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It’s #TravelTuesday, I’m Dave Williams, and I’m a professional photographer. But what does that mean?

One commonly asked question in the industry these days is around the definition of what actually constitutes a ‘professional photographer.’ The usual definition is that it is somebody who is shooting for pay. I suppose in the strictest sense of the definition, that is true. A professional person gets paid for what they do. What’s more important though, is professional conduct and skill.

What I’m going to attempt to do today is express my own views on what I believe constitutes professional behavior in photography. This is my opinion and although it may be shared by others, it isn’t shared by all.

I think a large amount of the confusion stems from education, or more specifically, the lack of it. If standards are not clear to photographers themselves, it becomes very difficult for the general public to have any idea of what to expect when engaging or working with a photographer. I have no photography education from ‘the institution,’ my education comes from self-teaching, trial-and-error, online training, books, workshops, etc etc.

Professions are trades or crafts that have enforced standards, regulatory bodies, certification requirements, and some sort of formal training. Medicine, law, accounting, architecture, etc. are all good examples of this; each of these professions has one or two major internationally-recognised accreditation bodies which uphold standards and ensure members comply with minimum requirements and, more importantly, educate customers about what they should expect.

This set of standards is not reflected in our industry. It makes our industry more accessible, more competitive, and the door is opened for photographers with less integrity and lower skill. It makes it harder for all of us. This also means that most photographers do not bother with certification. I will tell you now, I’m one of those people. The increased costs and requirements do not translate into increased revenue, customers, or profitability. It serves as ‘club membership’ and an internal status symbol.

There are some exceptions to this — The Photographers Guild, The Societies, Royal Photographic Society, NPS, CPS etc. for instance — but even that tends to be rather fragmented with mixed standards and virtually zero general consumer awareness. Perhaps part of the problem is that, because the nature of our work is so subjective in the first place, it becomes difficult to apply quality control standards to the result itself. This is obviously not the same for, say, medicine.

There are agency or brand associations, too. The public perceives acceptance to these groups as a stamp of quality (or minimum quality). Generally, this is reasonable. The caveat though – just because a photographer takes excellent portraits for one agency, or for their portfolio, it doesn’t mean that their standards for portraiture also apply to architecture, or travel, or product photography.

Perhaps a better solution here is not to look at the quality of work, but the conduct of the photographer. I firmly believe that, regardless of occupation, there are some minimum standards required of all humans who offer a service. There is a level of trust and commitment given to you by your client on the basis of belief that we will deliver as we promised to, and it is our duty to ensure that we deliver on that promise.

Will you, as a photographer, take this pledge?

Professional Photographers Pledge

  • I will deliver on time and to spec, as promised
  • I will uphold my agreements and if I can’t, I will say so in advance, and will try to mutually work towards a solution
  • I will do my best, and will not accept compromise unless there is no other choice, in which case I will inform my clients so there are no misunderstandings
  • I will do my best to try and work for my client’s needs. For whatever reason, what they think they need may not be the same as what they actually need, and I will find the best solution
  • I will deliver at a consistent level of quality regardless of external circumstances that may affect us personally, and I will never compromise that quality – it is better to under-promise and over-deliver
  • I will uphold basic standards of courtesy, including timeliness and professionalism of communication via any medium
  • I will respect my clients time and timescales
  • I will respect my subject — whether this be treating models/talent/fauna/flora with courtesy and friendliness, or carefully handling product and props as if they were my precious things
  • I will maintain my integrity and be fully transparent in my pricing, even if I get things wrong. If there are big variances or changes in scope, then I will communicate this and reason with the client
  • I will clearly detail the scope and deliverables of all assignments
  • I will do my part to educate clients where necessary, whether this be to do with technical or creative choices, licensing or otherwise
  • I will respect the creative rights of other photographers and clients so that they will respect mine
  • I will value my own work and will not fight others on price alone, retaining credibility and economy for the entire industry rather than damaging it
  • I will have spares and backups
  • I will make a contingency to meet eventualities that are within my control to resolve should anything go wrong
  • I will not ‘fix it later in post’ when this would mean delivering a sub-standard result that could be remedied in camera
  • I will maintain my skills and training to ensure I am always at the top of my game

There are stories all over the internet on photography media sites. It’s clear that photographers are not observing any of these standards. In turn, the expectations are lower, trust is not there, and the overall lack of confidence in our industry from the client’s perspective translates into lower value all around. A few bad apples spoil the barrel.

I think you can see why we have a recurrent crisis in our industry. It doesn’t help that a lot of the practicing photographers have no work experience outside of this; it means that they have no idea what’s to be expected in a normal professional workplace.

All we can do is ensure that we do our best to adhere to our Professional Photographers Pledge, and make an effort to educate those who are not where possible. In the long run, it’s in everybody’s best interest.

Much Love
Dave

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Tonight at 8:00 PM ET I’m doing another of my now legendary live “Book Chats” and everybody’s invited. Tonight’s featured book is “The Flash Book” and I’ll be sharing tips from the book, answering your questions on Flash, we’ve got some cool giveaways, some killer deals on books, and some really stupid stuff I have planned. Go grab a glass of wine – a fresh can of Spray Cheese, and join me tonight at my Facebook page. OK, on to our Lightroom Q&A:

Tonight at 8:00 PM ET — come join in the fun! (fun?)

