It all depends what kind of photography you’re into.
Professional Studio and Professional Portrait Photography
I would only bring full frame SLR or medium format camera into a studio or to a high-end, professional portrait or headshot shoot, especially if I’m tethering or firing off strobes. My Nikon D850 is tailor made for a studio shoot with reliable performance, great dynamic range, easy access ports, Capture One compatibility, better/bigger/faster QXD and SD slots and a suite of available/rentable glass and backup bodies. The second most-important skill of a professional photographer, after getting the shot, is dealing with problems. There are always problems — it’s the nature of photography and humanity. I was reading a long complaint in a Fujifilm forum just yesterday about the camera locking up. It happens. But it happens less with Nikon and Canon than any other camera, because they’ve been iterating on studio-ready equipment for decades. But when things do go wrong, Nikon and Canon are prepared — as are the crews supporting you — with quick solutions to get you back shooting. Read more
Here’s a short list of techniques you might try that they won’t tell you about in the manual.
Learn It Every Day
The best way to increase your skill level in photography is to continue to learn it every day. Never assume you know everything and challenge yourself to look at the medium in new ways. I’ve been shooting since 1980 and today I get hired to do professional shoots regularly, but I still continually seek out new techniques and new ways of thinking about the medium. It keeps it all fresh and interesting to me and gets me out of my comfort zone. Read more
When I was 11 years old, my mother gave me a book called Working, by Studs Terkel. It catalogued hundreds of interviews with people all over the United States, asking them about their jobs and how they felt about what they did. People were honest and forthright. It had none of the sheen of today’s social media friendly personal narratives. This was raw and exposed and I fell in love with these portraits of real people with real feelings and I thought, “I too will grow up and become a real person”. Read more
it’s even more important today to differentiate yourself as a photogapher.
Largely, the main thing separating professional photographers from the rest of the pack is the ability to create images that have an emotional affect on audiences. Your average photographer can make a good-looking image of the Eiffel Tower — the professional gets you to feel the soul of Paris. A good photographer gets a nice portrait at golden hour — the professional makes you long to be there. The normal photographer shows you their road trip — the professional makes it yours. This subtle distinction is obvious to the viewer but a complicated and elusive skillset that pushes past obvious imagery into deeper territories and establishes a voice in photography. Read more
If you’ve been following along, either here or on either Instagram, maybe you’ve seen that I’m doing a project called America At Work, specifically for publication here on Medium. It’s not just a cool assignment, it’s sort of the Mecca journey of photography. Traveling by car across America’s vast countryside, getting away from the usual haunts and discovering the heart of the country through the lens of a rangefinder camera… what photographer hasn’t dreamed of it? It certainly has been a life-long dream of mine, ever since I first saw the work of Robert Frank. Read more