The importance of ongoing education for the professional photographer
How ongoing education affects your photography and what you offer your clients
Chances are when you decided to become a professional photographer it was because you loved the idea of creating images. You may have started because images you took of your friends, family or children were viewed by your friends with appreciation and with the mantra “You should do that for a living”. At that point the idea of ongoing education for a professional photographer likely had never entered your head.
There is certainly is nothing wrong with that. Many of us started that way. I myself started when my Grandfather who worked for Eastman Kodak would bring home film and cameras(or filim as he pronounced it. Keep in mind this was Rochester, North Chili to be exact) and I was exposed early to some wonderful, photojournalistic work that still shaped what I do today.
And no matter who you are that work you produce, especially when you step into the professional realm, it is going to change.
One of the most intimate characteristics of being a professional photographer is the pride but sensitivity your work generates within you.
So how do you go about getting better while handling criticism of your work that is hopefully constructive?
How do you get better without becoming nothing but an imitator?
The answer is, in my opinion, ongoing education.
I am writing this in a timely fashion right after Imaging USA, the convention and expo hosted by The Professional Photographers of America.
You can check the folks out from the PPA HERE:
And you can see and learn more about Imaging USA specifically by checking them out HERE:
It is the longest running expo and convention for professional photographers dating back to 1880. Since its inception it has never stopped growing, changing and adapting.
So why attend?
Why take classes?
Why learn, change and adapt?
Because I believe it is impossible to develop in a vacuum. I believe separating ourselves out retards the constructive, critical eyes we need to continue to develop.
That willingness, if you can develop it opens you up to people and places (and images) that can change the way you shoot…
If you let it.
Because we all develop differently and at different speeds one of the best platforms to accomplish this is by imaging competition.
You will here some photographers say “well the PPA cost too much and it is only about the money”. The PPA is a non-profit organization and while there are costs associated with it when you compare the many, many included benefits it really becomes an incredible value.
Then there is the discussion of degrees. Again, and I have heard this numerous times “it costs too much to take the CPP exam and maintain your status”. The truth is it is very reasonable and all funds are used to develop and further the program and education for CPP’s and professional photographers.
Lasty you will hear “clients don’t care about degrees and memberships”.
I would concede there is truth to that statement….however just as with a Doctor, who isn’t required to be board certified but does so anyway. It sends the message that this professional meets a certain standard. That the photographer understands photographic concepts and is reproducing those for his clients.
Finally, this all starts to have an impact on your own work, on your expectations, and on your pushing and developing yourself. This can and does show up as the work clients seek you out for, hire you for and become a referral base for you.
Ongoing education for the professional photographer is not only important, it is critical for success.
In the end Ongoing education for you, the professional photographers helps you be who you want to be.
It helps you BE MORE.