Professional is Spelt with a Capital P
I had a discussion with a Professional Photographer today, I’ve known this person for about 5 years, her experience is quite extensive and when ever we meet she is always positive and upbeat. We got to talking about the courses that Aspect Images provide the people of Queensland. One of the passing comments she made was that Adrian and I are just “creating” cheap non professional photographers that could potentially damage their industry.
I can see her point however incorrectly stated it is. There will always be a small percentage of budding photographers that will want to take the next step and be paid money to take photos. Only a small percentage of these will make it to a level that can be called or referred to as a Professional Photographer. The fact of the matter is this is exactly the method that Professional Photographers are “created”. People fall in love with photography, get good at it, then start to do work, realise they’re good at it, want to make more money and need to get better at it. I don’t know anyone who one day went to bed a “Brickie” and woke up the next day and they were a Professional Photographer. I believe Professional Photographers evolve.
I’ve been involved in the photographic industry for over 27 years. I’ve seen all types of “professionals”. To me a Professional Photographer is someone who makes their living taking photos for clients and this is their main source of income. Photographers that are paid to take photos but it remains more a hobby than a main income stream are what I would classify as “Paid Enthusiasts”. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s like finding a sponsor to help you compete at a sporting event. In fact I encourage people to find a “sponsor” for their hobby. I classify myself as this type of photographer, a well paid enthusiast.
There is always going to be someone that thinks they can sing. Hell, they build TV shows around that premise. Have you not seen “Australia’s Got Talent”? In the end though they always find a collection of stars. The photography business is no different. There has and always will be people who believe that they can do it cheaper, faster and better than the Pros and most of these people fail or a least don’t hang around to wreck the industry. The ones with the talent move up the ranks very quickly and so does their pricing, in line with the other Professional Photographers. This is because they realise that in order to sustain the level quality they need to keep up with the Jones’s, both technique & technology wise.
If anyone is to blame here it’s the technology, not the wannabe Pro. The technology has gotten to the point where anyone can pick up camera, stick it on auto, press the button and the camera captures a technically correct image. The boffins that design cameras and create the software that runs these amazing imaging devises have done a great job. Each generation of camera is smarter than the last. Each evolution takes amateur photography to the next level. When beginners see how easy it appears to be the thoughts of grandeur are not far away.
What the Professionals need to do is one of two things. Take up the challenge and show the world what makes them better than “Newbie’s Cheap Photography Studio”. Show off their work, modernise their workflow and communication methods. Prove to the world that they are worthy of the fees they charge. Take ownership. Try new techniques or develope a new ones. Or move aside and let the next generation of Professional Photographers have an easier task of making their dreams come true. Keep up or move aside.