Whoo hoo!!! Here are just five of the short 60-second tips we release each Friday at KelbyOne featuring some of our awesome KelbyOne.com photography training instructors.

Bob Davis on “Wedding Details”

Dealing with long exposure Light Leaks (with Larry Becker)

Mark Heaps with a really cool color change trick in Photoshop

The always awesome “Moose Peterson” with a trip for catching that perfect prop spin in your aviation photos

And Troy Plotya with a tip on using Motion Art Overlays

If you follow KelbyOne on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll see another one of these tips every Friday, cause…well…it’s “Photo Tip Friday.”

Hey, if you’re not already a KelbyOne member, this might be a great weekend to give us a try. Head over to the site right now; check out my short video that describes what we’re all about, and then start learning right away. We’ll get you started with on a training track for whatever topic you’re interested in, from wedding photography to Photoshop, lighting to Lightroom, landscape to wildlife and everything in-between.

Here’s that link again, in case ya missed it. :)

Anyway, I’d super dig-it if you checked us out. I’m really proud of what we’ve put together for you, and we’ve got special pricing right now while we’re going through all this. Hope you’ll give it a look. Have a great weekend, everybody. Stay safe, and we’ll catch up next week. :)

-Scott

P.S. If you live on the East Coast of the US or Canada, I’m doing a live-stream of my entire full-day “Ultimate Photography Crash Course” seminar next Tuesday, May 26th. I hope you can join me for the day. It’s just $99 for the full-day (including a 153 page workbook), and it’s 100% money-back guaranteed. Tickets and info right here. 

#TravelTuesday here at ScottKelby.com means that Dave Williams is in the house! So here I am! I’m Dave, and I’m a travel photographer and writer from the UK. Today I have an awesome chunk of inspiration for you in the form of a list – everybody loves a list!

January is a challenging time of year. Those of you who haven’t yet received wages since December, my thoughts are with you! January can also be anti-climatic, and inspiration can come few and far between. It’s for that reason I want to share some inspiring landscape photographers with you today. If you want some inspiration, or you want some new accounts to follow, this is your lucky day! Let go!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BhG5mCLgQM7/

Jaeyoun Ryu is a Korean landscape photographer who has an incredible way of showing trees and water in their absolutely best light. All the images on Jaeyoun’s feed seem to take anything hectic and slow it right down, expressing tranquility and solitude within incredibly peaceful scenes.

Kai Hornung hails from Germany and has a similar Nordic passion to myself. Kai excels at colourful, long exposure landscape photography, pushing into the realms of fine-art. There’s a gentle balance of light, and some superb compositions featuring familiar sights caught in unfamiliar ways.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B53LO48lvwg/

Jan Erik Weider from Germany has an amazing account focussing on the details of the north. You’ll find triptychs throughout his feed, each focussing on a different element, including icebergs, glaciers, waves, mountains, rivers, it’s all there. Each shot is a careful balance of colour and tone, and perfectly representative of the cold, dark north.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B7bMb2fB9iG/

Next up is AJ Rezac who is busy touring the world in his van. With no specific focus, his account is all about the freedom of exploring the beauty our planet has to offer. AJ does a great job in not only portraying the world in a great way, but in capturing some compelling and creative selfies in the process. AJ has clearly discovered his colour palette and the feed is on fire!

Last but not least, this is Asa Steinarsdottir from Iceland. Everybody knows that Iceland is my favourite spot on the planet, but I’ve tried to not let that influence the 5 photographers I’ve picked here. Asa has a gift for bringing warmth out of cold places, it’s truly inspirational. There’s literally ice and snow, yet it feels like you can give the photo a hug! Her adventures around Iceland and around the world combine with her awesome eye for landscapes in this lit feed.

And that’s 5! I hope to have brought some joy and some inspiration to your Tuesday, and I’ll be back next week with something a little different. In the meantime, don’t feel obliged to check out my Insta too, but if you’d like to it’s right here: –

https://www.instagram.com/p/B7XXJzLhp6g/

Until next time, team!

Much love
Dave

Happy Christmas Eve #TravelTuesday to you all! I’m Dave Williams and I’m here with another sparkly nugget of wisdom for you, as always, fresh from England but inspired by the North Pole!

Today, rather festively, I want to discuss something we can do as photographers to spread love and cheer. This Christmas I’ve given the gift of photography in two ways. To loved ones I’ve given prints of mine, and to friends and family with children I’ve given a letter from Santa along with two photos from him, one of Rudolph and the lads, and one of his house high up on the hillside in Lapland.

As it’s Christmas Eve, let me share the story here with you, too. In deepest Lapland, high up on a fell amongst the reindeer and the snow, is a little, wooden cabin. They say Santa lives at the North Pole, but that’s just to cover up the truth so he can have a peaceful year in Lapland getting ready for the big night. High up on that hillside in the deepest snow is the cabin Nicholas grew up in, and Nicholas became Father Christmas, spreading cheer and delivering toys to all the boys and girls around the world as thanks for his upbringing. To find his cabin there are no signposts, all you have to do is believe. Well, kind of… there’s also a ski lift at the Levi ski resort in Finland which will take you there, and then when you ski down slope 13 you’ll see the cabin just off-piste to the right. The cabin was actually built as part of a movie set for the Finnish Christmas movie Joulutarina (which translates into English as Christmas Story.)

