Regardless of photographic genre, the primary factor a client will use to make their photographer hiring decision is going to be the photographer's images; if they see that you can produce great photos, that's going to be the most important thing. But there are a number of supporting factors that distinguish a true professional photographer; things that aren't always visible in your photos; but they contribute behind the scenes to being able to consistently deliver a great client experience.
A Professional Has Redundant Gear
I never arrive at a photo shoot with only a single camera, lens, or light; and neither should you. Like everything else, camera gear will break, whether it's just worn out or accidentally damaged. An equipment failure shouldn't derail a wedding, senior portrait session, commercial shoot, or other client endeavor. Responsible pros will own or rent an appropriate amount of gear to work through the occasional problem.
A Professional Photographer Is Insured
As a professional, it's good business to have insurance. Equipment insurance will cover your essential tools you use to make photos. Liability insurance will protect you if a client trips over your tripod. Errors and Omissions insurance will protect against other failures such as missing a critical photo in a scene that can't be re-staged. If you're not yet insured, consider the risks.
A Professional Photographer Knows Other Professional Photographers
It's the night before a big wedding. Or the morning of a day in your studio booked solid with clients. Maybe you're slated to head out first thing in the morning to set up for a day of executive portraits on location for a large company. And now you're violently ill. What's going to happen? A pro is going to have established connections with other pro photographers in the area that could potentially cover in a pinch.
Be Professional and Proud
Be a professional; and be proud of that. Your clients want great-looking photos, but they also want assurance that you've done the work to make sure that can happen. Let them know about what makes you a pro; it's a benefit to your client and they ought to know that you've thought about these factors. I can help them understand the value in hiring you rather than that guy off of Craigslist that'll do the job for 1/4 of your rate.
So, do you agree or disagree with Aaron Hockley? What other factors would you add to this list? Sound off below in the comments section!