In the old days, it was easy to pick out the pro photographer in a crowd. They were the one with the biggest lens. These days, with photography so popular and accessible to the masses, it’s getting much more difficult to tell a pro from an enthusiast. We’re no longer the ones with the big glass; have you been to the National Parks and seen the gear that the retired doctors and laywers carry?
Have no fear, I’ve come up with a little game called “8 ways to spot the pro photographer.” I know that it’s by no means a complete list, so feel free to play along.
1. Duct tape on their expensive lens. Let’s face it, we beat our gear up. We use it in less than ideal conditions, and out in the field, a broken lens hood can easily be duct taped back on. And if it works, why change it? You’ll never see an amateur with duct tape on his thousand dollar lens.
2. Slouches from carrying heavy camera bag. Two bodies, six lenses, flashes, filters, tripod, memory card cases, maybe a laptop and hard drives as well? Tools of the trade and it goes with us everywhere. Unfortunately, carrying all that gear has a very heavy price.
3. Still has film in the freezer. Back when we shot film, we pros liked to buy it in bulk. We’re talking multiple bricks at a time so that we’d never run out. Problem was, the technology ran out before our film did. Who doesn’t still have a few rolls still sitting in the back corner of the freezer?
4. Uses the world “Stock” differently than most people. Among the common folk, the word “Stock ” has a well established meaning. Put 10 pro photographers in a room together and that word will come up multiple times, and noone will be talking about the Dow. Or soup.
5. More concerned with other peoples’ appearance than their own. We’re always on the lookout for potential models, and when we’ve got them working in a photo shoot, it’s all about their misplaced strands of hair, ruffled clothing, and those small details that most of us don’t pay attention to on ourselves. (Have you seen my bio shot below?) That is, except when we’re meeting with clients.
6. Contents of camera bag worth more than their car. Like I said above, two bodies, six lenses, flashes, filters, tripod, memory cards, laptop… Costs way more to replace all that stuff than an old Toyota or a used Subaru wagon.
7. The only guy over 25 wearing their baseball cap backwards. Have you ever tried shooting verticals with the brim facing the right way?
8. Always doing something stupid or dangerous in order to get a good angle. It’s all about getting the awesome vantage point, right? We’ll easily sacrifice a little safety if it means getting a killer shot.
Dan Bailey is a professional adventure, outdoor and travel photographer based in Anchorage, Alaska. Follow his own blog at danbaileyphoto.com/blog and see his daily updates at facebook.com/danbaileyphoto.