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You’re a Professional — Dress That Way!

Posted By John Harrington On November 14, 2008 @ 4:32 pm In Business of Photography | 9 Comments

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Several years ago, when I was accompanying a friend to get his first Capitol Hill press pass, I handed him one of the disposable razors I keep in my car and said, “You need to run this over your face.” “Why?” he asked? “It’s a simple matter of respect,” I told him. To this day, he gives me a hard time about it — but he did get his credential.

Maxims like “dress the part”, “dress for success” and “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” all carry the same message: your attire matters, and says a lot about you as a professional.

The Untucked Wedding Photographer

Sometime back, I was making a delivery to a client at a five-star hotel where I had completed an assignment the night before. I’d seen a wedding rehearsal taking place the previous evening, so I decided to check out the photographer as he captured posed shots before the ceremony. As I observed the scene, I realized that the photographer was wearing jeans. Then I realized he didn’t have his shirt tucked in.

A fancy hotel, everyone else dressed to the nines, the bride and groom in all their glory — and here he was, in white athletic shoes.

If you’re thinking of finding some excuse to defend this wardrobe malfunction, understand that I don’t care that he was doing these images before the ceremony, and that maybe he would tuck his shirt in once the ceremony was about to begin. The fact remains that he was engaged in work and interacting with the entire bridal party and parents while looking disheveled. And that’s bad form.

A Second Set of Clothes

The wedding photographer had no excuse for dressing so poorly. But even if you are thrown into an assignment unexpectedly, you should come prepared.

Many a time I have been working an assignment in jeans and a polo shirt — at an informal outdoor event, for example — when I’ve received an unanticipated call for an assignment at an office building, where the appropriate dress is khakis and a button-down shirt at a minimum. That’s why I carry a second set of clothes in the car; for me, it’s as second nature as packing my equipment.

You are a professional. Act — and dress — that way!

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9 Comments (Open | Close)

9 Comments To "You’re a Professional — Dress That Way!"

#1 Comment By Jen On November 14, 2008 @ 8:21 pm

THANK YOU!!!! I could not agree more!

#2 Comment By Mark On November 15, 2008 @ 8:26 am

I am not a professional photographer but I could not agree more about acting and dressing like a professional - no matter what the profession.

#3 Comment By Doug On November 20, 2008 @ 8:30 pm

Showing up on time is important too. I was at a quinceanera recently, and the photographer and videographer showed up 15 minutes after the ceremony had started, wearing jeans and, by the look of it, a white undershirt (untucked). It was embarrassing.

#4 Comment By Cathy On January 19, 2009 @ 6:11 pm

Thank you so much! I teach 9th and 10th graders who are in a career alternative school. I teach in the medical academy. The students are learning and headed towards a career in the medical field. They can't get it through their heads that they have to dress the part, act the part, as well as, get the grades.
I am going to direct them to this website so they can read what you have written.
Thank you again

#5 Comment By Muyiwa On March 19, 2009 @ 6:14 am

You only have 5 seconds to make an impression on people!

#6 Comment By Pro-Photos On July 16, 2009 @ 6:19 pm

I'm NOT AGREE at all!!!!. I'm a professional photographer, I make more than $680,000, and I did thousands of celebrity, business and presidential events wearing cargo shorts, shirt and a hat...and people NEVER complaint about that, because they love my job!!!!

I asked them, Did you care more about what I'm wearing or how I do the work?, and guess what?, YES People care more about the product!, that's the important part, because you can wear wherever you want, and that is not gone a make you a better photographer!!!

But thanks, I just LMAO when I saw your post!!!

#7 Comment By Krystal On February 1, 2010 @ 6:05 pm

Wow! "pro-photos" why do I not believe you? Hmmm... Maybe it's because you don't even understand the english written language.

#8 Comment By Mike M On December 3, 2010 @ 9:22 pm

I could not agree with you more. Personally I have what is commonly known as "sleeves". Tattoos from just above the wrist to my shoulders. Although it is my personal taste and style I do not believe it is acceptable to others so when someone walks into my studio they see a well dressed man with a sports coat and button down shirt sitting there. I'll admit I do wear jeans while I'm in the studio but when on location at say a wedding I dress in a suit that is bland enough not to stand out so that I am able to mingle in the crowds to get just the right shot without attracting attention to myself. 95% of my clients dont even know I have a single tattoo and I like it that way. I am clean cut with short hair and shaved face and give no mention to whats under the clothing. My goal is to put the focus on the subjects and not to become one of the subjects.

#9 Comment By Jimbo On November 11, 2011 @ 3:41 pm

I totally agree. What you wear shows how you feel towards your clients. Its a form of respect to others to be dressed smartly.


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