What makes you a Professional Photographer?

What makes you a professional photographer? I ask this question because there are many people out there that call themselves photographers and to be even clearer they call themselves professional photographers. 

Today anyone can purchase a high-end camera put it on automatic and run around as if there are professionals. They talk the talk to clients, they walk the walk around other professionals but the biggest and glaring difference between them and a real professional is what?

Some people say if you can shoot in manual and make adjustments in manual as you are shooting this might consider you a professional. Some say that photography is like any art form and formal training is not required to be a professional. 

There are successful amateurs photographers, but does the amount of money generated make you cross from amateur to professional. I looked the word professional up in google and found the definition. In this case, the word professional is an adjective describing a photographer. By definition, "engaged in a specified activity as one's main paid occupation rather than as a pastime" the word professional when describing photographer is someone who does this as a means of occupation and not as a hobby or pastime. 

Now let's look at the word photographer. Photographer by definition, "a person who takes photographs, especially as a job". The key part of in both of these definitions is you are doing this as a job and gets paid to do so. Now we are getting somewhere!

With most professions such as a lawyer, would you want the person who hasn't passed his bar exam but calls himself a professional lawyer representing you? Do you want you children going to school and learning math from someone who bought a really good math book from the store and calls himself/herself a professional teacher? I would think you would want a highly trained and skilled person doing both of those things for you. 

So though your friend, uncle, cousin, roommate have a camera you and they often take pictures they are not professional photographers. Please don't refer that person to the next person because you are only creating a situation that can come back to haunt everyone. 

Professional photographers can use expensive or cheap equipment since it isn't the equipment that makes them professionals. A professional photographer will have photographers insurance in case an accident, injury, or equipment failure. Wouldn't you want that reassurance knowing that your money will be protected in case something bad happens?

I have been in school and shooting photos for three years. I'm getting ready to graduate with a Bachelors in Fine Arts Photography and I still don't consider myself a professional yet. I know I have more to learn after school and although I am technically a professional by education standards I am far from being a professional in my eyes. 

If you made it this far through this Blog thank you for reading and when you are looking to hire a professional photographer make sure you ask them their qualifications, their publications, why they think they are a professional photographer? These things will protect your investment and give you the piece of mind to move forward. 

Here is a article I think you will find amazing as well:

What Makes You A Professional Photographer?

Attention to Details

As I continue to shoot fashion, fine art, models, and beauty shots I have learned the importance of taking your time in photo shop to achieve the outcome you are seeking. Not every aspect can be achieved at the point of capture. 

Colors can vary and lights might not be constant thus changing your creative thought you might originally start out with. But never get discouraged. I found that shooting as close to my vision and then completing the look in Lightroom or Photoshop can make all the difference in my imagery. 

In this image below I wanted to take a macro beauty shot. I worked with a make-up artist named Debra Jorden from Debra Jorden Beauty. She was able to take a few inspirational images that I sent her and combined them in to one singular representation. The model's mom was constantly combing the models hair to get it to lay flat. We sprayed hair spray and that did work either. I stopped and told everyone I will shoot the images I need. 

I was confident that I could get what I set out to achieve once I imported the Raw files off my computer and used the program to manipulate them to my liking. 

This was the original image taken. 

I focused much of my energy while in photoshop on the hair. Messy hair can just make the image look amateur and not taken with purpose. But the next image you will see all the changes and how the final product will give you the feeling that this image was taken with purpose.  

The is the final product. You can see the changes in skin, hair, eyes, and overall color. 

The is the final product. You can see the changes in skin, hair, eyes, and overall color. 

I will be the first to tell you I am no expert at photoshop, but making subtle changes can make you work stand out. Although, these are the same images, in the second image the few hairs purposely left out of place make the image look more realistic and not overworked. This is what I call happy mistakes. 

You can find many of the techniques that I used at: 




With anything in life, continue to improve your skills and techniques to make your images stand out.