Friday, September 29, 2006

The Email...

I think the marketplace is a much better place today because of how connected we are and how every business is now forced to operate in a very open and transparent way. We must treat everyone with respect and help others succeed in order to succeed. I'm sure many of you will agree that it's this giving and sharing attitude that has propelled photographers like Gary Fong, Bambi Cantrell, Denis Reggie, and Mike Colon into the top ranks of our industry and I was beyond flattered to be mentioned in this email with them. All of these people have spent years giving of themselves and transforming this industry and those of us in it into an amazing place to "work" - if we can even call it that.

This email is from a photographer in Tennessee named Derek Lee and I think he makes some very accurate realizations in his email. He seems to have realized that the successful photographers in this industry have become successful not because of their art but because of their attitude. So right on! Isn't it true that our attitude has the ability to be a huge disqualifer in our lives. If we have a poor and bitter attitude it can hold us back from so much happiness and success and so I'm really stoked that Derek has realized that.

One thing that bothered me about Derek though is that when you go to the front page on his website and scroll down you see that he did a google search or something and then pasted all the other Tennessee photographers names into his webpage to try and siphon exposure from their names. Seems like an odd thing to do.

For the few of you that read my blog I'm wondering what you think about all this? The email is pretty funny.... :) Enjoy. I put my thoughts in bold...


In my thoughts below, is what I feel to be the truth. And it aggravates me to
no end. I truly feel that you select photographers are NOT the best. The
media and good marketing skills have made you so.

Ok...Derek...why does that aggravate you so much?

I told Bambi that she is nothing more than a "gimmick" that photography
equipment manufacturers use to endorse / sell their product.

That's a mean thing to say.

And that MOST any decent photographer can take any two attractive models, dress
them up as a bride and groom, and win print competitions, write a book, etc.

You are right and most decent photographers do. Isn't it great that they share their work and knowledge with us.

I wanted to know what made her better than all the photographers that are just
as good as she is ................................. like myself.

Maybe her attitude...

Yes, I consider myself just as good as Bamboo and Dennis Reggae.

That's great that you are confident in your work. That's an important first step. The next step is getting other people to think you are as good as you think you are...that's where marketing comes in.

I'm upset that these two people and a few others shine like they do in the spotlight, when all it really amounts to is they got a lucky break.

Samuel Goldwyn said, "The harder I work, the luckier I get."

They were in the right place at the right time. It's not that they are better
than the 500 other great photographers there are in the USA. It's just that
Dennis got a lucky break shooting a high profile wedding, and then it
snowballed into him being the celeb's choice photographer. Why did the celebs
keep choosing him? Because he is good, consistent and likeable, NOT because he
is the BEST. Dennis Reggae is NOT THE BEST. There are many, many other
photographers that can do JUST as good a job as he can.

Another great observation. Who we know and more importantly who knows us is a very important thing in business.

But it has EVOLVED into him being "the best". Because "the best" can sell an
Eskimo a block of ice. The market needs people like Dennis and Bambi to sell
it's goods.

Are you an Eskimo?

Consider this, I have a "Widget" for sale that helps you make better pictures, I
go place an ad and sell a few. Now, Dennis and Bamboo team up and run an ad
saying "We use Widget for our photography". Those widgets would sell out in
record time.

So right on...glad you pointed this out because it's so true. Advertising doesn't really work anymore because consumers have been too overwhelmed by ads so now they rely on recomendations from the people they trust to help them make purchasing decisions. It's exactly why my Showit Web widget works so well to get more weddings.

Now Dennis is offering 8 people to come to his home for $1950 so he can make a
fast $16000 and show off his home and tell you his philosophy and show you some
technique. This is, if anything, for aspiring photographers that have $1950 to
spend without missing it and want a little get away. Otherwise, go take that
$1950 and buy the best lens you can, go spend a day shooting and taking notes.
That is how to learn photography. NOT by giving Bamboo $2000 at some hotel.

There are many ways to learn...I learned tons and saved myself so much time and frustration from hearing Denis, Mike, and Gary speak.

I truly, truly in believe these people: Denis, Bambi, David J, Fong are running
over-priced seminars aimed at aspiring photographers with slick marketing
tactics to get you to come, just to feed their greedy hearts, and you take
nothing away that you either didn't already know or could have learned on your
own, and bought yourself a $2000 lens instead. And they are even marketing to
photographers of my level, like I'm gonna pay $2000 to hear what I already
know? Paleeze .............

