On Being a Professional Photographer


© okalinichenko

In virtually every Facebook photography forum there’s always a running thread started by a photographer questioning something not covered in the contract with a client. Usually, the client has asked for something a little out of the ordinary. Often it’s a question about attire, wondering what to wear at a black-tie event when you’re the photographer. Then there are those who want to rant and insult each other as well as their clients, as if the forum had a code of confidentiality.
I don’t want this to sound like a rant. It’s meant to be a check-off list to remind you about a few things that help define being a professional photographer.

  • “That’s good enough!” needs to be removed from your vocabulary. Your clients put their trust in you to capture the very best images. Never compromise on the quality of any image!
  • Know Murphey’s Law: You know the drill, “if something can go wrong it will.” That means as a professional you always have backup gear including a camera body, additional lenses and a flash or two. And remember Murphey’s Second Law, “Murphey was an optimist!”
  • Silence truly is golden. If you don’t have anything nice to say about a client you worked with then simply shut up! There’s no such thing as confidentiality, especially on the Internet. You don’t know who’s reading what you just wrote about that nightmare you had to work with last weekend, so just zip it! And remember, when you write something, there are no erasers on the Internet!
  • Keep your promises! Whether it’s delivery time to view their images, the completion of their album or just showing up on time – NEVER disappoint a client.
  • Exceed expectations! Over-deliver on everything you do. This is a word of mouth business, and there’s no better way to get people talking about you.
  • Make it fun! Being a pro isn’t just about great images, but about the relationship you have with each client. They need to feel like they’re special and appreciated.  They need to know there’s no place you’d rather be than with them!
  • Be confident! You can’t fake it ‘till you make it as an imaging artist. So, that means knowing every button on your camera and understanding every shooting situation. Listen to the “Why?” from Denis Reggie who talks about the lighting conditions when he captured the image of John Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette.

Being a professional photographer carries a huge responsibility. Recognize the trust your clients and their families put in your skill set. They deserve the very best images, and the power to do that is entirely in your hands!

SkipCohenUniversity – SCU Blog

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