14 Mar How to Know You’re a Photographer/ Videographer
Sometimes, trying to describe the difference between a professional and an amateur is like trying to describe what air looks like. This is the case when describing how pro photographers and videographers differ from their amateur lookalikes. Sometimes you can tell just by looking at the quality of their work and how famous they are. But in other situations, there is a fine line between the two categories. It can even come down to one’s opinion.
If you are a photographer or videographer struggling with your identity, you are certainly not alone. Although it tends to be a grey area, here are some tips to help you err on the side of professionalism.
The Tangible Stuff:
You have experience
Your portfolio doesn’t have to be a mile high to let people see what you offer. However, you should have some experience. This is will come naturally as you go through your career. But again, you need to start somewhere. Even though people learn at different speeds and quality is valuable, someone who has a month of experience probably won’t have the same insight as their friend who’s been in the field for two years.
You know your preferences
Once you reach the sought-after “pro” status, you’ll likely have a solid idea about what you enjoy shooting. Whether you narrow this down to one of two categories – weddings, events, nature, sports, etc. – or keep it somewhat broad – as is the case when working for a news outlet or studio – you can confidently tell your clients what you will and won’t do.
You charge what you’re worth
As a professional, it probably won’t suit you to charge $10,000 to take some footage or photos of someone’s engagement party. On the other hand, you won’t be scraping the bottom of the barrel for $20 jobs either. Professionals honestly look at how valuable their time, talent, and resources are and will charge accordingly. Seeing how much others in the same league are asking for can be helpful, and while experienced people do everything to distinguish themselves from the pack, they are also keenly aware of how the market’s demands fluctuate.
You have liability insurance
This is especially important for freelancers, who aren’t automatically protected by a company. It can ease clients’ minds to know you’re covered in case you do work on private property.
The Stuff that Can’t be Taught
You have great rapport with your clients
How do you treat someone well? Being respectful, polite, and easy to understand are great qualities to exhibit, for sure. But what about the traits that really win you the adoration of those you work for? It’s one thing to be nice but to know what engages people so they can’t help but adore your charm as much as your work, that’s golden. This is something that really can’t be taught in the traditional sense. Having strong emotional intelligence, a love of socializing, and being at-ease around people is what it takes and if you have it, you’re probably going to be a fan favourite, so to speak.
You intuitively understand how to do a shoot
Certain techniques can be learned through education or mentorship. But when it comes to being distinct, having an eye for detail, and knowing how to capture a scene just so…well, that comes from a special place within. It’s so individualized and delicate – especially because photography and videography are artistic in nature – that I couldn’t even begin to describe how to tap into it. You might “just get it” or develop it gradually through being in field for a long period of time, or something completely different or in between. Try it for yourself to find out.
You want to keep taking photos and video
The old “practice makes perfect” adage is quite true, but I think it’s missing a dimension, that being that you want to keep practicing. If filming or photographing becomes a bore, but you force yourself through it, consider what you’re really achieving. You might have the talent to get by and even excel at what you do, but it won’t be sustainable if you dread or are jaded by it.
Remember, turning your living into a life is attainable, especially in expressionistic careers like photography and videography.
There are plenty of things amateur and professional photographers and videographers have in common. Both can have top-of-the-line equipment, strong portfolios, and good-to-great references. What can set them apart, however, is how they go about their careers in an everyday sense: how well they understand their clients, subject matter, what direction they’re going in, as well as having sufficient experience.
But here’s something to think about. It’s natural to want to be highly regarded in one’s career, but at what point do praise and shiny titles make you happy? This isn’t to say you shouldn’t strive to be the master of your craft. Just think about who’s defining you and whether you’re stuck in a game of one-upmanship or are genuinely happy. After all, who are you living for? Let your film and photography skills be your source of joy and, whether you’re a certified professional or not, you’re probably on to something truly fantastic.