Traits of Professional Photographers

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Professional Photographers ©Jhong Dizon
Professional Photographers ©Jhong Dizon

When I read photographers’ success stories, I often ask myself, are there certain traits that make certain photographers successful? After some pondering this past week, I’ve concluded that there are three main traits that determine the success of a photographer:

The first trait is courage
Courage is very important and distinguishes the work among the mediocre. Courage doesn’t only mean being daring enough to photograph in conflict/war-ridden areas, protests, and life-threatening places. Courage also applies to many other aspects.
For instance, the courage to photograph from close range is also important. Robert Capa, a war photojournalist has been quoted as saying if your photographs aren’t good enough, then you’re not close enough. There are, for instance, many novice photographers that doesn’t have the courage to come into close contacts with their subjects (especially when photographing people) and only photograph with telephoto zoom lens from a distance.
Also, to be a successful photographer, one needs to be brave enough to try something innovative never done by other photographers. These innovations may be in the form of a different angle, experimenting with new exposures/ compositions, and many others. Because of the fear of failure, many photographers imitate other better-known photographers, which will then lack the shock and fascination value for the viewers.
If interested in people as the subject of the photograph, then one also need to have the courage to ask those people’s permission to have their photos taken. Having the lack of courage to go up to them for fear of rejection may cost many missed photo opportunities.
Finally, a successful photographer needs to defy the conventional belief that a profession as a photographer cannot grant wealth and is considered a lower class compared to other professions such as being a doctor, lawyer, or banker. Though become a successful photographer, it will require a considerable sacrifice in time and energy.

The second trait is curiosity
Having the courage to pursue the field of photography is not enough. A successful photographer always need to be filled with a sense of curiosity, like always wanting to know how he/she can better their craft by reading photography articles, always wanting to know the paths of other photographers, and wanting to always learn new innovative technologies that can help better the production of their craft. Basically, if we want to be successful photographers, we cannot be ignorant of the constant advancement of technology around us.

The third trait is discipline and persistence
Even if a photographer has courage and curiosity, without discipline and persistent, then all would be in vain. A disciplined photographer will constantly push him/herself to learn, regularly practice, which will then further advance their craft.
However great a photographer is in theory, without practice, he/she will not be successful in creating amazing works. With practice, photographers can then discover new insights that can’t be taught from reading a book or learning from other photographers. For instance, by using a certain camera and lens for an extended period of time, then the photographer will be familiarized with the characteristics of the camera and can then operate the device effectively and efficiently.
Persistence is also important, particularly the trait of never giving up. Creating good photographs sometimes require a lot of time, with the addition of a luck factor. Photographers need to be at the right place at the right time to execute an extraordinary photograph. Therefore, do not give up easily if after trying for so long, your photos are still under appreciated by your friend or the public.

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Discipline and persistence completes the traits in ensuring the success of being a photographer. Without one of the above trait, I can hardly imagine how a photographer can achieve success.

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