Wednesday, January 21, 2015

So you call yourself a Professional Photographer, but are you really?

Over the years, the convenience of digital photography has introduce a large number of people into this field.  Whether they are professionals, amateurs, or just a relative that is willing to shoot your wedding for a few gift certificates, the numbers are growing and it will continue to do so for some time.

It's all fine and dandy when you start out.  It seems pretty straight forward.  Decide on a camera system, buy it, and then start going online to spread the word.  Soon random people will start calling you once ina while and you will find yourself juggling from your day job to your side job as a photographer.  That's all fine up to a point where you see yourself doing 4-5 weddings a year or a
shooting some interiors for a nearby local restaurant, but where and when do we really become a professional photographer?  

I consider someone that is in that position to be more of an amateur photographer because 4-5 weddings and a few product shoots is definitely not putting food on the table (at least not enough to get you properly nourished).

To be a Pro, it depends on the dough

I have heard this so many times, "if you are doing this full time then you are a pro."  Really?  I know so many people that call themselves professional photographers beacuse they are only shooting one or two jobs per year and doing nothing else.    

So is it the quantity that defines what is a professional photographer?  Well even  if not the only measure, it sure counts for a lot.  I really think the term "Professional Photographer" is something that one should earn and not something that a person labels himself to make him sound good to a client.  

To make it simple, a professional photographer is one that is constantly working.  He may not be the most skilled and he may not be doing the most glamorous gigs.  It may sound superficial but if you think about it, how are you truly a professional if you are shooting for your own interest 98% of your time.  A true professional deals with clients, deadlines, brand/company requirements, and deals with people (many ppl).  You can have a studio,  all the fancy gear or shoot with a $300k Leica, but if you haven't been shooting for a client in the last three months, can you really call yourself a professional?

To be fair if someone can live off of the photography (or something associated like editing or lighting or assisting) work, then they have clearly earned this title.  However, if they are clearly just wealthy, or that they don't mind living like a bum while clearly not working enough to sustain a reasonable living then I can't see how we can consider these individuals professional photographers.  

Perhaps there is more to professional photography than just technical skills and and a beautiful reference

And of course! Professional photography is about dealing with people.  So if you can now clearly see that you are an amateur and not really a professional, take this as a guideline.  Ask yourself why is it that you aren't working the weddings, events, product shoots, or editorials this month and the next?  Get your skills out there.  Forget about the money, get people to notice what you can do.   Very soon you will be a professional photographer.

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