Knowing when You Shouldn’t be working with Clients, You should be in a classroom!

When you look at the outdoor photographs on your website and there is sun light filtering through the trees, causing spots on the subject’s face, you should Not be working with paying clients, you should be in a class room learning the fundamentals of photography. When you have shadows from one person on another person in your group or family photography, you shouldn’t be working with clients, you should be in a classroom!  When you take a sample session and are viewing the images and over half the images you look at you find things that you wished you had taken differently, you shouldn’t be working with clients, you should be a  classroom.

We are part of a profession and although our profession is based on art and no degree, certification or test is needed to verify that we have the slightest idea of what we are doing, there are some basic indications that you are or are not ready to work with clients.  First of all, stop thinking about you, your talent and your vision, that’s crap!  I have seen photographers that I wouldn’t classify as a good hobbyist think they were a talented Professional (De-Nial is river you don’t want to float down!).  For just a minute, think of the client that is going to hand over their hard earned money for you to photograph one of the most important events or times in their lives.  This client thinks they are in good hands, since you call yourself a Professional and you have gathered the ten best images you have ever taken in your life to posted on your website and ads,  giving the illusion you are as good as you say you are.  But that is just what that client is buying ‘an illusion’.  When you take that clients money, are you 100% certain that you are going produce portraits that this client will love?  Or are you thinking, “well I think I can or I hope I can do it”?

Young photographers are quick to justify there lack of skill and accepting money for there services.  Usually this is based on charging a lower price.  If a beautiful portrait of someone you love is priceless, how little is a crappy portrait of someone you love worth?  If a portrait isn’t of a basic professional quality,  it’s worth is the value of the paper it is printed on.

If you are younger photographer just starting out, take the very last session you did and print out every image from that session, (editing out only the blinks and bad expressions, not using Photoshop to hide, fix or disguise problems with lighting, posing and/or background selection) and show them all to your next potential client!  Does that thought scare you?  If you does you probably aren’t ready to be working with clients.  Our Profession is only as good as the perception of our profession in the eyes of the buying public.  Are you helping improve that perception or destroying it?  There is nothing wrong with learning from mistakes, but those mistakes shouldn’t come at the expense of paying clients!  If a doctor or lawyer was to pretend to be qualified and wasn’t (even if no one was hurt or suffered any loss), he or she would go to prision, but when a picture taker pretends to be a professional and they screw up someone’s wedding photo’s (one of the most important days in a persons life) people just say, “oh well, that’s why they didn’t charge much….buyer beware!”   The most important words to anyone who wants to be able to take pride in what they do, “to thy own self be true”.


~ by jeffsmithbooks on April 8, 2010.

One Response to “Knowing when You Shouldn’t be working with Clients, You should be in a classroom!”

  1. Great article and so true!
    But it’s about more than just the ability to create a properly exposed image without sunspots and shadows. A true professional knows how to use light to direct the viewer’s eye to the point of interest, to use light and shadow to define shape and emphasize form. To use posing that flatters the subject and composition that yields more visual interest. The end result being an image with impact rather than a basic documentation.

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