Crappy Vs Snappy

Note:  All images were created to my clients specification for specific use in their marketing materials.

If you share this page or my crappy vs snappy photos you must


Why not have some high impact “key images” in your archives to be used in marketing situations that obtain high visibility like magazine articles, e-articles, tradeshow booths or news coverage? Oh sure, you can do your own photos, but would you let a photographer run your scoop?  A Jackleg?  Maybe weld something?    A scoop has a gas pedal, brake pedal  and steering wheel right?  Well I know how to drive, but there are loads of factors that also go into the process of operating a scoop, just like there are loads of factors that are involved in creating high impact images for your company.  A lot of times I see subpar images (not by other photographers, but non-photographers) being used in marketing materials, websites and tradeshow booths that do not do the company justice.  I’m not saying you need to spend a fortune to obtain great photography for your company but why settle for “good enough”?  If you can see the difference & know the difference then hire a photographer that has the experience, skills and equipment to create high impact images your company deserves.  (check out the publications page and see some examples of how my clients have used their image)

There is a huge difference between crappy and snappy.  Which would you choose?

When placing your products into industry magazine, impact is the eye catcher.

mining ontario

Mining Industrial Equipment Rentals should look at updating their images.

This scenario was SCREAMING “Impact!”

Something as simple as this can have that “Wow Factor”

Another Crappy Vs Snappy

What a difference a little lighting makes.

Refurbishing before/after images should be handled the same way.


76 Responses to Crappy Vs Snappy

  • You friggin ROCK James….would love to learn from you.

  • Love this post James! Great stuff.

  • Photos look great James.  Mining Photographer! Wow!

  • Wonderful and fresh approach!!! Great idea and well done.

  • Fantastic campaign, I've been trying to educate clients in my niche about similar things (I work in kitchens, bathrooms and interiors).

    Beautiful lighting!


    Keep up the great work.

  • Great post James.  I love seeing this kind of stuff! 

  • Saw your article in PDN.  Great photos and approach…Would you mind sharing the lighting equipment you generally use for the portraits and large machinery? Thanks!

    • Thanks David.  I use all small portable flashes, Some Vivitars, Lumopro's and if I need some thing bigger I have some Alien Bees on hand.

  • Fantastic photography. Your lighting is perfect. I wonder how many times you need to clean your camera a year working in those conditions.

  • Photography and humor. . .this is the best!


  • The sad thing is how many people think you can just take the crappy pics and turn them into snappy with photoshop.  People, this isn't the case.  The photographer is doing an awesome job of balancing ambietm and adding key lights to accent the action or subject.  Really nice, sharp work.  

  • Fabulous work James.  When will people learn that the one thing they can't buy at the camera retailers is the 'knowledge & skill'.  Superb use of small strobes and balancing ambient and flash.  Excellent work !

    Regards, Drew.

  • fantastic work! You really drive home the importance of knowing your craft and doing it well.

  • You tell 'em James!! This should be manditory reading for anyone hiring a photographer.

    You get what you pay for…and you should get paid a lot! Nice work.


    Arclight Images


  • that is some funny stuff. love it

  • By farthe best marketing idea and friendly client teaching tool I came!! Well done.

    Best of Luck, vincent

  • Well done.  Found this via via Zite.  Hope all the attention helps!  The side by side comparisons certainly speak for themselves.



  • Great post James! Some really good examples of equipment and situations that can be hard to make look really engaging, and a great educational tool for potential clients about what hiring someone with expertise and experience can really bring to the table. 

  • Great stuff James! Most people won't see the difference until the shots are side by side – then they start to pay some respect!


    Joel K

  • Great pictures. Could you share with us some lighting tips or "deconstruct" your images? Your lighting is amazing.

  • Great pictures!  Great idea!  Well done!

  • Not in all cases easy to tell which one shall be the crappy one.

  • So, the trick is the lighting. Make the background darker, subject in higher relief. I have to say, while the ‘snappy’ photos do look better, they are not so much better I’d pay much for them, over doing it myself. I think the ‘crappy’ ones would look a lot better had they simply not used a flash, but what do I know about photography? I just know what I like. I suppose it depends on what one wishes to use the photos for. Great comparison in any case.

    • No, the trick is not “just the lighting”.  The trick is the lighting, composition, post processing, professionalism on the shoot, safety awareness and mimimal loss of production time while shooting.  Most amature “crappy” shots have non of these.  Some of the crappy shots here are taken while I was there, so I actually setup the shot, placed the subject in the proper position and such and it was snapped.  When your working with million and billion dollar corporations why should they settle for a crappy image when they can get so much more.  It does cost more for better quality in almost anything.  Don’t settle for “good enough”.

  • Well done!
    People always ask me what camera I use. It's not the camera, it's YOU who makes the pictures. If one does not have a vision, one can not see.
    I like your work, very inspiring.



    • When they ask what camera I have I tell them a big one.  80mp LOL.  I then tell them I can do the same images with a Canon AE-1 .

    • They ask you what camera you use? Really? Maybe it’s because my clients are corporation, and they don’t care what are the tools for the job, as long that the job is done and with results in the quality range they want. But yes, the tools will do about 10% to 20% of the job, the rest is up to you!

  • Is this HDR?  What lights are you using?

