MWAC Is A Four-Letter Word

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MWAC Is a Four-Letter Word: {Mom with a Camera}

by guest blogger Kara Wahlgren

Before you dismiss yourself—or anyone else—as an MWAC (mom with a camera), here’s why you should rethink the label.

MWAC (noun): 1. a mom with a camera;  2. new moms with new half-way decent cameras suddenly thinking they are pros and charging for their half-a$$ work undercutting real photographers; 3. a shoot-and-burner who spends little time figuring out the science, art and finer mechanics of photography or the industry and charges below industry-standard pricing.

I should clarify that these aren’t my definitions. They’re the first few responses I found when, out of morbid curiosity, I typed “What is an MWAC?” into a search engine. It’s not too surprising. Skim any photo board, and the general consensus is clear — MWACs are destroying the industry by over-saturating the market, undercharging their clients, and delivering glorified snapshots.

But is it fair to make such a blanket statement? I’ve never been a fan of the term “MWAC,” but since having kids, it gets under my skin even more. I’ve been a professional photographer for five years. I’m registered, I’m insured, I rent space, I know my 1040-SE from my ST-50. But I’ve also given birth (twice), and I still own a camera (didn’t have to barter it for either of my babies). By definition, I’m an MWAC.

Then again, I might get off the hook on a technicality. There are usually caveats attached: you’re only an MWAC if you shoot and burn, if you charge chain-store prices for your prints, if you blissfully ignore your taxes, if you still use your kit lens, if this, if that. But however you define an MWAC, the real issue remains — the term makes “mom” shorthand for “crappy photographer.” It lumps all moms together without considering their experience, business savvy, or skill. And it makes a clear statement that, in the world of professional photography, mommies need not apply. If you happen to have kids, you’ll start your business with a handicap and spend a sizable chunk of time defending your right to call yourself a professional. Before you can claw your way to the top, you’ll have to claw your way to the ground floor.

Don’t get me wrong — I get frustrated by the influx of would-be photographers selling harshly-lit, hyper-saturated snapshots for pocket change. But I still think it’s time to ditch the MWAC insults and find a new acronym. Here’s why.

1. It’s hypocritical. Photographers will passionately argue that buying a good camera doesn’t make someone a good photographer. Then in the next breath, they’ll snipe that some local MWAC is shooting with a Rebel. They were right the first time — someone with artistic vision and an entry-level camera will probably outshoot a wannabe with a 5D.

2. It’s misogynistic. In any other industry, it would be called discrimination. Imagine a doctor returning from maternity leave and getting slapped with the label “MDOC,” while her peers warn patients that most MDOCs use substandard equipment and only practice medicine as a hobby. Sounds ridiculous, right? And where are all the DWACs? They’re out there — but they’re usually just called “photographers.”

3. It doesn’t matter. If you’re a professional custom photographer, the cut-rate newbies aren’t stealing your business any more than Wal-Mart is stealing business from Louis Vuitton. I figure, if a customer can’t appreciate the difference in quality, they were never going to pay my three-digit creative fee. So-called MWACs are only in competition with each other.

4. It’s flat-out wrong. Personally, I think I became a better portrait photographer when I had my kids. For starters, whenever I need to test out new equipment or a lighting technique, there’s usually a test subject clinging to my pant leg. And no one knows better than a mom (or dad!) how to cheer up cranky subjects, make someone smile, or adapt to unexpected situations. Most of my favorite portrait photographers are parents. There’s a connection in their photos — maybe because they realize the importance of the memories at stake.

For those reasons, I think it’s time to stop throwing around the “Mom with a Camera” label. And if those reasons aren’t good enough, I’d like to offer one more: Because I’m the mom and I said so.

Kara Wahlgren is a photographer in South Jersey, where she lives with her hubby and two camera-weary boys. Check out her Kiwi Photography blog or visit her Facebook page.


*If you enjoyed this article, you may also like “What is a Professional Photographer in the Digital Photography Age?” Learn more about the definition of a professional photographer and why being a Mom with a Camera/Hobbyist is something to be proud of, not ashamed of.