I actually haven't ever done my own seminar but I have done workshops through the Brooks Institue and the people who attended seemed to come away pretty happy and there businesses are growing and their lives are hopefully more free as well. :) That's great that you already know everything that Gary, Denis, Bambi are teaching...maybe you should do a seminar and share your knowldege and do a workshop because there are a lot of people out there that don't know everything and are excited about learning.

Fong did NOT make his fortune in photography, he really isn't that great of a
photographer, he made his wealth in real estate and of course selling
photography related products.

Fong is super smart, probably has a very high IQ. He has marketed himself well
as the "Mr. Know It All when it comes to photography" which he does know alot.
Fong's seminars are for aspiring photographers only. I purchased his
lightsphere and swear by it, I will continue to use it until something better
comes along.

Yup - Fong is really really smart and everyone should have a Lightsphere.

I also purchased his DVD seminar set, and was furious by what a piece of
worthless junk it is. I felt ripped off by him, I felt as if he stole my money
and didn't care. I asked many times for a refund,

I ended up selling it to someone else on ebay. I felt like a crook myself for selling it on ebay.

So why did you sell it to them if it made you feel like a crook? Did they ask you for a refund?

If you take notice, David Jay is the new name being spotlighted. Guess what!
He has his own product for sale too! No! Really?

Yea - Showit Web is cool. I just got this email from Mike Colon a few minutes ago and I'm so glad that Showit Web and Fong's products are helping so many people.

Hmmmm, lets see:

Famous name = sells product

Fong would be proud.

Yes I hope he is. Fong is like my merchandising dad. He has taught me and everyone so much about how to create a better business through merchandising and I've heard from so many people that his Album PreDesign concept has done incredible things for their business. He's great and I hope he's proud. :)

Hey wait a minute!! Isn't that David Jays logo on Gary Fongs Album ShowCase
creator !!!!!

By damn it is! Ok, now that explains everything, Gary discovered David and
said "Hey, I'm gonna make you famous so you can sell products under your name"
"People are going to think you created it and they will buy it and we will
split the profit" "I have my team of software designers working on a program
for you to peddle as we speak"

hmmm...maybe there is a conspiracy going I'm excited for the day when Gary invents something and then gives me half of the profits on the sales to put my logo on it.

Marketing = Gary Fong You gotta hand it to him, he is smart and makes more
money than all the other high profilers out there.

But I'm still mad about the rip-off DVD set.

Lastly, what about Bamboo AKA Bambi AKA Bam Bam... Paleeze stop with the

I haven't used any nicknames

A long time ago, she took some models, dressed them like a real bride and groom,
took all day to get the perfect shot. She wins a print competition. She writes
a book, (Well, ok, she didn't REALLY write it herself, the Prez of WPPI wrote it
for her), puts in some pictures that any decent photographer can take, slaps her
name on the front and it sells a buttload, I actually own it. She is likeable,
and has a cute name, she is named after a well-loved Disney character. She
shoots a high profile wedding or two and the next thing you know, BAMBI IS THE

Good for you for picking up a copy.

No, she isn't. She has pretty pictures that any decent photographer, like
myself, can take.

These people above with the exception of Fong, all have been at the right place
at the right time. They're not the best, that's what the marketers want you to
think, because only the best can sell ice to Eskimos.

My dad always said that if I focus my business on helping other people I would always have plenty of if at some point an Eskimo wants to buy some ice from me and I can help her out by selling her some then I will happily do so.



theshotshot. said...


that's the craziest thing i've ever read. lol.

this dude sounds like he's fallen for all the tricks he hates so much and is so aware of. "i hate bambi" - i have her book. "fong is a joke" - i bought the dvd, and love his lightsphere...

hahaha...this is super sad and super amusing all at the same time.

dj, i'm thinking i'll write you my own email soon. i've been wanting to. my wife and i have been following you and your work for close to a year and a half now. you are THE MAIN influence on us, our photography and our atitudes toward our business.

we visited the webinar and loved every second of it. showit web and showit effects were recently included into our workflow and we LOVE them. we do a lot of seniors and JUST THIS WEEK we started using showit web to be the ONLY source of proofs for them. it's working out great.

the buzz has begun.

one day it would be great to meet you.

like i said, i'll write you an email soon. until then, we also wanted you to know that we're also SO encouraged in our christian faith to be able to look at young people like ourselves (i'm 23 and my wife is 19) and see God blessing them in the same area of talent that he has blessed us.


keep up the good work. you're being an awesome steward of God's gifts.

you rule.

later man.

nate and brittany.

