Saying that you're "just a photographer" can be one of the most self-deprecating things that you can say as a professional. Those three simple words can destroy your credibility even if you're just trying to be humble about chasing your passion.
Here's the story: I was recently at a business function, surrounded by really successful entrepreneurs and businessmen. I'm happy to say that after 28 years on this earth, I realize that pissing matches are trivial and lead to two frustrated parties until someone "wins." Why bother? Instead, I just shrug my shoulders or try to divert the attention to another topic as gracefully as possible, although I have been known to be a little less tactful at times. I digress.
At this business function, someone asked me what I did for a living, and in an effort to be nonconfrontational, I responded with "I'm just a photographer," to which the other party clamored: "You're not just a photographer. You're a photographer." Mind you, I love what I do. I'm very passionate about what I do. The conversation deviated into a lengthy discussion about my personal merits and endeavors after being asked what I had accomplished up to that point.
Later that day, I sat back and thought about how that person must have perceived me as an individual or more so, as a business person. There's no doubt in my mind that I must have appeared timid or shy, two qualities that are the complete opposite of a great salesperson. Given the opportunity, would that person feel confident recommending me to a potential client or better yet, would they hire me themselves? Probably not.
Truthfully, I see this as a potential learning opportunity and topic of discussion. How many times as a professional photographer have you been shy about admitting what you do to someone else? How many times have you been afraid about admitting your profession to someone because you fear judgment? In the video above, Miguel Quiles and I discuss reasons why you should quit using that phrase immediately.