The title of professional photographer has nothing to do with making money. The fact that you make money does not make you a professional photographer
Just because someone has a website that says they are a professional photographer, just because they have a business card that says they are professional, just because they have tons of the latest, coolest, most expensive gear, and just because they make their living with that website and business card and gear – doesn’t mean they are professional.
I have met hundreds of photographers in my career who met all of these qualifications and they didn’t last very long. For some it was because their work simply wasn’t that good. For others it was because they simply sucked at running a business. Most who failed – failed because they didn’t understand this…
Professional is an attitude. Professional is a behavior. Professional is a standard.
Being a professional – It is the way in which you approach your work. It is the amount effort that you put into educating yourself and knowing your gear like an athlete knows theirs. It is the amount of self motivated learning that you do – not just in the beginning of your career, but throughout your entire career. It’s the amount of practice that you do to sure up and improve your techniques. It is the amount of research that you put in before you take the shot. It is the the quality standards that you maintain before during and after the shoot. Its the follow-up that you do with your clients. It is definitely the relationships that you build.
And most importantly – being a professional is how you treat your subjects and clients. If you are a professional – people matter.
That’s what professional is.
So take this photography tip: Instead of asking someone else when and if you can call yourself a professional – go take a long look in the mirror and answer the question yourself.
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when can I call myself a professional photographer what makes a professional photographer you know I've been asked these two questions a lot recently and I've learned that my answer tends to surprise people so I think it's time to sit down and have a little talk about what it means to be a professional photographer stay tuned until the end and I'll explain what it should mean to you if you want to become a successful professional photographer hey gang be honest most of you would define a professional photographer as someone who makes a living as a photographer unfortunately when I ask Google that same question Google seems to agree in fact they quote one of the most narrow-minded hypes there's on the internet and well it's on the internet so it must be true right it is a fair assumption that in order to make money as a photographer you need to be working at a professional level but let's break this down instead of relying on Google and a widely unrespected year reviewer for a definition of professional let's turn to the dictionary first of all if we're looking up the word photographer the first thing that merriam-webster tells us is that a photographer is one who practices photography in other words pretty much everyone is a photographer in today's world Webster's does go on to mention that photographers are also people who make a business or profession of taking photographs but they don't make any mention of the difference between full-time or part-time or how much of their income is generated from photography more importantly let's look up the word professional Webster says relating to or characteristic of a profession it goes on to tell us that a professional is characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession much more importantly a person who exhibits a courteous conscientious and generally businesslike manner in the workplace and then yes Webster's goes on to mention the idea of making money one more thing that we should discuss before I give you my definition of a professional photographer let's first talk about the elephant in the room the photographer's capabilities and quality of their work not all photographers are created equal some have years of hard earned bereans some have very little some understand the science behind photography and apply it effectively while others think the depth of field is simply shooting wide open to get a blurry background some make it a point to practice and shoot every day while others pick up their cameras only when they're being paid to shoot some continuously read and watch videos and study their craft to expand their abilities and yet others keep their heads down and do their own thing with little awareness or regard for what others are doing now some of those behaviors are counterintuitive if you believe that photographers should have some kind of a degree or certification Photography is not the same as brain surgery it doesn't and shouldn't require going to school it doesn't and shouldn't require certification in my opinion people and organizations that promote that concept are simply looking out for their own financial gain or wanting others to invest the same amount of money and effort as they did none of which ensures a better photographer or more professionalism now to be clear I am in no way saying that schooling is bad but let's be honest for photography no school can make you a photographer assuming you're in the best program available all they can do is give you opportunities to learn and gain experience what you do with that is up to you now there are many successful photographers who are self-taught and who have been entrepreneurial in creating their own learning experiences at the end of the day our clients don't care if we have a degree or certificate hanging on the wall they care about the quality of our work and what we will do for them professional has nothing to do with making money the fact that you make money does not make you a professional just because someone has a website that says they are a professional photographer just because they have a business card that says they're professional just because they have tons of the latest coolest most expensive gear and just because they make their living with that website and business card and gear doesn't mean they are professional I've met hundreds of photographers in my career who met all of these qualifications and they didn't last very long for some it was because their work simply wasn't that good for others it was because they simply sucked at running a business most who failed failed because they didn't understand this professional is an attitude professional is a behavior professional is a standard being a professional it is the way in which you approach your work it is the amount of effort that you put into educating yourself and knowing your gear like an athlete knows theirs it is the amount of self-motivated learning that you do not just in the beginning of your career but throughout your entire career it is the amount of practice that you do to shore up and improve your techniques it is the amount of research that you put in before you take the shot it is the quality standards that you maintain before during and after the shoot it is the follow up that you do with your clients it is definitely the relationships that you build and most importantly being a professional is how you treat your subjects and clients if you're a professional people matter that's what a professional is so instead of asking someone else when and if you can call yourself a professional go and take a good long look in the mirror and answer that question yourself and until you're ready to do that go pick up that camera and shoot something because your best shot it's your next job so please keep learning keep thinking and keep student audios