Becoming a “Pro” Creative

Cameras

Being a professional means many things, but what it really boils down to is making a living doing a certain trade. I am a professional editor because I make a living at it year round. I also work as a cameraman for about 3-4 months out of the year, along with some producing and directing throughout. These jobs have accounted for 95% of my income in my life at this point, I am a professional, working in the moving picture industry.

Many people are working in the video industry but aren’t working professionals, they intern or work for their reel, etc. It’s not easy making that transition, and there is no right and wrong way to do it. Tez Mercer wrote a post today about his transition from hobbyist to pro and has some great insight on how much it’s just pure hustle and finesse. Here are the quotes that I think apply to anyone trying to make it as a professional in a creative field.

You have to fail 10,000 times to succeed once and eventually you carve out a set of skills that work in many applications.

email everybody, leave messages, meet people for coffee, expect nothing.

…So does having an actual email address like name@yourbusiness.com rather than @hotmail or @yahoo or something. Those other email addresses say straight away that you’re not doing this full-time. That’s not a big deal, but if you want to be treated as a professional, you have to be professional.

Do what you want and f**k the rest. Stay true to your voice and shoot for yourself and shoot what you think is cool. That’s your voice, that’s your message, that’s your strength and that is what you are living or dying from.

The article is a great read and full of amazing photos he’s done over his career, a great example that your portfolio of work is a constantly growing testament that you “made it”.

How do you define pro? I see plenty of working pros doing very low caliber work, but they are making a living at it. I also see hobbyists do amazing things. It’s sometimes the passion that shines through and why I like the term “Professional Amateur”, despite it being a bit of an oxymoron. The root of the word “amateur” means ‘lover of’ and I think it’s a great thing to be fortunate enough to do what you love for a living.

Work hard, be passionate, be motivated.

Jared Abrams
Jared Abrams is a cinematographer based in Hollywood, California. After many years as a professional camera assistant he switched over to still photography. About two years ago a new Canon camera changed the way the world sees both motion and still photography. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time.