    • No Mark, these are not HDR (in the technical sense).  I am not photographing 4 or 5 different images and combining them for one image.  The images are out of camera and post processed.  Sometimes I try to create that HDR look if it’s warranted for the image and how it’s going to be used.  Heavy equipment and such is VERY mundane and boring.  My goal is to have it stand out or pop out what is usually a dark or cluttered background.  These are all done on site and normally I cannot stop production or move things around.  This is why I also use very small flashes like Vivitar 285’s and Lumopros for quick setup. Most images are created in a few minutes.

  • You absolutely show the difference between crappy and snappy.  Absolutely.  Only those people that believe they are pro photographers but only produce the "crappy" shots would be critical of this.  Great work.  If you can't see the difference, you don't belong behind the camera as a "pro".

    • Not even the difference between a pro and non pro.  It’s the difference between a good photograph and a snapshot.  You dont’ have to be a professional to create images like these, but you do need some skills other than putting the camera on auto and firing away.  Thanks for the comment. 🙂

  • wow – i like your idea ))) learning by seeing. very nice way to communicate the old problem.

    You have made me smile. Keep on.

  • Beautiful. Exactly what I need to show to others when they doubt about not just photography, but other professions people think "it's easy" to accomplish the same thing (like Web design)

  • You did a great job with this post. I love it. It's a very visual way to teach the different results that can be achieved using any photograph, or hiring a professional. Incredible.

  • So its basically, bend for the picture being in a good angle, use a propper light forget about flash, and use HDR 🙂

  • I get the idea but the post processing is there too. Th professional not only made the picture only with the camera his friend PS was there too 

  • beenig a profesional photograper is not only about taking good pictures, thay is half the way, any one can take good pictures even without the DSLR, there is a lot more.

  • thebest part is same amount or maybe less downtown for the gear to get it done properly. If the client screws up and has to reshoot, well now you've doubled the downtime for a crappy image!

    Nice work, anyone armchair QB who chimes in with "I coulda lit it better" BS on this thread, has never tried being creative while all Safety-ied up with the eye, ear protection, steel toes etc all the while in possibly extreme hot or cold conditions.

  • Incredible photos. Really comunicative! They are art, not only photos.

  • Incredible way to show to people how difficult is a photographer's work. Lot of people think is very easy to take a picture. I receive a lot of requests for retouch personal works made by the customer directly, because not meet the requirements. I explain that is not easy to take a good photography. The preparation, camera position, lighting and experience is imperative. Thank you very much for explain it in this very clear and visual way!

  • Bravo! I love the way you make pictures talk for yourself!

  • What a fantastic showcase for getting a professional shot. In my industry I'm extremely lucky to work with some wonderful professional photogaphers and they make my life soooo much better. Glad your picures are worth a thousand words, something a lot of companies should see.

  • Love all the pics, seems like black mesa research lab! 

  • don't use the flashlight

  • I want to know how to take this photo?

  • Hello James.

    I do like the kind of photography you do, especially for the subject. I've read you use small flashes to light up. Are you using any accesories like softboxes or umbrellas? Which ones did you use in the pics of the forklifts for exmple? 




    • Hello Diana.  I am using small sunpacks and Lumopros.  No modifiers on these images.  I will use small softboxes if required to often the light, but normally on a time constraint I don’t.

  • So you just applied an Instagram filter, right?


    • Actually, my newer camera has instagram built right in. 🙂  All images taken with my android phone. 🙂

  • Hello James

    Excellent job your photography is unique, we have to learn from you!!! What software, Pluging, etc, do you used for retouching and post produccion work? 



  • This is really cool. Looks like off camera flash mixed with high speed sync to lower the background light, and a little HDR treatment. 

  • Great work James. I really like what you do. I was just contacted by a mining equipment manufacturer to shoot in a mine here in the Midwest. Unfortunately they were looking for someone who has experience shooting underground. Some of their concerns were that it can be excessively moist and often with water underfoot. I assume that dust is a major issue also. After studying your site I have come to determine that a typical trip into a mine might include the following gear: A) 1-2 camera bodies, B) 3 lenses; 14, 24, 50mm C) 1-tripod, D) 3-4 Speedlights, E) Radio triggers for all lights, F) 2 light stands, G) A few small grip items. H) CTO Gels for color correction and effects.
    I am also interested in what clothing and gear might be necessary. Would you be kind enough to educate me a bit concerning these questions. I’m sure, more than anything it is essential to work swiftly and safely. I can see that you definitely have a long history with the mining industry and would be grateful for your input.
    All the best, Brian Barkley

  • Amazing work. Nice of you to share.
    How many flashes do you typically use on a job?
    All the best

    • There is no typical. It all depends on what I am photographing and how many lights I need. Anywhere from 1 to 8.

  • Sudbury. Hah! Great example of niche marketing.
    i agree with most others that this is a wonderful way to demonstrate your art.
    And that:
    a. you get what you pay for.
    b. superior photography really is worth paying more for.
    c. original work beat stock most of the time.
    d. Industrial sites can look as great as retail sites with the right photography.
    As far as those who can’t see or wouldn’t pay more for your work – sad but typical. How ever did these people get into marketing?

  • I love your wotk. fantastic

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