Friday, November 25, 2011

The Perfect Photographer VS. The Great Photographer

Who doesn't have some sort of aspiration to be perfect, (gulp) right?

Here's my list of conditions for the Perfect Photographer:

1. Astute, in-depth technical knowledge of Cameras, can take one apart and put it together.
2. Art history buff, has studied all the great Masters who have come before; can drop names if asked.
3. Can single handedly produce a job with mind boggling efficiency.
4. Sends out the perfect estimate; makes money while remaining competitive.
5. Amazing marketing and business skills. Blog and website always up to date. Sends monthly e-newsletters to clients.
6. Adept and masterful at all things social media
7. Perfect understanding of Lighting Theory, knows exactly which modifier to use and when.
8. Always a pleasure to work with. Clients love the Perfect Photographer; drinks are always on him/her post shoot.
9. Always meets deadlines
10. Knows how to apply makeup on models in case the H/M girl calls in sick/hungover.
11. Pays his/her crew on the day of shoot, in cash if they want.
12. Communicates well with and brings the best out of their models and subjects.
13. A Photoshop wizard, the perfect photographer retouches their own images and delivers ahead of schedule, with minimal revisions.
14. Their portfolio is the perfect mix of personal and professional work.
15. Always demands to fly business class.
16. Can shoot Product, Fashion, Automobiles, Travel, Food and Interiors with equal excellence
17. Nails the pitch every time and exudes confidence in pre-production meetings.
18. A natural Fashionista, styling their own shoots is a breeze.

Hopefully by point 18 you've realized that no such person can possibly exist. In fact I feel lucky if I'm nailing half the things on the above list.

so whats the difference between Great and Perfect?

The great photographer knows their strengths and weaknesses. They move forward in their strength and fill their weaker qualities with people who call those same weaknesses, strengths.

A great photographer may have an excellent eye for detail but is terrible with people. They may have amazing business acumen but a poor understanding of light fall off and what a Parabolic light actually does. Thats okay, though...they know they're not perfect.

Surround yourself with people who are better and smarter than you.

My producer is better at budgeting and project management than I am, my retoucher is infinitely better at photoshop, one of my lighting assistants knows more about how an dSLR works than I ever will (or want to)... If your ego can handle it and you can build a team on this principle; you're in for a wild, successful ride.

The unfortunate truth is that if you try and do it all yourself, you will stay small and ultimately entrenched upon the gilded path of mediocrity.

To be great you have to commit yourself to Mastery, to learning, to plateauing, to failing, to learning...

and that, my friends, has nothing to do with perfection.


Craig Peihopa said...

Wonderful Post Martin, very insightful. thanks for this.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the sincere and honest truth. It's ironic how the imperfect really are the perfect :)

Jindřich Trčka said...

Very True, Martin. Greetings from the Czech republic. Your parents birth-land, I suppose. Jindra

Chris Stewart said...

Great post Martin. Thank you!

Unknown said...

Thanx a lot Martin for writing this out. Really helpful to a beginner like me!

Ajay Goel said...

Brilliant post...and good insights there Martin.