*Note this post is not meant to discourage anyone from following their dream of becoming a professional photographer. Just a few insights from a pro who has been in the business for a while.
Any professional photographer will tell you that the myths that float around about them are frustrating and just plain not true. Here is a story of how professional photographers often get a bad rap simply because people all too often believe the myth. This story is true.
A photographer was showing a family new pictures of the three month old baby. Normally, the father did not tag along to see photos, but on this day, he did. After looking at the photos and choosing their favorites, the family turned to available packages. The father then got upset, said "I guess I am buying your new hot tub" then insisted on getting the smallest package possible.
All too often, people assume that photographers are simply rolling in the dough. However, this is a myth. Digital photography is expensive and photographers have to constantly update and upgrade their equipment, pay for their time and all the expenses that go into running a business. This is not the only myth about professional photographers though. Here are a few more.
Professional Photographers Only Care about Money
Often, you will find a photographer taking pictures and not getting paid at all. People who choose to go into this field genuinely love the work, and they are not in it purely for the money. Professional photography is not a job for those who want to get rich, and digital photography is not all about making money. Often, the money they do make goes right back into the photography to buy equipment or to attend more training. There is so much time spent after a photo session to make the photos ready for print or presentation. I think some people get into the photography business thinking that the majority of their time will be taking photos, when the reality is that most of the time can be sitting in front of a computer or building your business.
Professional Photography is Glamorous
Certainly, anyone who says this has never crawled on their hands and knees to get the perfect angle and has never been spit up on by an upset baby. Digital photography is not glamorous for most professionals. Very few get to take pictures of models and lounge around the pool every day. The work is hard. It can be backbreaking too.
A Professional Photographer Really Only Needs One Camera
That sounds good, especially if you do not have a great deal of money, but imagine this scenario. You make an appointment to take family photos for someone. You get to the site, and you realize your camera is malfunctioning. This is not just a nightmare. It very well could happen, and it could be detrimental. Any professional photographer knows the importance of having a backup camera. Of course, this goes back to the myth that photographers are rich too.
I Have an SLR Camera. I Charge Money therefore I Am a Professional Photographer.
There are literally hundreds if not thousands of people claiming they are pros right now. However, there is so much more that goes into being a professional than having a camera and charging money for your work. This problem has become a plague for true professionals because the newcomers undercut their prices and may not provide the best service for the money. Often, customers do not realize the difference. A real professional has been trained and keeps up their training. They understand how to pose people. They know lighting. They know how to frame an image. The good news is that more and more that people are recognizing the difference in work between someone who calls themselves a pro and those who actually are professional photographers. They may be a little harder to find, but they recognize the benefit and quality of paying a good pro for great photos. Pros beware though. Don't hate the newcomers or talk bad about them...everyone has to start somewhere and even the most seasoned pro were once pretty wet behind the ears when it came to experience.
If I Have a Website, People Will Find Me
If you think this is true, just try it and see. There are millions of other websites out there. The chances of people finding yours are slim to none. If you want to build your professional digital photography business, you have to be willing to market, advertise, and work hard to get your name out there. Setting up a website will not do the trick. Depending on what type of photography business you want to build there is always a lot of legwork on the business end to get your business to the place where it needs to be. Researching SEO strategies, networking, and developing marketing strategies are all part of running a successful business.
The quicker people can understand these myths about professional photographers, the better. Having a photography business is not the world most people think. It is hard work and it is only for those who are passionate about taking pictures. If you put in the time, effort and know the challenges up front then hopefully you will be prepared to succeed.