A professional photographer – who is that?

I regularly get messages on social networks and messengers asking me – “What camera/lens would you recommend as a professional photographer? Moreover, the mention of the word “professional” in my address I hear and read regularly, it gave me reason to think about what exactly makes a photographer professional. I asked a similar question to a search engine and found that this topic is almost every forum dedicated to photography, that is, there are those who care to know. I’m taking the key points of these discussions into this article and adding my comments.

I should warn you right away that this article is not too serious. I am writing it for my own amusement rather than for any practical sense.

A Photographer Who Shoots for Money

That being said, any beginner who picked up a camera and got his first assignment to take pictures of, say, a seminar or a corporate event, can feel free to announce himself as a professional photographer. Why, it sounds! Even if the fee is a couple thousand rubles, and the result is far from perfect, but you can already “twiddle your thumbs” in forums, saying that I am a professional 🙂

On the other hand, not everyone can see the flip side of this kind of professionalism. If you’re shooting for money, you have to do the job with a 100% quality guarantee. Even if you wake up the next morning with a temperature of 38 and a headache. Or during the shooting, the camera broke down, a flash drive died or the lens broke. That’s in these situations, you immediately see who’s a true professional, and who just “put on an eagle and thinks he’s an eagle” 🙂

By the way, speaking about camera breakage during shooting – a real professional always has at least one spare (and a lens, respectively). And uses cameras with 2 flash drives to duplicate the material. And to buy this, you might have to sell your car. This is primarily written to those who want to buy a camera with a lens for 50 thousand to make money on weddings – just think about it.

A person who knows the characteristics of all modern cameras/lenses.

And at the same time he knows where they are sold, at what price and where they “won’t cheat” and won’t give you crap. And he knows the secret information about some “magic camera” which at a cost of 30, 40, maximum 50 thousand rubles will allow to take pictures AT ALL with professional quality and still fit into a jacket pocket 🙂 Perhaps many readers of the site imagine me like this – I judge by the abundance of the same type of questions that I am asked by mail, in social networks, sometimes even by phone. Well, I hasten to disappoint you – I am not him. I have not been following the news on snapshots for a long time, and I read news about updates of DSLRs and mirrorless cameras “from the diagonal”.

A professional photographer must be aware of what is going on in the world of photography, but he does not have to follow all the latest products, especially in the niches that are not of interest for him (e.g. amateur equipment).

A person who has a professional camera and lens and knows how to use it

This does give great advantages but with one condition – the person knows how to use it. Not just turn on auto mode and get an acceptable result, “riding out” the capabilities of the sensor / optics, but to squeeze the maximum out of the technique, which it is capable of. You can get the most out of it only when you shoot RAW in manual mode. This requires a certain level of professional expertise. It’s no secret that if a person who used to shoot with a smartphone picks up a professional camera with good optics, the result will not be much better than with a smartphone.

In this case, the question remains unclear as to how some amateur photographers manage to shoot photos with an inexpensive DSLR with a kit lens (sometimes even with a smartphone) that win prestigious competitions? That is, it’s not just a matter of the level of technology and the ability to use its capabilities, but also of sheer luck. Anybody can be lucky, but the more experience a person has, the more often he gets lucky 🙂

There is a category of photographers who can work with RAW, but prefer the Jpeg format. I don’t see anything wrong with that, especially if the camera has good internal Jpeg and the photographer can shoot in Jpeg so there is no need to stretch or adjust anything. Most of these people are really valuable and in-demand specialists, especially if the customer needs to get a result “right away”, for example, a reportage for a news story.

A person who takes the kind of pictures that viewers like

First of all, the question arises – how do you gauge how much a photograph is liked? The most familiar to today’s generation of photographers is the popularity of their photos on social networks. The cooler the photo, the more “likes” it will gather. Only here’s the question – “who are the judges?” 99% of friends and followers who give these “likes” often have nothing to do with the photo and can’t adequately assess it, and just put “hearts” on the old friendship. And it doesn’t matter what is in the picture – a sunset shot on a smartphone through a window pane, a cat on a rug, flowers in a flowerbed, selfies – everything is put under one head. In the end, the one with the most “likes” on his social network is the coolest photographer :).

Conclusion – almost any photo will find an audience. You take landscapes – fine. You take pictures of cats – also good. Flowers – great! Your little kids – great! And those who like “kotofotki” most likely will find black and white landscapes by recognized masters Ansel Adams or Michael Kenna boring and depressing. But if you come with their cats and flowers on a serious thematic photo resource, you are likely to be pelted with tomatoes there :).

The number of “likes”, “rakes”, “reposts”, which gather the photos on the Internet, if it can be regarded as an indicator of the professionalism of the author, it is very indirect, because it depends on the popularity of the account and the number of subscribers.

A person who knows how to work well in Photoshop

In “Photoshop” you can make a sweet out of everything – many people are sure of this. Some people spend a lot of time and money to master Photoshop retouching, watch numerous video tutorials, where the coryphaei process the pictures taken with professional equipment in a well-equipped studio. Naturally, after watching the lesson we try to copy it on our photos, but we don’t always get the “wow! The difference is that a “tough” photographer, even before he/she presses the shutter button, knows what kind of result he/she is going to get and what kind of processing is going to do, instead of trying to turn shit into… … candy.

It happens that some photographers lose their sense of proportion and create “masterpieces” that are hard to look at. Beginner wedding photographers who shoot “for cheap” try to compensate with post-processing lack of experience in photography. Oddly enough, many clients like this. Apparently, this is a generation whose artistic tastes have been nurtured by Instagram. But demand creates supply, can’t help it! And if there is demand, there appeared a certain caste of preset photographers who, without a deep understanding of retouching, run the footage through presets in Lightroom or other programs and get the end result that suits the client. What’s convenient – go to the city park with a camera, laptop and printer, and offer the service of “snapshot. And strangely enough, there are those who want it!

I’m not going to argue that a photographer has to know how to work with Photoshop (or other photo editing software). At least at a basic level – to correct levels and curves, level out the horizon, remove glare, retouch problematic skin areas. But you have to agree that in most cases these actions are necessary if mistakes are made during taking pictures. Isn’t it better to learn how to take pictures so that you don’t have to Photoshop them later?