As a Professional Photographer, I understand that some photos may seem unachievable. But in my own opinion, I’d say that there is no such thing. Honestly, it does not matter if you are a professional photographer, hobbyist, or freelance photographer.
You can quickly answer this question just as easily as you can say cheese. By learning more about the photographer’s trade secrets, you will be able to polish your craft. And you will encounter more of these questions as you go on with your journey towards becoming a professional photographer.
You may not always know the right answer, but improving your skill is the ultimate key to achieving your goal as a full-fledged photographer.
Let me share with you my first photo shoot project for 2019. The first one is corporate photography, while the other one is portrait photography. But I will be focusing on my corporate photo shoot with Sun Life Financial Philippines.
The corporate photography project came from the rejected inquiry on my fan page due to a conflict of schedule last December 2018.
One thing that made me truly blessed about this project is that the one who inquired last year referred me to another client. In my years of experience as a professional photographer, building connections and creating networks have proven to be one of the most effective ways of marketing yourself.
The best way to advertise yourself is to give your 101% effort in every project that you do. In turn, your clients will spread the word about you.
To be honest, it took me a couple of days to think before I agreed to accept the project. Because my main concern was how huge the group was and what would it take for me to fit them all in one photo.
Professional Photographer Tips
Just like most photographers, my passion for photography started as a hobby. Perseverance in improving my skills paved the way for my simple desire to build a career as a professional photographer.
Being a photographer in the Philippines, your years of experience in the field could mean nothing, especially with a technology that is always changing. This is the reason why you need to adapt and evolve with it.
It is normal for a professional photographer to have a critical eye for detail. Every time we see a photo, we tend to look for the tiniest things that make up the bigger picture.
Here’s my own take on how to sharpen your eye for details. And I would like to share them with you if you want to walk the saturated path of photography in the Philippines.
Developing the Eye
There are probably quite a few people who we may regard as geniuses when it comes to photography. Those who are extremely talented in photography have a keen eye that hits right off the bat for the precise elements that would make a brilliant photograph.
I, unfortunately, am not one of those. I had to hone my skills, do a lot of trial and error, and slowly but surely master my photography skills with a lot of patience and hard work.
Every time I am going over newspaper ads or magazines, I literally scrutinize every photo included on the page. It is not about being critical but this is how you practice and improve your eye for subtle yet important details of a photo. Lighting is of high importance when it comes to photography.
You need to be able to know how to use proper lighting according to your location. Take note of its elements such as the glare and even the shadows to properly highlight your main subject. When you have learned how to properly light your subject, you can replicate the process in your next photo shoots and eventually master the skill. To get used to a certain technique, you must practice it often.
You can use available lights, reflectors, speed lights, and a studio strobe. As long as you know the basics, it does not matter what source of light you are using.
Also remember that as a professional photographer, you should not rely on your gear alone but learn how to improvise. Play with available items in order to create interesting patterns. Such as using water to magnify tiny objects or using your old Christmas lights to create little orbs.
Be mindful of things around you like natural light or any overcast shadows. These things will affect the composition of your photo. It would be better to have the proper set-up during the shoot instead of altering each photo afterward.
Professional Photography is an Investment
Decide as early as possible on what type of photography you want to pursue. Portrait photography is different from event photography. Just like how landscape photography differs from shooting live-action subjects such as animals or sports.
You will need different DSLR professional cameras and lenses to cater to a specific type of photography service. In addition to that, there are very specific camera accessories for various settings as well.
Do extensive research on which camera and accessories would be best for your chosen type of photography. Read reviews from qualified sources and read up on forums for photographers. Remember that being curious pays well. DSLRs are not exactly cheap so it’s best to make a well-informed decision before making your final purchase.
I started using my first entry-level camera which is the Canon EOS 400D then eventually transitioned to a Canon 50D. I am currently using a full-frame camera as well.
Do not be discouraged if you are a little bent over the budget. Some enthusiasts make do with the equipment that they have and still produce outstanding results.
Specialized equipment is simply designed to give you an edge and do more of the processing than the photographer himself. The output would still depend on your skills and creativity.
As experts would say, it does not depend on the crossbow or the arrow but the shooter himself. An expensive camera or equipment will be of no use if the one using it does not know how to maximize its functions or identify the right elements to a good photograph.
Consider your wallet even if you’re just simply pushing a hobby, or wanting to make a living out of your passion.
Upgrade and Learn New Tools
In the field of photography as a professional photographer, just like any other specialization, everything is always evolving. Innovations are constantly made and new techniques discovered. Just when you are getting comfortable with a particular process, a new one comes along.
But the important thing is that you are always open to new ideas. Even if you may not always adopt them, you must be susceptible to change. Do not let an opportunity to improve your craft pass you by just because you insist on old techniques.
Film and Digital Photography is the same. If you are spending more time in developing a film back in the day, you are also developing your photos in today’s digital age as a professional photographer.
Although pictures are developed in a different method called digital post-processing using photo editing tools. There are a lot, and I mean, A LOT of photo editing software that you can use out there. Hit the big blue button and learn them.
