There are so many individuals that consider themselves professional photographers. After reading another blog regarding the importance of copyright, (Protect Your Copyright: It’s the Only Thing You Have of Real Value) I got to thinking. Yes, I know that can be dangerous but while attending school, during my 10+ years as a photojournalist and as a member of numerous professional organizations for photographers ( NPPA, NAPP, ASMP, etc.) one thing above all others was constantly stressed…professionalism.
Professionalism is not just about how others perceive you but how you perceive yourself. The glut in the marketplace of portrait, wedding, commercial and other photographers begs the question how do I carve out a name and a niche?
Your name should be built on your talents not on giving away the proverbial farm. Granted, the digital age of photography makes it very easy to share our work with fewer expenses, but that does not mean you should be charging a pittance for your time and talent. This under-cutting of other professionals in the field leads one to believe that you perceive yourself as valueless. If you do not value your time and talent, then why should your customers?
It is a dog-eat-dog world but there are more effective means of carving out your niche and marketing your talents. In order to make a living you will have to work ten times as hard! You are shooting yourself in the foot and greatly limiting your income potential.
It is important to make it clear to potential clients that you are not as experienced as your competition. If you are spending hours in Photoshop to adjust images to make them look fabulous, then you need to spend more time learning the basics. Shooting in Auto mode and hoping for the best is NOT professional by any means. Professional photographers are constantly learning new things and ALWAYS shooting something. See Paul Conrad’s blog on Learning Photography is NOT a Spectator Sport. As you gain in knowledge and experience you will have more to show and feel comfortable charging more.