This is something that you hear so many young people say. It is also something you hear a lot of adults saying as well. I get emails from people all the time saying, they have bought a digital camera, they want to learn how to use it and then become a professional photographer. If only it were that easy.
This isn’t meant to put you off, but I thought we could look at some of the realities of being a photographer in today’s market. How do you go about it? What you can expect and how hard it can be potentially?
Need to be passionate about wanting to do it
First and foremost, you should learn photography and want to do it because you are passionate about it. People who decide to learn photography just because they think they could make money, may make money from it, but they will never be great photographers. They often lack the creativity that someone who is passionate about it has.
Get people to critique your work
You can never trust what your friends say about your photography. They are always going to say it is wonderful, but others might not feel the same way. Find a friend who you know you can trust that will tell you the truth, but they should also be someone who knows what they are talking about. Pay someone to critique your work and help you get better at what you are doing.
You can put your work up on sites and ask for advice, but often you will get trolls or just nasty people who delight in bringing you down, especially if they see potential in what you are doing. There is a big difference between being critiqued and being criticized.
So many wanting to be a professional photographer
One of the biggest hurdles to overcome is the number of people who want to do exactly the same as you. You need to be prepared for that and have a strategy with how you will get past it. If you don’t have a plan, or any idea what you are doing, you will end up like so many others, and fail.
Here are a few things that could help.
You are never going to be successful if you are doing exactly the same as everyone else.
If you are doing portraits you will need try to find a niche for yourself. How can you do those portraits that will make you stand apart from all the other portrait photographers out there? If you really want to do a style that is popular you will have to make sure you do it better than most. This would be especially useful if it is a popular type of portraiture that no other photographer in your area does the same.
Conduct yourself with confidence
Nothing is more off putting than a photographer that lacks confidence. It is a hard thing for many to brag about what they do, but it is what you must do. If a client asks you how the photos have turned out say they are great. Never admit that you could have done better.
Finding your niche
In the past a professional photographer had to be good a many different types, it isn’t the case anymore. More and more photographers are being told that if you want to be successful you have to find your niche, the type of photography you want to do and specialize in it. It can sound hard, and it will be, but that is what you need to do.
Consider all types of photography before you specialize
All the people making money seem to be in portraits and weddings, but what happens if that isn’t what you want to do.
You need to consider all the careers that photographers have. While portraits and weddings are the most popular, they are by no means the only options. There are quite a number of photographers making a living from real estate and architectural photography. There are many doing landscape photography as well, though perhaps that is one of the harder ones. Food photography has certainly gained in popularity as well. Don’t think that because you want to do something that is a little out of left field that you don’t have a chance.
Jobs that let you be a photographer
There are many photographers making a living, but not necessarily by being paid to take photos. To make money they are teaching, whether in the classroom or out in the field. It can be a great way to get paid and give you the money you need to do the photography you want.
There are also writing opportunities as well. Turning your knowledge into articles that can help other people. With the internet there are so many more opportunities for that than previously.
Learning to Market yourself
It doesn’t matter what type of photographer you decide to be there is one aspect that you can’t get past, marketing. You need to learn how and what will work for you. The days of putting an ad in the local paper are gone and with so many people wanting to be professional photographers the competition is fierce. You have to learn to be the best photographer you can and learn to be very good at marketing at the same time. They really do go together and it won’t matter how good a photographer you are if you don’t know how to market yourself.
Learn the business of photography
There is a lot more to running a business than simply taking photos. You need to know how to do the books, get an accountant and what you need to make sure you don’t fail. A small business course can be a great thing to do. Many local councils run them, though they are often very broad, but you can pick up ideas and tips from them.
Being covered by insurance is also incredibly important. It amazes me how often I hear of photographers that are out there taking photos and don’t have any insurance. You have to be covered for many things. The two main ones are public liability and professional indemnity.
Public liability is one that all photographers should have, actually anyone in business should have it. It covers you if someone hurts themselves because of you. If someone comes to your place of business, trips on a mat that have on the floor and ends up in hospital you will be sued for damages. Being insured for this means you are covered.
Professional Indemnity insurance is especially important for wedding photographers and to some extent, those that teach. It covers you in the event that you lose all the photos that you took at someone’s wedding. For a wedding you have only one opportunity to get photos and if you inadvertently do something to those photos and they are left with nothing you will be sued. Many photographers have had to pay to have the wedding done again so their clients can get their photos. Weddings cost a lot, so be prepared. Insurance is far cheaper than having to restage a wedding.
There is a lot of competition out there and if you want to be a photographer then you have to prepare yourself for a fight. Know what you have to do and get yourself organized. If you are passionate and really want to do this, you will find your way. Good luck.