The Curse of the Professional Photographer

Once you’ve been a professional photographer for a few years, some things become automatic.  You critique images you see, whether you want to or not, and do it mostly in your head because it happens so often.  Wherever you are, you spot where the “good light” is.  This is a great asset as a professional when you are on a client shoot — however, when you are shooting for personal reasons, like photographing a casual BBQ with friends, it can be a curse.

So why do I not like bringing a camera when I go out?  I’ve become critical of what and how I shoot.  And I have a higher standard of what constitutes a decent image.

When I’m out with my family, I want to enjoy them.  So if I bring a camera, it’s better to wear my Mom Photographer (or “Momtog”) hat, not my Professional Photographer hat.  But that is hard to do.

Here is an example:

Below is a photo I took last week during our vacation.  For most of our stay there, I left my camera at the beach house.  One day, I took my camera with me to capture our easy-going beach lifestyle, so I wore my Momtog hat.  I took photos as any parent would take of their kids.  I didn’t pressure them to be subjects in a photoshoot.

Looking at the photos today, I cringe.  I am fighting the urge to delete them from my hard drive.

What Most People See

“Siblings standing in the water at the beach on a sunny day.  They are happy and hugging.  It’s a Keeper.”

What a Professional Photographer Sees

Yep, all of that goes instantly into my head….and MORE!  I just ran out of space.

Am I being too critical?  Maybe.  But this is all automatic.  I am not trying to find things wrong with this photo or any other photo.

I still remember how it was before I started my business when I’d look at personal photos and be in love with how it transported me to that day.  And that was it.  Was something crooked or was something cropped unaesthetically?  Who cares.  I didn’t.  Did I shoot mid-day in the harsh sunlight?  Most definitely. 

Before becoming a Professional Photographer, I enjoyed more photos that I took on a casual day.

The takeaway:

Know your camera, learn photography rules, hone your skills, develop a more critical eye, so you can improve and grow as a photographer.

When it comes to personal photos, capture your life on camera, however it happens, and know that not every photo needs to be a work of art.  It is better to capture moments than miss them.


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