Perhaps we need more professionals?

Over the weekend, I read this article and I can't quite shake it. The article's title is "Go Pro? Maybe What You Need Is To Go Amateur". Maybe it's semantics, but to me, more people treating photography professionally is exactly what the world needs.

Make your images remarkable instead of marketable
— CJ Chilvers

"Make your images remarkable instead of marketable." I couldn't agree more with the sentiment. But there's no force more powerful in driving improvement than professionalism. You see, being a professional is about more than making money. It's turning up to the shoot (both physically and mentally), it's doing your prep, it's creating quality images, it's solving problems on the fly to turn out quality shots, it's delivering those images on time or before. It's about being reliable. Even what you want is to make money from your photography, without the attitude, you won't make much.

A sad self portrait like this once excited me.

We now have more people with cameras than ever before. More average or downright bad photographers than ever before. I spent years as an average photographer, hell, some might say I still am. I spent years as a hobbyist. I spent years saying that I don't want to turn a crust from photography for fear of 'killing the joy'. I spent years believing that my photography wasn't good enough for people to spend money on and making photographs that weren't good enough for people to pay for. I spent years 'going amateur'. Those years provided me with a base to build photography on, but I didn't practically advance very far or very fast. I got lost in photography, got bored of it, moved on from it. I wasn't challenged and I wasn't challenging myself, until I decided to treat it as a profession. As soon as I stood up in front of people and asked them to pay for my work, it became very apparent that I wasn't very professional and I would need to become professional, and do it fast. Every photo I took with so-so composition, bad exposure, or boring light hurt me because I knew it would hurt my client. I realised that every average photo I took was a chance to learn something and do it better next time.

Now, I still take some average photos, but the proportion of good images that I create has increased dramatically.  Why? Because I value myself as a professional. I value my clients. I value the trust in our relationship that I will deliver the images that they require and that they have asked me to. If I can't do that, then I'd better learn how to quickly or pass on the job. I now spend hours each week practicing, learning, improving my skills at home. I pass over every image with a client's eye, not a hobbyist's eye. I learn new techniques in the camera, in post production, in preparing for the shoot, in my headspace to make my images remarkable. I am building these skills working under pressure. I wouldn't be doing any of this had I not decided that I wanted to take this professionally. So here I am. I've come a long way, and I've done so by stepping up and being professional. 

As I've learnt to understand light a little better, something like this, now starts to inspire me.

If we want a world with more remarkable images, we need more people treating photography seriously, professionally. There may be less money, but perhaps the world will start to value professional imagery more. And if money is not the aim, then does it really matter?*


*Of course it does matter a little bit. We still have to eat after all.

If we want a world with more remarkable images, we need more people treating photography seriously, professionally. There may be less money, but perhaps the world will start to value professional imagery more. And if money is not the aim, then does it really matter?*


*Of course it does matter a little bit. We still have to eat after all.