In the song Sunscreen, Baz Luhrmann teaches certain “inalienable” truths about life: you’re not as fat as you imagine, politicians will philander, and you too, will get old. So I’ve compiled a short list of some funny yet brutal life-truths about becoming a professional photographer.
The Love of Your Life May Leave You
Fine, I get it, that heading went a tad over. But it is not entirely my fault. I was just reading some comments on my last article, The Must have Lens for Anyone Starting Out as a Professional Photographer and let’s just say, I got inspired.
You are starting a new photography business from scratch which usually means long hours buried deep inside a dark room cursing at Lightroom and a dearth of new income in your bank account. Quite a few people tend to counter this by spending more hours on their new profession, usually in that same dark room, away from any signs of social life telling their partners to go to “that” silly barbeque by themselves. I mean, who’s got time to make small-talk while watching that piece of soy-based fake meat cook ever so slowly. Spare me!
When you take on professional photography, your pillow talk will also change. It could be a rant by you on how stupid your latest client is because they think that the image you worked so hard on, is “too underexposed.” I mean what do they even know about exposure. Do they even know how to read the damn histogram? I didn’t think so either! And then you hear something eternally beautiful and life-defining that makes you stop for a second. Yes, that’s coming from your partner who has dozed off. That’s how interesting your “my day sucked because my passion is now my profession” story was.
Another pillow talk scenario that could materialize: “Babe, now that I’m on my way to becoming a professional photographer, I think I need to take my photography up a notch and buy a good set of professional lenses. And don’t worry I’ve done the calculations. I can just put it on the credit card and including interest, I will only need to pay $32 per day… for the next… umm... two years.” Good luck with getting sleep or those lenses after that conversation!
You Will Be Crowned ‘Designated Photographer’ for Life
That doesn’t sound too bad, does it? You naive little lamb! Let me shatter these rose-tinted, image stabilized glasses for you.
On the rare occasions that you decide to come out of your hole and mingle with fellow members of your species, your photographically-challenged older relatives or friends will feel a strong urge to increase the number of clicks they must have of themselves because they have the expertise of a “professional photographer.” And these photos must be clicked using a pre-historic phone with a sensor as big as some microscopic fungus and photo quality that makes the sound of nails on a chalkboard seem bearable. Or if you’re particularly lucky that day, you may get to click these photos with their gigantic tablet. You might as well have brought along your 27-inch iMac and used it as a camera. Well, at least you can hide your “kill me now, please” expression behind these items.
The ordeal does not end there, however. For your younger friends who believe that they are on their way to becoming social media influencers, the act of photographing will usually be followed by damning judgment. “Oh no! I look so fat! Why is the angle so low? You can see all my three hundred double chins. See this amazing photo taken by my friend, can you click one like this?” You will be so torn by a raging internal debate on whether to explain why your photo is better given the constraints or to give them some sass by saying that the camera simply captures reality, that in the end, you will end up making a half-hearted attempt at mimicking that selfie they showed you.
The end result? If the photo is clicked with your camera and they like it, “buddy, your camera takes amazing photos!” If the photo is clicked with their phone and is not to their liking, “you should speak to my cousin, he’s not even a pro and he takes amazing photos...”
Sigh, I give up.
You Will Lose Your Right to Earn Serious Money
The world’s definition of a professional photographer:
A subspecies of humans who follow their passions. Thus, they are happy to work without pay and have given up all ambitions of owning a house, car or any material objects apart from prime lenses. This group can lead perfectly healthy lives given a few drops of “exposure” once in a while.
When you make the leap to take up photography as a profession and the news spreads like wildfire amongst your social circle, people will come up to you and congratulate you on being “brave enough” to follow your passion. Don’t get too excited. These are euphemisms people use to mask their astonishment on someone having given up on an exciting career in reconciling numbers through intellectual activities like using calculators. These same people probably tell their kids bedtime stories about photographers who went bankrupt and lived miserably ever after.
Of course, I’ve exaggerated in this article and it is not all doom and gloom. I hope you enjoyed my take on these life truths for photographers. What are some of the other hilarious truths about photography in your opinion?