So, What Actually Makes a Good Photographer?
Have you ever had someone calmly ask you what makes you a good photographer? Yes, there are people who do and can do that. Most of the time, you’ll be taken aback but it’s really nothing new or unusual as it is expected for people (especially if they plan to hire your services) to ask questions like this.
They like to make sure they’re making the right decision or choosing the right person for the job. This is why some photographers find it important to sometimes sit back and do some career or work self-reflection.
How are you as a photographer? What have you given your clients and the community so far? How have you been using your talents and skills? What qualities have you exhibited as a photographer? How can you improve as a photographer and as a person? How serious are you about your craft?
The answers to these questions will matter a lot because it has a great deal to do with your dedication to photography (and to your clients).
However, what’s most important is identifying what qualities make for a good photographer. There are quite a lot but the major ones are what really matter. So, which ones are these?
What Makes for a Good Photographer?
Just because you found out that you have a good eye for capturing beautiful and inspiring moments does not mean you can already become a good photographer. And just because your DSLR camera is super expensive does not mean your photos will come out naturally breathtaking.
It takes a lot to become a good photographer and it all starts with the qualities one possesses and aims to acquire.
1. A good photographer is also about being passionate.
If a photographer is not passionate about what he does, his job will not be easy. If you’re a photographer only because you like the idea of earning a good fee, you won’t last in the business.
Being a passionate photographer means loving what you do despite the difficulties it presents. It also means you are dedicated to it and are willing to grow (and keep growing) by learning something new every time an assignment or project comes your way.
Being a passionate photographer means your enthusiasm for photography is not easily dampened. A good photographer does not look at photography as something he likes to do sometimes. A good photographer is always, always enthusiastic about what he does.
2. Flexibility is as important as anything else in photography.
A flexible photographer is someone who is dedicated to the craft of photography and is able to turn the worst situations into the best experiences.
A flexible photographer can work his/her way through even the most impossible tasks – there is always a way out of every challenge. Challenges are a test of a photographer’s skills and dedication.
A flexible photographer is always open to the possibility of doing something new or unusual, as long as it is good for the project or task. A flexible photographer is one whose hunger and passion for learning and improvement does not have an ending.
3. A good photographer values good gear.
Good photographers know the importance of quality – in the gear they use and the photos they take. While there are some who regularly add new gear to what they already have, there are others who prefer to use their equipment as much as they can.
According to photographer Bambi Cantrell, who has been taking photos for over 30 years, using photography gear of the highest quality ensures her excellent photos.
Keeping your equipment in good condition is essential because how you take care of it will show in the photos that you produce. So a good photographer values quality and does not abuse any gear.
4. Career longevity and experience are also important.
This may be difficult to achieve if you’re just starting out in photography, but experience doesn’t necessarily equate to a lot of years. It is more than that.
Most clients prefer to go with photographers who have been in business for a few years. The common reason for this is experience. A longer career means you’ve likely achieved a lot of things as a photographer. The simple fact that you are still in business after a few years is a good indication of your dedication and professionalism.
But then, as mentioned earlier, experience does not necessarily equate to being in business for so many years. Experience can also mean you’ve done several variety of photography genres over the years and can therefore adjust to whatever photographic situation is given your way.
For example, a photographer who has done lifestyle, commercial, studio, and architectural photography for two years clearly has more experience with all of those types of shoots than say a street photographer or a wedding photographer who has been at it for the same length of time – and vice-versa. It’s a matter of figuring out whether you prefer to specialize or diversify.
Longevity of career is also all about a photographer’s dedication to his craft, especially since photography can be physically and mentally taxing at times.
Other Important Qualities of a Good Photographer
The following are also important qualities that can help make a good photographer:
- Creative, artistic, imaginative, and innovative. Thinking a little outside the box can go a long way in establishing yourself and your brand as a photographer.
- Very observant and pays attention to details. After all, clients want consistency and homogeneity.
- Loves working with and around people. As a photographer, dealing with clients, assistants, models, service providers, as well as other photographers is usually a daily occurence.
- Has good business skills. Again, dealing with clients, partners, and customers requires good business sense, know when to say yes/no, but also be responsible and ensure that the business is profitable.
- Has good computer skills – not necessarily an expert but being comfortable with editing and post-processing images, managing a portfolio website, and troubleshooting technical issues is definitely a must!
All the qualities mentioned above are interconnected. Once a photographer realizes the value of being passionate, quality of work and being flexible will automatically follow. Experience and longevity of career and valuing a good gear will also be easy to achieve. These qualities complement each other, so incorporating one into your photography practice or career won’t be that difficult to do.