5 Reasons Why Not to Become a Professional Photographer

A lof of people consider becoming a professional photographer. So, there are are no shortage of tips and suggestions for making such a leap. However, here is a list of 5 reasons you shouldn't use as impetus for going pro.

1. You hate your job. 
Being in a job that is not fulfilling and challenging is its own unique level of misery. If Dante had ever worked in a cubicle, he would have likely added another circle of Hell to his epic poem. But being in a state of misery and loathing it is not often the best state of mind for making a life change. Making a living from something you love involves making thoughtful and informed choices that will change the rest of your life. Making an impulsive choice based on such strong feelings might not result in the best decision-making, particularly when all that thinking is negative. Though your unhappiness can serve as the inspiration to make a change, it's your well-considered plan which will eventually lead you to successfully improve your professional situation.

2. You Think You'll Have More Time to Shoot 
If you are struggling finding time to shoot with your current 9 to 5, you're going to find it even more difficult when you are working 24/7 to build and sustain your fledgeling photo business. With your current role, you are responsible only for one job (regardless of how frustrating or onerous you feel about it), but there are other people at the business that handle the rest of it including accounting, sales, inventory, receptionist. All those hats end up piled on your head, meaning that you have less time to do more work. If you find time  with the job you currently have to go out and shoot, especially personal projects, you'll likely not only be able to continue this practice when you go pro, but it will likely make your free time that much more enjoyable and gratifying.

3. You Think You're Going to Become Rich
There are easier ways to become wealthy than becoming a professional photographer. Some of these even involve choices where you don't break any laws and don't risk sharing a jail cell with a guy named, "Meat". Though making a living from doing something you love can be vey gratifying, the work involved from procuring the job, creating the images, delivering the work and getting the client to pay you makes you feel like you earned every penny. The only way to achieve long-lasting success is to think of yourself as a business. And though it seems antithetical to a creative life, it's the kind of thinking that allows you rise above the tens of thousands of camera slingers who hang a sign outside of their home office and call themselves a "pro" but who only succeed in working twice as hard, but making half as much.

4. You Want to be Your Own Boss
There are definite advantages to this including someone not calling you on extending your 15 minute bathroom break. But the reality of being your own boss is that you are likely going to be the worst boss you have ever had. Now, you can't hide your oversights or omissions or your mistakes. You are ultimately accountable for everything that happens or doesn't happen. Though doing the laundry might make your signficiant other happy, it could simply be used as a distraction from the work that you really need to be doing to grow your business. Yes, your clothes may be clean and well ironed, but that will mean very little if you don't have any clients to get dressed for. If you need the fire underneath your butt to makes things happen, remember you are going to be responsible for gathering the kindling and lighting the match.

5. You're More in Love with the Idea of Being a Pro than Actually Being One
Sometimes, an unfulfilled fantasy is more gratifying than a fantasy made real. A dream manifested can be a wonderful thing, especially when it is the fulfillment of a lot of hard work. But it's the hard work that will take up the bulk of your waking hours and unless you can find that work satisfying and gratifying, you are going to have a hard time sustaining yourself between the time when you get to do what you love, making images. It's easy to get fooled by the glamour especially today in the era of the celebrity photographer, but photography is still a job, which will demand the best of you most days. That's both good and bad news.

Making the choice to go pro is giant leap of faith but the best things of life happen when you take a risk. The greater the risk of failure, the more satisfying the feeling when you succeed.

Just know where you are starting from. It really helps to figure out where you're going.

Cheat Sheet - Quick Access to Your Short Cuts

Short cuts can be an invaluable tool when using any application. It makes work efficient by saving you time from having to navigate the cursor to the menu bar. The challenge I have is just remembering those short cuts, especially when I am using a variety of applications.

Cheat Sheet for the Mac OS resolves this by providing a complete list of short cuts for virtually any open application. Simply press and hold the Command button and a "cheat sheet" appears on your screen detailing all the short cuts for that particularly app. Particularly helpful for when I'm using Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop, it also becomes a great tool for when I'm using my web browser or Mail.

The customization on this application is minimal. You can set it up to launch on start-up and change the duration that it remains up once you release the key, but that's about it. However, that is more than enough as it provides me a great way to remember a shortcut that's eluding me.

The application is free and is available through App Store.

