July 17, 2020

Professional Photographer Tales from the Light Side

What constitutes being a Professional Photographer

Moment of Truth.  I am going to say something controversial, so hold onto your hats.  There are lots of Photographers out there–but some of them are not very good.  Here is a real truth bomb–when I started out, I was not very good.

I recently restarted up the process of getting accredited as a Professional Photographer.  This is something I have wanted to do for a long time.  I have started and stopped the process a few times because that thing called Life always intervenes.  Getting accredited involves submitting images that get scored, etc.  This can be super time consuming, especially if you waffle about what you want to submit like I do.  And to be quite honest, at this point in my life I want to do it more to prove something to myself rather than the public at large.

So anyway, in the process of getting images ready for submission, I happened to watch a recorded video of a really great Photographer (Richard Wood) explaining how images are graded for print competition.  It was kind of eye opening.  The grades 70-79 are basic competency level for calling yourself a Professional Photographer.  That is just basic, entry level Professional.  Truth Bomb–many of the people calling themselves Professional Photographers are not even at that basic level.  After watching that video, I feel like I am barely at that level.  On a good day, I am probably scoring a 75.  Talk about ego busting truth.

My take away (minus the fact that I am still not that great) was that you need to produce images at a consistently high level to even call yourself a “Professional Photographer.”  I always knew this, but it was really reinforced in the video.  Every single thing–composition, styling, posing, lighting, color control, retouching, EVERY SINGLE THING–needs to be meticulously attended to.  When I was watching this video, I kind of came to the realization that I am at a pretty basic level of competency.

So where am I going with all of this?  We are living in a time right now where a lot of people want to just go with “good enough.”  The general public wants things for low cost, quickly and they don’t really value what goes into making a superior image.  But to even demonstrate a basic level of competency and call yourself a Professional Photographer, you need to dedicate a lot of time and effort.  You really can’t just buy a camera at Best Buy, take a few mediocre images, throw them on a website or Instagram and tell everyone you are a professional.  When you do that, you are–a hack.

Your clients may think you are great because they like your personality and your images are “good enough.”  However, is that really good enough?  I always say that you can go eat dinner at McDonald’s or you can eat at a five star restaurant.  You can eat somewhere in between.  For major life events, is McDonald’s “good enough?”  When you get married, do you have your reception at Burger King?  And if you want to be a chef, is working at Burger King or the Golden Arches your ultimate career goal?  I will leave that right there.

As I continue on this weird Photography journey, I know I need to get better.  And that is all.

Did you enjoy this post on Professional Photography?  You might also enjoy this post on Life Lessons Learned From Photography.

If you want to work together, give me a call at (518) 584-4237 or use the Contact Form.  I promise it will not be a drive through experience.  LOL.