In my 35 years of professional photography in Perth, I am often asked questions like, “How do I become a professional photographer,” or “How can I make my pictures look professional?” While I like to be helpful to aspiring amateur photographers, the problem is that there simply isn’t a short answer to either of these questions.
Becoming a professional photographer, in Perth or anywhere else, is a lot of work, and it takes a special kind of personality and skill set. First, it takes the combination of an artist’s eye, combined with the ability to make people feel comfortable enough around you to relax and let their best shine through for you to photograph. There are plenty of people who are great at being a “people person,” but have no eye or soul for what makes a great picture. Conversely, there are a lot of brilliant artists whose best talent with people is driving them away.
After finding someone who has these two divergent skills, a third skill must be added in: the ability to understand technology and use it to your advantage. I have personally taught many photographers, but many who have the first two traits just can’t understand how to maximise their equipment. A photographer can have the “eye” of Michelangelo, but it is worthless if he or she can’t use the current technology to translate that “eye” to a stunning photograph.
If someone possesses those three qualities, then they have to be teachable and willing to learn. And, of course, they have to be patient, because one does not learn how to become a professional photographer overnight. We are up to six qualities now; those are the people who are on their way to being professional photographers.
From then, it’s a matter of experience. The growth is very similar to the growth from child to teenager to adult. There is no day when you are suddenly a photographer, and no day when you are suddenly an authority. It is gradual and sort of “sneaks up” on you. It seems like one day you are still asking questions about how to be a professional photographer, and the next day it is you who are answering the questions.
On the road to becoming a professional photographer, and then an authority, it is important to become affiliated with the Australian Institute of Professional Photography. You can become an accredited professional photographer by completing an RTO program in photography, or by practising for at least two years. If you are practising but haven’t fulfilled the requirements, you can become an emerging member or a student member.
Once you become a member, you are eligible to earn “points” for awards and achievements, and by submitting your four best prints for judging every year. If you amass enough “points” you can become a Master Photographer, as I am. Once you are awarded Master Photographer status by the AIPP, there is no doubt that you have officially become an authority on taking professional pictures.
A Storehouse of Memories
One of the first things I tell anyone I am training is that, while art, technique, and rapport with people are all very important, the most important thing to remember is this: people aren’t hiring an artist, a technician, or a manager; they are hiring someone to provide a storehouse for their memories.
Many of those who lost their homes in the Queensland floods earlier this year were sad about losing their possessions, but many felt much worse that they lost their family albums going back a century or more. A photo album is a visual family history. A grainy photograph from fifty years ago can bring someone to tears of joy, placing them back in time as though it were happening now.
I have photographed many families through the years, and sometimes, I have had the weighty responsibility of photographing families whose members have life threatening illnesses, and some who have been given finite limits on their remaining time.There is nothing more sad than having a couple who is facing imminent death of one spouse lament that they have never had a meaningful portrait taken in their entire lives. Thankfully, I can work with a heavy heart, and my professionalism takes over. And when the portraits have been finished, I can then share in the joy that they have created for the family.
In essence, professional photography is the art of creating joy by preserving cherished memories and helping them last a lifetime. If you would like stunning portraits from a Professional Master Photographer in Perth, please call 08 6468 5961 today.