7 Tips for Using the Canon 5D Mark III

This week marks the release of my latest book: Canon 5D Mark III: From Snapshots to Great Shots. Producing the book involved me delving into the inner workings of a camera in a way that I haven't had to do in the past. Or more accurately, I would do it at a more leisurely pace.

One of the benefits of that was not that I discovered some hidden secrets of the camera, but that I learned how to utilize the camera to fit my particularly needs as a photographer. I know that's an old photographic mantra, "Photographer! Know thy camera!", but that's quite a challenge when you have manuals so thick, you'd think Tolstoy had penned it. So, writing this book provided me the opportunity to get to know the camera well enough that I feel it's part of my process rather than something that can interfere with it. So with that in mind here are 7 tips that might prove helpful to those of you who have the 5D Mark III or even some of you that don't.

Tip 1: Access Main Controls via the Quick Control button.
Though the 5D Mark III offers independent controls for ISO, Autofocus, white balance, metering and exposure compensation, I have found that hitting the Quick Control button on the camera, located to the right of the LCD screen provides a better option. When pressed, I gain access to all those features which I can quickly navigate to using the Multi-controller. This makes it quite easy to change those controls that I frequently adjust such as white balance, ISO and exposure compensation. An added plus is that because the screen is illuminated, I can more easily make adjustments under low light far more easily.

Tip 2: Disable the Image Review
I know that "chimping" or reviewing each image as it's shot is very tempting, but I have found it to be a big distraction. Instead of focusing on what's happening and changing in front of my lens, I have my head buried in my screen, trying to feel pleased with myself. While the screen can provide some important information with regards to exposure and white balance, after the initial image, I need to focus more on the process of shooting. With street photography things are constantly changing and I can easily miss a moment if I constantly keep looking down at my screen.

Tip 3: Enable Highlight Alert
Exposing for the highlights is another one of those photographic mantra's that's worth repeating. With digital, you want to make sure that you don't overexpose your image, because if the highlights's are blown out that means that there is no image data, no pixels there to recover or work with. Though shooting raw does provide you a little latitude there, nailing the exposure in-camera has been a normal part of any photographer's process. That's why I enable the 5D Mark III's Highlight Alert to create a warning that the image is at risk of overexposure. If the image is, during playback you will see that area of the image wink in and out, between black and white. Often referred to the techies among us as the "blinkies", it's a clear indication that the exposure has to be adjusted.

Tip 4: Consider UDMA Compact Flash Cards for best performance
Though the 5D Mark III accommodates both a CompactFlash and an SD memory card, my unscientific evaluation of the camera seems to reveal that I get the best write speed performance with CF cards, particularly UDMA rated cards. Now, this likely only makes a big difference when I am shooting action or sports, where I the camera is shooting at continuously at its highest burst rate. If I am shooting portraits or still life, I am shooting at a more leisurely pace. If I am using both types of cards, I will often designated the CF card for raw files and the SD for jpegs.

Tip 5: Enable the Viewfinder Grid Display
There was a time when if you wanted a grid display in your camera, you would have to physically replace the focusing screen. Now, it's a menu option. How cool is that? I enable this feature to help me to keep my horizon lines straight when making my compositions. For some reason, my eyes and brain are refusing to cooperate and allow me to do this just by eyeballing it. I seem to be seeing everything off-kilter...and I'm not even a drinker. In any case, enabling this feature provides me the reference lines I need to make the slight adjustments needed, so I don't have to rotate and crop into my image later in Lightroom.

Tip 6: Register Your Battery
The 5D Mark III provides the ability to register individual batteries not only to assess the remaining charge, but also to provide a shutter count and measure recharge performance. This can be invaluable information for those of us that do a lot of shooting. I own two batteries, which provides me ample power for an aggressive day of shooting and having this additional data on the performance of each battery provides me a level of security that I'll have a viable and fully charged battery when I need it most.

Tip 7: Input Copyright Information
As photographer, we own the copyright to an image, the moment we depress the button and make the photograph. Though protecting your rights includes registering your copyright with the Copyright Office, including your contact information is still an important part of protecting your rights to your images. As part of this, I choose to enable the 5D Mark III's feature to include my copyright information, specifically my name with each image. Though, I can do and more when importing my image in Lightroom, it's a good idea to know that the data is embedded at the moment of creation.