“You just stand there and click a button, it takes one second”.
Someone said these exact words to me this week, not about me specifically thankfully, but boy did it wind me up. However with the brilliant quality of camera phones on the market these days, it’s no surprise that this is what people think.
Yes, our job may look easy and it may look like we do just stand there and click a button, but people don’t often think about the months and years of learning that has gone in to mastering our skill.
Photographers are creative people and we love to tell a story through a photo. We’re always on the lookout for an image even if we’re not capturing it with our camera. We are able to capture an exact moment which may only last a split second, because we aim to be one step ahead. If we have an idea for a photo we run with it, we experiment and we’re always learning.
We have spent a lot of time and money learning how to work an expensive piece of tech – if I said the words shutter speed, aperture and ISO to you, would you know what they mean? Would you be able to explain how they work together to expose an image, and what you need to do when the lighting or location changes? Do you understand focus points or the difference between a 50mm & 70-200mm lens?
Then there’s post shoot production. No matter how talented a photographer is, chances are they will do some form of editing to perfect their image. This is yet another skill we have had to spend time and money learning. Professional editing software is required, sometimes more than one programme, and we can easily spend hours editing images after a shoot. We filter through hundreds of images, selecting the best and altering the shadows, highlights, exposure and colours so that the images look their best for our clients. All of this takes time and is often a stage of photography that people forget.
It’s not just technical skills that we need. We need to have people skills, marketing skills and in my case I need to understand canine and equine behaviour (which is a whole career in itself!). I need to know how to deal with animals who have a mind of their own and be prepared for their behaviour to change in a split second. I need to be happy and confident to handle any of the animals I work with, I need to know how to make everyone feel relaxed while we’re taking photos, and I need to know my camera inside out to enable me to work fast – animals aren’t always willing to be patient!
We need to know how to run a small business and manage our accounts all while ensuring we are getting enough work to pay the bills. I need to plan my year in advance because I know that winter is always a quiet time for me, that’s just the way it is with equine photography, but I know that spring and summer will make up for it. I’ve already planned out a lot of 2019 to ensure I can do everything I want to do and fit enough clients in. I end up sat at my laptop for more hours than I am photographing because I need to schedule social media posts, respond to emails and contact clients before & after their shoots. All of this is time consuming and eats into our photography time.
This isn’t to say I don’t love what I do, I think I have the best job in the world! And I am fully aware that most jobs are a lot more complex than others may think, but my point is no, a photographers job is not as easy as you may think.