Camera technology has evolved dramatically since the advent of photography and as a result, being a professional photographer has significantly changed too. A vintage video created by Vocational Guidance Films, Inc. in 1946 shows what being a professional photographer used to be like.
“Photography is often called the universal hobby. It is a means of creative expression within the reach of people in all walks of life, and it speaks a language that everyone can understand,” the narrator says in the video above.
Even though the video is nearly 80 years old, and the gear that photographers use is much more advanced now than it was then, it is interesting how many aspects of being a professional photographer remain true today.
The video expertly summarizes the timeless appeal of photography and its influence on the world. The vocational video touches on how photography can immortalize fleeting moments that will never occur again, making visible things that are impossible to see with the naked eye, and telling exciting stories in compelling ways.
“Photography as a hobby can lead to photography as a career, and often does, but professional work calls for a lot more than just snapping pictures here and there,” the video explains.
For example, to become a successful professional portrait photographer, the photographer must understand their subjects and be able to showcase their character and personality in a single moment.
Another type of photographer, a commercial photographer, must be versatile and skilled in many different situations and when taking a wide range of images.
This is also true of a photojournalist, although they must be able to work under tight deadlines in a way unrivaled by other photography careers. An interesting video from 1937 shows how photos were transmitted by wire in the early to mid-20th century.
No matter the type of photography, all photographers, amateur and professional alike, must be well-versed in compositional skills, as highlighted in this excellent video from 1949, which has stood the test of time.
The old-school vocational video may look and sound old, but the lessons contained within still hold primarily true and may even continue to do so for another 80 years.
This is a story from the PetaPixel Archives, originally published in 2012.