I have been thinking a lot about our photography business and where is the industry going. There is such a saturation nowadays of people calling themselves photographers and it is all fine with me as long as we are all cognizant of one very important thing. The moment you take someone's payment in exchange for images, you are responsible for providing memories and excellence.
It is perfectly fine to be a certain kind of photographer. By this I mean, you may not be the same kind I am. I am a family, baby photographer, and at times I would love to own the title of Lifestyle photographer, but I cross both the traditional and the candid fields. It is who I am. Most important, I respect those who have paid their dues by getting formal education, workshops, seminars, competitions, etc and can call themselves pros. I have been delving into this craft for 8 years and let me say I have images of which I am not proud of. Not because I did not want to provide the best, but because I did not know how and although I had a vision, I did not have the skills at the time.
Today I can say that I attend every seminar, convention, class and other things that will allow me to provide images to my clients of which I could be proud of. NO. By far I have not reached the stage I want to as of yet, but I am on my way and I am working as hard as I can to get there.
A good photographer must know things such as how to crop correctly so that my clients don't get their heads chopped up at the lab, or how to color correct skin tones so that when their images are printed, they don't find themselves looking at a bluish or orange picture. I don't want my clients to cringe 3 years down the road when they pass that one frame with my picture because it looks so dated. I love my customers. They are all dear to me because they share their special moments with me. I want to keep them and see their families grow. I want to know they treasure what I provide.
I have a very good friend whom I provide pictures for every so often and I have never charged her. I don't care to. What I love about her, besides being my friend, is that I go to her house and every wall is covered with my images. Her mom and dad love my pictures also and it humbles me. I see pictures of years ago in her house and I can still be proud. I love to capture images that my customers will love forever.
Anyway, I will get off my soap box but not before giving you some good advice:
1. We all have images in our portfolio which make us cringe. We all start somewhere. Until you are sure that you are providing a professional product, please don't charge. Fill your portfolio with free sessions and practice every day. You will get there. It takes practice and education.
2. Please realize that a camera does not a photographer make. I used to get amazing pictures from my old Canon point and shoot. It is all about the composition and knowing how to produce an image that will make people look twice and ask about it.
3. That being said, get to know your settings and how they affect the mood of your images. A good portrait lens is worth its weight in gold. Invest on good equipment, but LEARN how to use it. Getting to isolate your subjects from the background makes a very compelling image. When everything is the same depth, you cannot draw your viewer's eye to what's important. The people in them.
4. You may have a "style". Just make sure that you are consistent and also make sure that it is a printable image.
If your black and white images are gray, you lose the viewer. There is no contrast or too much of it.
If you blow your highlights in your pictures, just remember it looks ten times worse in print. Make sure your skin tones will look realistic when you send to the lab.
Make sure you print with professional labs. Snapfish or Winkflash are NOT pro labs. Expect low quality paper, colors and product. Not what I would offer my clients.
Attend every workshop, seminar and class you can get your hands on. Learn your craft.
Sorry for the long post, but I feel this way evey time someone shows me another Canon Rebel. Wonderful cameras. I started with one of them until I was able to afford a better one. Nothing wrong with that but if you are on Auto mode the entire time, don't waste your money. Buy yourself the best point and shoot camera and auto shoot away.