The Habits that Make Pros Professionals.

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The Habits that Make Pros Professionals.

I have always been puzzled by the advertising line, much over used, “Be just like the pros, buy this XXX.” I always wondered, why not chose to BE a pro rather than mimic them. Here are some of the things that Pros do that make them pros.

Jeff XXX creates award winning macro and bird images. He talks about handling his camera everyday. Not necessarily taking photographs. He runs through all his key camera buttons, increasing his speed and physical memory of the action. In the field he may be taking a landscape image when a bird suddenly breaks cover. He needs to shift his camera settings in seconds to his fast wildlife action settings. He doesn’t even think about it because of his habit.

Create Camera Habits. It’s a collection of little things. Always upload your memory card after every shoot using a card reader. Delete bad images right away, number, keyword, archive and file right away. Format your memory card (not erase) with your camera. Reset all your camera settings back to your personal default settings.

Strive to get it technically right in camera. Photoshop shouldn’t be relied on to correct photography mistakes or save an image; it is to extend your creative vision. Get the focus on your subject, get the exposure right, know when over and under exposures are best, compose it to rule of thirds or some other composition rules.


Know your tools by practicing with your tools. Know and practice the Photoshop tools you use. Don’t rely on all those push button actions, learn what is behind them, why they do what they do. Knowing this you can better prep your images to work with the actions, you will know when and why they will work with some images and not others. Know your camera, your light setups. All craftsmen have a habit working with all their tools.

Have the habit of refining your business side.


Challenge yourself. Professionals don’t rest on their laurels. They constantly push their personal boundaries. They fail a lot; it is the nature of learning and growing. They master a challenge before they move on. They do it with personal projects, adventuresome clients and collaborations.

Professionals have the habit of constant education and upgrading. If they are not creating the newest “thing” they are learning about it. They are also always refining past and traditional photography approaches.

They develop the habit of not taking criticism or praise about their images personally. They know they are just opinions, they know if their images have achieved their vision or not.

Pros are always shooting, taking images as often as they can. Research has shown they will have to take at least 10,000 photographs to master their craft, or the focused field of their craft. There is no short cut. It is all about practicing and refining. Maia Szalavitz discovered “It’s clear that not just any practice, but only dedicated and intensive honing of skills counts.”

There are more habits of course, but these will get you started. Habits are hard to establish, we are by nature (or most of us) lazy. We all like the easy path. There are a lot of people on that path, they are easy to spot; for the most part, they look the same. Step out of the crowd. Don’t be just like a pro, become a pro. Otherwise, it’s a hobby to you or you are an enthusiast.

So hone your habits, add to the pride of our photographic craft. Your images will hit a new level because of it.



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