The Power & Value of Professional Qualifications for Photographers

By Nick Wood

As a photographer I have never actually been asked by a potential client if I have any photographic qualifications and yet one of the most frequent questions potential delegates ask is “do I get a qualification or a certificate?

Although my training company Unshaken Photography Training can actually issue nationally recognised qualifications I have until the beginning of this year actually encouraged students from following this route as I saw little value whilst incurring additional cost. This has all changed and in fact our students are now encouraged to achieve professional qualifications through the professional bodies primarily the SWPP (Society of Wedding & Portrait Photographers)

Why the change in stance?

Photography has always attracted people towards it as a career on the basis that it is fun, fits around family life and offers a better work life balance.  For some that vision can be a reality, whilst for others the vision is never realised as they fail to prepare properly, fight for the dream and understand the commercial realities of being a professional photographer.

It is not to say that being a professional photographer is hard, I personally believe it is as easy as any other industry, the issue tends to be that too many new photographers concentrate too much on the technical side of the work rather than the commercial side – running the business.  The truth is that as a professional photographer you are most likely going to be running your own business and standing on your own two feet and that is challenging yet very rewarding.

The professional bodies and particularly the SWPP have grasped this issue and have really started to make a concerted effort to help out photographers on the commercial aspects of their businesses.

Professional Qualifications & Winning Clients

Although I mentioned never having been asked for a qualification by clients it doesn’t mean they are without value in securing work.  One of the reasons I point out to clients of choosing me over another photographer is my qualifications which I explain demonstrates my commitment to my craft and career.  Also with recent updates to Google algorithms, content generation on websites is crucial and I always encourage our delegates to write about their development which will give their clients confidence in their work.

The professional bodies produce many excellent features in the magazines and also run weekly, monthly and annual competitions which provides a useful benchmark for your talents and the opportunity to become ‘award winning’ which always looks great on a website and will catch a clients eye’.  The competitions also provide a useful reference source and constant spring of ideas which others can take away and develop themselves.

As a profesional photographer I always believe that you should be out there developing your skills and learning from others.  Having professional targets set by your peers is a great means of forcing you onwards, gaining confidence in your work and helping you to differentiate your work so that you become an in demand photographer.

Unshaken Photography Training helps many delegates strive towards achieving their professional qualifications.  If you are looking to become a professional photographer please email Nick at [email protected] visit or call 01245 494258.

Author Nick Wood

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