4 top insights from professional photographers

First published:
September 28, 2020
February 6, 2024

4 top insights from professional photographers

First published:
September 28, 2020
February 6, 2024

Cover image by Chris Caporaso

We are thrilled to host the work of some of the best photographers out there. And to help fellow photographers in the Picfair community learn from them, we've spoken to some of our experienced professionals

These are their top insights about the world of professional photography, and their advice on how you can maximise earning potential for your images.

1 Smartphones are our friends

Photographer taking a picture of a Christmas tree with his smartphone
Image from Jaromir Chalabala

“I couldn’t live without my smartphone now - it’s the best all-round camera that fits in my pocket.” says Valentin Valkov.

It is easy to dismiss smartphone cameras as amateur-fare, but they’ve really come leaps and bounds over the last few years, and it is absolutely possible to get some amazing shots with commercial value for a phone.

But it is not just the pocket-friendly camera - it is the range of apps available that can really enhance your workflow.

Sam Moore
, who has been a professional photographer for over 15 years, suggests The Photographer’s Ephemeris, which helps you plan outdoor photography in natural light. It lets you visualise how the light will fall on the land, day or night, for any location on earth. Amazing!

Photographer and Creative Director Chris Peterson-Clausen loves Artemis - a digital viewfinder for smartphones used by Oscar winners and film students the world over, which helps him deciding focal lengths.

We also love:

Pocket Light Meter - A light meter that is always in your pocket. Measures reflected light, and allows reciprocity calculations.

Easy Release - An app which allows you to get signatures for model releases directly on your phone.

- If you are a studio photographer, this is invaluable. It allows you to map out and save studio lighting diagrams so you can always remember your best setups.

Montage of images taken on a smartphone
Some of our favourite shots taken with mobile phones. Click here to see more

2 Making a living

The world of professional photography has changed in recent years, and it is now more difficult to make a living from image licensing alone. Here are some tips on how our pros make that extra cash.

Roy de Haas, who is also the director of a software company and a company specialised in infrared heating products, runs the agency AGAMI images, an outstanding collection of bird, nature and wildlife images from a host of award-winning photographers.

“If you can, find ways to earn more money by sharing your knowledge with others, or running photography trips, for example,” Roy says.

Matthew Mallett makes much of his living through wedding and wrestling match photography. “Don't stick in the past. Look at what’s trending and try to work with that. Being flexible and adapting to change is the biggest way to maximise income in my opinion."

Sam Moore - and lots of professional photographers - make the bulk of their living by doing assignments. If you make a name for yourself - on social media, through word of mouth, and by having a professional website - you can earn a lot through assignments. Read more about building up a presence on social media with marketing guides available on your Picfair Dashboard.

3 Mirrorless cameras are the future of professional photography

Fujifilm X100T mirrorless camera
The popular Fujifilm X100T mirrorless camera. Image from Adb Halim Hali

Mirrorless cameras have risen in popularity in recent years. They are smaller and lighter than their DSLR counterparts but don’t sacrifice on image quality.

Roy de Haas of AGAMI images thinks they are going to be increasingly used by professional photographers in the next few years. “I just sold all my gear and replaced it with Panasonic mirrorless and Leica lenses.”

While the quality between mirrorless and DSLRs is comparable, mirrorless cameras are a lot smaller - their bodies rivalling the size of a simple point and shoot. Many resemble the sizes and dimensions of vintage 35mm film cameras, making them a pleasure to use too. The only disadvantage is that fewer lenses are available - but that is rapidly changing.

Sam Moore agrees. “Having less equipment to carry around can make getting a perfect shot a lot quicker and easier.” If you are thinking of buying a new camera, consider a mirrorless to reduce the bulk of your carry case.

Montage of images captured with mirrorless camers
A selection of stunning shots captured with mirrorless cameras by Picfair photographers. See more here

4 When it comes to new gear, spend your money wisely

When it comes to the latest gear, our professional photographers are grounded.

“We all fall for G.A.S (Gadget Acquisition Syndrome)” says Sam Moore. “But make the most of what you have. If you find you have found a limit with using a particular camera, then it’s time to upgrade.”

Chris Peterson-Clausen says you should never buy cheap compromise solutions because you couldn't wait a bit longer. "It will only frustrate you time and again. I tend to buy the best gear available to me for the solution and then mercilessly use it for years and years.”

A flat lay of a camera bag and it's equipment
What's in your kit bag? Image from Danny Wilson
And for good measure, here are some of their favourite accessories...

- Valentin Valkov recommends a Lowepro backpack for lugging lots of equipment around and the Peak Design CapturePRO Camera Clip. “It makes switching between cameras a breeze.”

- Matthew Mallett’s latest accessory is his favourite. “The Godox AD200 is a combined battery bare bulb and flash head which is much more powerful than normal speed lights. Capable of TTL and manual control the light output from this unit is superb and gives you the flexibility of using it as a normal flash albeit not on camera or with studio-style diffusers for a studio-style look. Awesome.”

- Sam Moore recommends Gnarbox 2, designed to make backing up in the field a breeze. “Backing up in the field can be really important, and I have tried various backup systems that haven’t really worked that well. The Gnarbox 2 is a fantastic tool to have at all times.”
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