Photography has been around for a long time, while the gear photographer’s use has evolved over time, the fundamentals of photography have not changed. The digital age has created a new brand of photographer. Digital photography has allowed more and more people to take up a camera and photograph the world. However, while more people are able to take up photography it does not mean that they should do photography as a business or as a professional.
This brings up the question, just how can you spot a professional photographer? The first thing (and these are in no particular order), to look for in a professional photographer is their website. Do they actually have their own website or do they only have a page on Facebook? You should never have to log in to see an artist’s portfolio. A professional will have their own website, they can still have a Facebook page for their business; however, the purpose of the Facebook page will be to direct traffic to their website.
One point to remember is that not all websites are created equal. I have seen some photographer’s websites that are hard to read and also not easy to navigate. A professional photographer’s website will be easy to read, easy to navigate, and their message will be clear.
Another thing to look at when selecting a professional photographer is their Facebook activity. A professional photographer will not critique on Facebook, they have an image to protect. Critiquing is a personal thing that needs to be handled one on one to really be effective. A professional photographer might comment on Facebook but they will not comment on everything, once again the professional has an image to protect.
Now that you have looked at and critiqued the photographer’s website and social media it is now time to look at their pictures. It should go without saying that you should look closely at their work. One thing to look for is where they pose the people in their portraits. Simply, a professional photographer will not pose a family in the bedroom, I have seen this done; can we all say “Bad Taste.” There are some lines that photographers should never cross; a professional photographer should never pose a family in their bedroom.
The next item to look for in the photographers pictures is to look at the sky in the photos. This is my opinion but I feel that a professional photographer will never wash out the sky. When the sky is washed out it is a sign to me that the photographer did not use the correct exposure when they took the photo. Simply, if their photos look like an amateur took the photos, than it is a good bet that it was an amateur that did it; despite how well the person tries to act like a professional.
On the business side, a professional photographer will have good customer service. Before you hire a photographer ask about their customer service. Also; a professional photographer will generate a receipt, even if they are not asked for one. I read a post on Facebook about a photographer that has had a lot of clients and only recently have they been asked by the client for a receipt. This is shocking to me, and to every business owner I have talk to, because how can you think of running a business and not have a paper trail for everything. There are so many businesses that fail because the people don’t think things through.
In a photography business the photographer must wear two hats, at least. There is the artist and there is the business man. The artist is the creative side of the business, this is the person that does the enjoyable side of things and makes all the pictures. The business man is the hard nose, unbending, stingy guy that handles the money and makes all the hard decisions about prices etc. Both the photographer and the business man are usually played by the same person but the too must be kept separate. The bottom line is this; do your homework. Do some research before you hire the photographer; if you do some research you will make a more informed decision. If you don’t know what questions to ask, than that would become part of your research.
So how do you identify a professional photographer? The answer is simple; you identify the qualities that you feel make up a professional photographer and you look for photographers with those qualities.