|Nikon D2X, Sigma 120-300mm w/ 1.4 converter, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/750
Everyone is a Photographer
Almost everyone that I know has a camera. In the past few years I would say that for the vast majority of photos my friends take are with their camera phones.
Before camera phones people took pictures, but now having that phone with them all the time has made it not just easier to take the photo. I would argue that more important than just the ability to take a photo the one thing contributing to more photos being taken today than in any other time in history is our ability to share them instantly with the world.
|Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 100, ƒ/6.3, 1/1000
Every photo isn’t good
Just because you are moved by your photo doesn’t make it a compelling photograph. Why?
Everyone’s personal photos help us to remember. Some of the things we experience are quite emotional and having a photograph to help trigger that emotion we felt the first time we lived through the experience does not mean that other people will be as moved emotionally.
There are photographers who consistently make photos that do move people emotionally and are storytellers. These photographers are able to capture a moment that creates an interest with an audience that wasn’t there. The photos pull people to them and engage audiences around the world.
|Nikon D4, 28-300mm, ISO 1000, ƒ/5.6, 1/60—Off camera fill-flash using the Nikon SB-900 & SB800. The Flash is on the Pocketwizard TT5 and being triggered by the Mini TT1 on the Camera with the AC3 to control the output of the flash.
The grass is greener on the other side of the fence
“Everyone wants to be a rockstar or a photographer,” is a quote I have heard a lot. These are two mediums that emotionally move people.
|Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 1000, ƒ/5.6, 1/60—Off camera fill-flash using the Nikon SB-900 & SB800. The Flash is on the Pocketwizard TT5 and being triggered by the Mini TT1 on the Camera with the AC3 to control the output of the flash.
Around age 14 we begin solidify our genre of musical taste that will be played over and over through our lives. We love to play our favorite music because it helps to take us to our “happy place” and sooth our souls.
Photographs can do the same thing—take us to our “happy place” and sooth our souls.
So not surprisingly many of us would like to help others find those happy places and feel like maybe we should be either a musician or a photographer.
When I was studying to be a social worker I learned that one of the things we should help people to examine in counseling is are they running away from something or running to something.
Running away from something could be a disaster in process. Most people I encounter that want to be a professional photographer are running away from their lives. They are extremely unhappy in their work.
They seek the recognition in their jobs that they see being given to musicians and photographers. A dirty little secret is that many musicians and photographers want to leave their profession for similar reasons.
A good gut check for finding out if you really should be a photographer is if your photos stir consistently the emotions of people. The key here is people will want to talk to you about the subject that you captured and not about your camera.
|Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 100, ƒ/5, 1/2500—Off camera fill-flash using the Nikon SB-900 & SB800. The Flash is on the Pocketwizard TT5 and being triggered by the Mini TT1 on the Camera with the AC3 to control the output of the flash.
Wired that way
There is a certain amount of healthy Obsessive Compulsive Behavior you possess. If you are looking at your work and realize that you could have done something else to make it better, then you are exhibiting some of the qualities of the artist needed to make it professionally.
If you look at your photos and see that technically they are fine and you can’t see why you are not winning all the awards you are not in touch with reality. Remember musicians and photographers that are at the top of the profession move their audiences emotionally.
|Nikon D4, 28-300mm, ISO 100, ƒ/5.3, 1/500—Off camera fill-flash using the Nikon SB-900 & SB800. The Flash is on the Pocketwizard TT5 and being triggered by the Mini TT1 on the Camera with the AC3 to control the output of the flash.
Seeing from another person’s perspective
Young children before the age of 8 seem cognitively unable to take the perspective of another person.
If you want to be a photographer that uses photography to communicate to an audience then you need to be able to see from another person’s perspective.
Take a simple test for yourself. Take something that you know really well. Simple as how to make a pot of coffee from scratch and then talk through this as if you are teaching another person. Surprisingly many people struggle with this ability.
I remember one time an adult who was a genius but lacked some basic skills called my mother and asked her how to sew on the button. The next day he came to our house because he still couldn’t do it. Well my mother didn’t tell him to cut the thread from the spool. Everything was correct except for this step.
Sometimes you just have a slow audience. Every once in a while I will see this used as a humorous skit on TV. They will have someone tell a person how to do something that they cannot see and the person doing the task cannot see the person instructing them. What follows usually is pretty humorous, but will illustrate that it is very difficult to teach someone a simple task.
Pictionary and Charades are games that can be fun to play because it can be funny when we are trying to communicate.
You need to be someone who consistently wins in Pictionary or Charades for example before going pro, if there was such a category for these games.
Do your photos communicate? Are people asking you to take photos from them because they know your photos will help them reach their audience?
If the only reason you are wanting to be a pro is how it makes you feel, then you need a wakeup call and a good slap across the face.
Check list to be a professional photographer
- Your photos emotionally move total strangers all by themselves
- You are rarely satisfied with your photos
- You have insatiable desire about a subject other than photography
- People are asking you to photograph something for them regularly
- If you want to be an independent photographer you know and understand the skills to run a business.
- Know your audience
- Market to that audience
- Know your numbers for expenses to make a profit
- Willingness to do what it takes to find work