Is it just me, or is everyone a photographer these days?
I don’t mean everyone has a camera or that photography is a popular hobby, I mean I’m seeing more and more people proclaiming to be a bone fide, card carrying professional photographer.
They have a large black camera, the kit lens and maybe a flash, a web site and business cards but seemingly no idea about the craft of photography. Perhaps you don’t need to know an f-stop from a bus stop when you’ve got a shiny new DSLR? Surely a £1000 camera takes care of all that. But when it inevitably doesn’t, they still post online galleries full of unimaginative, poorly composed and technically inept images next to the words “portrait sessions just £399”.
Then there are the ones who are “now booking shoots in December” when it’s only March. Really? Your out of focus images of your cat have got you enough bookings with aspiring models, brides and families to make it through the year already? Or maybe that portfolio comprised of images from a single group shoot is really working for you and going through the agonizing process of whittling it down to 20 stunning images and ego crushing portfolio reviews just isn’t necessary.
Now don’t get me wrong, group shoots (where a studio will hire a model for a day then sell time slots to aspiring photographers) are a great way to learn. All the details are taken care of and the studio owner is there to assist with lighting and camera settings. The whole day is designed so you learn a few new ideas and come away with some good shots. So when you download your images that night and find some nicely lit, tack sharp shots of a good looking model bear that in mind. Look at them critically, analyse what worked and what didn’t, learn from them. Don’t simply pat yourself on the back, decide you have learnt all there is to learn and start trying to charge potential clients.
Buying a pen or a sports car doesn’t make you an author or a racing driver any more than buying a camera makes you a photographer. It gives you one of the items you need in your tool kit. Now you need to collect the ones you can’t buy, so know your foundations (the exposure triangle and reciprocals) get out and practice (a lot) and look at (really analyse what you like and don’t like about) as many photographs as you can.
That’s when you can start calling yourself a photographer.