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Think you've got what it takes to be a professional photographer? You're probably wrong. I was.
Think you've got what it takes to be a professional photographer? You're probably wrong. I was.
Think you've got what it takes to be a professional photographer? You're probably wrong. I was.
214 backers pledged $5,876 to help bring this project to life.

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DON'T SHOOT the book | 66 Reasons NOT to be a Photographer

$5,876

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[Now that it’s over the action happens at www.66reasons.com ]

No photos. No camera tips. No bullshit.

They don't put this stuff in the art-school brochure, because they want your tuition payment. I’ve written DON’T SHOOT as a brutal (and hopefully funny) book about all the twiddly bits that go into succeeding as a professional photographer (BTW: most have nothing to do with taking pictures). The book covers relationships, ethics, gear, contracts, branding, copyrights, working for free, perseverance, portfolios, style & voice, critiques and what to expect from galleries, schools, spouses, clients, assistants, workshops and more! But don't call yet, it's all served up in a crunchy shell of parody, sarcasm, and profanity. Wheee!

DON’T SHOOT doesn’t answer the "Why do so many photographers fail?” question. But it's not because photographers aren’t passionate about taking pictures. It’s not because they aren’t good photographers. Are you “Award-winning”? Do your friends tell you you're “a natural” or have “a great eye?” All that means is you can take better pictures than they can, and that’s the shittiest foundation for a career ever. Because of what my friends told me, I was eager and cocky when I began my photography career too, but I was one of the lucky ones who didn’t fail. Why?

Maybe you’re like most enthusiastic but frustrated photographers out there: clueless, and occasionally lucky. You have a nice camera and your pics have gotten lots of likes. Well, this book tells the truth: today even a total tool can occasionally take a nice photo with Auto Exposure, Auto Flash, Auto Bracketing, AF, AWB, OIS, WTF? (Did I mention Photoshop™?) The real question is can you make a career out of taking photos every day and actually get paid for them? News Flash: Enthusiasm is irrelevant (and talent may not matter much in the beginning either). 

Sample spread # 3 (click to enlarge)
Sample spread # 3 (click to enlarge)

Who the hell is Dirk Schafer?

I think I’m a pretty good photographer … people pay me … now. You’ve never heard of me because I'm one of hundreds of thousands of average professional photographers in the world. But here’s a secret: If you're lucky and successful someday you'll be an average professional photographer too (maybe you’ll even be above average, but don’t get ahead of yourself).  

I wrote DON’T SHOOT as a HOW-NOT-TO book so you could see into the day-to-day realities of running a photo business and avoid some the zipper-headed things I did when I opened my first studio as a enthusiastic, dumbass 19-year-old 'arteest'. Here's a book that addresses the questions, doubts and screwups common to working pros (I’ve been perfecting them for 25 years so you don't have to repeat them).

If you're looking for a book that blows smoke up your ass and promises "Be a pro photographer in 3 easy steps!” then use your "great eye," and keep on looking. I’m a shitty enabler.

Sample spread # 16 (click to enlarge)
Sample spread # 16 (click to enlarge)

If you don't have that passion AND commitment this book is going to seem very discouraging – reality blows – but if you have what it takes you might appreciate the insights so you can expand your photography career with your eyes open. Every topic begins with quotes from famous photographers and artists that relate to my topics. 

It’s not about my photography, it’s about yours so there are no photos or camera tips. Here's a sampling of the 66 topics relevant to commercial, advertising, wedding, portrait, architectural and fine-art photographers.

  • It Gets Worse 
  • You Better Get Better 
  • Cringeworthy 
  • Lather, Rinse, Repeat 
  • You Suck, No wait, OK, Yes You Suck 
  • Constructive Cynicism 
  • You Are What You Delete 
  • 10 lbs. of Shit In A 5lb. Bag 
  • Go Focus Yourself 
  • They Are Out To Get You 
  • The Customer Is Always Delusional 
  • Well Hung 
  • Every Picture Tells A Lie 
  • Disaster Strikes Again
  • No Trespassing 
  • Brand-X
  • Drive-By Shootings 
  • Yes I Can’t 
  • Don’t Be An Ass
Sample spread # 59 (click to enlarge)
Sample spread # 59 (click to enlarge)

Rewards:

You get books. I’d love to interact more with my supporters so I’m offering some screen-to-screen and face-to-face rewards too (I’m a pretty good cook). All supporters will be listed in the credits and on the website and will get exclusive access to Kickstarter updates. I’ll also be updating the 66REASONS website as we go.

I need your support to Kickstart my kick-you-in-the-butt book so I'm asking for your help to make it a reality. I have the book designed which is expensive to print and bind. This limited edition of DON’T SHOOT will be an archival-quality, hardcover book. (The neutered student version is the same size with a softcover). 

