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The Photographer Argument: What Makes Someone A Photographer?

Two Kids With Cameras With Text

Stick with me because this is not just a rant!

It amazes me how many people buy a nice camera (typically under $1,000 with 1 or maybe 2 kit style lenses and no hot shoe mountable flash), put up a Facebook business page, get business cards printed and say they are a photographer. Technically, anyone with a camera can likely be called a photographer, but the dictionary defines a photographer as a person who takes photographs especially as a job. So for the purpose of this post, a person that takes photographs is not a photographer but someone who takes photographs to make money as a job or career is what this post will focus on.

Does a hammer and a box of nails make someone a carpenter? No - Does putting a quart of oil in a car make someone a mechanic? No - Does using a plunger to unstop a toilet make someone a plumber? No - Then, why in the ____ do so many people think that owning a camera, having a Facebook business page with some of their images and business cards from Vistaprint makes them a photographer? Most new photographers that I meet have NO clue how to actually adjust settings on the camera and absolutely ZERO clue how to use a hotshoe mountable flash inside and outside. When it comes to editing, they are also not very knowledgable about that either.

My point to the above paragraph is that new photographers need to learn some basics and do a lot of other things to really be a solid photographer. Most of the $99 burn it all to a CD are not making a full time living at photography. I mean actually paying the household bills and putting food on the table with nothing but their photography income.

Does any of the above make someone a bad person or a bad photographer? No - It's mostly just a rant from me about wannabees that have no clue what they are doing to themselves in their business or to the photography business in general. However, at the end of the day, unless these photographers are truly taking food off your table, I personally wouldn't worry about it much and move on.

Rant Over - Here's Why............

Concerning the previous paragraph, a core reason that I wouldn't worry about it is because if a $99 burn it all to a CD, new photographer with a kit lens is stealing all your business, you should consider a different target market. If you are a full time photographer consistently losing business to new low priced photographers, you need to explore your business plan and make adjustments. Hint: It's not competing on price that will solve the problem.

There are clients who are shopping price and need images that are just good enough to get by. Images that will be used only on the web or social media in a small size may work fine for some clients. However, there are clients that want quality and don't mind paying a fair market price to get it. So don't go head-to-head with the $99 newbie kit lens photographers and don't whine about it.

The problem with the low priced new photographers is that they are focused on being the low priced leader and some clients are looking for that. On the other hand, some new photographers are willing to travel hundreds of miles from their home base to make it happen, don't whine about them either. Either do what they are doing or find another way to make it happen. Don't get caught up on the new guy. Focus on your business and strategy instead. Trust me, the right clients are out there. Nothing worth having comes easy and working full time as a photographer is not the easiest way to make a living.

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David Williams

Short Bio About The Author: I'm David Williams a professional commercial photographer focusing on corporate and business clients with some personal branding, lifestyle photography in the mix. My love for photography began in late 1981 while still in High School. I started making money with his camera in 1982. Brenda, my wife, and I started working together in photography in 1988 shortly after we met. Brenda and I married in 1989 and have two adult daughters. Please be sure to get a quote for services if needed. Call or Text: 919.723.8453. Please reach out to connect with me on LinkedIn.