What makes a pro, a pro

When Dan and I started Heisenberg Media, back in 2012, we kicked off our adventure as event photographers taking a big risk: a five thousand people conference in two days, with multiple stages to cover in real time.

We were both familiar with taking pictures, but delivering 800 final shots, fully edited, 10 minutes after shutter it was as hard as hell. 

We went on for a few months together building our network, getting new gigs, and delivering images to the tech industry.

Since I left Heisenberg Media at the end of 2013, Dan had taken off the business to a whole new level, covering all the major events in the tech in the world.

When we started we asked ourselves what would have allowed us to call ourselves pro, in an industry, the photography business, that many consider among the harshest ones. Photography nowadays is like tennis. Anybody with a racket can play tennis, many people play  tournaments, but only a handful of pro tennis players make the big bucks. Same is for photography: anybody with a camera, or a phone, is a photographer, many start photography businesses, but only a bunch of pros make the real money.

Many other professions have a wider distribution of wealth. It’s true that a renowned doctor makes more money than a physician in a public hospital, but not in the order of a thousand times. In the photography business it happens. The unknown photographer would charge a thousand times less for the same commission, than a rock star photographer. Up to the point that for the unknown photographer reaching the level of sustainability of their business is often very hard.

After many years in the digital industry, where tools are not the differentiatiors, where the access to information is easier than ever, where anything is just one click away, I can say that the true difference between pros and amateurs is focus.

Focus on what it matters.

The focus that allows to hit a target 100 meters away if you are shooting an arrow with your bow.

In business, that focus is setting a target in the fist instance, ignoring all the distractions while aiming, having the right attitude towards the bow, and making a solid decision on when to release the arrow.

In photography, that focus is in knowing that an event photographer’s job is making sure that people look in pictures, more beautiful than they are in person. No matter what, no matter how.

A good event photographer is not interested in reality, is not interested in truth, is not interested in documenting what happens on stage. A good event photographer is interested in making sure that the memories of the events they cover are beautiful. A good event photographer makes sure that everybody is happy to see himself on the follow up pictures. A good event photographer makes sure that the post production ensures that no-one will complain about unflattering images.

When we established our baseline, at Heisenberg Media, we gave ourselves basic rules: we would never publish a picture we would not be proud of. We would not publish a portrait that we would not print, frame, and exhibit. We would never portray anyone with a funny expression because they were chewing food, drinking a cocktail or simply talking. We would only select flattering pictures and we would deliver only positive emotions.

I resigned from Heisenberg Media in late 2013 because my career took a different direction, but Dan kept in mind our guidelines and made them the foundation of a thriving business.

This is what makes a pro, a pro. 

And this is why Dan has become the best event photographer that money can buy in the tech industry.

2 thoughts on “What makes a pro, a pro

  1. Inspiring read that made me reflect on what things that are important to excel in any profession and business. Thanks for sharing your story and some of the lessons you learned!

    Liked by 1 person

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