Photography | 27 June 2017
As you guys know; I’m a photographer. But what exactly is a photographer? By definition, “a photographer is a person who takes photographs, especially one who practices photography professionally.” Sounds pretty basic right?
Is that truly all that photography is? Clicking a button on a camera & claiming to be a professional? Sadly, I hate to say this, unfortunately- that it IS the only requirement needed to give yourself this title. But how does one (legit professional) separate themselves from this idea? How do you stand out in a crowd where talent is rare; but anyone who can afford gear can outshine you? Well, here’s my personal advice.
Ready? Here it is.. DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT.
In a city where 1 in 4 people claim to be a photographer, only about 1 in 50 are ACTUALLY photographers. What I mean by this, is 1 in 50 (possibly even 1 in 100), have natural talent & have proceeded to educate themselves on how to actually use their gear properly to maximize their raw talents. Doesn’t have to be formal education- could be learning online through webinars or tutorials. Either way; those who are talented visually- then also gain education on how to use their gear properly, as well as educate themselves on how to properly use Photoshop or Lightroom (any editing tool program), have succeeded already. Now- just because you’re now visually talented & have a basic educated idea on how to maximize the use of your gear & editing programs- doesn’t mean clients will come falling into your lap. Clients are skeptics. Why? Because people who shouldn’t be claiming to be professional photographers are charging cheaper price points than the “big dogs”, booking clients & ruining everyone’s credibility in the process. But don’t fret; clients also know “they get what they pay for”. A client booking a session with a “professional photographer” who are charging $50 for a photo session (for example) should have a red flag go off in their mind already. Why would this person be charging $50/60/75/90 when the vast majority of photographers value their work from $125-400 on average depending on the city you live? This also doesn’t mean if someone’s charging a standard competitive rate ($125,$150+) that they are any good (I know confusing right!?).
So HOW is anyone to know? This is where I say RESEARCH guys. As a client, check out the potential photographer’s social media; their following & portfolio work. How long have they been involved in the industry? (Less then 2/3 years I would classify as novice still personally). If they have a website, have they been reviewed? Do they actively try to engage with their online following (meaning do they post every day with new content – this means they are continuously getting booked by new clients). Are the clients then also happy? If you go to one of the clients social media pages- have they reposted images from their session & gave positive feedback? This is all extremely important. If you don’t see these things- RED FLAGS
So as a serious professional photographer, how do you stand above the rest? Well, it’s simple. Continue to stay talented & educated. Yeah- that’s it. Keep on being boss & clients will recognize it. Remember; nothing in life worth having is easy & nothing that comes easy is worth having. So stick it out & you will overcome. It’s a daily grind out here in the mean world. Novices pop up every day!
Now, this isn’t to say that I don’t encourage novice photographers; because I absolutely DO. I just think if you’re a novice- let it be known. Don’t call yourself “professional”, don’t charge professional rates & in fact- don’t charge clients for your work at all until you have mastered your gear & editing tools to a point that you feel confident. Just my personal opinion; what I personally did when I first started off. I never charged clients until I had been a photographer for about two+ years. Then, I started charging standard competitive rates because I felt confident in my talents. Even then- I never quit learning or educating myself. I like to think I’m a Lightroom master today- but two years ago (I thought I was a master then) but I know today I wasn’t. Never get comfortable, push yourself to try new techniques. Really know your gear & manual settings like the back of your hand. If I were to ask you “what would you set your F stop to at an 11 pm outdoor setting to capture the moon & stars” for example; you should know this. You may never shoot this style photo- but you should become so into your craft that you master it from all angles. This is what will set you apart from the rest. I literally never do action shot styled photography- but when the Bakersfield Magazine challenged me to photograph an action event; I knew enough about me gear to achieve what they were after. This showed to be true, because when I posted my action shot on social media this past weekend- it was one of my highest liked photos to date. I take pride in accomplishing challenges & this action event was one of them & I’ve been in the game for about 8/9 years now!
Being challenged as a photographer is what will keep you shining brightly. Keep your talents sharp & continue to be inspired. At the end of the day, it’s not about booking tons of clients, it’s about having the passion. If photography is your lifestyle, the passion never fades. If you’re in the business of photography for the wrong reasons or false ideas that it’s “easy money”, just pack your bags up now. This is a forever evolving, challenging, grinding lifestyle for the tried & true. In another 8+ years from now, I’ll still be a photographer (among other things I’m sure). You have to ask yourself, “will you”?
Client Photographed above is Aly Uranday
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