Like any other career, claiming the role of a Photographer comes with its own set of misunderstandings and assumptions. My own experience since deep-diving into this profession has been no different. I thought it would be interesting to make a note of few misconceptions that I end up engaging with on a semi-regular basis.
Some may not agree with my thoughts on these misconceptions, especially as hobbyists. Others may find themselves giving a chuckle or two, because they GET IT!
1. All Photographers Give Free Shoots
On more occasions than I can count, I have had experiences where I am lauded for my talents by “admirers” of my work, only to be relegated to an insistence that I work with/photograph them. For free.
I know, it can give you a warm, fuzzy feeling inside to hear all these lovely compliments. After all, you really put great effort in ensuring that your work is of a certain quality. Personally, I am rarely ever 100% satisfied with my work. As great as they are, I commit myself to making the next ones even better, paying closer attention to how I manipulate natural light, my angles, etc.
Considering all that effort in ensuring great quality, it can be mind-boggling to interact with people who will praise your work and show interest in working with you, only to figure that they can only see you as means for a “free shoot”. sound impressive but in 7 out of 10 of the time these individuals will praise you with all those compliments in hopes that you will shoot them for “free” or do a “free shoot”.
One of the most common instances relate to individuals who will hit with the line, “I’m a model and blah, blah bleh”. Now, don’t get me wrong. Photographers and models definitely go hand-in-hand, and that partnership is between the professions is a solid one. The misconception of many aspiring/new models though, is that they should not/do not invest in building their portfolios. Yes, there are ‘free shoots’ as it relates to TFP (Trade for Portfolio), but that is at the discretion of all parties involved, and should not the considered the ONLY means by which a model can develop their portfolios.
For just one shoot alone, from the actual shoot, to post-production, and delivery of the final product, the costs to the photographer are many. “Free shoots” are never actually free, and some consideration should be given to the people who lend their expertise in a field such as photography.
2. All Photographers Have A “Team” Of Models
It baffles me, at times, being asked so often by individuals to “join” my “modeling team”. Another common misconception appears to be that professional Photographers are sorta just sitting around, awaiting random volunteer models, without the valid expectation of compensation for their work.
I’m a photographer, not a modeling agency. There is no “team” that exists that needs to be joined. There are a couple of agency-represented models that I connect with for possible future collaborations, but special projects like those are few and far between. Otherwise, clients are my models.
Let me clear the air: when you come across the website or social media profile of a Professional Photographer, the first (and necessary!) assumption that needs to be made, is that most (if not all!) individuals seen on the page are clients.
I repeat – CLIENTS!
No matter how often you may see them post one particular person’s image, that is not uncommon for clients who seek to have multiple looks for various reasons. For example, many of the images that I post are of Stylist and Fashion Entrepreneur, Melenigma. I can’t tell how often that I am asked if she’s “my favorite model”, when in reality, she’s a regular client, who books me to maintain the aesthetic of her website and social media pages.
My Bloggers Content Revival Package is perfect for that.
3. All Photographers Do Events (Especially Weddings).
In my opinion, too many people do not realize that there is so much more to photography than weddings and parties. I mean, the sub-fields and specialities that exist within photography are extensive and varied. No one photographer needs to do EVERYTHING. Niching down (finding your specialty) can make a big difference in how your production and post-production skills are refined.
Take Doctors, for example. They spend years studying different aspects of medicine, only to choose one or two specialties, where they will ultimately base the entirety of their career. I’m not saying that you need to be “stuck” doing one thing (if you’re feeling stuck, then maybe that’s another blog post for another day). I’m saying that when a Professional (Photographer, Doctor, etc.) is able to make a well thought-out choice to choose a specialty, they are giving themselves the opportunity to become even more adept at providing YOU (potential clients) with the quality product or service that you deserve.
I fell in love with capturing people’s faces, which lead to my specialty in beauty and portrait photography. I specialized even further when I acknowledged my love for natural lighting, and how it is able to help me capture the images that I and my clients want, no matter the variation or slight manipulation.
4. Once You Have A Camera, You Are A Professional Photographer
While it is now easier than ever to acquire DSLR cameras, there’s more to being a Photographer than just owning one. Being a hobbyist is great, and it allow individuals to learn new skills without the added pressure of maintaining a business. However, keep in mind that while you can pick up a camera and click the shutter, that does not make you immediately up for hire.
It does cheapen the craft when people are sold into hiring hobbyists that are not conscious of quality, technique, or procedure. When they then engage with photographers who have studied (self- or otherwise), practiced, and developed their skills as a professional, it is a strange rigamarole of misunderstandings and sticker-shock.
Ultimately, you get what you pay for, and while a DSLR camera has a certain inherent ability to produce a certain quality image, there is much more to customer relationships than that.
I am always learning when it comes to photography, and I would encourage hobbyists who would like to take photography seriously to really focus on honing their craft and ensuring that they are doing what is necessary to bring their skills to another level.
Photography can be a fun venture, but please, take it seriously if you are going to be taking on clients.
5. The Photographer’s Work Is Done After The Shoot
After a shoot, while that can be an hour or more of posing, angling, lighting, etc., that’s when the other important parts of the work begin. These are no less important than camera capture. First, is pre-selection of the best images from the shoot, then another selection to really ensure that the images capture the look/vibe/vision that the client has. From there, there is an audit of the vision, and deciding what the best style of editing would be to make sure that the finished images are shown at their highest potential.
Afterwards, the actual editing begins, and with some processes and techniques, this can last anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours for each image using software such as Adobe Photoshop. This is only touching the surface of the technical work done for the images, and doesn’t begin to cover customer service, customer engagement, possible revisions, additional shoots/images, modifications to original contract, etc.
I just wanted to give a snippet of what I believe to be some misconceptions surrounding the photography profession in Jamaica. There are many of us that absolutely love what we do and pursue it purposefully.