What Makes For a Professional Photopgrapher?
I was amused to find that a Tampa-based photographer. Alexandra Giamenco, using her nom de blogger "Alexandra's Corner," chose to air her grievances about me on her own website. To be fair, she did not call me out by name; rather, she took screen shots of a comment thread in a closed Facebook group to which we both belong and used them in her post, leaving names unredacted. I am posting redacted screen shots here as I suspect her post will bescrubbed from the Internet, as she did for another post where her criticism of a photographer rose to the level of slander, in my legal opinion.
One of my mentors, Bryan Allen, has told me on several occasions that the photographer has to be the most upbeat person in the room - he or she sets the level of energy for any shoot, whether it is with a family, at a wedding, or even on a commercial shoot when the client is present.
I am also reminded about a comment once made by R.C. Concepcion, a great photographer, about how people hire the photographer, not their photography. I can see that - while I have seen the work of other professionals that I may not like, the fact remains that they and their clients "clicked." In my background as an attorney, I knew how important it was for someone to trust their attorney and, yes, like them, especially in Family Law. So I treat my clients as treasured people because . . . you are.
So let me offer my opinion that what makes a professional photographer is their expertise and their gear, but it is also how they, much like a plumber, or a doctor, or a teacher, hold themselves out to those whom they serve. Some people just care about whether they like the cost and the product, and while that may work in Hollywood, I suspect the average person wants to also like and/or feel comfortable with the person providing the services. Especially with certain genres of photography - you want to have fun!
Is there snipin' and snarkin' on forums that are meant to be kept from the eye of the public among any group of professionals? Of course there is - I suspect you live it everyday at the office water cooler or waiting in a car line outside of your kids' school. It's a release, to be sure, but when someone gets to the point of ranting on the Internet and social media in such a personal way, I have to think they lack control in other areas, and can compromise their own professionalism.
This is why I like to meet with clients before a project when I can, especially a large one like a wedding. I want to serve you, and I can do so better by getting to know you. Maybe we are not a good fit - no worries, I can at least provide you with referrals to other photographers who might be.
Not everyone will be able to get along. Not everyone will be able to maintain control. And we all have bad days. However, for me to call myself a "professional" means to work to prevent any injury to the spirit of professionalism.
Because it is more than just talent and gear.