Why Professional Photographers Don’t Really Care About Gear

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 7D MK II review product images (2 of 10)ISO 4001-30 sec at f - 4.0

If you were a painter, what would you prioritize: selling paintings or buying new brushes?

You want to shoot photos like a pro. Heck, everyone wants to shoot like a pro. It’s a common statement in the photography world, but it’s very, very misunderstood. When someone says that they want to shoot like a professional, the common vernacular and industry in general has been positioning that statement more towards the gear. Gear: yes, it’s cool. We drool over it. This site is guilty of it too: it brings in traffic numbers!

But to truly shoot like a pro requires you to dissect what they do. Professional photographers spend a very little amount of their time behind the camera and more in front of clients, developing concepts, in front of a computer doing tasks, managing budgets, paying taxes, etc. To shoot like a pro, you’ll need to spend less time shooting photos and even less time worrying about new gear because you’re going to be so stuck doing many other tasks.

The Idea Behind Bringing in an Income

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer HoldFast Gear Indispensible Wallet American Buffalo (4 of 5)

Let’s break this down for you: you’re a person. We’re not going to say you’re an average person because everyone is extraordinary in their own ways. But you’re working a typical 9-5 job of some sort receiving pay. But are you the one responsible for making sure that the company brings in an income? More importantly, are you the one responsible for ensuring that the company brings in income to pay you and many other workers?

That’s a big responsibility, isn’t it? If you don’t bring in the income, then you may need to fire people or cut the salary of one of your best workers who just had a brand new kid. And in the end, you are partially responsible for the pure torture that the person will go through if you can’t secure the necessary amount of income for you, that person, and others.

But you need to account for more than that: the government also wants some of that income. There are taxes to be paid after all. What it comes down to in the end is that you need to bring in what you need to just barely break even and then multiply that by at least three to ensure that there is enough profit to pay everyone.

So now imagine that you’re a photographer. You need to get paid. And in order to get paid you need to find clients that will pay. But someone is paying for a photo or a couple of photos. You need to convince them that your services are worth the money. How are you going to do that?

Now think about this even further: you, yes you, are responsible for bringing in that income. How are you going to make it worth your time investment?

If you’re spending all of this time making sure that you have a steady stream of income to begin with, you don’t have much time for a lot of other things. Expect lots of long nights, long day hours, and even odd hours.

Did we mention weekends, too?

Marketing

Chris Gampat Sidd's headshot (1 of 1)ISO 8001-80 sec at f - 2.5

So you’ve got a body of work, that’s cool. How are you going to market your work? Before you even answer that question, make the following consideration. Let’s say that you’re a wedding photographer. How are you going to convince a bride to pay for your services?

– Will you tell her all about your fancy new gear?

– Will you show her weddings that you’ve shot before?

– Will you show her photos of lots of happy guests that make them envision what you can do for their wedding?

– Will you tell her about how excellent the new Sigma 50mm f1.4 Art lens is and that you can render images that will let you see her pores?

If you’re going more towards the gear route, respectfully, you’re an idiot. A bride doesn’t understand that stuff necessarily. What they do understand is how you can make them look. And with that, you need to be able to communicate with the person through images. This communication needs to reflect your personal vision.

To boot, there are commercial photographers out there who only shoot on their iPhone and make their entire living off of Instagram.

Social Media

You’ve worked on the marketing, but now you need a distribution platform for this marketing. To reach people, you’ll need to do what artists have been doing for years: finding a way to captivate their audience.

So what will be your social media strategy to captivate your audience and convince them to spend money with you?

What kind of creative work will you put forward to do such a thing?

Kevin Lee The Phoblographer Sony A5100 30 mm 1-60 sec at f - 2.8 ISO 500

But beyond that, where do you want to reach your clients? Tumblr? Facebook? Instagram? Twitter? Pinterest? What platform works best and how will you reap the maximum benefits of the time you put in?

Social media professionals and business owners call this a return on investment, also known as an ROI.

This can take a lot of time or a little bit of time. But always remember that in this world, you will always give a lot more than you receive back.

Client Gathering

 

After you’ve got a client, you need to figure out what you did right and find ways to get more clients. Who will want to shoot with you? How will you bring in more people? Sure, there are referrals, but those can’t always be the backbone of a business.

The way to get new clients in this day and age requires you to:

– Be a Google SEO expert when coding your website with tags and keywords in addition to descriptions

– Know how to appeal to folks via social media

– Know how to edit down your portfolio to only the best of the best

– Figure out how to deal with various personalities

– Learn how to convince someone to pay for your vision and services and not just your photography

Now, when you combine all of that together, who has time to worry about gear?