Jeff said...

Wow, that dude is mad. I checked out his web site. He needs to focus some of that negative energy at others into positive energy and improving his image. Thanks DJ for your outstanding positive energy directed at others.

Gary Fong, Author said...

DJ, you have arrived big time when you can be on the same hate list as Denis, Bambi, Mike and myself.

You know you've arrived when resentful people hate your success!

Melissa Carl said...

wow gary... what have you created? LOL

we love you DJ!!! You are freaken hilarious! Like camille said "you handeled that with class" and it was damn funny! Love it!

(lock your doors, you are now on the hit list)

Bentley said...

There is a difference between jealousy and envy. Jealousy is when you want what someone else has.

Envy is when you don't want someone to have what they have because YOU don't have it.

I think falls into the envy category.


Dane Sanders said...

I'm so jealous ... I think I might try and join in the conspiracy just to get mentioned with you superstars.

Class act DJ ...

Jillian Kay said...

WOW. that is HILLARIOUS. LOVE IT. your responses rock.

as part of my "mental exercises" to prepare myself like a warrior to begin my business, i asked myself a question yesterday:

"imagine you're successful. what will your seminar be on?"

this morning in the car i finally figured out my answer (and proceeded to give a 30 minute seminar to the dash board):

"The Photographer's Personality"

and it was all about how to get people excited and confident about you by the way you act, react, talk, how you present yourself, and what you associate yourself with....and that's pretty much what this guy said too. he didn't know it, but all his sarcastic remarks are very true & we should STUDY them. :)

Michael Boardman said...

hmm this email is truly sad and amuzing (like +shotshot mentioned).

However, what's his problem? Seriously! Of course people are going to try their best to make a name for themselves and their company. That's what being in business is all about. Just because others (like the Fong's, Colon's, DJ's and others) were able to market themselves and package their skills along with other business outlets (like products, instructional DVD's and other mechandise), it doesn't mean he (or anybody) has to bash them for what they've achieved. They've worked hard to get to where they are now.

Now it's true, that some people get the easy breaks or things just seem to fall into place for them. But for everyone else, that just means we have to work that much harder to even reach the same level as the "great" photographers. You just don't sit back and bitch about their success, you go out there and work your hardest.

Do what you can to learn from the "greats" in our industry (or any other industry) and use your energy embrace what they have to say and learn from them, rather than just sit back and bad-mouth them.

To me, i truly look at these guys as being inovative and very smart. A business man (or business woman) in it's true sense, is a person who has the ability to juggle several different entities at once and make these entities successful. of course, some endeavors will fail, but a business person doesn't just quit, they move on to other potential business entities and see if they can make that successful.

personally, DJ isn't a great photographer (sorry DJ), but you do have a damn good eye!! Seriously (im not saying im better, either). But he has been successful in business due to the different outlets he's provide for himself. In addition, the attitude he carries with him when he approaches every encounter is positive, open-minded and confident, and that goes a long way with the clients or business partners.

This email sounds like it came from a unhappy and jealous person who is unable to put together a successful photography business. Maybe he needs to start attending more of your seminars to "see the light".

okay, enough ranting for the evening. Im off to enjoy my weekend fishing or something non-productive.

Anonymous said...

Hey DJ!

With all the keyword stuffing on his front page, I'm pretty sure he is just linkbaiting the top dogs of the wedding photography industry for a higher search engine rank.

Put a rel="nofollow" on your links to his site so it doesn't count in Google pagerank.

Example: Visit my discount pharmaceuticals site.


Holritz Photography said...



Shot by Candy said...

WOW is right! He seems pretty bitter, perhaps he should consider a carreer move?????

Gary Fong, Author said...

Why do people think that guys like us get lucky breaks. When I was shooting weddings for $150, saving every penny, it sure didn't seem lucky to me!

