First of all, let me say how nice it was to know there are a lot of people following my blog. I received Facebook posts, messages, emails, text messages and even a few calls! And while many of you think me to be a super hero, I'm really not... but I play one on TV! LOL I received a call yesterday from a good friend and fellow photographer. He has been a full time shooter for about 4 years and has made a name for himself in the area. He is creative, talented (almost "gifted" comes to mind), business savvy and connected in the community. The calls happen about twice a month to check in, check up and check out each others success and failure stories. This time, the call was a little different.
The call was about professional photographer organizations. You see, in the beginning most newcomers never see the value of joining an established network. It could be the cost, the time involved to participate, and my most favorite saying... "I just do it for fun and a little extra cash". I will never stop anyone from pursuing their passion, dream or happiness. But this attitude can be a killer to a client and the industry as a whole. Before you jump down my throat, because I just described you.. just wait and read. Give me a chance to help you understand.
The standard definition of a professional:
I really wonder about the people that write dictionaries. The one definition I believe applies to a "professional" is someone that has a invested interest in their client while producing consistent, high quality products and helping the industry excel as a whole. Maybe my expectations are too high, but I truly believe the industry has become better despite the short failings of the many "Guy/Gal with Camera".
As a professional, the client is trusting you to provide a good value, great attitude in a timely, consistent matter. If you are just making a few dollars, then you are not vested in the client or the future, 'cause with the first wave of problems or editing nightmares, you will bail... sometimes leaving the client wondering what happen and with no images! Look at how many "professional" wedding photographers have been on the news for failing to meet expectations. This creates large obstacles for others in the industry to overcome.
One way to separate yourself from the start-up shooters is to join and participate with other professionals and organizations. Separate yourself from your "photo buddies" that don't want to do this full time because "I don't want to lose my passion" or "It won't be fun, if I do it all the time". These people will not commit to invest in themselves or others, much less a client. Follow photographers that are already successful and find ways to associate with those through workshops, organizations or just stalk them on Facebook. LOL
The number one choice for those is to join the Professional Photographers of America. No, it's not cheap.. about $300 a year. But the benefits far outweigh the simple dollars you pay. There are some others that I believe can be a great asset as well, Wedding and Portrait Professionals International, National Association of PhotoShop Professionals, Wedding Photojournalist Association, and Digital Wedding Forum.
Invest in yourself to be better, to better serve your client and to better help others achieve their passionate goals in this industry. Funny thing, I just received an email to renew my PPA membership! I'm going to do it right now!