 MWAC Is A Four Letter Word
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 MWAC Is A Four Letter Word

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54 Comments and 3 Replies



  1. 1
    Jenny Skibo says:

    THANK YOU for this post! I’ve struggled with having this label, even being critical of myself, saying I’m “just a MWAC” for now, but I’m learning. I’ve wanted and tried to get in to the photography business since I was in High School, it was never the right time in my life. Once I became a stay at home mommy, I finally had the time to invest in practice and education. I was pushed to start charging by my friends, and am slowly improving. I shy away from other photographers because of my MWAC label, but feel as though I’m taking good pictures. What gave me pause with my label was that I was TRYING to learn the art and craft, and I respected the industry and didn’t want to offend any potential peers. I’m still working to learn the mechanics day by day, and am excited to be going to my first workshop in a few weeks. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who feels the way you do – thank you again for expressing it so well!

    • Kay Asher says:

      Great comments expressed. I have a daughter who is a pro photographer and now a mom as well. Best to all of you!

  2. 2
    Cara says:

    This is a wonderful post. The “too high/too low” post and several of your others have really inspired me to start my business off right – not undercutting myself. I am just a beginner. And I do (for now) shoot with a rebel… although I’m saving up for something better. I still am priced lower than I plan to be eventually, but this blog has really opened my eyes to what the value of a photographer really is, and why I shouldn’t try to be in competition with the chain studios.
    I appreciate not being called a MWAC. Call me a new photographer all you want – after all it’s the truth.

  3. 3
    Jenn Hughes says:

    Great piece! I am finally coming to terms with much of #3, and that I cannot be the photographer for everyone. Some people are just satisfied with chain studio photography, and would never pay for anything more. Others are satisfied with snapshots, and would never pay for photographs when they can “just do it themselves.”

  4. 4
    Lynzie Cox says:

    Jenny….. We sound like the exact same person! I have wanted to do more with my photography passion for years. I have taken several classes, purchased tons of equipment and software. People try to hire me all the time but I turn it down. I just don’t feel knowledgeable enough to charge someone. I definitely don’t feel like I know enough about editing to move forward. My pictures are fabulous compared to some of the yahoos out there, but I know they could be better. I was at a baseball tournament this weekend shooting for a friend of mine (for free) and there was a company there selling photos. Of course, I had to go look at them :) I was shocked that people were buying them and for $5 each. They were shooting with a Rebel, absolutely zero editing and they are terrible. He saw my 50D and asked me if I was looking for a job ha ha uh NO That is a prime example of what I don’t want to be! Good luck with your workshop!!

  5. 5
    Sabrina says:

    WOW….this post my my stomach sink in the beginning, but I felt much better by the end. First of all, I’d never even heard of the MWAC term. Learning about it over my morning cup-o-joe was NOT fun. I bought a Rebel last year because I’ve always had a passion for photography and finally had two beautiful boys to work with daily. What started off as learning as much about photography in order to capture my little babes, turned into an obsession that I wanted to share with others. I began taking shots of any child (mostly friends’ kiddos) that came my way. I spent hours learning how to tweak them just so. That led to sharing them with my friends. Now that has turned into the beginnings of a business. I’m excited about this new adventure and learn more every single day. Reading this article made me cringe…A LOT. I hope to do the field justice and share my art and passion in the best way possible. Thanks for all of the great posts that have really encouraged me in this journey.

  6. 6
    Erin Hull says:

    Thanks for writing this Kara!! I too, cringe a little bit each time I hear this term. I’ve always found it to be somewhat derogatory. A photographer should not be judged by whether or not they are a mom, what they shoot with, OR what they charge. Only by their work and nothing else. Since I’m indeed a mom, haven’t been into photography for very long, and have decided to go into business, I hope that before anyone ever tries to slap me with this label, that my work will speak for itself.

  7. 7
    Crystal says:

    Great article!!!!

  8. 8

    I think that your explanation for #4 is exactly why its so threatening to some. Especially the old cracky guys who are easily annoyed. :)

  9. 9
    Jenifer says:

    I thought this article was very interesting. I’m terribly interested in photography, but it’s not in our budget right now for me to pursue it. That said, I have to say that I have been thoroughly discouraged by the prices that are charged for portraits. I have a 10 month old son and would love to have more professional pictures of him. I agree and appreciate that photography is, in fact, an art. That said, charging outrageous prices does not make a picture art. The picture itself is either a piece of art or it is not. I would love to, one day, have the knowledge and skill to take exceptional portraits and not ask parents to take out a second mortgage to purchase them.

