Five shocking truths about professional photography

Professionals are not always what they seem…

Don’t be fooled photography is not the easy option for a job. Everyone thinks it is a hobby. Like any job there is the fun side. But amateurs often have the better deal…

1. Photography is a glamorous job…

It can be. But most of the time it is not. You meet some great people. You meet some people who are in the greatness league but are unmentionably irritating and bad tempered. Nothing worse than a Diva when you are trying to get the job done under the hot studio lights and your subject is giving you hassle. Nothing glamorous about that. You have to be there, you have to keep a smile on your face and you have to be enthusiastic about your job. Otherwise the images will be terrible. Some people do not make it easy for you. As an amateur you can walk away from all that.

2. Amateurs produce better pictures than Professionals

Shock horror! If you are a professional you must be good, isn’t that true? No, some images by professionals are surpassed by amateurs. The definition of amateur is someone who loves what they do and are doing it because they love it. A lot of the work that professionals get is not particularly lovable work. However, the professional will provide consistently good images when they do the work they don’t like. Amateurs will not do it or will find it especially challenging to do because it is outside of their comfort zone. An amateur can experiment and spend all afternoon working to get one picture right. A professional has to do a good-to-great image, reset and move on, sometimes in minutes. They do not have the time, or the patience of their subjects, to work and rework an image.

3. Professionals get paid well

Sure, like any profession, top photographers get paid well. But they have worked for it. For the majority of photographers the competition is very heavy. The work is thin on the ground and we are being undercut by would-be photographers who charge very low rates. The latter do not realise they are devaluing the world of photography and they are also giving a bad name to keen amateurs who have great skill.

5. Professionalism is about…

Photography professionals demonstrate…

  • Consistency,
  • Responsible behaviour,
  • Work to a brief,
  • Great customer relations,
  • Good and great images,
  • The ability to help the customer achieve their goals,
  • The ability to make money and produce pictures,
  • They can work fast,
  • Adaptability to the changing needs of clients,
  • They have the right equipment for the job,
  • They can make great images in good OR challenging situations,
  • Creative ideas under pressure,
  • Enjoying the work, the pressure and the creativity,
  • They can work to a brief provided by the client,
  • They can work comfortably with anyone.
  • Sadly a lot of ‘professional’ photographers have never been trained in these things. There are a lot of people out there who do not match these standards. When you are looking for someone to do your photography for you… make sure these standards are on your list of priorities.

    5. The line between amateur and professional does not exist

    Professional and amateur photography overlap. Some amateurs are highly talented and produce some exceptional images. They thrive on the creative side of photography. On the other hand professionals do not have the time or the budget to work at the highest artistic standards on commercial projects. Instead they work at the best possible standard for the situation they are in. The balance between what is achievable by an amateur or a professional is different. To understand the professional position consider the pressures and time constraints they are under when working. Most amateurs are pretty shocked at their first commercial shoot. It’s lots of preparation, hard graft, blisteringly fast shot rates, high hit-rates are expected and long hours are spent in post production. Amateurs are generally not prepared for that.

    Have you any pet hates or interesting observations about professional photography?
    Why not leave a comment below?

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    By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

    Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

    Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

    Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
    See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

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