Last of the professionals

Do you consider yourself a professional?

The instruments of a professional? Photo: Julia Revitt

Hey Siri, define professional. And I paraphrase here, “competent, skilful or assured”, “as a paid occupation rather than a pastime”.

When we think of professionals we often consider the payment aspect, but you can be professional at something and not get paid, and be paid for something and not be professional. So I’m looking at this from the expert angle, something more than Siri’s competent, that’s for sure.

I remember when Apple made professional products. Or did they?

I certainly remember a whole section on their website for professionals and featuring case studies and interviews with creative professionals in the fields of photography, filmmaking, art, design and music that used their hardware and often software.

Before the iPhone Apple made a thing of it. Powerful, high-quality computers like the G series desktops, or rather under the table tops, they were that large.

Since then the G series faded out and was replaced by the Mac Pro, which never got updated. The latest Macbook Pro’s came in for criticism for not being ‘Pro’ enough. The iPad Pro. What is professional about this product?

The software went through some problems as well, Final Cut was revamped and a lot of pros jumped to Premiere, although it’s ok now and Aperture was shuttered. Sorry.

If you look at many professional products in a different industry it’s a similar issue. Take the dive watch. How many dive watches are now sold to divers? How many people who wear a dive watch even know how to use the bezel? It’s just a watch isn’t? How about your chronograph, how’s that tachymeter working out for you?

How many people own a professional quality camera? What about a set of reference headphones? How’s that Arcteryx climbing jacket doing in the city?

The dilution of professional is everywhere.

People don’t buy these things because they want to be a professional in that arena but they want the cache or perhaps just the best product. You don’t use the bezel on your watch, but it looks cooler.

The thing is the professional version isn’t always the best. It’s often the most workmanlike, the most singular.

In creative work, non-professionals often associate the product as the creator. If you buy a Canon 5D you will take great photos. If not that Adobe Lightroom preset will make them great.

The point missed is you can’t buy experience. How often do you see a price quote that you think is expensive but you don’t take into account the person’s experience. You can always get it cheaper elsewhere.

Do you seek professionals when you need a job doing or do you google it and do it yourself or perhaps go to sites like Fiverr? Did you get a professional to build your web presence or did you just use a Wordpress template? What are the reasons for your choice — perhaps you don’t value the website or business enough.

Where does this end?

Let’s take this further. Driverless vehicles are coming. That’s the end of the taxi driver, the bus driver, etc. How about trains, planes? How many hours do you think a pilot flies the modern transatlantic route? How about 10 mins. Millions of pounds of plane, lives of hundreds of passengers but the pilots rarely fly the planes and don’t even program the autopilot. Don’t read this is you are a bad flyer.

Now extrapolate that to your profession. Not only are market forces attempting to drive your prices down but automation is looking to remove you altogether.

So next time you google, ‘get a logo’ or ‘cistern is leaking’ take a moment to think in the longer term.