  10. 10
    betsy says:

    i appreciate the sentiment of this article. however, it still feels condescending to me. terms like “wannabe” and “cut-rate newbie” are used here, and not in the point-proving way of the first paragraph. it also indicates an assumption of a lack of quality from a MWAC. it shows that even the well-meaning author holds the same opinion without even realizing it. every photographer out there, even the ones who fancy themself so experienced and educated and better, was once a wannabe. and they all started at the bottom, with lower prices (read “cut-rate newbie”). and they didn’t hop right into the business with a superior quality. the more i read on both sides of this subject, the more i believe that all you really need to make the jump from MWAC to “real” photographer is an obscene price tag and an air of superiority….boom, you’re legit.

    sadly, though this article was supposed to be in support of MWAC’s, i feel like it did more to drive home this opinion: pick up the camera before you have kids and you’re a photographer with kids. have kids before you pick up a camera and you’re just a mom with a camera. and it does alot to point out that there are MWAC’s out there trying to be pros who aren’t so good. but it ignores the fact that there are MANY MANY MANY non-mwac photographers out there who also aren’t good. in fact, they are probably the reason most of us mom’s bought our cameras. we knew we could do a better job. and we do. so don’t call me a photographer….i’m a mom with a camera, and it’s all i wannabe.

    • Mitzi says:

      Thanks for this comment! So true! I have been reading a lot of hatred that has been spread online towards “shoot and burners” and “Moms with cameras” and I have come to conclusion that the people who ARE professional are just bitter because people are realizing that there is no sense in spending hundreds of dollars on ONE photo shoot where you get TWO poses and a handful of pictures to decided which 5 lucky family members and friends get one! :-) I am new to this, I don’t charge much.. I edit with Elements 9 and dozens of bought actions, and I shoot with my entry level CANON REBEL.. but I am happy and so are my customers. I did not go to school for this, I have a special needs child- I can’t afford classes. i enjoy spending my time with her and doing something that I can take her along with me. I am constantly learning and bettering myself. I am not the best, and I am not the worst. I know God gave me a creative eye and I am just using what he has blessed me with. I don’t appreciate people spreading hate.. It’s not what we were made for.

  11. 11
    Meghan says:

    This was a great article… but my favorite line was “there is usually a test subject clinging to my pant leg”. Too funny.

  12. 12
    Kara says:

    @ Sabrina, I think that’s how a lot of moms get into it! Having kids is great motivation to pick up a camera, and then some people realize they have a passion or talent or obsession (or all three).

    @ Jenifer, if you do start pursuing photography as a career, you’ll find that the “outrageous” prices are actually pretty reasonable! I agree that a high price tag doesn’t make something art, but you can’t realistically charge chain-store prices and produce artistic prints — you need to compensate yourself for the hours you spend planning and editing shoots, not to mention the high cost of equipment and software (which you’ll probably upgrade every year). But that’s a whole other story and Jodie Otte explained it much better in this post!: http://www.mcpactions.com/blog/2009/10/12/how-should-i-price-my-photography-words-of-advice-from-jodie-otte/

  13. 13
    Christy says:

    Another thank you here! This is so well put, I would never have verbalized it as well as you have.

  14. 14
    Kara says:

    @ Betsy, I want to clarify that this post is TOTALLY in support of moms with cameras — regardless of whether they started photography before or after they had kids.

    When I say “cut-rate newbie,” I mean the photographer who charges $10 for an unedited disc of photos. It undervalues you, and more importantly, it gives other people an excuse to undervalue you. Why should someone take an MWAC seriously if she won’t even pay herself minimum wage?

    And when I say “wannabe,” I don’t mean someone who wants to be a photographer. I mean the person who has no passion for photography but says, “Whoa, these people are charging $50 for one print?! That’s it — I’M going to become a photographer!”

    Hope that clarifies at least a little. After all, I’m a mom with a camera, too!

  15. 15

    Ha! This cracks me up because technically I’m a MWAC. To the purest definition of the word. And I could care less who calls me that.

    I think back to all the MWAC’s who came before me: Tara Whitney, Mera Koh, Carey Shumacher. Everybody’s gotta start somewhere.

    And my motherhood is exactly what makes me see and feel my chosen client base (families) in a way that I never would’ve before I had kids.

