7 Mistakes That Make You Look Like an Unprofessional Photographer
- If You're Still Using a Single Shoulder Strap, You're Doing It All Wrong
- The Most Important Photography Gear You've Never Thought to Buy
- Camera Bag Features That Will Totally Change the Way You Work
- 3 Things to Consider When Buying a Camera Bag
When it comes down to brass tacks, the biggest factor in your success is your skill as a photographer.
After all, if you can't create a gorgeous photo, you aren't going to go anywhere in the world of photography.
Having business savvy is also a must. You need to understand how to build and run a business if you're going to be in business for any length of time.
But there's another factor that plays into how successful you can be, and believe it or not, that's simply looking the part.
There's something to be said for looking professional because photography is all about how things look, and if you look like a slob, well, it's going to be tough to get clients in the first place.
Here's a few mistakes you might be making that diminish your ability to look like a professional photographer.
You Wear the Wrong Shoes
I live in Southern California, so I often wear sandals or flip flops when I'm not working.
Note that the operative phrase here is when I'm not working.
If I'm meeting with a prospective client, I sure as hell don't wear my $15 flip flops from Target.
The same holds true when I'm out shooting. I wear shoes that are comfortable and provide support and protection for my feet.
When I meet with clients, I spiffy myself up from head to toe and wear shoes that actually look as though I care about my appearance.
My go-to shoes these days are my new Jack Boots from Taft Clothing (shown above and below).
Now, I'm in no way affiliated with Jack Boots, so don't think that I'm shouting them out because I have to...
These boots are hands-down some of the most comfortable things I've ever had on my feet.
They're handmade in Europe with the best materials - calfskin, wool, and durable rubber - so you get a product that will last and last.
But they aren't just utilitarian boots...
These things look incredible, and when I get fancied up for a client meeting, they complete my look for a professional touch.
In photography, it's often the little details that set a great photo apart from the crowd. Well, the same can be said for how you dress as a photographer, too.
By having a couple of go-to professional looks in your closet that get you outfitted from head to toe, you'll look the part of a pro, feel like a pro, and it just might get you more clients as a result!
You Don't Have a Pen
I get that in today's world just about everything is taken care of digitally.
However, even though it's old-school, you need to have a pen handy when you're meeting with clients or on photo shoots. They need something to sign your contract with anyway, right?!
I used to carry a Mont Blanc pen back in the 90s, but one day at a stop light, I was tying my tie, and somehow the tie caught on the pen (which was in my shirt pocket) and flung it out the window into the bushes in the median.
It was a busy intersection and there were loads of cars behind me, so I had to just leave my very expensive pen behind.
Now I carry around cheap Bic pens...
Regardless, I'm never without a pen, and you shouldn't be, either. You never know when you or a client might need one.
Your Fingernails are Messy
Whether your fingernails are too long, too short, or dirty, none of these scenarios is going to help you look the part of a professional photographer.
Sure, your clients probably aren't going to spend the entire consult meeting looking at your fingernails, but why run the risk of being off-putting with scraggly nails?
Take a few minutes each morning to file your nails and work on your cuticles.
Get in the habit of putting lotion on your hands, too, that way your clients don't feel rough, scaly, dry skin when they shake your hand. Gross!
You Carry Your Camera With the Factory Strap
I hate factory camera straps...
Not only are they flimsy and uncomfortable, but they do nothing to keep your camera from bouncing around and hitting you as you walk.
That's where the Holdfast MoneyMaker comes in...
This rig puts your cameras securely at your chest where they're out of the way, yet right at your fingertips.
That means that you can move around with greater ease while also having quick access to your cameras so you don't ever miss a shot.
The MoneyMaker is a beast in the construction department, too.
Holdfast has put a lot of time, thought, and effort not just into the functionality of the design but also in durability as well.
Whether you opt for one of the leather MoneyMakers, the Python skin model, or the cotton canvas model, you get something that is built to last.
That's not to mention that the MoneyMaker looks like a million bucks.
With tons of adjustments and various sizes, you can get a MoneyMaker that fits you like a glove.
That makes it something that looks integral to your outfit as opposed to being some sloppy harness that's too big or too small.
The MoneyMaker is probably best suited for wedding photographers that need the functionality and good looks at a formal event.
But I use my MoneyMaker all the time and for various photography projects, even just casually shooting landscapes at the beach!
You Don't Take Care of Your Mouth
I know the eyes are the window to the soul, but your teeth are pretty easy to spot, too.
I do a lot of lunch and dinner meetings with clients, and you can believe that I'm always checking my teeth for leftover food stuck in places I don't want it to be.
Similarly, I always have mints with me so I don't have onion breath or some other off-putting smell on my breath.
I use mints instead of gum because smacking gum in your client's face isn't exactly a professional move.
Have a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss handy at your office or studio, and brush those teeth before meeting with clients.
It's a small detail, but, again, it's details like that that complete a professional look.
You've Got Pit Stains
Hey, we all sweat, it's just a fact of life.
And some photography gigs are really hard work (weddings, anyone?).
But that said, I can't think of many things that can make you look like a noob more than giant pit stains on your shirt.
I recently started using Degree UltraClear antiperspirant spray, and it works like a charm.
Not only does it keep my pits dry, but it smells good too!
This particular antiperspirant is a spray, so if you wear a black shirt, you don't get those white deodorant stains under your arms, and if you wear a white shirt, you don't have to worry about yellow stains under your arms, either.
Again, the last thing you want your client to see when you raise your camera to your eye is a big yellow, sweaty stain under your arm, so grab some Degree and get rid of the problem!
You Carry Your Gear in a Regular Bag
Here's another tip for looking like a professional photographer - don't show up to photo shoots carrying your gear in a backpack or a piece of carry-on luggage.
If you ask me, doing something like that is tantamount to showing up to a client meeting wearing sweatpants.
Additionally, normal bags and backpacks aren't designed to protect your gear, so not only do you look like a noob but you run the risk of damaging the tools you need to take photos in the first place.
There are tons of excellent camera bags out there today, but for my money, one of the very best is the Holdfast Roamographer.
Like the MoneyMaker, the Roamographer was designed with an eye for aesthetics, durability, and ease of use.
The bag has a camera insert that cradles your camera body, lenses, and other gear in a padded cushion, that way you're sure your gear gets from point A to point B in one piece.
And you can carry the bag in pure comfort, too - it has a shearling-lined shoulder strap, or, alternatively, you can carry it with the Holdfast MoneyMaker for an even more comfortable carrying experience.
This thing is made from American Bison leather, so it's not just durable and water-resistant, but it looks absolutely amazing.
I'm telling you, when I got my Roamographer in the mail, I was absolutely blown away by the quality of its construction and how stunning it looked.
It comes in two sizes - small, for rangefinders and mirrorless setups, and large, for DSLR setups. And since the camera insert is removable, you can use the bag for weekend getaways when you aren't working.
As I noted in the introduction, your skill as a photographer is the most important thing. But how you present yourself is important, too.
With these tips, you can put your best foot forward, impress those prospective clients, and look the part of a professional photographer.
For even more tips on what not to do to look like a pro, check out the video above by DigitalRev TV.