So have you noticed how many people are photographers now? Not just photographers, but charging for money professional photographers. There are people who have bought their first DSLR in May and are now booking clients, charging money and representing themselves as full-time professional photographers! (That took me years to do!)
Now if those people have moved up from film to a DSLR that is one thing, but if they have left behind their point and shoot, well now, that is another.
It seems that if you buy a DSLR camera and download Picnik that is all you really need to be considered a professional. (Do you detect the sarcasm in that? ‘Cause you should!). I’ve had new photographers ask for advice. I give it to them. And then they go right back to what they were doing before. If you don’t want to learn and get better, what is the point of taking up someone else’s time?
There are days that I still feel silly saying “I’m a professional photographer.” I enjoy taking photographs. I love it, actually. It’s like breathing to me. Without it, I am not sure what I would do. It is an outlet for me. It’s my creative self expressing itself. It makes me happy. I make money doing it. I have invested in it. And so yes, I am a professional photographer.
I think anyone who is wanting to call themselves a professional needs to actually invest in it too. I am not talking about all the gizmos and gadgets you can find, but a true investment. Invest your time, your brain, your heart. Invest all of you into photography. And if you can’t say honestly “I would still do this even if I didn’t make a dime” then you should reconsider what you are doing.
If you decide it’s your true career path, then you need to work. Work hard. Don’t settle for Picnik. Don’t settle for using your camera on Auto. Learn. Every single day find something new to learn and keep doing it, even when you think you can not handle anything else. Find your own style, don’t imitate others. (And don’t just say “These are no cookie cutter photos”…actually mean it because if the photos in your portfolio pretty much all look the same, you are offering cookie cutter photos!). Experiment. Your work should reflect who you are as an artist. Break some rules. Have fun. And be true to yourself and your vision.