    So to those who throw that label around trying to make us feel bad for being moms who also happen to have cameras you’re wasting your breath. Much of what makes us great moms also makes us great photographers. :)

  16. 16
    Julie Martin says:

    ABSOLUTEY fantastic article! I struggle with this label. :)

  17. 17
    Kristen says:

    I really liked this post. I am not a mom, but I am a beginning photographer who wants to learn. I don’t plan on going into business and do think that the photography market is way over saturated, but they have a right to do it just as much as the next person.

  18. 18

    I hope the irony of an article such as this, which recognizes that time, hard work and artistic vision are necessary to become a good photographer (mom or not), being posted on a website with the tagline “your shortcut to better photographs” is not lost on the author.

    I certainly had a good chuckle.

  19. 19
    Sara says:

    OH MY GOSH. Thank you so much!!! I have been preaching your point #3 for over a year!!!! Seriously, thank you for sharing the thoughts from my brain.

  20. 20
    Shannon says:

    what a great and refreshing read!

  21. 21
    amy says:

    I love your article Kara! Thank you for sticking up for MWAC’s! I am just starting out (portfolio building) and don’t have the tools in place yet to officially start calling myself a professional photographer. I will take that title when I feel ready and when I feel I’ve earned it. Until then, if people want to diss me, go for it!!!! It’s them who feel threatened by me, not the other way around. I’m doing what I need to do to get myself moving forward. At least I’m moving forward. Thanks!

  22. 22
    Kristal says:

    I have been deeply passionate about photography since I was a kid. My passion originated with wanting to photograph the many stray cats that I adopted.
    I have since had children and all my previous work, effort and love of both cats and photography is almost instantly disregarded when I go to the park with my kids and my camera. I am NOT a MWAC. I am a person with many hobbies and talents. Photography just happens to be one of them.

  23. 23
  24. 24
    Amy says:

    Very well said Kara!

  25. 25
    Beth says:

    Love this! Hate the term too!

  26. 26
    Jenny says:

    Hi Kara!

    I too havent heard of the term MWAC. But I agree. I am a Mom who has a full time job but found a new passion with photography. I try to better myself each day. I stay up late every night learning about my passion after all my Mommy duties are done. I charge less than what a “pro” would charge because I don’t have experience. But the truth is, modesty aside, the quality and passion I put into my work is more than what I can say for the other pros. I charge less because I base it on what the pros in the area charge but not because mine is less of a quality than their photos. I am a MOM WITH A CAMERA and I intend to get better and better and hope to be GOOD someday!

  27. 27

    Great article Kara! “If you’re a professional custom photographer, the cut-rate newbies aren’t stealing your business any more than Wal-Mart is stealing business from Louis Vuitton.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  28. 28
    Mel says:

    It’s funny. I shoot with a Rebel… an XS. I still use my nifty fifty. I’m a mom – with a camera – on a budget. And while talking to other photogs I find that they’re shocked that I’m still using my XS. They thought I was rocking a full frame and some sweet L glass. Nope.

    Thank you for putting the word out. Not all moms with cameras are just mom’s with cameras. ;)

  29. 29
    josie says:

    When I first read the beginning I cringed at first too like other readers. I am a new mother and I have been involved with photography since I was 9 years old. Through out the years I have invested a lot of time and energy exploring and learning. I have been on message boards where some of these photographer (who are also mothers) talk badley about newbies, styles, equipment, prices etc and where basically labeling them MWAC. I respect all photographers new, old, and everything in between. I think all of us can learn a lot from each other, and instead of getting all competetive we could be each others alies.
    On a personal level I have been doing photography for myself and lately I have started to pick up clients. I would hate for people to think I was a MWAC, but in the end people will say and think what they want. In the end I know who I am, and what I want to accomplish, in the long run I think that’s all that matters.

  30. 30
    Greta S. says:

    I have been passionate about photgraphy since childhood, always taking photos and trying to achieve better. I always knew I could do better than Department store Studios, and I DO. It wasn’t until I was married WITH kids that I was able to afford a decent (yes, a REBEL) camera to take photos of my kids and my environment. It wasn’t until this year that it “clicked” in my head to give the biz a try, seeing as I could actually take a quality photo. And I will damn well charge what I want. I don’t care about what others charge. I’m working for myself and what I’M worth.
    The photogs that are “veterans” of this biz like to name call because they could possibly be a bit jealous and possibly feel threatened by (good) competition.
    They all started out small and new, too. Everyone seems to forget where they came from. And if we are all the SAME, then we are all just clones, with no expression of art.
    You call me what you want to. Labels are just part of life, I guess.

