Never Underestimate the Importance of Professionalism
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Thursday, August 02, 2012
By DonnaKay Johnson
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How many times have you gotten into the Canon/Nikon debate?  Seriously, does it really matter!  I am a Canon girl simply because it is what I started with years ago, and I have so much Canon stuff {which, do not get me wrong, I LOVE it dearly and have never considered a switch to any other brand!}.... BUT my point is that the "brand" is not the real issue when it comes to photography.  When it comes to hiring a professional photographer {and I'm talking professional photographers, not hobbyists}, what is important is that you are a "professional" in every sense of that word.  That would include:


• Operating your business within professional standards: {follow professional pricing guidelines such as those set by PPA, carry full insurance coverage, pay proper taxes, etc.}  If you are doing these things, you are not going to be out there shooting a full wedding and charging $500 with a disc and prints... or doing family sessions for $50 with a disc of high-resolution images.  You are going to realize when you are setting your print prices that what you are charging for is NOT the paper the picture is printed on... but rather the talent, art and time behind creating that image.  Pricing is something that can set off a lot of anger and debate with some photographers... but consider that it's just not professional to undercut the competition.  It's always best to tend to the bridges around you, because you never know when you might need to cross them, meaning it's important to have other professional photographers as friends, so don't alienate yourself from the ones around you by undercutting pricing.  In the end, it will be you who loses respect.  

 • Shooting professionally:  Know your equipment!  Shoot in Manual Mode, definitely not in Automatic {and if you need to learn, then don't fret that the time in between is wasted time, but rather see it as the perfect time to PRACTICE!}  If you are charging someone for your work, make sure YOU are in control of your camera, and not your camera deciding what to do when you snap the shutter!  It's not even a matter of buying the most expensive equipment... I've seen some absolutely incredible work done by photographers who were shooting with the most inexpensive equipment.  The difference was that they knew how to control their camera {the tool} to get the results they were after!  Better {more expensive} equipment can make the job a bit easier sometimes, but without knowledge and talent to use it correctly it's just money wasted.

 • Finding your own style:  It's GREAT to admire other photographers, but it's best to find the things along the way that work for you, so always shoot in your own style.  Don't get caught up in the idea that you have to be original - because truth is, there is not a lot of originality to come up with, and some of the best poses are the simple & timeless poses.  I've had photographers send me emails and say "I love such-and-such a pose that I saw on your page, and I'm going to borrow that, if it's ok." I appreciate hearing from other photographers, so I love any emails I receive... but they don't need my permission to use a pose!  I love Pinterest, shopping at Anthropologie, looking at magazines and scanning other photography pages on facebook...I've lived a lot of life, met a lot of people, and been to a lot of places, so I'm not vain enough to think that I come up with poses that aren't somehow inspired by something I've seen along that journey. Somewhere and at some time most ideas have been touched on...and we are lucky enough to be able to tweak them here and there to get the perfect image we are going after for our clients!  So take ideas and make them your own.  Tweak them with your own creativity and style.  


In the past few months I have been very blessed to get to mentor some aspiring photographers, and I feel so blessed at each opportunity.  Photography is such a passion of mine, and much more than what I would ever just consider a career or job.  I love helping others find their perfect place in this world of photography.  But I always encourage professionalism, because that should be where we begin and end with everything we do.  And at the end of the day, while I want to be considered a talented photographer, and would love to even one day be considered a GREAT photographer, I always want to be considered a photographer and a woman of Integrity.  

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