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Fifty thousand, four hundred and eight. Pretty strange and exact number, huh? What's your Number? What's the Number of the photographer you hired?

Here's some context... A few days ago I was contacted by a photography student on Instagram who asked a bunch of questions about my "timeline" of going professional as a photographer. How long did it take and when did I graduate from New York Institute of Photography, when did I start my "job" making money as a photographer, Why did it take so long, etc. I had a boss from a previous job once who would always challenge his employees when they brought up a situation, question or made a comment... "Is that relevant or just interesting?"

That is kind of how I wanted to respond to this young man who was asking me questions (although probably not the right response to someone I barely knew from Instagram). The questions he asked were interesting but not relevant. I answered his questions factually, reminded him that everyone's situations and timelines are different, and wished him nothing but tremendous success!

What I didn't do was tell him he asked the wrong questions. A more relevant question would have been, "How many pictures should I take before I call myself a professional?" See... photography classes are great. Formal training is an absolute necessity in my mind. Photography is an intersection of Engineering and Art. One has to understand the technical aspects in order to perfectly achieve their artistic vision. One cannot exist without the other. Yes, there are fancy cameras and AI tools and filters that can take and autocorrect photographs, so it is easier than ever for anyone to pickup a camera one day, launch an LLC and a website and call themselves a "Photographer." We all know someone like that. And unfortunately, no matter how many years they take pictures, most of the time, it still shows - whether in their composition, lighting, focus, etc.

I used to use Aperture before Apple discontinued it, but now I use Lightroom. As I was recently merging my Aperture Library into Lightroom, I was able to see my number. Fifty Thousand, Four Hundred and Eight. Photographs. Taken. PRIOR to calling myself a "Professional." Everyone's number is different. And there is no right or wrong number. But I can tell you this, my first photo taken looked much different than the last one.

What's your Number?

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