  31. 31

    [...] 07:18 PM Here is a post from the MCP blog today! MWAC Is A Four-Letter Word {Mom with a Camera} | MCP Photoshop Actions and Tutorials Blog for Photog… ————————— [...]

  32. 32
    tamsen says:

    awesome- thank you!!

  33. 33

    I can’t help but comment….I understand the frustration that talented professionals must have with unskilled amateurs trying to be something they’re not. And by “professional” I mean truly talented photographers that behave and conduct business in a professional manner. What is so annoying though is that some of these pros act like photography is the ONLY industry dealing with “joe schmo”…seriously?? My husband has owned a high end landscape company for 11 years and every day he’s getting outbid by “some guy with a mower”. EVERY industry deals with incompetent people trying to pass themselves off as a pro. It’s so true that your style and personality will entice your customers no matter who the competition is. It just may require a little more effort to keep in touch with your clientele and spread the word to find new clients.

  34. 34
    David Quisenberry says:

    The term mwac began because initially there were more women then men doing this. Today, perhaps to keep it gender neutral, the term should be Idiot With A Camera (iwac).

  35. 35
  36. 36
    George W says:

    Go make me a sandwich.

  37. 37
    Melanie says:

    I have a bigger problem with someone being a shoot and burner than I do with someone being a MWAC. The biggest issue with people who just pick up a camera and decide they are good enough to start a business (instead of getting a photography degree and going the “proper” route) is that they don’t know enough to value themselves and by extension, the industry. I know because I was once there myself! The best thing about having resources for the “mwac” crowd is that they can immediately get some sort of feedback that by charging so little, they’re hurting not only themselves, but the photographers around them as well.

  38. 38
    Jessica says:

    Thank you for this! Even though I am guilty of some of the MWAC sins, I pride myself on always learning and providing my clients with a truly custom experience that no longer includes just a CD of images. Truth be told, I didn’t discover this passion until I had kids and knew I could do it better than Walmart. I love what you said about MWAC only competing with each other, so true! If people don’t value good photography let them find someone on craigslist or go to Walmart!

  39. 39
    Lori W. says:

    It always cracks me up when this same old conversation starts, that everyone starts their post with, “…I’ve been interested in photography since I was 9…” Because clearly that was WAY before they became a Mom. Shame on the “professionals” for making so many women defensive just because they are women. I see it in the “About Me” section of all those cheesy photographer websites too. “I first picked up a camera as a toddler..” right before they describe themselves as a “jeans and flip flops” kinda girl. Nice article pointing out what should be obvious to professional photographers. My kids have shot with a LOT of photographers and frankly, I wouldn’t hire someone to shoot my kids that wasn’t a Parent–Mom or Dad. I know a whole bunch of lazy, uninspired old guys that are professionals and still posing kids in wicker chairs. I’ll take a MOM (or Dad) with a camera any day.

  40. 40
    Jennifer Frost says:

    I have always had a love of photography but it is not until I became a full time mum last year that I could afford the time to look into this field a bit more. I have a DSLR camera and am eager to learn more about getting the most out of it. Can you recommend an online course? I know a bit about the manual basics but want to know more and I would like to be taught about using natural light. It would need to be an online course that allows participants from Australia.

    Cheers, Jenn

  41. 41

    @Jenn, I don’t know of any online courses offhand although I know there are a TON that people swear by. The resource I’ve found most helpful is a book called Understanding Exposure — lots of good info on working with available light! :)

    latest edition:
    http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Exposure-3rd-Photographs-Camera/dp/0817439390/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1286984364&sr=8-1

  42. 42
    Monique says:

    I had a camera decades before being a mom… that’s right! I was a KWAC (Kid With A Camera) I got my first DSLR in high school. A TWAC (you’ve got it! a Teen With A Camera) I struggled initially with this term because I knew other professional photographers in my area just assumed I was a MWAC, and here I was with a couple of decades worth of experience plus years of art and photography training. However, it was something my photography instructor asked our first week of classes that came back to me. He asked “Is photography REALLY an art? If so, why?”
    Everyone who has a paint brush isn’t necessarily a great artist, and you do not need a degree or the most amazing camera to be a great photographer! Unfortunately this burns a little when those of us with education or experience see others with less succeed… time to put away the insecurities and ego, focus on our own work and realize each individual is their own worst competition. good uck to everyone! May you always be doing something that makes you happy!

