It seems as if everyone with a camera is setting up shop and marketing themselves as a true professional. But can everyone with a camera be a professional? Can you command professional prices just because you love taking photographs?
The answer is a definite no.
Lots of people love photographing nature, but there’s only one Ansel Adams.
Lots of people taking portraits, but there’s only one Annie Leibovitz.
So what is the difference between an amateur and a professional? How do you know when you’ve reached professional status?
1.You think like a professional. Amateurs want a photography business to give them a reason to buy more camera equipment. Amateurs want a photography business to keep them busy when they want to be busy – not on a full time basis. A professional loves capturing images, and sharing them with as many people as possible. They love to be busy doing what they love – and making a good living at it as well.
2. You think of yourself as an entrepreneur. Yes, there’s more to a photography business than photographing. There’s production. And marketing. And paper work. And emails. And promotion. And sales. An entrepreneur loves growing a business, with photography as your passion, product and service – not the other way around.
3. You make it a goal to improve. You take your camera everywhere. You’re the one at the party behind the lens of the camera. You also attend your local photography meetings; buy videos and training materials to improve both your photography and business skills; and hire coaches to make you better at building your photography studio.
4. You spend time studying other photographers work, and try and improve your own photography by following examples. An amateur loves what they do, and thinks there is no room for improvement. But a professional knows the education will never stop. There’s always room for improvement.
5. You create your own style. Everyone starts out imitating a mentor photographer. I remember taking posing guides from some of our favorite photographers (David Ziser, Clay Blackmore, Heidi Mauracher) and imitating poses and images produced by greats like Denis Reggie. But once we moved into professional status, we created our own style. The posing comes naturally. The fun is always there.
It’s always effortless, and it shows in the images.
6. You know your stuff. There’s no more thinking about each image. You automatically know when you’ve captured the perfect image. It’s all about having fun with the client, pulling together a professional image for the client to see, and knowing everything will fall into place perfectly.
7. You’d do this even without the money. Photography is something that is inside of you, no matter what. You love doing it, and find any excuse to photograph. But you also know that as a true professional, you can command a high fee. It comes with being a professional.
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