And I've been on tour with Denis. He prepares and organizes and does his research and works very very hard. Here's another thing - ok so he got a big wedding once and got notariety for it. If he couldn't deliver, his career would be done, and he's been at it 30 years now at the top of the industry.

So break or no break if you cannot perform, you are done in an instant.

Daniel J. Watkins said...

Classic! :)

Say, have you heard the one about the brand new photographer who got a flat tire on his way to a photo convention?

As soon as he got there, a hundred photographers offered to sell him a DVD on their secret to changing the tire! [rimshot]

I need to do a seminar! But I may need a new daddy first... ;P And I'll need some people who hait on me too...oh, wait...I already have that!!!

|| davidjay || said...

What great responses and thanks to all of you for joining in the conversation. I think it's huge when things like this are brought out into the light.

The reality is that we spend too much time trying to act professional and we need to spend more time just being personable! Jillian nailed it - "The Photographers Personality" is what matters most! So let's focus on those things!

We spend years and years developing our art and learning all the technical stuff and we don't spend any time at all learning how to be better people.

Jillian - you are already successful and when you give that seminar I will be the first to sign up. You are right on and it's something we all need to constantly be improving on.

Anonymous said...

wait, you DO have a nickname ... its DJ ... now, you're really on the blacklist ..

note to self: scratch nashville off list of tour stops for my new seminar ... ha ha

Eddie Scheffer said...

that is the most silly e-mail i have seen in a while, holy moly,
i am just sitting here and my jaw dropped!!!!

I am just speechless............:)

John said...

Hey David!

Wow...seems to me Derek Lee has sour grapes big time.

The truth of the matter is I'm blown away at what all you mentors do for us, esp. people like me who are so new and green in the industry I've come to absolutely LOVE and care deeply about. People like yourself, Denis, Bambi, Mike Colon, Gary Fong, etc. prove to me how much you CARE about the industry when in fact you all should be too rich to care, yet you do. That speaks VOLUMES to me. As an example, I was totally BLOWN away that Gary Fong would take the time (when he didn't HAVE TO Derek!!) to teach me all his business secrets for $79- are you kidding me?? I would have gladly paid 10X that much!! What I saw of this industry 20 years ago completely turned me off from becoming a wedding photographer, and I'm so grateful it's not the same industry it was thanks to pros like you.

And I'm flattered too that I'm mentioned here!

john schafer

Jen Kroll said...

What a sad life. I can't imagine waking up every day with such a bitter, bitter soul. Caustic. I think he needs a friend.

Truly, I feel like we are in such an amazing industry with such humble and generous leaders. Yes, we all have families or Mac addictions to feed. But my career has exploded by spending the money on the products and seminars and learning what works and what doesn't before I make the mistakes myself. I would consider that wisdom, not buying ice. So Gary, Mike, and DJ...know that you are appreciated and making a significant difference.

Daniel J. Watkins said...

Be nice to Derek Lee...he plays for the Cubs...which makes you really feel sorry for the guy, no?

amynave said...

I agree with Jen. It's definitely a sad life that he leads. Can you imagine what goes through this guys head every single day. I can't even imagine. How can someone that miserable live each day and be happy with who they are.

Anyways I think he needs a hug. DJ your the huggy (is that a word)type of guy:) LOL....

P.S. after reading this letter a couple of times it made me even more thankful to have DJ and Gary in my life. You guys are sooooo smart:)


Daniel J. Watkins said...

Amy've got it backwards. DJ and Gary should be / are the thankful ones. ;)

Tim Halberg said...


The Alpha Course said...

A Classic.

Well handled DJ.

Alison B. said...

double wow.

David Burke said...

Man. I am going to say a prayer for ole Derek! God Bless Him.

DJ, Mike, Gary, Bambi & Denis - I am so thankful everyday for your personalities, expertise, generosity, products, inspiration, seminars, etc... I would not be where I am if it were not for all of you.

So Thank you!!!

Jilian said it best about the 'Photographer's Personality'. It is the absolute truth.

Keep it up DJ!!

ron said...

Ouch! I have heard people like this before. And I think there is no changing them. I suspect that he now has had more exposure than he ever.

