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So, You Want To Be A Pro Photographer?…
We are living in a golden age of photography – right now. The advancements in digital photography in (relatively) recent years, and the adaptability and convenience it provides, are simply astounding and could not have been imagined in the days when photography was all about film.
It is consequently a great time to enjoy photography, and a lot of people do with virtually every modern smartphone having the capability to capture a decent image and distribute it all around the world in seconds via the internet (which in itself is probably one of the greatest advancements of our time). Indeed, there are many great pictures that have been captured thanks to phone cameras, that would otherwise never have been captured. ‘Smartphone photography’ is now a recognized category in many photographic competitions…and smartphone cameras are improving all the time.
The Best Camera In The World?
There is an old saying that goes along the lines of: “Q. Which is the best camera in the world?…. A. The one you have with you.” (Quote originated by Chase Jarvis) This fact that you always have it with you, is another reason for the global success of smartphone photography. Also, they subconsciously encourage the user to be interested in photography almost without them being aware of it.
Talking of photography related quotes, for a selection of the best quotes, have a look at my ‘The Best Photography Quotes…’ blog post.
This smartphone camera revolution has definitely helped fuel interest in cameras generally, and more people than ever now also own an entry level DSLR or small format (APS-C) mirrorless camera. These are now very affordable with all the main manufacturers offering a wide range of choice, and subsequently photography is a hobby enjoyed by millions which is fantastic because we all love it.
Yet the basic principles of photography still, and always will, apply. We believe, there is photography and…photography.
By that we mean that although lots of people have the modern equipment to facilitate capturing decent images every now and again given either ideal or fortuitous conditions and typically not venturing beyond the camera’s auto point and shoot mode, professional photographers have the ability and the equipment to reliably create and capture fantastic images in a much broader range of non-ideal conditions, time and time again, and on demand.
Pro’s, Amateurs & Hobbyists
Now, let’s get one thing clear, I don’t much care for the description ‘Professional Photographer’….to me it sounds jumped-up, self-promoting, self-important and, a bit pompous…and that is certainly not me. However, in the absence of any other title or description, we’re stuck with it.
It is clear that many people don’t differentiate between enthusiast/hobbyist photography and professional photography, probably because most people have not consciously experienced professional photography first hand. I look at it like this; most people know their way around the kitchen and can knock together a bite to eat, but that doesn’t make you a Michelin Star Chef. Similarly, having taken a few decent shots with a smartphone or entry level DSLR doesn’t make you a Photographer.
Importantly, please keep this in mind, I am not knocking enthusiast/hobbyist/amateur photographers here, there are of course numerous hobbyist and particularly amateur photographers that are simply excellent. You only need to see the top entries in the vast number of amateur photographic competitions, to appreciate the extremely high standard. Unfortunately, the term ‘amateur’ is often unfairly used as a reference to poor ability or performance, which is misleading. It’s pure meaning is ‘somebody who does something for pleasure rather than payment’. All Pro’s of course, myself included, were at one stage amateurs.
The big differences are that a Pro photographer is someone who does photography as their primary source of income, day in day out….. it’s their livelihood that they will have invested heavily in, in terms of equipment, training and experience….and they deliver the results time and time again on demand.
Being a paid professional photographer raises standards and expectations to a different level…you are not simply sending one of your best photo’s in to a competition and hoping for the best, or sharing your favourite images with admiring friends or family (who are probably too polite to tell you what they really think)….you are delivering services (and products) to Customers who rightly expect to get exactly what they have paid for, and likely will expect to be delighted with the results.
Unfortunately, there are many people with cameras calling themselves professional photographers. Many doing it on the cheap with limited skill, little relevant experience, and no qualifications etc. Many ‘Photographers’ have got themselves a cheap camera, had a box of business cards printed for £9.99 and BINGO!….they’re a pro! Ultimately, damaging the collective true professional photographer sector.
Picture the scene… the pressure is on to cover a special ‘one-off’ event, like an important corporate event, a special celebrity appearance, dignitary or royal visit, or a wedding for example, and there is a host of significant ‘single moments’ that must be captured – no second chances – like the exchange of rings at the ceremony or the fleeting vital handshake between senior executives etc etc etc. Homework done ahead of time, you will have a prepared long list of these critical images that must be captured… These moments are numerous which means you have to plan the capture for each of them, anticipate continuously, in many cases you will have already visited the venue and reviewed the details of the event beforehand.
Event Photography demands that for each shot you pre-visualise the desired image, considering the composition possibilities, the lighting, the background / foreground and your distance-to-subject, and the potential effects of flash and distortion. The fractions of seconds you may have to capture the image whilst being in control of, and selecting, the most appropriate lens and settings… i.e. release mode, focus mode, shutter speed, ISO, the preferred depth of field therefore the aperture setting and it’s relationship with the prevailing light, and therefore it’s resultant ‘impact’ on your preferred ISO & shutter speed and ultimately on the overall exposure etc…..you have to consider the dynamic range of the image and know the limitations of your camera’s DR capability…
…then be ready to do it all again for the next shot, dealing with constantly changing lighting conditions.
