The Reason Professional Photographers Will Never Be Out Of Work

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There’s always a need to interpret a scene in an elevated manner. The more photographers that I work with, the more the difference between an amateur “Instagrammer” and a professional photographer becomes clear. What a professional photographer does is see beauty where no one else can see it. That’s what a brand can leverage. Oftentimes a brand will say, “I want a similar thing to what so and so is doing,” and a lot of this is regurgitative. It takes great minds to build a unique way of a brand speaking through pure imagery.

via Social@Ogilvy’s ACD: Pro Photogs Are Key to Mobile Ads, Branded Content.

There Are 14 Comments On This Article.

  1. Never out of work. Just fewer and fewer that can actually make a living doing it. Many more part timers, or those that are second incomes within a family. VERY hard for anyone new these days to support a family of 4 (or one for that matter) as a photographer. Currently established photographers maybe…And what I mean by that is being strictly a shooting/workng photographer (not peddling gadgets, teaching classes, etc). Unfortunately, I am Just calling it as I see it.

    • Full time professional photographers who ca n earn enough money to support themselves and (just) one other person have been on the endangered species for two decades. Their numbers have dwindled substantially and few relatively few remain.

      The number of part timers, “wanna bes” and amateurs will remain high because there is no requirement to expend large sums of money to buy equipment or lease space as there was in pre-digital era.

      Only the naive’ believe that the days of photographers earning enough money to support a family competing against other photographers similarly situated for similar jobs, are still with us. Alternative income streams support the overwhelming majority of professional commercial photographers with only a select few of them living even an upper middle class lifestyle.

      Final point, photographers who haven’t shot a job in months or years wisely don’t advertise that fact. The result is that many, many shooters believed by their peers or clients to be “busy” are in fact working other jobs in unrelated fields.

  2. Do you know the difference between a pizza and photographer?
    A pizza can feed a family of four :)

  3. Today photography is a passion profession. You have to be passionate, and you have to be able to elicit passion.

    And you have to have additional passions and knowledge that color the world vividly. A higher education is great. There is the saying about you see what you know. This may not be spot-on, but the more you know the more you can discover and see freshly – this is true. After all, the people who learned a lot have learned to discover and break the mold of common thinking. Which is key to great photography work.

    There is great income potential in photography. You just can’t be that specialist any more. We are coming from an era where everybody had a smaller and smaller area of knowledge. I think we are at a turning tide, and people with a wider breadth of knowledge and abilities will be leading.

    After the flattening era of teamwork we are entering the more exciting era of individualism. We see it in the business world and in the world of science: the importance of key people who can integrate vast knowledge and abilities, and who are put into positions where they they get supported by others. It’s the era of the chef versus the now passing era of the canteen.

    And all this also goes for the photographer.

    We already know that a photographer who can do video is at an advantage. But how about a photographer who is also a writer, and has a deep understanding of the whole movie industry. Or who can grasp the complexity of the business world? Who understands science. Who can deal with advanced concepts because he has a university degree.

    The image and function of a photographer is changing. Leonardo da Vinci wasn’t “just” a great painter. He also worked and mastered technical fields. While our knowledge is vaster than at the era of the Renaissance, we also have better means to study and learn. Leonardo da Vinci is the role model for the visual creator of the coming decades.

  4. The part about photographer as brand ambassador relates back to Ansel Adams again. He wasn’t just some guy out taking great pictures of the Sierras, he was very involved in the Sierra Club and other environmental issues. But it can be even broader than just one brand or issues. David Bailey wasn’t some square who happened to take pictures during the sixties, he was part of the scene and help create the scene. So none of this is anything new.

  5. The difference between Amateur and pro is that the pro can deliver under any circumstances as the Amateur might get one good Picture out of ten…

    And did anyone of you ever asked whats the next thing when the look of Instagram gets boring? ( wich it does to me ) I’m trying to say that a professional always tries to be on the edge, to develop new styles and new techniques. Thats why a professional gets the Jobs and not the Amateur…

    And i would like to Comment on Roberts post: Since i became a specialist in only one field i get booked and i’m quite sucesfull. Artbuyers told me that they dont want a guy who does cover everything because most of the time hes only average in every single field…in a ideal world the photographer also does some video, but i’m telling you most of the times thats no fun at all and better done by an extra videographer because on a normal shoot day ( +8 Hours ) you wont find the Time as a single person in charge…you can either concentrate on photo or video. Thats why on my shoots if video is needed i either do it with a extra videographer or i shoot another Day….

  6. My job puts me awash in seeing what is “creative” and what a client wants. Nine out of ten times, they barely can strike a middle ground.

    Whole-heartly, I cannot dismiss the amatuer photographer, since the “best” probably started as such. I will say that I am wholeheartedly annoyed to death when I see pseudo-attempts at being creative ending up bland copies of a copy of a copy; even worse when a segment on Family Guy can peg quite a few [amateurs].

    The trained learned their lessons well – albeit by schooling, but probably afterwards and trying to pay back the bills incurred by the schooling. By that given, they will do better than the “faux-tographers” — because they have to.

    Adobe created Photoshop, which somewhat Wal-Mart-ed the industry, Thus, the true talented have to up their game a bit, even though already in a vice of a world that thinks a phone cam and some editing will prevail (and again — undercutting a true market).

    I can go on and on, but anyone opposed will too. So I’ll stop when an ƒ symbol and knowledge is common – minus Google or Wikipedia.

    I apologize if I offended the truly talented/trained in some way.

  7. Well, I just became a brand ambassador, though this time in front of a camera instead of behind that. It was a bit of a surprise, though this came about from me just being myself. I still think honesty will gain the most genuine interest and responses. Hopefully all this leads to more work for me, though for now I am enriched by the experience and knowledge I have gained.

  8. There is a difference between being busy and achieving your goals. Companies are happy to keep us busy, but are they also happy to support us in the goal of having a sustainable and successful career? Everybody can say things like this, but until they put their money where their mouth is, it’s just sound bites.

    That being said, I met several interesting photographers recently who have solid clients lists and are working away in their caves. If there is anything wrong with this industry, it’s not a problem of enough work, it’s a an image and PR problem. The people actually doing solid work are rarely seen or heard from, while the ones struggling are very vocal. That creates an imbalance of perception within the industry and in the public mind that is not helpful.

  9. Thank- you for writing this piece. It will take time for the fad of “The Instagram Genius” to end. Great photography,and all great art,is about the subject and their story. It is interpreted by the photographer through his/her life experience. What it is not is ” Me Centric” : ” Look at me taking a picture of…” Great art is not ” me first,image created second”.