearly a scam.

FStoppers.com

FStoppers.com looks like a healthy community at first blush, there is a great gallery of community created images, there are lots of articles, and many posts get a decent amount of participation. Unfortunately, FStoppers.com is also a diseased pit of filth.

FStoppers.com doesn’t make much of it’s own content, 95% of it is other people’s content, and most of that content is total garbage. If articles with exciting titles like “The top 5 things you’re doing wrong as a photographer” sound great to you, then this is your website because they’ll not only post that article, they’ll post 17 variations on that article per month. How many top 5 things are there anyway??? Turns out nobody is paying attention at FStoppers and most likely nobody cares, they just post whatever the hell they find or someone pays them to post even if it makes them look like lazy nitwits in the process.

And about that super cool community gallery? It’s not the worst idea to post there if you’re trying to create back links to your own website, but be aware that FStoppers has it in their terms that they have total and irrevocable rights to any photos you post on their site. They’ll take your photos and use them to market their own website on Instagram or wherever they like.

Like DPRreview there are tons of “evangelists” who will jump on you if you say anything negative about the brand/camera/lens mentioned in the article… unless it is Canon. Nobody cares if you bash Canon.

I won’t go so far as to declare FStoppers a total scam, but I will say this:

fstoppers is just stupid

Petapixel.com

Yet another “aggregator” style website, PetaPixel is in the business of profiting off of other peoples content much like FStoppers.com. Even their tutorials are mostly just random articles they took from other websites.

Funnily enough, since FStoppers and PetaPixel use the same Disqus powered commenting system, you’ll find that PetaPixel comments are littered with many of the same trolls as FStoppers. As soon as you criticize a certain product, they show up to hate on you like a horde of angry monkeys. Oddly enough, the trolls seem to have a lot of leeway in how they’re allowed to talk to others, usually with an extremely derisive and condescending tone.

Sounds like fun doesn’t it?

Hey, you may like arguing with trolls, but if you’re interested in photography, find somewhere else to hang out and stop supporting these lazy aggregator sites.

As far as lazy aggregator websites go it’s better than the previously mentioned websites, but it’s still just a funnel for other people’s content. And it’s heavily geared toward click bait titles and rank amateurs.

It’s not a scam, and it’s not totally stupid but:

petapixel is lazy crap

YouTube.com

Has the “Everything For Free” crowd died in a fire yet? Who is tired of advertisements everywhere all the time? Not anyone who visits YouTube apparently…

You’re probably thinking it’s not YouTube’s fault that their website is filled with paid advertisements pretending to be genuine content, right? Do you as a consumer have a right to know when you are watching a paid advertisement vs. a legitimate comparison or review? I mean, if I know Sony is paying a YouTuber to make videos then I guess I can pretty much guess what that YouTuber’s opinion is going to be. I don’t need to watch the video to know the conclusion…

YouTube.com may not be totally at fault, and sure, they’re actually helping content creators make a buck. And some might say if a content creator gets paid by Sony, good for them, but honestly, does that make that person a good source of information? Not in my opinion.

Sad reality is most of the top YouTubers are supported by the companies whose products they’re reviewing, not by YouTube.com. If you really want to get to know the truth about a product I would avoid YouTube. Even when the videos appear to not be selling something they can do things to the footage to manipulate it and make one product look worse than the other.

It just can’t be trusted one iota.

In the end, for me, while not every video on YouTube is a scam (videos of cats are definitely not a scam), I find that:

YouTube is mostly a scam.

KickStarter.com

I wouldn’t even be close to the first person to call KickStarter a scam, and honestly, you can actually buy things there and I have done that. But there is a simple reality about KickStarter, and that is they do not under any circumstances refund your money…

That seems odd right?

Here’s the thing, taking people’s money while knowing that you can’t deliver the product to them as promised, is in fact… A CRIME.

If I tell you I can get you a new camera for $500 then deliver a plastic box that doesn’t work, will you feel that I dealt with you honestly or will you feel that you were defrauded?

Maybe KickStarter was “started” with the best intentions, maybe not. Maybe the people who started it genuinely wanted to give the little guy a way to bring his mighty idea to life using the power of crowdfunding!

Thing is, when you start throwing words around like “genuine” at most corporations you’ll find that such words are a vast and tragic perversion of the reality behind the corporation in question.

Let me ask you something very simple… was KickStarter KickStarted??

It was not, in fact a quick browse of Wikipedia reveals a few nasty surprises: “Kickstarter reportedly raised $10 million in funding from backers including NYC-based venture firm Union Square Ventures and angel investors such as Jack DorseyZach Klein and Caterina Fake.”

Newsflash… KickStarter was funded by rich people who want to get richer. It is a for-profit corporation that takes your money and doesn’t give a shit what happens after that.

Their description of themselves is actually hilarious, they call themselves a “public benefit company”. Maybe it is just me but I’ve never in my life heard that description used for a company. Usually when you run into weird pronouncements like that you’re dealing with a scam, and considering KickStarter’s basic policy of never issuing a refund, I call a spade a spade:

Final Thoughts:

When you get down to it, there are more scam sites than not scam sites, it’s kind of how the world goes round. The question is, do you want to be stuck on the tilta-whirl throwing up your popcorn in your girlfriends face, or do you want to get back to reality and actually learn and do something?

My advice is to stop supporting these scam websites and their BS. Sure some goof on KickStarter had a half decent idea but ask yourself this… if the idea is so great and so easy to do that some random on the internet begging for money can do it, don’t you think an actual corporation that makes things like that would have done it already??

KickStarter doesn’t care about your money, YouTube doesn’t care about your time, DPReview doesn’t care whether cameras are good or not, they just want the big money tree in the sky to keep dumping cash in their laps.

There is good news! We at LearnPhotographySkills.com simply don’t care about corporate hand outs. We’re not trying to make a living off this website. It’s something we do because we love it. And we write every article on this website. We don’t aggregate and we don’t tell lies, we tell it how we see it and we use the gear we love or can afford to use not the gear someone is paying us to use.

Thanks for visiting LearnPhotographySkills.com and I look forward to seeing you around in the future!

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