So tell me. Why would a grown man, fly a young kid into the middle of the Utah Salt Flats, with one parachute, splash on cologne, and say he’s “Living unforgettable moments.” The glider, by the way, cannot take off from the Salt Flats. It needs to be towed to an higher altitude. It’s a one way trip…with a kid. And why are they wearing sweaters in a dessert. Great picture, bad message. I mean…REALLY bad message. *
PROFESSIONALISM IS “A LITTLE MORE” THAN A TITLE
I realize that you must think that my photography is great. It’s one of the reasons why you pay me the big bucks. I’ll be honest with you. Your paycheck to me speaks much louder than the “likes” I get on my company’s facebook page. But despite your money, and despite my “likes,” five-star yelp reviews, and great reputation, the real big question is, “Am I a professional photographer?”
Hmmm….. Well, I was trained by one of Taiwan’s best photographers, an insanely smart fella who only allowed me to shoot on a disposable film camera for over a year until I could match his quality on a SLR. Counting this year, I have over 18 years of professional photography experience that ranges from real estate, fine-art, commercial, fashion, still life (food especially), to weddings (my favorite). I’ve taught photography to many aspiring individuals; even mentored professional photographers, worldwide, so they could reach heights they thought were not attainable.
But does all that history make me…professional? No, it just means I have a great story to tell. Depending on what realm you live in, I’m known as a professional writer; others, a professional videographer, businessman, trainer, even a boxing coach. You probably know me as a professional Hawaii Wedding Planner.
To put your mind at rest; yes, I am also a professional photographer so your wedding is in good hands. But why am I considered one? There is no official red carpet club to obtaining the title of “professional photographer” in the world. There are bogus membership clubs you can join. But for the most part, “professional” is a self-appointed title that involves zero prerequisites.
The question has now evolved. “Am I, yours truly, a professional photographer? Or Am I Zero… posing as a Hero?”
In my book, in order for a photographer to be considered a “professional,” he must be a master of ALL OF THE FOLLOWING:
- THE MEDIUM OF PHOTOGRAPHY – Photography, is technically not an art, but a medium. There is a huge amount of knowledge one most know to create a technically sound composition. That knowledge can range from mastering the forms of natural and artificial light, lens and camera choice, posing, composition, to shadow manipulation, and everything in between. At one point in time, when digital was non-existent, a photographer would literally have to trust his instinct because what he viewed through the lens would likely not be what would be captured on film. Mastering the medium of photography is an ongoing challenge for the professional as technology is forever moving forward.
- THE ART OF STORY – While photography is solely a medium, what makes it become an art is when a message, or a story, is relayed directly through a single or series of images. The true art “in” photography, is storytelling. Storytelling will dictate a photographers choice of camera, lens, lighting technique, pose, subject, scene, and composition. In other words, story is king. Many photographers, including many “so-called professionals,” often forget the importance of storytelling when it comes to their work and resort to special effects to wow their customers. While this may satisfy some, the truth is that you cannot “out-effect” your way if your story sucks or is flat-out, incorrect. Enter exhibit A: Jar-Jar Binks in Star Wars One. Flawless effects, but one stupid character ruined an entire franchise.
- STANDARD BUSINESS EITHICS and PROFESSIONALISM – A professional businessman or businesswoman shows up to work on-time, answers his or her’s phone, returns phone calls and emails promptly, pays their taxes, is a good boss, is courteous to customers, and delivers his products in a timely acceptable fashion. There are no exceptions to the rule here. You’re either good or bad, a professional or not, pass or fail.
This is just bad…EVERYTHING. Taken from a “professional” photographers website who really should be out of business. A scenic shot of the ceremony site. Not only is it poorly lit, but look closely. There is someone on a step ladder in the shot. I mean, come on…!!! *
Storytelling fail: A pretty good professional picture. Not too bad of a shot. But why is the sun in the brides crotch? What message are they trying to send? Why not put the sun to the left of the couple? *
While it’s true that there are some things that you just learn over time, many times a company with years of experience does not translate into professionalism. Experience only counts if one learns from it. If wisdom is not acquired during those years, it’s only cataloged history. A decade old wedding photography company could be late to weddings, never return phone calls, and have a portfolio that flat out stinks. That’s highly unprofessional, and they are unworthy of their self-appointed title of “professional” if you ask me. How they stayed in business for past a decade is truly an example that God is not dead. Then there are the college dropouts, who have taught themselves photography, have excellent customer service, a portfolio that wows, and storytelling that preaches. Even with only six months of experience under their belt, they are far more professional than the company with decades of history.
So now the spotlight turns back to me. Am I, Steven Young, a professional photographer or just an insanely brilliant, handsome man, who knows everything about the universe? And lets not forget humble. I ask you…why can I not be both?
*photos appearing on this blog are legally used through the United States “Fair Use” act law that enables its use for commentary/education purposes.