What it takes

When I was a photo student some of my classmates were extremely talented. Some of them, like me, went on to careers in photography, others never picked up a camera again. For me I can’t think of a better job. Its challenging, yet fun and creative . It’s been over 30 years since those days and I often wonder why those who didn’t go into photography made that choice. You may think that being a photographer is an easy job, but it’s more than just pressing a button and you’re done.

In organizing the monthly Record’s Readers Photo Challenge, I see a lot of great photos, some of professional quality in creativity and execution. There are a lot of amateur photographers out there who are very gifted. Sure, it helps to have talent, but it takes more than just talent to be a professional photographer.

My former photo teacher used to say: “the difference between an amateur photographer and a professional, is that when you’re a pro you have to be creative next Tuesday at 3:00 p.m.” What he meant by that was as a working shooter you can’t wait for inspiration to hit you to make a good picture, you have to be ready when the job demands it. Some of that comes from practice and experience. It’s the thing that will your clients or bosses know that you’re reliable and dependable and able to get the job done.

A career in photography can entail long or odd workings hours. Wedding photographers give up many if not most other weekends for their work. Sports photographers usually have to work nights. All shooters have to often carry heavy equipment, sometimes waiting hours just for the right light or moment. Hard work can make up a lot for any shortcomings in talent or bolster the talent that one has.

For photographers who self-employed, they have all the preceding considerations plus they have to be able to run their own businesses. They have to think about things like business licenses, rent for storefronts and insurance for their equipment. They have to try and get their name out there through advertising, social media or even business cards. If they have employees, they have to worry about making payroll and maybe even health insurance.

Like anything else photography can be a career or just a job. The best photographers that I’ve seen are able to weather the trials and hardships that the job can bring and still keep the joy of photography alive within themselves.

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  • Blog Author

    Clifford Oto

    Clifford Oto, an award-winning photographer, has been with The Record since 1984. Through the changes from black and white to digital photography, he’s kept his focus on covering the events, people and life of San Joaquin county. This blog deals ... Read Full
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