Photography, as a vocation, is one of the most popular and most commonly written about vocations at the moment. It has immense popularity with younger generations and has spread as a hobby for smartphone owners. This boost in popularity can be attributed to various apps and social media websites that are focused on easy sharing and simple, digital, premade editing solutions that usually come in the form of template settings.
I personally believe that this is great for photography as a whole. A lot of talented people that managed to go pro have started off this way and the whole culture and community benefited from this “hype” about photography. Furthermore, if we talk about how much you vocation makes you attractive, photography is really close to the top of the charts.
Still, even though photography is so popular, it is commonly misunderstood. This wouldn’t be that bad if it had no impact on the work people do, how they do it and what problems they run into. We are here to talk about things most professional photographers would like people to know.
1. You run into people that take your work lightly
Due to the fact that there are millions of photography pages out there, people naturally assume that anyone can do it. The general consensus of public opinion is inclined towards believing that all you need to do in order to turn pro when it comes to photography is a good DSLR and a lens or two. The thing is, photography is craft, science and art, combined into one.
You don’t have to have a degree in photography to be considered a professional (although, admittedly, this helps) but you need to put in a lot of time learning, practicing, experimenting and then somebody comes along and says “Oh, what a great camera! It must snap great photos!”. Great photos don’t come from great cameras, otherwise we wouldn’t need photography as a vocation. It’s like saying: ”Oh, what a great guitar, it must play some awesome solos!”.
2. You get robbed of work by amateurs
The amateur community gathered around photography is great and contributes to the entire thing quite a bit, however, a lot of amateur photographers promote themselves as pros all the while dropping prices of their services and taking work from real experts. Now, we all understand that everyone needs to earn some money and you can’t stop anyone from offering wedding photography services for 50 bucks but the price is very often reflected in the quality of the photographs.
This is where photography as a vocation gets its bad name. People who hire photographers need to know how to make a distinction between pros and amateurs. You can’t really blame photographers in general for your own bad choices when picking out business partners.
3. You get few social signals due to copyright
The web is a great place for photographers to promote themselves. Social media and blogs are just some examples of opportunities for exposure. In recent years, a big topic for discussion was the use or more accurately, misuse of photographs in the online environment. Removing watermarks or doing some minor “edits” to the photo so you can use it as your own is just one example of the abuse their work endures and the losses they can take from this are truly significant. Still, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t share somebodies photograph if you like it.
You should also not avoid using photos in blog posts for example as long as you give credit where credit is due. Take a look at the galleries on most photography websites. Social media buttons are there to encourage sharing and make it easy for people to share what they like. It is a crucial way to get your name out there, especially in the beginning so don’t be afraid to promote your favourite shutterbug. Just don’t attempt to piggyback your way to profit on somebody else’s work.
4. You realize people don’t understand how broad photography is
Even though it has been in the spotlight for more than a few years, the public still isn’t quite aware in how many directions a career of a photographer can go and what it can include. The workday of a fashion photographer largely differs from that of a travel photographer and so do their skillsets. Sometimes, you need to have web related knowledge like with doing work for eShops. Optimizing photo size, quality, and the overall approach to the photo-shoot needs to be adapted to the environment for which they are intended. A common novice mistake is not realizing how much photos can impact the speed of a website, even your own! Now let’s move away from the web a bit and focus on travel photography.
Constantly traveling for work purposes includes quite a bit of planning in order to keep the costs down, the timeline on track and your equipment safe. Travel photography includes more than snapping your camera at beautiful scenery all day long. Sometimes you get stuck in places where your personal safety comes into question. Due to the relative compactness and the high value of the equipment they carry with them, they are commonly targets for thieves so having some streetwise is a necessity.
*It’s not all fun and games (not for the faint of heart)
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the skills photographers need to have. It is far more than pointing a camera and snapping photos.
5. You are asked to do pro bono work
This misunderstanding comes in two forms that are a bit different from each other. The first is the casual approach where acquaintances assume that you should take their photos since “it’s nothing to you really”. First thing’s first, with which other vocation is it common that you ask people to do their work on their free time? No matter how passionate you are about something, you still need a break from it to recharge your batteries with a bit of social time. This can be particularly annoying if you had a bad work day and we can all relate to this. Still, most photographers indulge their friends and take a few snaps but this doesn’t make it ok.
On the other, more serious side of things there is the famous “work for portfolio business opportunity”. The assumption is that if you get to put your watermark on the photos you get the value of the work back in portfolio material. Let’s be honest, a photographer can create his or her portfolio without actually working for anyone. They do work to present their skill and creativity without any orders so this setup in which they do work for free and you give them the opportunity to brag that they worked for you is unfair and very discouraging.
I could have gone for statistics here and studies to prove my point but I wanted to make a point that anyone, without any deep research could come to. Photography is not easy and it is not something just anyone can do! It requires a lot of work, big equipment investments, experience and a very diverse skillset. It is a profession worth your respect since you are enjoying the fruit of their labour on a daily basis!