Are You a Professional Photographer?
Take this simple test to see if you (or someone you know) shows the characteristics of a true
You pay taxes on your income.
You file estimated tax payments q
uarterly, file state sales tax,
and you claim your income on your tax return. If you don’t, think about the number of people
who see your “page” on Facebook. It won’t take long for the state and federal revenue people
to connect your FB “business” with the fact that you don’t obey the law and report your income
like a real professional.
You have a real website
. Facebook doesn’t count. A website legitimizes you as someone who
will be around in a couple of years, and knows how to run a business.
You have an established post production workflow with backups and offsite storage
not, what are you going to tell your clients when something trashes their images and don’t have
You have backup equipment
. Say you drop your main camera/lens at a wedding. What will
you do? Where is your backup gear? How will you respond in front of your client?
You set custom white balance and calibrate your monitors
. If you don’t know what these
are, that might explain why your images don’t produce consistent colors.
You don’t rely on filters, special effects, color gimmicks or other manipulation to give
your images appeal
. If they can’t stand on their own with basic post production, are they really
that good? Getting the exposure right “in camera” is a hallmark of a talented professional.
You work with reputable print labs and equipment to generate quality printed output and
. Your clients really do want prints. Are you going to let them produce terrible prints at
the local giant store? Have you ever compared the difference?
You have insurance
. You cover your equipment, liability, and errors and omissions. Stuff
happens. Are you professional enough to be prepared?
You know how to use your camera outside of “Automatic”.
Can you estimate a manual
exposure in bright sunlight? Do you know how to use a light meter? Can you calculate
equivalent exposures across a range of ISO, shutter speed and f-stops? A professional can do
that in her head.
You know how to use all kinds of light, natural and artificial
. If you sell yourself as a
“natural light” photographer, you may not have the skills to use supplemental light to create
good images. Use of on camera and off camera flashes is often a necessity.
Your web/portfolio/sample images are clean
. Are yours blown out, dull, out of balance,
uninteresting or poorly composed? How do you know? Have you ever had another
photographer that you respect give you honest critique on your images? Your clients are not
the best judge of image quality.
You use contracts and model releases for your sessions.
Do you realize you can be liable
if you publish images that don’t have releases, particularly for minors?
You belong and actively participate in professional photography organizations.
in WPPI, PPA or a
local group? If not, why not? These groups exist to provide guidance and
fellowship and development to professionals of all levels.
You pursue continual education.
What is the last photography class you have taken? Are
you pursuing a degree or merit program? Do you teach or mentor other photographers? If not,
why not? The best professionals continually grow and share with others.
You represent the business of photography professionally.
This means that you charge a
fair price, you don’t copy others’ work, you follow through on your commitments, produce
quality products and services, and you treat other photographers with respect.
So how many of the 15 points did you get? How “professional” do you think you are? What can you do
to improve your standing in the photography community?