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wedding photography photo pictures of bride groom etc poses weddings photographer photographers

A professional photographer must be reliable. He or she also needs financial and organizational
skills, just as much as visual and technical expertise, in order to stay in business. People rely on
you as a professional to produce some sort of result, always. Failure does not simply mean you
receive no fee – most work is commissioned, so you have let someone down. A client’s money
invested in models, props, special locations, etc. is thrown away, a publication deadline may be
missed or an unrepeatable event remains undocumented.
You therefore have to ensure – as far as humanly possible – that everything in the chain
between arriving to shoot and presenting the finished work functions without fail. You need to
be an effective organizer of people, locations, transport, etc., able to make the right choice of
time and day, and, of course, arrive punctually yourself. You must be able to anticipate hold-ups
and avoid them. As a last resort, you should know how to act if a job has to be abandoned or
re-shot. Pressures of this kind are both a worry and a stimulus – but, of course, they make a
successful result all the more worthwhile (see page 26).
Working professionally also means that you have to produce results at an economical speed
and cost. You must think of overheads such as rent and taxes, and equipment depreciation, as well
as direct costs such as photographic materials and fuel. It is seldom possible to linger longingly
over a job as if it was a leisure occupation. You also need to know how to charge – how to cost out
a commission accurately and balance a reasonable profit margin against client goodwill (will they
come again?), bearing in mind the competition and the current going rate for the job.
Equipment is no more or less than a set of tools from which you select the right ‘spanner’
for the picture you have in mind. Every item must give the highest quality results but also be
rugged and reliable – vital gear may need duplicate backup. The cost of fouling up an assignment
because of equipment failure can be greater than the photographic equipment itself, so it is a
false economy to work with second-rate tools. You must know too when to invest in new
technology, such as digital gear, and what is best to buy.
One of the challenges of professional work is to make interesting, imaginative photographs
within the limitations of a dull commercial brief. For example, how do you make a strong picture
out of a set of ordinary plastic bowls – to fill an awkward-shaped space on a catalogue page?
Eventually, you should be able to refuse the more dead-end work, but at first you will need every
commission you can find. In the same way, you must learn how to promote yourself and build up
a range of clients who provide you with the right subject opportunities and freedom to
demonstrate your ways of seeing, as well as income. Another relatively open way of working is
to freelance as a supplier of pictures for stock libraries.
Photography is still one of the few occupations in which you can create and make things
as a one-person business or department. It suits the individualist – one reason why the great
majority of professional photographers are self-employed. There is great personal satisfaction in
a job which demands daily use of visual and technical skills.
Photography does not just divide neatly into amateur and professional categories. After all, it is
a medium – of communication, expression, information, even propaganda – and as such can be
practised in hundreds of different ways. You can shoot pictures purely to please yourself and develop
your style; for example, working for one-person exhibitions, books and sponsored projects, awards
and scholarships. It is possible to build up a national or international reputation in this way if your
photography is good enough. You can sell pictures through galleries or agents as works of art.
To begin with at least most of these so-called ‘independent’ photographers make their living
from another occupation such as teaching, writing or some other kind of photographically
related full- or part-time job. Independent photography relies on the growing number of
galleries, publications and industrial and government sponsors of the arts interested in our
medium. In this, photography follows long established patterns in painting, poetry, music, etc. If
you are sufficiently motivated, then working for yourself free of commercial pressures can lead
to exciting avant-garde results. Some independent photographers work for political or other
ideological beliefs. Outlets here include pressure groups, trade unions, charities, arts centres,
local community associations, specialist publishing houses and archives. It is one of the great
strengths of photography that so many of these options are open to be explored.
How photographs are read
If you are really going to progress as any kind of photographer, in addition to technical expertise
you need a strong visual sense (something you develop as an individual). This should go beyond
composition and picture structuring to include some understanding of why people see and react
to photographs in different ways. The latter can be a lifetime’s study, because so many changing
influences are at work. Some aspects of reading meaning from photographs are blindingly obvious,
others much more subtle. However, realizing how people tend to react to pictures helps you to
predict the influences of your own work – and then to plan and shoot with this in mind.
The actual physical act of seeing first involves the lens of your eye forming a crude image on
the retina. Second, it concerns your brain’s perception and interpretation of this image. You
might view exactly the same scene as the
next person but differ greatly in what you
make of what you see. In the same way, two
people may look at the same photographic
print but read its contents quite differently.
Look at Figure 1.2, for example. Some
people might see this picture primarily as
a political document, evidence of life under
a particular regime. For others, it is a
statement documenting the subjugation of
women. Some would find it insulting on
ethnic grounds, or alternatively see it as a