In this blog post I like to share my thoughts on – What it Takes to be a Professional Photographer. With this I really hope to shed some light on the topic, and also help aspiring photographers in their pursuit, as beginners, of becoming professionals.
As, perhaps, we all know very well, the difference between professional and an amateur photographer isn’t always related particularly to the quality of the images they both can create. What sets them apart, mainly, is the general approach to their photography.
Professional photographers do a living out of their photography, therefore the general approach will be more business orientated – boring as it may sound, this is the reality of being professional photographer. On the other hand, as an amateur the approach will be like having a hobby which she/he enjoys, and perhaps one day, if they get too involved, may start thinking of becoming full time – professional photographer.
One point I like to highlight here is that as an amateur you may have much more creative freedom, in term of what the subject and approach of your photography is. Once you become professional, the subject and the overall approach will be, mainly, dictated by what your customers will require from you. Off course there are some exceptions to this, like having your own very distinctive visual look – but overall it’s all down to individual circumstances.
Lets look now what it takes to be a Professional Photographer:
As an artist, although being professional and doing business, creativity will be the quality setting you apart of your competition. No matter how boring or typical the object of your assignment may be, your duty as a professional photographer is to turn it in something appealing through the medium of photography and lighting. For example you can see the sort of Creative Portrait Photography I do, which in essence has a bit of an extra edge over the normal look of my Commercial Photography – but all of this can depends on what you client need or is looking for.
2. Problem solving:
This is your must ability, to be ready and take on anything thrown at you.
Being professional photographer is not like having normal day job, where your income is guaranteed and you have work every day Monday to Friday. Because of such specifics you need to be ready, and actually love, to take on any challenge – as usually there will be plenty of them coming with your potential client’s project and brief.
It may sound self explanatory, but let’s not forget that one of the problems people have with their regular jobs is the lack of passion. The lack of passion for doing what you do can be caused by many different factors, such as – motivation, monotony, low moral and countless many others. So to be on top of your game as professional photographer Passion will be the engine driving your professional career – and also if I needed to summarize all of the other points, I listed here, into one – it will be the under Passion for what you do.
This is where we entering foreign territory, as an artists. If you want to be professional and make a living out of your photography, you need to realize, which inevitably will happen one day, that being an artist and creative won’t take you too far – if business skills, of higher level, are not developed and adapted as regular practice. And the harsh reality of being professional photographer is that we spend more time in dealing with phone calls, paper works, licensing etc. than with practicing what we love the most.
5. Technical knowledge:
Photography can be very technical craft of the arts. As you develop further as photographer and your visual style evolve, you can find yourself in a situation where using lots of sophisticated equipment in order to achieve your or your clients artistic vision.
Even though we own some photography and lighting equipment, very often is the case that we need to hire something extra for larger assignments. In any case it is a crucial to know how to handle and troubleshoot your own, or the hired, equipment. No one wants to end up in situation where something is going wrong, or perhaps is not working as it should, and not being able to find quick solution. Such thing will be very frustrating not only for you, but most importantly, for your clients too.
6. Editing and trends:
Going back in time, when photography was still making its first steps – even back then photographers experienced the need to add an extra ingredients to the photographs they captured by practicing some, conventional, editing techniques in their dark rooms.
Now days nothing has change, except the fact that we have much better tools helping us to unleash our best creative potentials.
Editing and photography, same as fashion, can be very trendy disciplines where styles and approaches change depending on the current fashion or trend – so be ready to be on top of them, or even better, discovering and dictating the new trends.
7. Self development:
This is very closely related to point 6 “Editing and trends” – as a professional, even an amateur, the only way to keep progressing is by constantly educating yourself.
As I said already, photography is a very complex and technical artistic genre which tends to evolve constantly – so there is plenty of room to keep adding to what we already know, if we want to be on top of our game.
For example, what I do very often is to read the latest on new equipment, looking at the galleries or social networks of other photographers, and even painters – yes, big part of what inspires me, as an artist and photographer, comes from paintings.
8. Open minded:
Now, no matter how big or good you are in what you do one thing we should always try not to forget is that – there is always something better out there, and if you have open mind about exploring and learning what other people do, regardless if they are amateurs or top professionals, will be only adding to your arsenal of professional skills.
This is not to say that we need to copy paste what others do, but just exploring influential alternatives.
Perhaps there can be more points added to the list above, but I found this 9 topics quite important within my own development and progress as a professional photographer.
And if you come up with some more important points I can add to the list – I will be more than happy to edit the post and add the additional information you may like to contribute.
I really hope this blog post will contribute and help the new generation of aspiring photographers, who still need some guidance on their journey to success as professionals.
Thank you for reading my photography blog, and if you like and find the information I share with you please share it with the world.