When everyone with a camera phone thinks they are a professional photographer

What it REALLY means when everyone with a camera thinks they are a professional photographer…

There are many dynamics of digital photography that is making it harder to survive as a professional such as decreasing budgets, changing copyright laws, and yes, increasing competition, but when it comes to the hobby photographer trying to make a few bucks on the side, its not their camera that makes problems for the professionals, it tends to be their arrogance.

For years now I have heard photographers complain that the profession is (insert your own colorful expletive or phrase) because everyone with a camera thinks they are a professional photographer. While I counted myself among those who thought digital cameras were going to kill the profession, I have changed my opinion. Through the course of being a professional photographer, especially during the last couple of years, I have seen more and more clients frustrated by the lack of quality from those people that are seemingly destroying the business with their digital cameras. While anyone can pick up a camera, turn it on automatic and start shooting, that does not a good picture make.

In some of the least offending cases its just a matter of adding some quality of light and compositional correction for some of these ” button pushers” or “shutter monkeys”. I have seen other “professional” photographers deliver images that were out of focus, under or over exposed, and socially embarrassing for those in the image. In the case of the image above, we were asked to do a large group shot during an event. After the group was set up, this woman, whom certainly wasn’t a professional, walked in front of me and  took pictures with both her camera and phone. She then waved and thanked the group and the group of 18 people broke up, walking away in all different direction. This time may not have been intentional, but many many times it is. Unfortunately, after a situation like this, it doesn’t matter how much I yell to the group to not move, once one or two walk off, the opportunity is gone.

So who is harmed in these situations? Well, the professional is harmed if he or she can’t get the shot or misses the shot because someone walks into their frame. The client is harmed because they are paying for a service they are not getting any value for. The people in the image may or may not get copies, plus what is the damage if the non-professional uses the image for something like cyber-bullying? So while nobody was physically hurt, the inconsiderate actions of one person can certainly have a detrimental affect on others.

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