Anyway, back to the point. Us photographers can share our creative talents by gifting our photography, not only in the way that I have here and in gifts to our friends and family, but also to help us advance in our industry by showcasing our work to prospective clients. There’s something very different about a printed photograph in comparison to one on a screen, and that extra element of tangibility alone is one of the awesome powers that print has to help us. Having a photograph printed on a wall or in our hands to hold and to feel, and to look at with awe, is that extra step which we’re losing in our digital age.

Gift your photography. Trust me, it works.

Much love

Dave

(PS. Here’s the shot of Rudolph… Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays!)

Good day! It’s #TravelTuesday and because it’s Tuesday, it’s not Scott but me, Dave Williams, fresh from a red-eye flight from Calgary to London, coming at you loud with some kind of photographic wisdom!

Today, I want to touch on reverse engineering a photo, and this is something you can learn a lot more about from Glyn Dewis’ book Photograph Like a Thief if you want to dig deeper. Let’s do it!

So, in Banff National Park, there’s an iconic photo and I wanted it. I’ve preached time and again about being original, but I just wanted this shot bad! There’s a train line running through the park as part of the Canadian Pacific Railway network, and one curve, in particular, facing up to the mountains’ home to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. It’s Morant’s Curve, named after the Canadian Pacific photographer who took the first photo of the new rail line here.

As you can see here, it’s so popular because of the original shot that there’s a viewing area with railings.

When it comes to reverse engineering a photo, it’s a lot about light. When it comes to photos of people, we can usually work out the lighting quite easily by looking at the edges of the person and the reflection in their eyes to see how they were lit. But, when it comes to landscapes, it’s more about working out the location and the timings, which we can do quite easily with maps and PhotoPills.

What we’re looking for with the light is the time of day, dictating the direction, and other clues that will help us with the scene, like the temperature and tone and the softness.

We also need to reverse engineer the shutter speed and focal length used, so we can apply it to our image, or add a creative flair if we want to put our own spin on it.

The whole process of reverse engineering a photo is a combination of science and art, and we can use it to apply the exact look from the original photo or put it “into our own words” if we want. That’s what I wanted to do, and here’s my shot: –

What I’ve done here is pick a spot slightly back from the gap, giving the train a piece of the image but not the entire focus. The front end creeps through the gap in the trees looking somewhat like a face, and then the rest of the train twists and turns as a leading line toward those epic mountains behind. The whole scene is, of course, iconic, but it has my own little spin on it, too.

Reverse engineering a shot like this is a good skill to apply, and a great way to learn. Have a go at it. I promise you’ll enjoy it, and it will help you in critiquing yourself, as well as deconstructing and analysing a photo.

Much love

Dave

Happy #TravelTuesday one and all! It’s me, Dave Williams, kicking my way onto ScottKelby.com just like every Tuesday!

I hope you’re all well! I have a little thing to share today about pushing yourself and getting your work out there. Without further ado (/adieu) lets get into it!

Us photographers are funny creatures. We tend to get ourselves into a status quo. Perhaps a sort of happy place. This is all well and good, but who got anywhere by being the same? That’s right, I hear your answer! Well if we’re going to get anywhere we need to be sticking our neck out and getting noticed. But how?

Easy! No, honestly, it is! If we’re going to get noticed we need to do two things: –

  1. Be so damn good they just can’t ignore us.
  2. Put ourself front and centre.

Honestly, get in their face! Have you tried it? You should try it! Ok, maybe I’m being a little extreme, but try this: –

Find a good shot of yours and try to work out who would be interested in it. Perhaps you’re a KelbyOne member and the KelbyOne community would be interested. Perhaps you used a Platypod to take the shot and Platypod would be interested. Perhaps you learned the technique you used for the shot in one of Scotts books, in which case Scott would be interested. Whatever the reason you come up with, take some action on it!

If you are a KelbyOne member you could share your shot with a story about how the KelbyOne community has helped you create the image and submit that for a Member Monday feature. If you used a Platypod, write a piece about exactly how the Platypod was the right tool for the job and send it off via their website. If you learned the technique from one of Scotts books, tell him. These are all small, simple things to do, and each varies in its end result. You may up featured on an Instagram post or in a blog post, or you may draw the attention of your favourite photographer. Whatever the result, we’ve actually achieved that extra little something special that we wouldn’t have if we’d stuck with the status quo – we’ve been noticed by someone, and it could end up with us being featured, and that could in turn result in our growth as a photographer. Simple!

Ladies and gents, go ahead and stick your neck out! If nothing happens, you’ve lost nothing, but if it gets noticed and you get featured, you’re on the path for a win!

With much love, as always

Dave

(By the way, I’m in the Faroe Islands, hence the selfie, and you can keep an eye on me over on my Instagram story)

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