NEW Reward: Softcover early delivery: Some of you requested books by the December holidays for gifts. The Hardcover version is printing in December so that will post in January, but I’ve just added a new reward: Three (3) SOFTcover books in DECEMBER. Maybe you want the book before the holidays and uncoated paper and a glossy softcover are OK to give as gifts. This is a Print-On Demand version (LuLu) of the book shipped in December (similar to this photo).

If you’ve read this far you can see that I wrote this book to help you succeed as a photographer by being realistic. Wishful thinking won’t help. 

  • UPDATE 1.  Ice Cream party on Friday October 23. at 6:15 we’ll be meeting at McConnells Ice Cream on Main Street in Ventura. Since it’s been a heat wave around here, that’s the perfect way to end the Kickstarter; check the updates for info.
  • NEW TO KICKSTARTER? Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform. This means it's a place where creative people seek funding from the online crowd for their ideas and products to avoid seeking venture capital, investors or loans. Creatives present their concepts online and offer rewards – like my book – for pledges of support. If the crowd is receptive they can each invest a little or a lot. Kickstarter has an all-or-nothing funding model so if the creative gets 99% or less of their goal in pledges, the project fails and the supporters are not charged, no project. But if the creator gets 100% or more support for their project, the supporters' pledges are charged to their credit cards at the end of the fund drive (late October for DON’T SHOOT) and the creative completes their project and sends out rewards to their supporters.

Risks and challenges

It’s a risk writing a HOW-NOT-TO book in a world full of rah-rah self-help books but I hope you agree reality is more useful to some people than a YOU-CAN DO-IT fantasy book.
I’m sorry the shipping out of the USA is so high! Media mail doesn’t go international.

Your support will help cover expenses for the first print run of books, plus conversion into a multiplatform E-book, including editing, proofreading, graphic design, fonts, software, press check, freight, taxes, Kickstarter fees, ISBN numbers and printing book dummies. I plan to go to press in early December and ship the books in late January.

I've been working on this book for over three years and am now doing the final design and edit. I hired a literary editor and proofreader and it is being professionally designed by my wife Sherry Schafer (see more sample pages on the website 66REASONS.com).

The risks are minimal since the content is written and edited, I've shown it to other writers and photographers and gotten good feedback. I have produced books, magazines and calendars for clients and I'm very familiar with the design and printing industry from many years in marketing photography, so I see few barriers exist there other than the expense. I tried not to be optimistic in my timeframe since shipping hundreds of books will take time and logistics but I think I've planned for the contingencies.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    PDF E-Book version

    THE PDF - Get a digital copy of the book in DRM-free PDF. This will include your name on the supporters page.

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    Earlybird Signed Book

    The book at below cost! For the first 150 backers to build the momentum. A signed, hardcover copy of the book. (plus the PDF E-book and your name on the supporters page).

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    Reward no longer available 80 backers
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    Pledge $18 or more About $18

    DON’T SHOOT the signed Book

    A hardcover copy of the signed book.

    (plus the PDF E-book and your name on the supporters page).

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    3 SOFTcover books EARLY ( New Reward!)

    Maybe want the book before the holidays to give as a gift and you don’t mind uncoated paper and a softcover. I have had requests for a basic Print-On Demand version of the book shipped in December. Here's three (3) softcover copies of DON'T SHOOT (signed) plus the regular PDF E-book and your name on the supporters page.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $49 or more About $49

    REDACTED DON'T SHOOT Book

    Got virgin eyes? A signed, hand-censored copy of the hardcover book with most of the bad words crossed out by yours truly. (Ass is not really a dirty word)

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    Limited 2 backers
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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    HIGHLIGHTED DON'T SHOOT Book

    Got a dirty sense of humor? A signed, hand-highlighted copy of the hardcover book with all the bad words highlighted in your choice of colors (plus E book and name on supporters page)

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    Limited 14 backers
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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Online Critique, Coaching & Discussion + +

    A one-hour honest online critique of the work in your online portfolio or website and serious discussion about your goals in photography with Dirk Schafer. Get a hardcore, biased, constructive critique of your work via web-phone, FaceTime or Skype. Plus one signed hardcover copy of DON’T SHOOT along with the PDF E-book and your name on the supporters page.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    A DOZEN neutered SOFTcover text books

    Maybe you have students that could benefit from a wake-up-call. Here's twelve special softcover copies of DON'T SHOOT rewritten w/o all the bad words so your school doesn’t fire you. Same sarcasm, same dry humor without all the calories and profanity (plus the regular PDF E-book for yourself to use as a “teacher’s edition” and your name on the supporters page)

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    Pledge $600 or more About $600

    Risotto + Backstage pass for two + +

    If you can get to Ventura, California, we can spend the morning in my darkroom making prints and talking about photography, art, business, etc., and the afternoon on a photo walk (or pub crawl) of my favorite locations in Ventura. I'll critique your work and then make you dinner as we discuss your goals as a photographer. Plus two copies of the signed book, the prints we make in the darkroom that day and a copy of my risotto recipe. (Travel not included; you'll need to get to Ventura on your own).

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Funding period

- (31 days)