You have to be aware of the planned sequence of events (and the potential for unplanned ones) and be thinking ahead continuously to be in the right place at the right time for the next shot, most events ‘happen’ and you can’t go back to try a second time if you missed the moment…you can’t afford to miss any of these moments….you can’t afford to risk a bad shot on one of these moments…and you need multiple professional grade cameras, lenses, filters, flash equipment, cards, batteries etc etc, and a large helping of contingency planning for WHEN technical equipment lets you down…When the pressure is on, you can’t afford to rely on someone who is anything less than professional for these important events and occasions.
Entry level cameras in ‘Auto’ mode with built-in flash, just don’t even come close to cutting it when covering a wide range of photography scenarios in the professional’s world… Now that’s doesn’t mean you can’t capture great images with an entry level camera, or even a smartphone camera, you CAN!…you just can’t ‘play at’ being a pro with non-professional grade equipment or capability.
It’s about expectations, moving with the times. We all expect more from our cars today than people did in the 1920’s for example. Similarly, today’s modern cameras, even the entry level models, are better than any equivalent camera from way back when. Consequently, the expectations placed upon a professional photographer are greater now than ever.
If you are thinking about hiring a photographer, click one of the buttons below….you choose which one!
There are variations in capability at any level and in all trades and professions, and photography is no different. However, there is a step-change difference between an amateur, part time photographer, and a full-time professional photographer…certainly in terms of the expectation to deliver the highest standards, on demand, day in day out. We live in a commercial world, and when you pay for a good or a service, you can rightly expect to get what you pay for, not just hope that a friend of a friend who’s ‘good with a camera(?)’ does a good job of your event.
Capability and Equipment…
At Sselroc, we pride ourselves on our passion for photography and our resources. We have invested hugely in equipment and continue to invest heavily in, research & study for continuous learning, and only use top-end professional equipment throughout the process.
We ensure contingency with the use of multiple professional camera bodies, multiple professional lenses, full professional studio equipment, backdrops, printing equipment and media etc etc. Now the best equipment does not guarantee the best photography, but all else being equal, it helps! (Don’t believe anyone who claims otherwise!)
However, knowledge, art, passion, experience, preparation, anticipation and the ability to visualise the shots, count for a whole lot more.
Great Photography is not about having a great camera, it’s about the person pressing the shutter release button.
So we at Sselroc aim to create and capture images that are ‘right first time’, and what you want, leaving little or no need to make any adjustments later. This we believe keeps us true to the principles of photography and achieving real great pictures. The beauty about photography is the eternal aspiration to capture perfectly, what your mind sees in front of you, and just to complicate things further, this is often different for everyone, and there is a certain difference between what the camera sees and what the human eye sees through the interpretation of the brain…but that’s a whole different subject!
For this reason, when you commission us for any number of reasons be it; Weddings, portraits, commercial or events photography, the first thing we will do is to engage with you to understand exactly what you want the end result to look like…and if you are open to suggestions, we can also offer some guidance and direction to help turn imagination into reality.
We offer competitive rates on all photographic assignments throughout the U.K. and, we always aim to beat any genuine like for like quotation. We at Sselroc Photography are DBS (CRB) checked, and can provide the certification for verification upon request to enquiring Customers as appropriate.
10 Quick Tips If You’re Thinking Of Becoming A Professional Photographer…
If you are at a stage of developing your photography expertise, consider having a few hours one-to-one photography tuition with us. Also, have a look at my ‘Photography Lessons…’ blog posts, there may be something in there that grabs you!
If you are thinking of becoming a professional photographer, I would say DO IT!…However, becoming a professional photographer, is a process not an event. I have laid out 10 snippets of advice below, just to get you thinking:-
(1) Assess your own passion and love for photography, how much do you really want it? (it is not as easy as many people may think).
(2) Learn to walk before you run…contact some local photographers and ask if you can assist them for free, to learn from them.
(3) Study your art and gain a qualification in it.
(4) Practice, practice, practice until you know your equipment intimately, and more importantly, you have honed your skills to a very high degree of capability.
(5) Acquire knowledge of marketing, if you don’t already have it.
(6) Be prepared financially to invest heavily in a range of professional grade equipment. This means not only purchasing MULTIPLE cameras and a range of lenses, but also studio equipment, lighting and accessories etc.
(7) Invest in business start-up support, including accountancy.
(8) Develop your business plan…How will your offering stand out in an ocean of ‘photographers’?
(9) Be prepared to earn very little (for a very long time) as you are establishing yourself.
(10) Don’t give up (if number 1 is still in place).
So, WHY do you want to be a professional photographer?
Please note: I welcome your comments and contributions to my blog, thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I always publish and respond to your contributions. Personal contact details are not made public. I moderate any contributions as appropriate, only to ensure they are not offensive or in poor taste, I do not alter the actual message itself.