  43. 43
    Meghan says:

    It’s totally misogynist. Is there an acronym for the hobby guys with the brand spanking new bodies and top-of-the-line bodies who do “model” work? Who load up on every piece of equipment recommended in Strobist and post all their fussy overly processed photos on Flickr?

    I do think there are a ton of people relying way too heavily on Photoshop instead of technique–whether they are moms or any other people who think they are suddenly good because they sort of understand how to use Aperture priority on their DSLRs. They have their FILL IN THE NAME Photography websites and their PHotoshopped images and do “event” work, etc.

    But, as you wrote, if people are good then discerning customers will hire them. If not–they are really only worth minimal charge anyway. I’m just starting my business and I did start taking photography more seriously when I had a child. But I’ve also read a ton, practiced and taken classes before I would consider offering my services for money.

    If you aren’t good enough to charge a real amount, I think you should charge nothing till you build confidence. On the other hand, a crappy man photographer with a $6,000 rig probably won’t second guess himself.

    We think we aren’t good enough because we are moms and because we are women. But if we have technique, post-processing skill (and by this I mean DEAR LORD ENOUGH WITH THE OVERLY PROCESSED IMAGES! GET IT RIGHT IN THE CAMERA!) and an “eye,” then we moms have just as much of a right to be selling our services.

  44. 44
    FT Pro says:

    While some MWACS,DWACS may have something to offer the photographic profession, most have no talent, skill or knowledge.
    It’s the lack of skill, talent and knowledge that hurts professional photography.

    The MWACS,DWACS that do have something to offer are called Professional Photographers. MWAC is NOT a generalization, but a name for an ever increasing group of wanna be’s that got a camera for Xmas last year.

    I could care less what MWACs charge vs what I charge, but using you Louis Vuitton vs Walmart analogy at least Walmart sells clothes that look and fit like clothes. MWACS generally sell garbage that does nothing but insult and degrade professional photography.
    As a professional product photographer, MWACs have little to no direct effect on my business – however in asking my corporate clients what they think of photography today, they say that digital and newbs, MWACs etc have brought the industry down in stature.

    Would you feel comfortable with someone running a nuke power plant that didn’t understand what he/she was doing? Of course not. Yet the photographic equivalent of that analogy is everywhere!!

    Again, to clarify and stop bleeding heart knee jerk reactions:
    MWAC is NOT a generalization, nor is it a slur against women. Women and men are free to choose whatever they want for careers.

  45. 45
    Mindy says:

    As with the other commenters, this made me feel bad. but then it made me feel better. I am a mom. I have a camera. I take the time to learn the craft. I am charging friends and family less than professionals. This will be more than a hobby. And I have to have faith that my hard work and determination will make my work stand out from a standard photograph.

  46. 46
    Ryan says:

    Many of the greatest photographers of all time were and are mothers. They are celebrated not for their female status, but for the strength of their images. They are masters of the craft. They are deeply respected by all photographers, male and female.

    Produce solid work. Pursue perfection and technical excellence in every image you create. Communicate effectively. Tell the stories that only you can tell. You will earn the respect of all your peers (male and female).

    I came to this blog post to learn more about the term “MWAC” after a mother I know on a photography forum called herself that. I guess the woman was being misogynistic? I also found some videos on YoutTube by a woman calling herself “MWAC Attack.” Was she being misogynistic as well? Or, perhaps she was being hypocritical. Or maybe she was just wrong. I’m trying to figure where she fits on your list up there.

    It won’t make you a better or worse photographer if someone does or does not call you a MWAC. Only you can do that. For me, I plan on avoiding name calling altogether.

  47. 47
    Lisa J says:

    “MWAC Attack” is satire poking fun at amateur mothers turning pro and attempting to start a business. In one internet article I read that condemned her as a bully (I think that is a bit strong), someone said she is married to a professional photographer in New Mexico and posted his website (and he does do some really nice work). It is likely that she is frustrated at how much harder her husband has to work and all the possible shoots he loses to lesser photographers based solely on price. That is speculation on my part, but it makes sense.

    I have been struggling with the MWAC thing myself. I ended up disabled by a chronic illness a few years ago and decided to investigate selling images on the internet. I discovered there was a market for it in microstock photography as well as in personal websites with pricing available for online orders. Since my illness makes it hard to promise when I can do things, I can’t do many other types of photography – deadlines are something I could miss, as are appointments for settings. I, also, am someone who started learning photography at a young age and have more than a quarter century of photography practice, including darkroom experience way back in the day.

