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A Qualified Professional Photographer

After months of work, hair pulling, crying and generally just wanting to give up I finally had the email that I had been waiting for. The email that said, “Just to let you know that the panel have judged your submission, and I am very pleased to tell you that you have passed, congratulations!”

Just to let you know that the panel have judged your submission, and I am very pleased to tell you that you have passed, congratulations!

The Guild of Photographers

I had been keeping it a secret but as soon as I got the email those around me just knew that I had got some exciting news. Not sure if it was the smile or the fact that I was dancing around the room that gave it away though?

Either way those months of hard work had finally paid off. I was no longer just another photographer, I was a ‘qualified professional photographer‘ with The Guild of Photographers.

It is a distinction that I had been aiming for to give confidence to my clients, new and old, that I am able to provide a service that they can rely on to provide what they are looking.

The Guild of Photographers

Guilds have been around since medieval times and was often where people would go to ensure that they found a reliable craftsman (or woman). The guild would provide a place where it’s members could train alongside the other more skilled craftsmen, before becoming recognised as being qualified themselves. It provided a way to protect the trade against poor quality and those whose reputation is not shall we say that great.

I joined The Guild of Photographers for this reason. I wanted to be a part of an organisation that went to protect clients and provide a consistent level of service.

Not satisfied with simply being a member of this organisation I also wanted to go beyond the basic member status, so I began a journey of discovery training with the mentors within the organisation.


Our 'Qualified' status is therefore aligned to standards of competence that reflect a level where the customer should be 'pleased with the results', when employing the services of a skilled tradesman (the photographer). In other words 'Qualified' indicates professional 'competence' to a level where the Guild is willing to recognise the photographer as an ambassador of the association, so those who achieve that level should be proud of doing so.

The Guild of Photographers

What does it take to become a qualified photographer?

In basic terms you all you need to do is submit a total of 21 images taken by you in the past 2 years and relevant to the area you seek qualification in. Sounds easy doesn’t it? Don’t let that trick you though. To make it even harder for myself I also decided to take the opportunity to learn something new. I could have stuck with the family photography that I had been doing full-time for the last four years. Instead though I opted for headshot photography, an area that I have only started doing this year. 

For the qualification each of the images, although taken at different times, need to be consistent. The exposure should be the same, the colours, etc. They then need to be presented together as if from a single portfolio. The image will then be looked at by three judges who will review the images based on (taken from The Guild of Photographers handbook):

Impact – This is the sense one gets upon viewing an image for the first time. Compelling images evoke laughter, sadness, anger, pride, wonder or another intense emotion.

Presentation – Judges will look for a finished look. The mats and borders used, either physical or digital, should support and enhance both the submission and individual images.

Technical Excellence – Judges consider the quality of the image/print itself as presented for viewing.

Lighting – The use and control of light is central to photography and critical to Judges. Regardless of whether the light applied to an image is man made or natural, Judges will look for the effective use of it in order to enhance an image and the purpose of the image.

Technique – This is the approach used to create the image. Printing, lighting, posing, capture, presentation media, and more are part of the technique applied to an image.

Creativity – Judges look for the original, fresh, and external expression of the imagination of the maker to convey an idea, message or purpose.

Story Telling – This refers to the image’s ability to communicate to the viewer and evoke imagination.

Subject Matter – This should always be appropriate to the story being told in an image.

Colour Balance – Judges look at the effective use of colours and tones in an image. An image in which the tones work together, effectively supporting the image, can enhance harmony. By contrast a lack of harmony can be used to evoke diverse feelings for effect.

Composition – This is central to the design of an image and should bring all the visual elements together in concert to express the purpose of the image. Proper composition holds the viewer in the image and prompts the viewer to look where the creator intends. Effective composition can be pleasing or disturbing, depending on the intent of the image maker.

Centre of Interest – This is the point or points on the image where the maker wants the viewer to stop as they view the image. There can be primary and secondary centres of interest, and occasionally there will be no specific point of interest as the entire scene collectively serves as the focus of interest.

Style – Judges look for a specific style (i.e. your specific style). This can be defined in a number of ways. It might be defined by a specific genre or simply be recognisable as the characteristics of how a specific artist applies light to a subject. It can impact an image in a positive manner when the subject matter and the style are appropriate for each other, or it can have a negative effect when they are at odds.



There is also an over-riding arch to all the above – “Congruence or Harmony”. In other words all the components above must work together to create ‘one’. The strongest submissions are cohesive and evidence consistency in all areas.


Then there is the business aspect and you need to be able to provide evidence that you have the correct, and valid, insurance in place.


My final submission for qualification

Find out more about my professional photography

If you are interested in finding out more about the professional photography that I offer please feel free to contact me.

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High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire

Tel: 07534 075091

Email: chris@cjhphotography.co.uk

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