Everyone has a camera but everyone is not a photographer. Camera phones, inexpensive DSLR's, it just seems that everywhere you look someone has a camera claiming to be a photographer. It has become a part of fashion, like wearing Nike shoes or driving a BMW.
I'll be the first to say that everyone should learn how to use their camera and there's nothing wrong with owning one. So what is the difference between someone who calls themselves a photographer and someone who does not?
You know you've seen it before; people taking photos in public thinking they are some great photographer because they own a camera. I'm sure we have all been guilty of it once or twice ourselves but, really think about it. What separates us from them? Why do we call ourselves photographers and others just own cameras? The answer is simple: We take photos for more than just social media or personal pleasure while others don't. Just because you own a car you wouldn't dare call yourself a NASCAR driver. Photography is different? No, not really. You go out and buy a nice expensive-looking new camera and two days later your marketing yourself as a professional photographer. You know what? It's not a crime, it's just pure stupidity.
In this article, I want to talk about those certain people who try to undermine their so-called status as photographers by following a standard that is already set for them by the community at large. When you first start out it can be hard to narrow down your style and subject matter but soon enough it will become clear what direction you want to go in with your photography. There is nothing wrong with being an amateur photographer but please, do not call yourself a professional until you have justified why you are one. True amateurs build up portfolios of work that they post on their website or social media. There is nothing wrong with doing that.
That's the proper way to go about becoming a true professional. In addition, any individual who is a professional, especially those who take photographs as their primary source of income should never undersell themselves or give away their work for free. When your photos and style start to become noticed and you begin to get paid fairly and sometimes better than you would expect there will come a time where the ideas of photographers who perhaps have been doing this longer than you will be presented to you. Some people might see this as an opportunity for them to take your money by charging less than they normally would do, as well as getting more out of it than usual as they suddenly find that you are willing to settle for anything just so long as it means that someone, anyone can use your images. This is known as "the small fish swimming.
The whole idea of free is oftentimes misunderstood. Yes, you're crazy if you work for free. If that's what you want to do I undoubtedly have a spot for you on my staff. I'm not talking about working for free when you're just starting out and experience is the only thing you have to offer. Yes, this means it's a good idea. No one in their right mind would suggest that doing work and not receiving payment is in your best interest. It isn't in anyone's best interest except perhaps the person who wants something for nothing. However, understand payment doesn't always come in the form of money. If you think that, you are a fool and that's why you will find it difficult to move from amateur to professional ranks.
Being a professional is so much more than the camera you own. It's so much more than the skills you learn and the tricks you know. It's about understanding more than just what your camera does, it is knowing how to compose a scene and how to light that scene. It's about knowing why your settings do what they do and using that knowledge to take great pictures. Transferring that knowledge into the minds of others.
The camera you own does not make you a professional, your ability to produce a good picture doesn't make you a professional, your attitude and commitment to the client and the art are what makes you a professional. The attitude and commitment needed to become a professional only comes from understanding your tool, how it works, and most importantly how can you better yourself and your craft to provide value for your prospective clients.
Being a professional means you not only have the knowledge and skill to complete the job but the necessary tools also. I never go to a shoot without a backup camera. How could you? These are fragile electronic components. The professional understands this and knows that a tremendous amount of planning goes into a shoot or a wedding. Camera malfunction just does not soften the blow of telling someone I didn't get the shot or the shoot has to be moved.
So with that being said, I wanted to share with you my thoughts on how can you better yourself and your craft by investing in some high-quality equipment. And just as important, what tools are necessary for the professional photographer.
1) Camera Bodies 2) Lenses 3) Lighting 4) Support Gear 5) Memory Cards/Batteries 6) Cases/Housing 7) Tripod or Monopod 8 ) Reflectors 9 ) Light Stands 10) Umbrellas 11) Color Filters 12 ) Arm/Booms 13)) External Flash 14) Wireless Triggers 15) Artificial Lighting 16 ))Reflectors 17))Camera Straps 18) This is only where starts. The knowledge of how to use these items and when to use them is simply priceless.
If you are just starting off in the field of photography for pleasure or to potentially pursue it as a career, your best bet would be to buy something that is affordable and will get the job done (since this is how other pros got their start). If you can afford better equipment then go for it. Buying used gear will help keep the price down but try your hardest not to skimp out on quality because buying cheap can cause breaking/damage/failure of parts etc which none of us want when we need 'em most.
1) Camera Bodies: I recommend spending whatever you can afford. Basically, do not spend less than 500 dollars for an entry-level DSLR camera body since both Nikon and Canon make great entry level DSLRs at that price point. I recommend the Nikon D3200 or Canon Rebels. The T5i/700D are very nice entry-level DSLRs with good features but they are a bit more expensive at $550. for an entry-level DSLR, you get what you pay for...
2) Lenses: Start off with one lens only. I recommend the 50mm 1.8 from either manufacturer (Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II or Nikkor AF-S DX 50mm f/1.8G). It is a cheap little lens that can shoot in dark situations and it will work well as a portrait lens since it has a longer focal length which compliments headshots well without being too intrusive on your subject's space. If you want to know more about this lens, check out "The Blown Highlights". You can find them both for around $100.
3) Accessories: Memory cards, SD cards (same thing) are important. Get class 6 or faster ones... they aren't expensive at all, like $20 for a 32GB one...
4) Bags: I recommend getting a Lowepro Passport Sling or something similar to it like the JJC LH-X10 which is much cheaper($25). It works well with photography backpacks because it doesn't have any straps that get in your way when you take photos and stuff.
5) Tripod: You can't go wrong with a tripod, but it depends on the kind of photography you want to do. Getting something like this Vanguard Alta Pro 264AB 100 is a good option too if you will be doing night photography or long exposures(like light trails).
6) Computer: A computer is needed if you want to process RAW images and video editing properly... an i7 processor laptop with 8GB RAM and 256 SSD drive would do just fine for processing photos/videos. If you don't have one then get a PC that has Windows 7.
Let me know if this guide helped by leaving a comment below! I reply to everyone who asks questions so ask away!!!!