    Anyhow, reading increasing amounts of vitriol from professional photographers has made me hesitant to take the final step and start submitting, just because of the worry about the audacity I have of trying to start a part-time business that I might be able to work around chronic illness. How dare I?

    This is a good, rational article, though it probably won’t do much to encourage pros who are against MWACS (and anything like them) to lighten up on their stance much. As hard as the economy is, it’s unlikely that they are going to be comfortable with uneducated competition any time in the near future.

  48. 48
    alex says:

    The term GWAC (guy) exists too, so point #2 is moot.

  49. 49
    sean says:

    I have only just learned what “MWAC” means!
    No one should begrudge a persons desire to earn income and provide for their family. Power to the people starting up. End of the day, If you’re good – you’ll flourish.
    My question – what does being “professional” mean?
    Does it mean you make a living (not just pocket money) from photography?
    This is my interpretation!
    Be interested to hear others!

  50. 50
    Matt Simmons says:

    Interesting topic Tara. Everybody has to start somewhere… The term MWAC, however, doesn’t bother me anymore than the term GWC. Is every guy with a camera a pervert? Of course not. Do I get offended as a man when people use the term? Of course not. My work, and my persona, are what set me apart – just as yours is. Not every mom with a camera or guy with a camera has the skill or the desire to step up their game – hence the labels. I LOVE moms with cameras personally. As a boudoir photographer, that’s a good 50% of my business, so I cater to them. I encourage them to work on their skills and not to spend a bunch of money on gear. I write blog posts to try and help them out. Only time and talent will rid you of the labels – nothing else…

  51. 51
    KJ says:

    Thanks for this perspective. I have seriously considered the argument that MWACS are “killing the photography industry.” I think there is truth to the fact that they are changing the business of photography just like quartz watches changed the watchmaking industry. To survive, all photographers will have to adapt to the new market. Let’s face it, the more competition there is, the better one has to be to survive. #3 is spot on. I think we are seeing much more creativity than ever before. At the end of the day, Instagram, Piknik and similar programs designed to make otherwise crappy pictures look artistic do more harm to the photography industry than any MWAC ever could.

  52. 52
    Cara says:

    I’m new to photography and studying hard in college to learn. I’m trying to develop professional skills and even took the CPP exam just to see what was on it. I have attended some professional seminars and heard talk by professional photographers (with successful businesses) about “Moms with a camera” and it makes me cringe. They have stories to tell about how MWACS aren’t paying taxes and are undercutting their prices. They seem pretty pissed. There’s also another term “Fauxtography”. MWACS (in the meaning of low budget photography service) are not stealing the market from high end professional photographers. They’re simply providing a low budget service for people who cannot afford a better product. I’m not an “MWAC” and I don’t have children or the luxury of being a soccer mom, but I definitely believe there is a place for them. How selfish and narrow-minded to think that everybody who needs a car can afford to own a cadillac?? Some people can only afford a less expensive model. Same with photography. By offering a cheaper product, the market is expanding. It’s good to be able to give the gift of photography to folks who cannot afford the mercedes photographer. Welcome to the growing market MWACS!!

  53. 53
    Aaron says:

    I don’t think the term MWAC is used carelessly and loosely, and I don’t think you depicted it’s functionality well in this post, either.

    An MWAC means, “Mom with a camera.” However, what we are really referring to are the people (men included, also known as DWACS) who have gone to the local Wal-Mart or Best Buy, have snapped a few images of their children, been told by their immediate friends and family that they are this amazing photo creationist, and suddenly they think they are ready to tackle on the world as a professional photographer, without truly knowing the cost of their “business” in the first place.

    I don’t care if you buy a D100 off of craigslist for $125 with a brand new shutter installed, you still cannot afford to do a session for $30.00. At $30.00 sessions, you are paying the client or subject to take their photographs, without even realizing it. The average person not in photography’s professional sector spends about double that to operate their camera just as a hobby.

    So, I think that the term MWAC/DWAC is very appropriate to the cause. See, because they aren’t photographers, they are moms and dads with a camera. That is all, and that is most likely all they will ever be.

  54. 54
    ajc says:

    I wonder if the author still feels this way four years after writing this article.

    A lot has changed for a lot of us in the profession- or what USED to be our profession.



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