Anti Pretentiousness in Photography

There is a LOT of pretentiousness in photography, art, and life.


What is ‘pretentiousness’?

To stretch beyond or to extend BEYOND your true ability [praetensus].

Thus to be ‘pretentious’ is to pretend (fake/deceive) that you are MORE than you actually are.

Modern notion of pretentious

I would say in more practical modern terms:

To be pretentious is to be pompous, high-nosed, and snobby. To attempt to put others down via name-dropping, luxury goods, money, or knowledge.

Why do people act pretentious?

In my decade+ experience of rubbing shoulders with the photographic world and elite, this is what I have discovered:

Everyone is insecure, and tries to feel less insecure by bullying others.

If someone were truly self-confident, they would NOT feel the need to quote others (name drop), or “overcompensate” their lack of photographic abilities with expensive or exotic camera equipment.

Where does the culture of pretentiousness come from?

Perhaps the French — ‘pretentieux‘.

Consider French society– everyone is striving to become aristocracy. The great film ‘Barry Lyndon‘ by Stanley Kubrick— a ‘common’ man strives to climb the social ladder by pretending (stretching beyond what he actually is).

Kubrick Photography

Kubrick Cinema

Composition and philosophy analyses of his films:

See all Cinema >

There is a human desire for social hierarchy

Also, it is human nature to desire ASCENDANCY over other humans. The human desires to subjugate other humans. The human desires to be king — to be on top. Perhaps this is what fuels human pretentiousness.

Suits London bank
London, 2011 #suits

What to do?

First of all, let us strive to NOT BE PRETENTIOUS (ourselves).

An example — when I don’t know something, I don’t pretend to know. I just say:

“What’s that?”


“I don’t know what that is. Can you explain it to me?”

The funny thing is this– when you admit your ignorance of lack of knowledge, people LIKE YOU MORE as they explain stuff to you.