Asking yourself how to become a professional photographer if you feel like you have what it takes? Well, it really isn’t all that hard as long as you’re committed to the goal. If you want to quit playing and get in on the serious stuff, you’re going to have to push for excellence.
It’s a competitive business and only the strongest survive. Pretty much like in the corporate world, without the 9 to 5 work program. You will probably lead a bohemian, colorful life, and have access to great events. Some photographers work with celebrities, so you might even get that autograph you’ve been hoping for your whole life. It sounds good on paper. However, it does come with sacrifices and a lot of effort.
Here’s How to Become a Professional Photographer in Just 6 Easy Steps:
1. Invest in Photography Classes
You don’t need a college degree to become a photographer, but you will need to know the technical stuff as well. You can’t rely only on talent when you have to work a complex equipment such as a DSLR camera with various lenses. There are many companies and organizations offering photography courses, and some aren’t expensive at all. You might even find free ones if you do some Internet research. Read online reviews, ask around, make sure you have chosen an excellent course. You will learn how to get the best out of your camera, what techniques to use, learn everything about photography gear and even develop contacts that may be of use in your future career.
2. Build a Portfolio
While you’re taking your classes, spare some time and start shooting. It’s never too early to start building a portfolio. It’s the only way of demonstrating the quality of your work. Post your photos online on websites such as Flickr or DeviantART. It’s free, and you can easily share the link to your portfolio with prospective clients. Only post your best shots. As always, there should be quality over quantity.
3. Get a Job as an Assistant
Working as an assistant to an expert in the field is even more useful than specific education. You will gain valuable work experience, but more than that, you’ll develop all the skills you need to become a professional photographer.
4. Get Inspiration
It’s good to know what other photographer are doing. It doesn’t mean you should start copying their work. No. You have to develop your own style so that people will recognize your work without even having your name next to it. But you do have to look at other photographers’ photos to see how they use lighting, for example, and other elements that make the shot incredible.
5. Get Yourself out There
Now that you have the skills and the portfolio, you have to get popular. This means also becoming a social media expert. Set up social media accounts and share your photos. Interact with your audience to gain popularity. Check out business pages and try to get in contact with them to offer your services.
You should also act as a sales person if you want to gain profit from your work. At first, you can offer your services or free. When you feel like you’ve won your clients, you can start charging money gradually. Don’t expect to become a professional photographer if you stay within your bubble.
6. Be a Professional
No, we’re not talking about being a professional photographer. Although, it should come with the job. It’s about how you treat your clients. Answer e-mails, phone calls, messages, as quickly as possible. Even if you have to turn down a job.
If someone isn’t happy with your work, try to reshoot it or reprocess it. But never get angry at your clients. After all, the customer is always right.
You should also keep track of receipts, invoices, taxes. Stay organized at all costs.
Now that you have developed your general skills, you have to find your focus. Try sticking to one field of photography. Be the best at that one thing you’re most fascinated about instead of risking to provide mediocre work because you want to do them all. Below, you’ll find some other useful tips for wedding, wildlife, and sports photographers.
How to Become a Professional Wedding Photographer
A wedding photographer has one of the toughest jobs. They have to take shots of people on the most special day of their life. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event. Well, not always, but for most it really is.
- It’s crucial that wedding photographers invest in a good camera and great lenses. You can’t remake photos taken in church or at the wedding reception, so you have to be sure your camera will provide high-quality shots.
- Before you start shooting weddings for money, take photos at your friends’ weddings. They most likely have hired a professional photographer, and you can observe the way he works and constructs his composition.
- Get yourself known as a wedding photographer. Establish a name for your wedding photography business and use catchy words and phrases to attract clients. You must bring your marketing knowledge to the table to become a professional photographer.
- Set your rates low. That is, at first. Most people don’t afford to spend money on an expensive photographer, and you’ll get more clients if you’re not greedy.
- Study portrait photographers. Because you have to take photos of people, it’s essential to know what angles work, what are the right poses and how to post-process your pictures.
How to Become a Professional Wildlife Photographer
- Invest in expensive lenses. Wildlife photographers usually shoot at the lens’ maximum aperture. This way, they get the fastest shutter speed to focus on the action and blur the background. Because of this, they prefer fast super-telephotos: 300mm ƒ/2.8 to 800mm ƒ/5.6. These are expensive lenses, but you can’t do it otherwise.
- Study animal behavior. If you know at least a little about how the animal mind works, you are already way ahead others. Animals are tricky and unpredictable. You must learn to be patient and always keep yourself safe around dangerous animals. Don’t be a hero.
- Find a mentor. See what wildlife expert photographers work within your area and are willing to help you with pro tips. Enter contests and have your work receive critiques and suggestions. Feedback helps you improve your skills.
- Wear camouflage. Besides the fact that you have to be as silent as possible, you have to blend in with the environment. You might not have something to shoot if the animals spot a stranger in their environment.
- Buy particular hygiene products. This means not using shampoo, soap, deodorant, and other hygiene products, that smell. You should be able to find odorless ones in stores as well.
How to Become a Professional Sports Photographer
- Be a fan of sports. You won’t make it if you don’t love the game. A sports enthusiast will better capture the essence of it rather than someone who’s in it only for the money.
- Practice your skills by photographing amateurs. Start small and work your way up to the big league. It’s also better to begin by shooting sports with less movement.
- Use the right lenses. Just as wildlife photographers, those who want to shoot sports have to invest in expensive telephoto lenses. A wide aperture isolates your subject from the background and fast shutter speed enables you to freeze the action. Dig deep in your pocket to get the best results.
- Be competitive. You have more in common with the sports you’re photographing than you think. Photography is a competitive business, and you have to develop both your technical and people skills to win the race.
- Get a job at a newspaper or sports website. You’ll have access to all the major sports events, and you’ll get to be as close as possible to your subjects. And you’ll even be making money in the process. It’s a good starting point if you want to become a professional photographer.