Well remember..."forgive." ;)

Please tell all those mentioned...Gary, Bambi, Dennis, Mike just how much we appreciate them!

We would all be toast without them. Well, I think I am going to get back to watching Garys' Getting Rich DVD!

Anonymous said...

Being angry, envious or jealous breeds bitterness which can destroy his life. LET IT GO DEREK.
I think that this guy is missing the point of business. It is fine to refine your craft to be the best. But almost every successful company out there doesn't necessarily have the best product or service, they have the better full package with a good or great product or service.
In the photography business, your biggest asset isn't your skills, or being the best, it is being personable and likable to your clients.
You can advertise till you are blue in the face, but if you are not a pleasant person to be around or work with, then it doesn't matter how good you are, you will not go anywhere. It is the people that work on their presence; what they say, what they do around their clients that are the successful ones.
I am quite sure that the photographers in question, including DJ, will readily admit that they aren't the best photographers out there, but that doesn't matter. The skill is a small part of the larger picture, and it sounds like this guy doesn't get it and is bitter about it.

My two cents,


Anonymous said...

I'll never understand the motivation of someone to write such a letter. What is he trying to accomplish? To change you? It's like a catepillar trying to talk a butterfly into going back to being a catepillar.
But you show your character and attitude and rise above it. Reminds me of a Chuck Swindoll poem entitled "Attitude".
Things like this will just remind you how completely blessed you are and to pray that God opens up this guys eyes. Fellowship, community, networking... that's way God intended it.

Jeff East said...

Wow, how bitter can you get?

Toronto Wedding&Portrait Photographer, Andreas. said...

Yep, that is very funny. Especially after seeing his site!! Hey I fully understand his angst, but at some point dude, you kind of have to just kick back and enjoy the business you are in, and focus on doing good, not being a jackass. Gary designed the fongdong and you k now, it rocks! Yeah it's expensive for a piece of plastic - but what does it allow us to do? Take great photos with a litttle flash unit. Overpriced DVDs..well, I won't buy them, but if you feel they are worth it then buy it, if you don't..then don't buy it! Clearly he is jealous and envious of the "big names".
Here is something to think about...denis, bambi, colon may be BIG names to US and our industry, but some bride calling them up has no idea who they are and they have to do sell themselves just as hard as you do to get that job. That's the beauty of our industry - new clients every, i just dont get why people get so mad over stupid things like this.

Kevin Sturm said...


First, you impress me. Not getting dragged into that type of a conversation shows how much class you have.

For those of you that read this and feel like this guy does, I've known David long before he became DJ, was a great wedding photographer, or a successful businessman. David is sincere, honest, and genuially wants to helps others be successful. In the process, he has become successful.

There are thousands of people out there with great ideas, some that act on them, and they never achieve success becuase of how they treat people. Or just how they treat themselves in life.

If Derick reads this, here is a bit of advice from someone that is not involved with weddings or photography in any way...but knows a little about business.

All the people that you named have been successful, and it may be because they are good at what they do. But I would bet they are successful because they "stage a great experience for their guests". A great photography that takes great photos but stages a poor experience will be less successful then a good photographer that stages a great experience.

Based on the attitude of this guy, my guess is the experience as his customer isn't too great. Bitter people are generally bitter, and not fun to hang out with...which you want in a photographer. They are going to be part of an intimate day in your life.

My wedding had a very accomplished photographer, but he staged a poor experience and I don't even remember his name. Based on what I've know of DJ, no couple ever forgets DJ's name...not because he takes great photos (or even good based on your opinion), but stages a great experience.

Success in today's market is largely based on experience versus product. Not always, but often.

Jen Kroll said...

DJ--how funny that you know max. small world!

shelly said...

you know you're doing something right when you are making people that envious!
all of you, keep up the amazing work!

Anonymous said...

So what is his take on Modern Art, like the kind where its a white canvass and a black line going down 1/3 to the right? Any body could have created that, but some guy was able to SELL it! Or take a photoshop gradient and paint it on a canvass, thats art too. Trust me, I hate it, but what can I do? I didn't come up with the idea to make it and sell it to a museum... think about it

- mDavis

Melissa Jill :) said...

This is MADNESS! Unbelieveable. I completely agree with you David, of course. This guy needs to be loved. Let's all go give him a group hug.

