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Growing as a photographer and reaching a professional level involves developing certain habits among other things. These are practices that come with time, as well as plenty of trial and error. In an attempt to spare you some of that time, we give you some of these productive habits.
1. Valuing time
Besides being artists, photographers are entrepreneurs and business owners. As with any other kind of business, time is money. It is therefore crucial for a professional photographer to have a profitable way of valuing their time. That means having well defined rates, but also knowing which clients are worth spending time with and which are the ones it would be probably better to walk away from.
2. Being adaptable
There is almost no such thing as a photo shoot that goes according to script. Few are the exceptions because most of the times, things go wrong one way or another. The client might be a lot more difficult then they seemed on the phone. The location might be different than discussed or the makeup artist might not have the required skills. Whatever the situation, the photographer is the professional people look up to, and therefore he must be able to adapt to any unexpected occurrence on a regular working day.
3. Being open to collaboration
The photography industry is largely about the relationships you build with other people from other lines of work. These are people that either help you do your job, such as makeup artists and hair stylists, or professionals from unrelated branches who are in need of your ability to produce images with a powerful impact. In any case, it is often surprising where the next job might come from, so it is important to keep an open mind and be in favor of new business relationships.
4. Exceeding expectations
Professional photographers make it clear what they are being hired for, but often exceed the expectations of their client. Why? Because getting the job done will earn you your money and respect, but going the extra mile will bring you appreciation and recommendations. We all expect to receive what we pay for, but let’s admit it, who doesn’t enjoy getting more attention than what they paid for?
5. Always studying light
Light is the essence of photography. There is always something to be learnt about it and no amount of experience is ever enough because each situation is different. Even when they are “not on the job”, pros notice if the light is changing faster than it usually does at a certain time, or if the shadows in a certain setting could be potentially used in a shoot. It is a continuous exercise that keeps a photographer stay sharp and quick to adapt to any lighting situation the job might throw at him.
Read more about lighting in these books:
6. Being ready to get the job done regardless of mood
One of the biggest challenges in any creative branch is being able to stay productive in the less inspired days. Not every day in the life of a professional photographer (or any other creative) is equally productive, and some days you just don’t feel it. However, after a certain point in your career, the ability to shake off any negative emotions and come up with a good result is crucial. Being able to meet the demands on bad days is proof of professional maturity and it is a quality comes with practice.
7. Getting dirty
It is easy to spot the hardest working pros at an event. They are the ones with the less fashionable clothes who get close and personal or down and dirty. They do so because they know that getting a different, unique perspective will bring value to their work and ultimately establish them as professionals who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty to get the job done.
8. Constantly studying great photographers
You never stop learning for as long as you live and if you got into photography, it was probably because of the inspiration that came from great photos by master photographers. Even if you become a high end professional, it doesn’t mean you should stop studying the work of other important photographers because we all have different visions and there is much to be learned from each other.
Study the masters of photography with these books:
9. Backing up work
You can never be safe enough, especially with digital files. Backing up photos with multiple sources is a habit of most, if not all professional photographers and should not be taken lightly. It is nothing short of disastrous when you lose photos because of a faulty hard drive just before you have to send them to your client.
10. Constantly improving marketing skills
As much as some folks don’t like to admit it, marketing is an essential tool for having a long career in professional photography. As times change, so do marketing requirements and techniques. It is therefore necessary to keep up with the trends in marketing just as much as it is with photography.
Improve your marketing skills with these books:
Finally, traveling is one of the most important habits of professional photographers, and in fact successful artists. The benefits range from reviving creativity to finding new and unexpected inspiration. Traveling is one of the things that make people interesting and open minded and I don’t need to tell you how important that is in this industry. Changing the environment can help you come up with new ways of improving your work, something that might not have been possible by staying in a comfort zone.
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