Two Kinds of "Professional" Photographer? It's Better to Be Both

By tangentpath in business personal photography professional wisdom

I had a brief chat yesterday with Liam Hennessey, a very talented wedding photographer, regarding my previous blog about the term "professional" in regards to photography.  Liam may not have known it at the time, but he got me thinking more on the issue.  I thought of what we discussed since and realized that there are a lot of misconceptions and even added definitions to the term depending on your perspective.

I've categorized them into two diverse kinds, the good news is, you can be both.

The first kind of professional photographer is the traditional, and in fact literal type of professional.  We'll just call it the Literal Professional.  If your main income comes from photography, then you ARE a professional photographer.  The term professional is kin to business, commerce, income.  Like a professional golfer or a doctor, it IS their profession.  This definition is, as I've stated, the literal meaning.  There are exceptions of course, the lady that takes your photo at the DMV would probably NOT be considered a professional photographer in ANY sense, lol.  Liam, for example, is definately a professional photographer in the literal sense, he has a very successful business and has some of the best customer service that you will find.  If you're looking for an excellent wedding photographer, I would check out his work here: http://appleheadstudio.com/

The second definition that I've discovered is primarily generated by photographers that are more artistic and less business, also a lot of the general public would label a photographer as a professional not based on his business plan but by the quality of his work.  This we will call the Creative Professional.  Now even though this second meaning is technically and literally incorrect, one thing that all photographers will learn in this business is that perspective becomes the truth.  If you are a nice person with a great port and business plan, but people think you are a hack with terrible customer service, it doesn't matter what the truth is:  perspective becomes the truth, and sadly it is very difficult to change perspective once it is set.  Therefore we may understand what the true meaning of professional means, but that matters little to our potential clients.  Of course, most of these people will still denote professional as you are making SOME living off of your work(and hopefully you are), otherwise you might be considered an aggressive hobbyist, which is completely fine and rewarding in it's own right.

Personally, I've always been the second type of photographer, focusing on my craft more than my business plan.  It is something that I am remedying everyday by taking time to go over my advertising, my website, my blog, touching base with existing customers, etc.  Sure it takes time from my craft and time from shooting, but it is CRUCIAL to my business if I want to get under the umbrella of the Literal Professional.  And I do, I want to do this for the rest of my life - and only this.  I don't want to keep working a 9-5 job to pay the bills and then burn out the rest of my day trying to express myself creatively.  I want to do what I love to do - and get paid for it.  It is the dream of any photographer. 

Liam would probably agree with me that he is one of those lucky ones, lucky and smart.  He has a great business AND he has a creative mind and love of this art.  He applies it to every gig he shoots.  They go hand in hand to become successful in this business and he has worked very hard to get to where he is.

So be both!  You run a good business - literal professional.  You create great images - creative professional.  The first gives you the means to put all your focus and energy into the thing you love to do, the second IS the thing you love to do!  If you can work towards both the traditional and socially accepted meanings then you would definately be moving in the right direction in this profession.

So what are your thoughts?  Any?  Hehehehe, give me your opinion of this issue, I love when the brain juices are flowing!

Everyone take care, and Liam!  Don't get blown away by Earl!

"Professional" Photography Tips, Kawasaki Motorcycles and Wharf Rat Rally

By tangentpath in fun times kawasaki motorcycle photography tips vision wharf rat rally wisdom

Hey peeps,

I really want to keep things photog related, so I have a few tips for those photographers out there.

"Professional" is a term that shouldn't be used too seriously in this line of work.  There are a lot of so-called "professional" photographers that have no schooling, no talent and no work that call themselves by this title.  On the other hand, you don't NEED schooling or work to produce talent like a professional photographer.  But a key ingredient would be talent, the "eye" of a photographer, or as David duChemin would call it(and I'm stealing the term for the sake of this blog): vision.

I don't care if you have learned from the best schools or the best photographers, and I don't care if you learned everything from years of exploring and experimenting on your gear and craft all by yourself.  It doesn't matter, the only thing that counts(in my opinion) is if you have a vision of what you are trying to create with an image and be able to successfully produce it.

There are many photographers in the world, and the title "professional" has been thrown around so much that it has practically lost all meaning.  I am a photographer, some call me a professional - whatever.  I have a piece of paper framed in my living room that says I am a professional photographer - whatever.  What I need to be a good photographer is to have the ability to create an idea, with meaning or a message that I wish to communicate to my audience, and then execute it into an image that screams what I'm trying to get across to the observer.  If I cannot do this, then no piece of paper, no friends or family comments, NOTHING will make me a professional photographer or even a half decent one.

