A professional photographer often has to wear many hats. From marketing, to production, styling and image retouching are just some of the key additional jobs often undertaken by a photographer.
Professional photography is a package, which starts with people. Being professional and business minded while being personable, approachable, flexible and a clear communicator are all very important characteristics of a good photographer. Sometimes a photographer will need to produce the entire shoot, so organisational and research skills are key here to coordinate and prepare for a successful shoot. The Photographer will have a thorough understanding of the camera being used, most likely a high end SLR, and how to access the right functions quickly, know what the best lens to use for the job is in any given situation and having all that kit to hand and having back ups and replacements in case something fails. A professional will have a solid understanding of light and how it interacts with the camera and with the subject and how to manipulate it to make the most of the subject.
Which leads me on to styling, a professional will know how to get the most out of their subject, how to best tell the story and create the desired effect for the photograph. This comes from a thorough understanding of the subject itself as well as use of colour, texture and shape to make the very most of the situation. Props may well be used to support the subject and elaborate on the story in a connected way.
So now the shot is in the bag, the pictures need to be processed in the correct way. Any good photographer will be working with RAW images files for optimum quality if shooting digital, which is the equivalent of a negative in film. Both require technical knowledge, and software for digital, to process the images into workable files for media output. Images will more often than not require some retouching work to remove imperfections in the subjects, adjust tones, colour and saturation of the image to a pleasing result. A good understanding of colour profiles is required along with the correct technical set up such as monitor calibration to ready images for true colour match on print or understanding how to best compress an image ready for web.
It’s no easy feat trying to work through all of the roles together and many photographers often struggle with the marketing side of things and keeping business accounts on track. In order to survive a photographer must learn to embrace marketing and business while keeping up with technological advances to keep doing what he/she loves most, which is taking great pictures worthy of a pay cheque.
A far cry from “just clicking a button”