I couldn't agree more that David (sorry--I still can't get used to the "DJ" thing :)) is a great example of how important attitude is for your success in this business. But I am offended for you that people feel free to say "you're not a great photographer." I know you open the door for them by saying there are tons of other better photographers out there than you in all your talks but it still makes me mad. Who do these people think they are? I admire your work so much--always have, always will. Despite what you say, I know it's been a huge part of your success. All the other photographers mentioned in the email would also be in the "great" category. People relate to their images. It takes both talent and attitude and we shouldn't just focus on your attitude and say you're not talented. That just makes me mad.

Anonymous said...

ok i have to chime in here. dj i love you bro, i really do, but does no one else think the responses here are a little cheesy? handled this professionally? how much time did it take you to type stuff out, copy and paste, etc etc? that must have taken forever. and now the guy has been blasted publicly for it. i hope he learns his lesson, and has somewhat of an attitude change, but i think this is something you might look back upon and not feel great about deeej. im not saying the guy was right by any means obviously (you all know me), but im not sure how anyone benefitted from this blog post. maybe you can tell me who benefitted from this? who prospered? if no one did then why post it?

everyone is hammering the guy for negativity, but then they are so quick to add more negativity. sure i dont agree with his views, but i dont think hammering him in front of 1000s of people makes me any better.

heres hoping that derek wisens up a little, and goes to someone's workshop and gets really inspired and excited!! and also that we all learn to ignore stuff sometimes instead of using our blog as an outlet for more negativity.

Anonymous said...

I was not going to chime in, but I read Luke's post at 9am about not being helpful.

I think he is wrong. This post has helped me.

Lately, I have let the negativity of others bring me down. This is the swift kick in the pants I needed to get me back on track.

Anonymous said...

eeerrrrr.... where did the rest of what a said go... Luke does make an interesting post... and it would make for a good debate...

|| davidjay || said...

I think everyone who has participated in the conversation by reading or posting has benefited. We've all learned that if you treat people poorly lots of people will find out about it and it will affect your business.

It's not easy to post stuff like this and it did take me about 30 minutes to do but if I don't do it than nobody will and too many people will continue to hurt people without any consequences.

Daniel J. Watkins said...

Luke -- you and I are totally on the same page here. \o/

I see everyone dogpiling on is that going to get him to change? I just don't get it...

If you've ever managed people may have learned the lesson of "praise in public, criticize in private" and how much more effective this approach is than its' alternative.

If DJ called Derek and had a discussion with him in person...I'd be willing to bet they would find a LOT of common ground...and perhaps Derek might change his opinion of more than one industry leader.

But getting a bunch of people to say things like "this guy is sad" etc., how is that going to change Derek? (...and don't just jump to the conclusion that he can't be changed...that's not how a lovecat would do it...)

The good news is...many people can learn from experiences such as these. For's a "how to" lesson...for others, it's a "how not to" lesson.

Just my thoughts for the moment (or my capricious desire to keep this thread ALIVE!!! mu-ah-ha-ha-ha-ha...).

Carole Foret said...

I was stunned to read that email. Sad to know that someone would display their envy out for all to see. Pray for him. We are all strong in each other through our Saviour...Thinking about that email most of the day yesterday, I must agree with Jen as well, that it IS personality, your spirit, your infectiousness that brings you success in business and life. My sister and I were celebrating good news Friday(of being contacted by a large model/talent agency to work with finally!). That opportunity came solely on our personalities (and Southern accents-haha). The agent even said that the photog we may replace had awesome work, but that ours was as good. So what is making her search for a new one/two? I can't help but think it's personality. And when you're dealing with "the twins"--you've got DOUBLE!

David, you know you're an awesome photographer, business person, and full of great spirit/personality! I know this didn't shake you...

Look forward to meeting you soon!


Adam R. Owens said...

How disrespectful to mispell their names on purpose! He needs a little help! in many areas.....

Anonymous said...

i've never witnessed one person destroy so many possibilities with one single stupid email. this guy is in my prayers; may God bring people into his life that will be a better example to him than apparently he's had up to this point in his life... maybe that's you, David?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

He's just upset he can't figure out how to get clients to willingly pay $10k for photography. Oh ... and have the clients smile while writing and turning over the check.


What a moaner.