It is human nature to be drawn to beautiful things, and many people have capitalized on this fact by going into the photography business. However becoming a successful professional photographer is still a challenge, despite the many advances made in the field. Since we see photos everywhere, it’s easy to think that making a living as a photographer might be possible for almost anyone. But there is a difference between someone who takes pictures and a photographer. Here are some misconceptions about what it takes to produce professional quality photos.
1. Anyone Can Do ItCameras have been advancing for a long time, and certainly point and shoot cameras have made it easier for the average Joe to get a few shots of their kid on the backyard swing. While these might be “nice” photos, they aren’t necessarily professional. Technology has done a lot, but the thing that makes a good photographer is their ability to see a potentially good shot and know how to manipulate the camera settings to make the person looking at the photo see the same beauty that was first noticed by the photographer.
2. A Beautiful Subject = A Beautiful PhotographIt’s not necessarily that people are complaining about the pictures of cute kitty cats, pretty flowers, and smiling babies, but admit it, getting others to enjoy these images is pretty easy. That doesn’t mean that you should stop posting pictures of Fluffy and your garden on your Facebook page, it just means that true beautiful photography comes from less obvious beauty. Award winning photography has often been shot in the midst of wreckage, where the photographer has managed to identify a touch of beauty amongst disaster.
3. Your Photos Must Be CenteredWhen most people are handed a camera, the inclination is normally to center the subject as much as possible, but often centering can actually take away from the appeal of the photograph. Face it, in one way or another we all tend to live our lives at least a little askew, and always having the subject sitting there dead center like a bullseye just doesn’t seem natural.
One of the main guidelines in professional photography is the “Rule of Thirds”. This rule asks the photographer to frame lines within a frame much like a tick tack toe board. The subject focus should be placed on the lines or where those lines intersect. When you take a good look at professional photography, especially magazine ads, subjects are often off to one side in order to make room for written copy, but the photos themselves are still professional.
4. A Good Photo Editor Must Be a Photography ExpertThis might happen sometimes, but a professional photo editor is more likely to be a specialist rather than an expert on photography in general. Often they have honed their skills to fit in with whatever publication they work for, so if the niche is to show a subject on a blurred background, they may be very good at helping photos pop for that purpose, but they may know very little on how to achieve proper lighting on a studio shooting.
5. A Great Photographer is Automatically a Great EditorThe job of a professional photographer and a photography editor are two different things. Even though both may be looking at the same image, they look at it from different perspectives. This is part of the reason why photographers sometimes aren’t good editors for their own work. A fellow photographer will likely look at an image from a similar perspective as the person who made the shot.
6. If You Take Enough Pictures, You Can Run a Photography BusinessThis school of thought is present mostly with stock photographers who sell various generic images through stock photography websites. There are a lot of stock images available, and some of them are not all that professional. As with any other artistic endeavor, the cream rises to the top. Quality still trumps quantity.
7. Celebrity Photography is Taking Over PhotojournalismNot every photographer has easy access to celebrities, and yet it seems as if celebrity pics are everywhere. It’s easy to feel that your photography business is doomed if you can’t sneak a shot of the person starring in the latest blockbuster hit. But the people looking to see celebrities have always looked for those types of photos, and those who look for news photos of real people in real situations will always gravitate toward those types of photos. Good and bad photographers are present in both genres, and there is a demand for both.
8. Video Has an Advantage Over Still PhotosFrom the time it was first discovered that we have the ability to make photographs move, there has been plenty of excitement. But that was quite some time ago, and still photography hasn’t gone anywhere. In fact, video has always depended on still images, as many are required to produce even a short film. If stills need to be pulled from a video, it can take a lot of editing to pull out just the right moment, while a still photo is ready with much less adjustment.
9. It Takes Expensive Equipment to Shoot Quality PhotosWhat matters most in professional photography is the skill of the photographer, not the price tag of the camera. When working with older or more basic equipment different adjustments need to be made than if the photographer was working with something with a lot of extra bells and whistles. Some of the best photos have been shot with manual black and white film cameras– by very good photographers.
10. The Demand for Editorial Photos is DyingA more accurate statement would be that the demand for editorial photos is changing because print media is quickly losing steam. Electronic media, however, is exploding, and when an editorial photographer can embrace this concept, they have a much better chance of succeeding in the photography business. It may mean thinking outside the box from what they have been taught in their photography classes, or building a new box entirely.
Do you know of any other misconceptions out there about photographers? Share with us in the comments!
-Backdrop Express Photography Team
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