How to Earn Respect as a Professional Photographer
These days, pretty much anybody with a smartphone thinks they’re a photographer. But there’s a huge difference between taking pictures and creating photographs. If you want people to respect your work, then you must present yourself in an expert manner. Here’s how to earn respect as a professional photographer.
Exude Confidence and Professionalism
Primarily, you must demonstrate value. When people seek professional help, they’re looking for someone who can assure them their needs will be met. Towards that end goal, remember, a huge part of interpersonal communication is visual. If you want others to take you seriously, you must cultivate a professional image. Dress well, be polite and radiate confidence.
As a professional photographer, you should know more than the average person about what it takes to make a shoot go well. When you’re communicating with potential clients — while it’s important to be down to earth and approachable — you want the conversation to showcase your expert knowledge.
In other words, you’re expected to know what’s required to create the images your client is after and they’re counting on you to do everything possible to ensure those needs are met — before you even touch your camera. Having these conversations with your client before the shoot reinforces your prowess in their minds. This makes them see you as someone doing a job, as opposed to a person with a camera indulging a hobby. This way, when you send invoices, your clients will take them seriously.
Plan and Be Adaptable
Let’s say you’re shooting model portfolios and you’re discussing a beach shoot. If there’s no budget for hair, makeup, and styling, you’ll need to convey to the model what they’ll need to bring to the shoot. This includes multiple changes of outfits, towels, grooming supplies and equipment, makeup, a mirror, and the like. As the professional in the equation you’re supposed to know these things and convey them to the client. Forget common sense, if the model shows up without a bathing suit, it’s your fault.
During the shoot, you’ll be expected to find pleasing locations quickly, assess the lighting situation and do what’s required to produce flattering images of your subject, regardless of the conditions. This means you’ll need to be flexible so you can readily adapt to whatever happens. If you were expecting sun and a bright blue sky, but the day turns out to be overcast, you need to frame your shots and pose the model in ways that still produce eye-pleasing results.
Know Your Equipment
A huge part of accomplishing this is having a close personal relationship with your gear. If you want to be taken seriously as a professional photographer, your camera should be an extension of the eye. Operating your lighting equipment should be second nature as well. In other words, you should know what you need to do to produce what you want to see, before you do the shoot. Fiddling with your gear while models stand around bored is a great way to get lousy pictures (and a subpar reputation).
With all of that said, in addition to possessing skills and experience, you need to be personable, fun, and charismatic. Pictures tend to mirror the nature of the person who made them. If you’re radiating warmth, sincerity and jocularity, your subjects will reflect it for your camera to capture. This makes your pictures a cut above the mundane, which helps you earn respect as a professional photographer.
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