What It Means to be Professional
Late last month, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer held a press conference introducing changes to Flickr, the Yahoo-owned photo storage and sharing site. One of the changes involved a new account structure which eliminated the Flickr Pro option. She created quite a stir in the professional photography industry when she said that “There’s no such thing as Flickr Pro today because [with so many people taking photographs] there’s really no such thing as professional photographers anymore.”
The backlash occurred almost immediately, as professional photographers released the fury of a thousand suns on social media, jumping all over this comment. Jim Colton, a photography consultant, stated
“This is perhaps one of the stupidest comments I have ever heard, it is also an insult to all the professional photographers throughout history who have sacrificed everything to their craft … including their lives.”
You can read Colton’s full commentary here.
Ms. Mayer quickly recanted, indicated that her comment was a misstatement and taken out of context. She was referring to the individual Flickr account storage capacity and the number of photographs that everyone takes nowadays.
After Ms. Mayer removed her size 5 shoe from her mouth and indicated the error in context, there were still continued blog discussions and barrages from professionals. One of the best was from Peta Pixel, which I’ll paraphrase here.
“Amateur” photographers take photos for fun and because they have a passion for it, and they have the ability to do so. Being amateur does not mean they are a poor photographer, because some amateurs take absolutely beautiful photographs. Professional photographers are competent in the artistic world and are consistently compensated for their work. They train themselves not only as an artist, but also in the business world.
The artistic world of photographer involves producing consistent, high quality work. However, the label “professional” photographer has less to do with artistic skill and more to do with business operations, which include contracts, insurance and marketing budgets, among other things. These are the things that separate people that like to take pictures from those that become….and stay as… professional photographers for a long time.
People that say the main reason they take pictures is that they have a “passion” for it are likely just very, very interested and dedicated amateurs. Passion is what got most of us to pick up a camera in the first place. But, at some point in time, passion needs to be supplemented with marketing genius, building client relationship, and general business acumen.
The article suggested that professional photographers all will:
- Act professional
- Share their expertise
- Get testimonials from clients
- Don’t get caught up in -on-line hype
The full Peta Pixel response to Ms. Millers’ faux pas can be seen here:
This Month’s Meeting:
Shoot Out, GRPP-Style: We will be meeting at 6:30 pm at Highland Park for an outdoor shoot. There’s a great mixture of architectural buildings and nature at Highland, which gives us all kinds of opportunities to practice our craft. This is a great opportunity to learn from each other, as we are all in different stages of our businesses. Bring your camera and any other gear (off camera flash, reflectors), and try out a technique you’re dying to practice!
We’ll meet in front of the Pump House (near the Conservatory), and wander around the park together. We will have models on hand to practice posing. We can also take turns posing each other.
Please plan to eat before coming, as it’ll be difficult to have pizza delivered to Highland Park).
If in case of inclement weather, an indoor location will be provided (still working those details out). If we need to change the location, we will notify you as quickly as we can via e-mail, so please check your e-mail that day if the weather looks sketchy. We’d hate to have you standing in the rain at Highland all by yourself. That would just be sad.
If you are not a member of GRPP yet, we welcome you to come to this meeting, because your first meeting is free. This is the perfect meeting to come get to know our members! We hope to see you there!