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PPA Today: Ask the Experts: September 2013 Archives

Ask the Experts: September 2013 Archives

Hello faithful readers! Welcome to part two of our latest blog series, What's a Pro? with Johnny O (that's me!).

If you recall, back in May Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer ruffled a few feathers when she said: 

"...there's no such thing as Flickr Pro, because today, with cameras as pervasive as they are, there is no such thing really as professional photographers, when there's everything is professional photographers [sic]. Certainly there is varying levels of skills, but we didn't want to have a Flickr Pro anymore, we wanted everyone to have professional quality photos, space, and sharing."

Oops! Her goof caused quite the backlash in the photography community, but it also got us to thinking... What is a professional photographer? Just someone who gets paid to take pictures? Or is it something more?

In this series, we'll chat about what exactly makes a professional photographer... professional. It's a pretty easy job for me, because for the most part, I'm going to let you pros do the talking.

If you participated in our Faces of PPA campaign (and MANY of you have), you saw we asked, "What's a Professional Photographer to you?" And we're going to share some of your responses here. 

Have some thoughts on the topic? Want to be a part of the series? Place your thoughts in the comment section below or contact me, John Owens, communications specialist, at jowens@ppa.com. 

So what's a pro? The answer--we hope to find--is you. 

Three-time former PPA Photographer of the Year, Mark McCall, M.Photog.Cr., CPP,  first had the desire to take photos at the ripe old age of eight. As someone who has dedicated nearly his entire life to photography, his view of a professional may differ from popular opinion. 

"A professional photographer can be a technician, but for me, it's being an artist. I don't want to just capture an image; I want to tell a story. I seek out interesting characters, incorporate them into my works, and help tell their story. 

"I once asked the greeter at WalMart to pose for a character study-type shot at my studio. I told his story of being a new groom at the age of 82. That's why professional photographers exist--to tell the stories of others."

For contrast, Pennsylvania photographer, Jennifer Oswald, started her business less than a year ago. 

"I still struggle to label myself as a professional photographer when someone asks me what I do. In my mind I'm a professional, but it means different things to different people. 

"I would say a professional photographer is someone who has a strong understanding of photography from cameras, to lenses, to composition and so on. They are someone who earns something from their photography, whether it be money or awards and someone who classifies themselves as a professional photographer. I think if someone does all three of these things, they're a professional."

Pet-photographer extraordinaire, Margaret Bryant, M.Photog.Cr. (catch her at Imaging USA!) , agrees with Oswald, but thinks they must also push themselves to be more.

"Technically, a professional photographer is someone who receives money for the work they produce. But I think it's more than that. A professional is a person who is constantly learning both about photography and the photography business. 

"They are someone who continually strives to better their work, someone who is serious about being in business and someone who is ethical and fair in their dealings with clients, employees and others they meet in their business life; and so much more."

So as you can see, there are some strong feelings on the topic! Now, do your clients need any help to See The Difference? We've got marketing resources just for that.

So what's a professional photographer to you? Let us know in the comments. 

See you in a couple weeks!

-Johnny O
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Hello faithful readers! Welcome to our latest blog series, What's a Pro? with Johnny O (that's me!).

If you recall, back in May Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer ruffled a few feathers when she said: 

"...there's no such thing as Flickr Pro, because today, with cameras as pervasive as they are, there is no such thing really as professional photographers, when there's everything is professional photographers [sic]. Certainly there is varying levels of skills, but we didn't want to have a Flickr Pro anymore, we wanted everyone to have professional quality photos, space, and sharing."

Oops! Her goof caused quite the backlash in the photography community, but it also got us to thinking... What is a professional photographer? Just someone who gets paid to take pictures? Or is it something more?

In this series, we'll chat about what exactly makes a professional photographer... professional. It's a pretty easy job for me, because for the most part, I'm going to let you pros do the talking.

If you participated in our Faces of PPA campaign (and MANY of you have), you saw we asked, "What's a Professional Photographer to you?" And we're going to share some of your responses here. 

Have some thoughts on the topic? Want to be a part of the series? Place your thoughts in the comment section below or contact me, John Owens, communications specialist, at jowens@ppa.com. 

So what's a pro? The answer--we hope to find--is you. 

Heather Chinn, M.Photog.Cr., owns and operates her portrait studio, Heather the Painter, in Fort Mill, S.C. Heather is THE name to know in the world of painting (and she'll be speaking at Imaging USA!), and works for clients all over the world. As a Corel Training Partner and Corel Painter Master as well as a PPA Master Artist photographer, Heather pulls from years of well-rounded experience to form her opinion.

"To me, a professional photographer is an artist that can see a unique story in a split second in everyday life. They can then capture that moment with all of the creative elements (composition, lighting, exposure, color harmony, balance, design, etc.) in place as if it were second nature."

Eva Creel, hailing from Kaiserslautern, Germany, is a self-proclaimed photography addict. Her eponymous studio offers photography "underwater, above and somewhere in between." Eva considers herself an artist first and professional second, and offered an example on why a mix of both is important. 

"Want to light the fire under a photo group's proverbial bottoms? Ask them what a professional photographer is and stand back as the thread explodes! To me, ya gotta make money honey if you want to be considered a professional. However money does not mean quality. 

"For example many people can charge you to fix your car but that doesn't mean they are going to do a good job. You will most likely get what you pay for. If the mechanic does a bad job does that mean he's not a professional? Does he/she have a license and a registered business? Can they tell the difference between a carburetor and an alternator? We have a good idea of who a professional is when it comes to taking care of our car needs, so why don't we have a clear understanding of who a professional is when it comes to taking our portrait?"

Michigan photographer Jennifer Praniewicz, CPP, owner of Jenuine Creations, LLC, breathes creating a slice in time for history and placement. Her work has been featured in international magazines, yet she gets a greater sense of satisfaction from clients who have fun on a shoot with her and then love their images.

"A professional photographer is one that respects the foundation, heritage and lineage of those who made the industry in days gone by. In so doing, they are continually honing their skills and craft, reaching for the next level of excellence. 

"They strike a delicate balance between reaching their clients' goals, dreams and desires while growing and maintaining a business. They run a business and do not denigrate the industry by giving their time or product away unless for a legitimate charity. They utilize all the components of great photography, including lighting, posing, composition, etc. and don't settle for trendy, over-exposed and characterless photography."

So as you can see, there are some strong feelings on the topic! Now, do your clients need any help to See The Difference? We've got marketing resources just for that.

So what's a professional photographer to you? Let us know in the comments. 

See you in a couple weeks!

-Johnny O


About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Ask the Experts category from September 2013.

Ask the Experts: May 2013 is the previous archive.

Ask the Experts: April 2014 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

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