One of the largest issues with the photography industry in Oklahoma is accountability. Anyone with a smartphone can take a quality image. Personally, I think this is great. I love that we can take photographs at any place and time. Memories abound and snapshots of daily life can be strong reminders of who we are, who we want people to think we are, and who we want to be despite ourselves. The problem, in my mind, is when someone decides to call themselves a professional. In Oklahoma, all it takes is to claim as much.
I am not advocating a state-sanctioned recognition of professional photographers. What I am advocating is that those who consider themselves to be professional photographers take action to set themselves apart from everyone else with a camera. Today, I want to suggest a few, simple steps to my colleagues behind the lens.
There is no hard definition to what “professional photographer” means in Oklahoma. It is left to those of us who claim the title to define what it means. Here are a few pieces of the puzzle that I believe go a long way in establishing accountability to your clients and to your self:
- Register and fulfill your obligations as a legal business entity with the state
- Carry appropriate insurance to protect your clients and your business
- Include product options that become tangible heirlooms, i.e. printed images
- Never stop working to improve the quality of your services and your creative work
Professional Organizations and Accountability
After years of encouragement from industry professionals, I joined the Professional Photographers of America. The insurance portion alone makes up for the membership fee and they offer so much more. PPA is not the only option. I encourage you to seek out a local, formal organization. This offers you a chance to establish a network of other professionals in your area. Nothing says “professional” more than being recognized as such by your peers.
My question for you is this: What are you doing to improve your accountability as a professional in 2018?