These days everybody can take photos with almost anything. Our phones, cameras, goPros etc. Even though if you have a really expensive equipment, it doesn’t mean you’re a pro. Quality of photos is of course important but how much? Sometimes you look at the pictures and they are all great, all look faboulous. So what differentiates a professional photographer from an amateur one?
I’m not a pro photographer BUT I’m a pro videographer – what I’m talking about in this blog applies for both equally.
During my daily job, I’m getting across many photographers because they shoot the event which I film. And after my 3-year-experience and hundreds of events, it became easy for me to recognise an amateur from a real pro in few seconds.
1. PHONE NOT ON SILENT
I’ve seen this few times, during a conference, during the interview… the list goes on. It is THE moment of silence [Murphy’s law] and all of a sudden, the phone rings. Yes, it is a photographer.
This reminds me of Brad Pitt’s speech about working with Quentin Tarantino: „If your phone goes off during a take. Kill yourself.“
2. TRANSPARENCY… LITERALLY
What I mean by that, amateur photographers don’t respect the space. I will clarify. They think that if they stand right in front of other photographer/videographer/viewer, everybody can see right through them. I don’t think they do it on purpose, I just think they don’t have the big picture. They might not realize the importance of viewers satisfation who are. The events are mostly created for people who actually go there.
Every professional photographer that I met, was always careful about standing in somebody’s view. The unwritten rule of videographer and photographers is – respect me, let me do my job and I will let you do yours.
3. LACK OF SOFT SKILLS
This is very crucial and it is probably the main point. It doesn’t concern only portrait photographers because even if you go shoot events/festivals, you need people to look into your lens and make them feel comfortable. And this is your job, your lens is not going to make them comfortable. Especially if you have 230mm pointing at them. You have to talk to them, create this good feeling and atmosphere.
A real pro photographer has to be talkative and easy going. Imagine being on a party and a photographer comes to you and tells you: „Don’t move, I wanna take a picture of you. And try to smile.“
How would you react?
What about doing it this way: „Hey guys, you look like you are having fun. I’m an official photographer and I wanna take a shot of you because you look just awesome.“
4. DRESS FOR SUCCESS
The way we dress tells a lot about us. Even though we have people like Mark Zuckerberg wearing flip-flops, this industry is a little bit different. You are hired by someone to document their event/conference/festival.
Amateur photographer comes to an event, for example, a conference for managers. All the visitors are dressed in business casual [at least] and a photographer comes dressed in shorts and t-shirt. Why is that not good? Because successful people dress well. And they know how to dress to what occasion. I’m not a fan of a dress code myself but we all have to dress for success. I’m not talking about overdoing it and arriving in very formal clothes. But nice, clean, ironed, quality, cool clothes make a difference. Simply put – you look like you can afford these clothes, that means you get a lot of good work. Maybe one of the visitors is looking for a photographer for his next big event and if they saw a photographer wearing yellow t-shirt and ripped off jeans, they probably wouldn’t offer him/her a job.
Some could say it’s superficial but this is how the business work. If you want to be in this game, you have to play it.
5. KEEPING A WORD
If you tell your client, that you will send them first photos right after you get home, they expect you to do that. Don’t promise something you can’t keep. It’s much better to say „I will send it to you tomorrow or maybe the day after because I’m very busy. Is that ok?“ If you send it to them earlier, they will only be happy and satisfied. But if you send it to them late… Depends on the client. Some clients don’t mind but you should still keep your integrity and stick to your word. Because not every client is the same.
6. BEING LATE
It can happen to everyone, right? The events won’t wait, time doesn’t stop. If you come late, you will miss something, the client wanted to document. That’s why she/he hired you. Nobody can turn back time. I’d rather be too early than too late. Especially, when I’m in new places and I’m not sure how long does it take to get there. Best thing to do is to book an accomondation close to the event but sometimes when you’re on low budget, it’s not possible.
I have to knock but I was never late in my life for any event I worked on. So, it can happen yes but it doesn’t have to.