A lot of young photographers to be are trying to make the transition between being just a passionate amateur to being a fully legitimate professional photographer. What separates the first from the latter isn’t necessarily the skill or talent and or even the experience; but more like an arbitrary convention that differentiates between a hobby and a business. In other words, if you get paid for it, or if you open some kind of official start-up, it means you’re a pro. If you just do it for pleasure, you’re an amateur. In a way, it’s completely unfair, because if you’re striving to become a pro photographer, the term “amateur” stuck to your current identity somehow implies that you’re not doing a really awesome job, but the truth is that you may be very skilled and talented, but you just didn’t get a paid gig so far.
Still, if you want to make that transition once and for all, either by founding a small photography start-up or simply by charging fees for your services, you need to do a couple of things first. The most important thing is to be really good at photography and to keep getting better, but we’re sure you’ve already got that covered. As a young photographer striving to prove yourself, it’s probably the main thing you’re working on when it comes to improving your odds of making it to the pro league. But the other thing you should pay attention to, in addition to simply improving your skills, is investing a bit in some essentials that would help you become a pro photographer faster. Here are our tips on what small investment you should consider, the matter is of course debatable, but our suggestions do make a fine starting point.
A tripod: We will not start this list with a good or professional camera, because it’s the first thing photography aficionados think about by themselves. Chances are, if you’re trying to become a pro photographer, you already though about it and invested in your camera by now. But our experience with aspiring photographers tells us not all think about getting a tripod as well, many preferring to just point and shoot. Perhaps it’s time to reconsider this approach.
A cheap old film camera: Nowadays everything has of course gone digital and that has become the standard for quality and everything. Vintage film cameras are, in consequence, very cheap now, and somehow regarded as being not so good. While it’s true that digital photography opens up a world of processing possibilities and filtering options and so on, film photography should not be despised by an aspiring pro. Not only would it help your overall skills and understanding of photography if you experiment with such a camera for a while, but it would also allow you to produce some wonderful pictures which current cameras couldn’t really achieve in the same way. Just look at the wonderful work people like Oleg Oprisco are doing and you’ll understand. Also, a vintage film camera looks really cool and makes you seem the master of all equipment. If you can create amazing images with that, you can do it with any kind of gear.
A high-power Monolight: Professional lighting can make the difference between an amateur photo and a truly stunning and impeccably done photo. It would be a shame not to highlight your good camera and good skills with the proper accessory, and this one should be the first on your list. Why a Monolight, in particular? Because one of these can be also used indoors to create a studio-like setting, but it’s also portable enough to take with you outdoors as well (or to other locations). Until you can afford an actual photo studio, it will give you the best chance of shooting like a professional photographer and of impressing the people you work with as one. If you’re on your way to become a pro photographer, these three are the magic tricks you should have up your sleeve.