Some of you may recall Andy Bondurant’s steamy blog post from almost a year ago called “What’s Too Sexy For High School Seniors?“. Well he is back, with more advice for photographers. He is the co-founder and director of Senior Portrait Artists. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.
I recently ran across a question on the question/answer/information site Quora. Here was the question, “How can I dress like a professional photographer?”
I can hear some of the responses some of you have come up with already. “Great, another amateur, jumping into photography taking more of my clients.” But wait just a minute more, because what I found truly disturbing was the first response.
You can visit the site for the full response, but here is the first line:
“This is an awesome question. In my experience shooting events, it’s less important how you dress and more important how your equipment looks.”
The right equipment for the right job can make a huge difference in getting the shot you want and need. By no means does it make you a professional. In fact, it may put you out of business quicker than anything else you could do. Professional equipment is expensive, and much of it is not necessary to begin a business.
Over the past 8-10 years, I’ve had the blessing of having multiple opportunities each year to watch great, professional portrait photographers work on location shoots. Most of the time they have exactly what they need, when they need it. However,many times I would hear things like, “Oh, I wish I had …” Then they move on to get a great shot without the piece of equipment they just mentioned.
So what is that makes GREAT photographers GREAT? It’s not the equipment, and it goes beyond just training. Here are 3 qualities I’ve found seems to be similar among photographers who are professional.
The best photographers seem to be able to connect with their clients quickly and efficiently. If you want to get images that truly portray a subject’s personality you need that person to trust you. You need them to believe you are going to make them look incredible.
If the client doesn’t trust you it shows in their eyes. It shows in their body posture.
Personality is not necessarily the biggest factor in this either. Having a fun, outgoing personality helps, but I’ve seen more reserved photographers do just as well as larger than life photographers.
The key to building relationship is caring. Building trust means truly and genuinely caring for the client and how they look and feel.
Above, I mentioned greatness is more than equipment or training. Having the right equipment and training only take you so far. Having the right equipment without enough time using it will result in sub-par images. Having the correct training without time to practice and perfect that training will lead to a less than perfect product.
Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers calls this the 10,000 hour rule. His premise is anyone who excels in their field has spent 10,000+ hours perfecting it before they become “known” for their skill. He references The Beatles, Bill Gates and others who fit this theory.
There is no substitute for time in photography. The more time you spend shooting, editing and perfecting, the better photographer you will be.
John Pyle wrote an article for The Collective arguing that this one point is what truly makes a professional photographer professional.
The ability to get a great shot no matter the circumstances, time of day, or the not having the “right” equipment is what sets the pro apart from the amateur.
Consistency is directly related to #2. The more time you have doing photography the more consistent product you will create.
Let me wrap up by telling you one more thing.
I’m not a photographer. Before you completely forget what I’ve written based on that statement, think about this: Each one of the above points (relationship, time, consistency) applies to any profession.
I don’t care if you are a doctor, lawyer, lock-smith, banker or pizza maker all 3 of these qualities will be found in the great ones. It will have nothing to do with the equipment they do or don’t have.
It will be about creating relationships, having time invested in their profession, and consistently giving great service and/or creating a great product.
What do you think? Is Andy right on the money about this? Discuss below!