B&H insights had a very interesting article, “Amateur versus Professional?”, with comments from Zack Arias. This is a topic I have always wondered and more importantly, how do I become a professional.
This is what Zack had to say on the topic “a pro is someone who can be consistent, can be relied on, and is a problem solver. You walk into the situation. There’s this chaos in front of you, and you have to create a picture out of that chaos. You figure it out and you have a picture to deliver. If a paycheck is tied to that, awesome. If not, it doesn’t mean you are any less professional.”
I agree with everything he said. Being a problem solver is what stands out the most to me. The ability to fix mistakes or problems on the fly without losing time is a skill every professional must have. There is never a perfect shoot in the real world and there will be several things that don’t go as planned. More often than not, this turns out for the best.
When I first started shooting I thought I knew a lot about my 7D. I soon found that I didn’t know everything. I needed to learn this camera inside and out if I wanted to be the best I could. Knowing how to set custom color profiles (and more importantly why), when to use what gear, when to custom white balance, when to use color temperature to set white balance, and what to set my iris as are just a few of the things I know now as soon as I turn on my camera.
I use to think that skill and natural talent could over come technical knowledge. If you don’t want to get better or progress, then this is true. Knowing how to overcome all challenges on a shoot is what makes a good professional. Experience has a lot to do with this. I have become more comfortable with equipment and even clients after each shoot. But… this doesn’t compare to how important the technical knowledge is.
No matter what field you are in you need to master your craft and the tools that are involved with that craft. Start small. I got the 7D with the (crappy) kit lens and learned all I could about the camera itself. Then, I got some real glass and learned all that I could with manipulating images. Soon after I started getting audio equipment and learned the Zoom H4n inside and out.
I am no where near the best director of photography but I challenge myself and try to read as much as I can on this art and my camera. I am doing what I can to be better with each shoot and that makes me a professional.