If you are an old school type of professional photographer, you need to be curious about the latest technology. Updated technology could make things easier for you as well as improve your output. Having efficient tools will require less of your resources. In this way, you’ll save time, money, and effort which gives you a great advantage.
Explore and learn the latest software, as well as be on the lookout for the latest camera accessories. If you want to go mobile, you can check out the iPad for Photoshop. And do not be left behind.
I understand that nothing beats the classic ways, but times are changing. We need to work with the latest developments rather than go against them.
Photographer Vantage Point
Just like perspective, the composition is critical. You need to be aware of your surroundings. An advantage of using a full-frame camera is it allows you to include more things inside your frame.
They are perfect for shooting huge groups of people or scenic views. Yes, I am OC but it is not a bad thing when you are in the photography business.
One of the characteristics that you should develop as a photographer is to be detail-oriented. Remember that even the tiniest things could affect your final photo.
As a professional photographer, you also need to know the objective of the shoot. Have a personal meeting with your client. Get to know your client and ask what they want to see in the picture.
This helps set expectations not just for the client but for you as well. You can make your own assessment if you are able to deliver such client expectations.
If not, be a professional and tell them about the situation. Nothing good will come out of pretending that you can do something then failing to deliver afterward. Do not simply say that you cannot do the job. Offer alternatives on what you can present to them instead.
In this project, the client wants the “logo only” and the building is just a bonus together with the clouds. If this is an event, I’m going to ask for a particular list of shots that they want to see.
Some clients, especially corporate ones may need photos for formal documentation. That will require a more specific set of photos. It is important to keep your client in the loop. This avoids miscommunication and bad feedback on your photography services.
The Post Production Process
I am a JPG shooter when it comes to handling events. Although when it comes to projects like this, I prefer shooting RAW so that details are easier to manipulate afterward.
I can say that Canon EOS 6D and Canon EF 17-40mm f 4.0L (V1) is a very reliable combination for professional photographer. This is my first full-frame camera and a major upgrade that I have decided on after more than 12 years. It proved to be a wise investment with the way my final photos turned out.
Another thing you should look into is the photo shoot location and how you will adapt to it. In my experience, a guard who asked me to keep off the grass forced me to take several shots without a tripod. I should tell you, that it could be very challenging if you have always been accustomed to using one.
After more than five to ten shots of RAW, I chose the final photo to edit with Camera RAW in Photoshop. Using the double exposure technique, the output turned out better than expected.
Double exposure is a technique that involves a combination of two photos to create a single image. Some DSLR cameras allow this method.
You simply need to enable the Multiple Exposure options in the shooting menu then manually capture both exposures. You can also replicate this effect using the software of your choice, which in my case is Adobe Photoshop.
How To Become A Professional Photographer
Before getting into the deeper meaning of how it is to become a professional photographer, let us first tackle why we develop such interest in the first place. The answer? it’s pretty simple!
Because we are surrounded by all the beauty in our environment, we just can’t help but appreciate all the wonders that nature possesses. And because of how grateful we can be, even the smallest detail would matter to us when it comes to capturing the moment we’re in.
Being a professional photographer is more than just knowing and mastering your camera. It’s even more than just owning the latest and most expensive camera gear as well. It is really all about getting the deeply-rooted qualities that allow you to see the beauty in the most unexpected places and capture that beauty in a photograph.
So how can someone become a good and professional photographer? It actually depends on what photography niche you are in. Every niche requires various desirable qualities. Like how pet photographers need to know how to interact and connect with animals.
But, in general, there are a few characteristics that dominate in an individual in order for them to become a skilled photographer:
- They must possess creativity and are highly imaginative. They must learn to be able to boost their creativity up to greater heights so that it translates to their photos.
- Since even the smallest of all details matter a lot, their exceptional ability to notice those will give them an edge over their competitors.
- Various locations, different scenarios, as well as the type of personalities that each subject possesses matter greatly to the success of every photo shoot. That’s why time and time again, you must be able to lengthen your patience and exercise flexibility.
- Because you will be exposed to a lot of people and you’d have to deal with every single one of them, you need to have great people skills.
- And most importantly, for your pictures to turn out just the way you want them, You must have a great deal of passion for the art of photography so that you can deliver what you would want to see in your photos.
And since everyone is unique on their own, we cannot limit the qualities of a professional photographer to the ones that are listed above.
If you have more than the ideal number of elements that a true photographer possesses, then by all means, please share them with me. You may share your story with me as well on how you started and what pushed you to pursue a career or hobby in the field of photography.
To Wrap it Up
I hope everything makes sense and that I was able to answer the question properly using the tools and techniques that I shared above. You can also try this new recommendation about Pro Photographers with Amateur Gear vs. an Amateur with Pro Gear.
When you think about it, one should not ask if an excellent photograph can only be achieved by a professional photographer.
I think the right question to ask is “How was this awesome photo made possible?”
Aside from the basics, learn the process and continue growing. Choose your path and stick to it. Do not be easily influenced by shifting to something else when you are not achieving the results that you want.
You do not need to be a professional photographer or have the most expensive equipment to create great photos. What matters most is that you know what your heart wants, having the perseverance to pursue it. And everything else will follow.