What makes a professional photographer? A professional photographer is a skilled photographer that has dedicated their professional working life to partnering with you to create beautiful images of you, your children, your family.
Professional photographers not only know their equipment and know it well, they are also legitimate business owners who:
Some photographers participate in industry wide certification programs (i.e. Certified Professional Photographer), competition (competing nationally and internationally against other photographers), teaching/mentoring other photographers, writing about photography and reviewing equipment for trade publications, will mentor local photographers to achieve high quality photography as the norm within their area, work within the trade organizations to help maintain and/or create a sustainable profession where all learn and grow, etc. A true professional photographer will have a large display of work available to look through on their website, will have a client list and should be willing to provide references, should be able to provide you with consistent and beautiful images and will partner with you to create images that you will be happy with for years to come. A true professional photographer is not only a skilled artisan but also a business person like any other professional you may know.
I have a really good camera. Doesn't just having a camera create a photographer?No. Having a camera, fancy dSLR (digital single lens reflex camera) or otherwise, does not a professional photographer make. It makes that photographer a camera owner. Professional photographers not only know how to press a button they know their equipment backwards, forwards and upside down, they spend a lot of time educating themselves about the craft of photography, they spend a lot of time behind the scenes running their business(es), and much much more. Many of the best professional photographers take time to continue their education via other photographer run workshops, lectures and attending photography conventions as well as entering image competitions and such.
There is a HUGE difference between a pro and a hobbyist photographer. Hobbyist photographers enjoy shooting and may have a great handle on their equipment however photography as a hobby is VERY expensive and the expenses add up quickly, hobbyists quickly learn there is a big difference between maintaining a professional photography business vs. shooting from time to time.
How do you know if the photographer you’re looking to hire is not a true professional?Great question!! By definition a professional is someone who is paid money to provide a service. However the topic of professional photography is muddied by the fact that dSLR cameras have become common place and there is an all too irresistible urge to call ones’ self a professional photographer.
Muddying the waters even further: there is no board certification for photographers (like there is for other professional service providers such as hairdressers, aestheticians, etc). There is no one standard that dictates who is or who isn’t a professional photographer.
In essence: it is all too easy to buy a camera, hang a shingle, open up a Facebook business page and start charging for photography services. In fact it is so common that it’s become an issue amongst true professional photographers, many of whom are going out of business because of an onslaught of hobbyist photographers who think that turning into a wanna-be professional photographer is easy. They do so without understanding what being a professional photographer entails.
Many of those that hang their shingle do so without acquiring a whole lot of knowledge, knowledge that is both business &/or photographic. These new “pros” are often called “fauxtographers” or MWACs (mom with a camera), DWAC (dad with a camera), Debbie Digitals (a not so complimentary term), etc.
Truly my purpose isn’t to bash/name call a particular group of non professionals because I do respect all business owners and we all start somewhere however there does need to be a distinction of uneducated photographers who have taken down the business of photography a notch or two. I will simply refer to those non professionals as hobbyist-wannabe-pros.
A hobbyist-wannabe-pro may have the following distinctive qualities within their work/within their business models:
**This article was written by Marianne Drenthe of Marmalade Photography and can be found at the Professional Child Photography site.**