‘You’re Making an Army of Clones’

Photography podcast The Group Chat has only released one episode since it was launched a few days ago, and yet it’s already receiving a good bit of attention among photographers. Why? Because they chose slam a very profitable and widespread practice in the industry: the sale of presets.

Editor’s Note: The video above contains strong language that definitely isn’t safe for work. Proceed with caution.

When the podcast’s co-creator Christian Gideon reached out to tell us about the episode, he was clear they were pulling no punches.

“We explore the topics that most photographers only talk about behind the scenes,” Gideon tells PetaPixel. “Our first episode is a hard hitting look at why the industry of selling presets to photographers is mostly BS. My partner Nick Goodwin and I have almost 20 years of pro photography experience and felt this elephant in the room needed to be exposed.”

Talk about hitting the ground running.

The full podcast episode is an hour long, and they start talking presets around the 3:19 mark. The core issue, claims Gideon, is that this practice encourages photographers to stop learning, and is helping to create “an army of clones” who are all publishing the same style of photo using the same few brands’ or photographers’ presets.

Gideon and Goodwin’s other major “beef” with presets seems to be how they’re marketed–namely: as a magic bullet that can save your photos in post. Over and over again they point out that “presets are just settings,” and that most of the claims that presets make are “marketing bull s***.”

“I’ve had a version of this conversation with 4, 5, 6 passionate photographers that understand it. That presets are bull s***,” says Gideon. “I’m not here to stop you from selling presets. I’m just here to stop that person who may spend $99 or $200 for that false sense of hope […] and invest it somewhere else that’ll make them an artist.”

The conversation goes on for a long time, mostly covering this kind of ground, and likely making Gideon and Goodwin a few high-profile enemies in the process. But if their goal really is to “explore the topics most photographers only talk about behind the scenes,” they certainly started off on a strong note.

Check out the full episode up top, and drop your opinion on this conversation in the comments.

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