Photographers are artists and storytellers, we take a single moment - a fraction of a second in most cases - and convey meanings, emotions, whole life stories with it.  In order to do this, we must have many tools at our disposal.  The "eye" for one, which is just to say being able to see what pleases the eye.  It definately helps with composition, which assists in telling our stories clearly and eliminating any distracting clutter that may take away from our message or even send the wrong one.  Of course understanding things like light, color, lines, shapes, etc etc etc can help a photographer better communicate the message being sent.  These are more than tools, they are the photographers language, with which we speak to our audience, our clients, new parents, new in-laws, and on and on.

So throw me a comment or question about this, what you think, am I right? Wrong? Any other thoughts or ideas?  Gimme something! lol

Here, I'll give you this:

This is one thing that I'm keeping busy on:  product portfolio.

My niche is Commercial/Event and Portrait/Fashion.  So what do I do?  I don't wait to get a call from a conglomerate, and if I did, they are going to want to see my work.  So I shoot product, on my own time, I build up this portfolio, my craft gets better and better, and when I get a call or present to a client, I have a whole diverse selection of work to present. 

The great thing is you can do this without changing your life or spending a fortune.  Do you buy shoes?  Shoot them.  Do you drink pop?  Shoot it.  I know it's easy to say "shoot it", and I am simplifying it that way, but really - take the product, create a vision, a meaning, a message.  Set up the shot and shoot, shoot a hundred, or a few hundred shots, take your time - have fun.

The shot above, and this one
are of my cousin Dean and his wife Wendy's Kawasaki motorcycles.

I was home, thinking about product shots, I heard a motorcycle outside - which I will hear constantly for the next 4 days because of the local Wharf Rat Rally in town(it's Canada's largest motorcycle rally, Google it!) and I thought,"I should shoot some bikes and create a faux ad for them."  So after some Facebooking and a phone call, I met Dean and Wendy(and their daughter Lex - she'd kill me if I left her out) at a predetermined location and we shot and talked and laughed and BOOM - done. 

They love the shots, I love the shots, and there are more to come.  It didn't cost me a dime, I spent some time with my family and I got some great work that adds to my portfolio that I never had before.  WIN-WIN-WIN.

So there's a bit of my take on things photog, I hope you took something from it, whether you agree, disagree or even if it made you at least think of something - anything.  I'm sure to have another rant in me soon, lol, see you next week.

Michael Carty

Getting Down to Business

By tangentpath in blog writing business photography wisdom

Hey Everyone,

Needless to say, I have been EXTREMELY busy, but now I'm going to have enough time to catch up on things and keep up these blog postings.

What I'd like to do with this blog is not to only let you know what my work is doing and where it is taking me and also my life in general, but also to have a dialog with models, publishers, photographers, designers, MUA's and anyone who loves creativity and is inspired by it. Basically I want to talk shop, whether it's equipment, a new image, color scheme, project idea, pose - WHATEVER.
I want everyone to feel welcome here, to ask questions and get answers, and to never feel foolish for asking because that's how ALL of us learn.

So my next blog will be posted this weekend, I'm not saying what it's about yet(I still need to figure that out lol) but maybe THIS post will get a comment that will give me an idea, who knows?
So to close this one off, I'm going to post a recent shot of two of my best models, Victoria and Sharon. They were a tonne of fun to work with(as always) and I'd like to thank my wife Sandra for being the best assistant anyone could ask for(and a free one!:D), she keeps things organized and moving and is a great second set of eyes for me, thx baby!!
See you in a few!
Michael Carty

Photographic Essentials Seminar!!

By tangentpath in class fun times learning photography seminar vision wisdom

Hey Peeps!

I will be teaching a 5 day seminar on photography in May and I am very excited about it!

Here is a poster that I designed for the event:

Here are the details:


May 10th - Camera Basics

- explore your camera and all of its parts

-get familiar with the many functions of your camera

May 13th - Composition

- Rule of Thirds

- learn how to use lines and shapes to compose an image

May 17th - Light

- the tool of the photographer

- how light works

- reflections

May 20th - Types of Photography

- briefly cover the 4 main genre of photography; Macro, Action, Landscape and Portrait

- specific look at lighting for Portrait photography

May 24th - Gallery Night!!

- go through the work that you have done and pick your favorite piece

- bring in your work to share with the seminar group

- discuss each others work, inspire others with your work and be inspired!!

I hope a lot of you join me next month!!


Michael Carty