Tuesday, May 21, 2019

4 Things Professional Photographers Need to Like

People often think being a professional photographer is just about taking great photos.  While great images are important if you're going to make professional photography your career, it's also important to like the four things below in order to enjoy running a business as a professional photographer:

1. Gear & Gadgets
The photo industry is full of gear and gadgets.  I am not a gear or gadget person.  I got along just fine on my minimal upgrade schedule by always having backups, but no matter how long I'd put off an upgrade (because I am not the early-adopter type),  it was still inevitable that my cameras, computers, and gadgets needed frequent replacing and upgrades just due to heavy professional usage.  So, a love of playing with new gear and gadgets all the time is very helpful if you're in the photography industry, because you will always need new gear and gadgets from one year to the next.

2. Post-Production
Even when I was able to get my images amazingly close to what I wanted in camera, I still always wanted to do some extra post-production on them.  It's also the biggest difference between what the camera sees and what the photographer envisions when taking an image.  I'm quite relaxed on how much post-production I like because I don't love staring at a screen for too long, but still can't really get away with not doing some post-production.  Even while post-production was my least favorite part of the job, I always had a hard time letting other people do it because I was still picky about it.  I only found a couple post-production people over the span of my career who could see color and brightness in the same way I did, and it was a dream when I could rely on them for client deadline work.  However, their paths all eventually diverged as they wanted to focus on other projects of their own and weren't available for post-production anymore.  If I loved post-production, I might have kept doing photography for a longer time, but I feel so much more free without needing to worry about finishing post-production on other people's deadlines anymore!

3. People
Most photography has some element of dealing with people on a personal basis.  If you're one of the lucky ones who makes money on fine art, landscapes, or nature - you probably still need to deal with the agents or gallery owners who sell your art or the clients who buy your art.  You have to like people if you're going to be a professional photographer, otherwise, you're going to end up turning down a lot of opportunities that could otherwise support you making a living.  If you don't like people, you could probably focus on post-production and retouching, and just mange inquiries and outcome online through email.  However, most photographers need to enjoy people to do their work.  Luckily, I like people- even people who probably don't deserve to be liked- so the people part of the job was always interesting to me.

4. Products & Sales
Photographers who understand how to sell their work, and how to sell products of their work, are far better off than photographers who don't know how to sell.  You can still get by without liking sales or doing a lot of sales, but you'll be much better off if you learn how to like sales.  Think about it- half the time you're selling something people might be able to get from a family member- so if you can't sell, than you're going to have a hard time positioning yourself as being more helpful than a friend or family member who can send digital files.  This is just the reality of public perception, and it makes understanding sales and how to sell a critical part of being a professional photographer who can sustain and grow their business for the long-haul.  I personally love selling and find it deeply satisfying to make sure a client is going to walk away with a physical representation of their images because of the products I was able to share with them and help them choose for their home and keepsakes.

What else do you think professional photographers need to like to do their work well?  Leave them in the comments and let's compare notes!

Anne Ruthmann helps creatives find smarter solutions to common business problems as a Creative Business Strategist and author of the Pricing Workbook for Creatives.  Her wisdom is steeped in the experience of managing her own creative businesses since 2004.  Stay in touch on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

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