It has been about a year since I began this journey as a ‘professional’ photographer.
When I look back, it pretty much feels like I am only 6 months old. There were so many mistakes and so many answers to find, particularly the answer to the question “What separates a professional from an amateur or a hobbyist?”
The answer used to be that a professional is one who has made it a career. That still stands true, for most part… but I cannot give the clients that answer. They are looking for something more philosophical that would make them feel okay parting with money. Because most people do not see the work go into photography. They do not see the planning of shots, the juggling with lights, the expenses of the equipment, patience required to get that right shot, the jumping around and the hours spent in front of the computer removing a little bit of dust, freckles and pimples on your face.
What they see if a person with a huge camera, shades on his face and a big ass bag and a bottle of water.
So I learnt… I learnt about making invoices, judging the right client, chasing them down for payment, about taxes and expenses and actual profits, about the need of having an assistant, a support and tie ups with various other people I call ‘associates’ and about the need to ‘market’ properly.
Well, the last… I know about it but I still haven’t learned it… nor have I learned the art of pricing, which sort of go together in my mind. Sometimes, a price seems too high for what I’m doing and sometimes too low.
Money is a brilliant motivator, particularly when you have none. And when the job is a boring one. I’ve spent hours waiting for the client to be ready, I’ve learned to be on time (almost!). I’ve learned the importance of the position of the sun and seasons.
I love winter… shoots can start at 7 AM, even if it is quite cold them. 7 AM seems a lot better than 5.30 AM.
Now that I’ve gotten through what I’d term “Photography business for Dummies – Chapter 1,” I’d need to read through all the annexures and footnotes before moving onto Chapter 2.
Everyone is a photographer in today’s digital age.
A professional, I’ve realised, is one who dedicates time exclusively to that passion. Knows all the details completely and lives in a world behind the lens. I’m not there yet, completely. I see the frame but the photograph mostly remains in my mind. And sometimes, I am okay with that too.
Now to learn to distinguish between work for money alone and work that is fun and pays.