How to Become a Professional Photographer
Photography is an art. But it is also a rewarding profession to thousands of professional photographers across the globe. The easy availability of high tech compact digital cameras has made it possible for everyone to take better pictures easily. Digitalization has eliminated the need to process a film roll and spend time and money on developing negatives and prints. Even sharing the pictures has become so easier. All one need is to plug in their cameras to personal computers and share pictures easily and quickly online.
One might think that all these things would have reduced the demand of professional photographers in the job market?
Well, this is certainly not the case. In fact, the demand for professional photographers is on the rise. There are new fields opening where professional photographers are needed. As the need of professional photographers is growing, so is the number of photographers. Each year many hobbyists are turning into professional photographers and more hobbyists are deciding to take part time jobs as a photographer to make extra money without leaving their full time job.
Full time or Part Time
Photography is not a field where you can just open up a shop and clients would start coming. In fact the recommendations, word of mouth marketing, contacts and previous works play a very important role in the business you get as a professional photographer. You need to first establish yourself as a known professional with good references and recommendations from previous clients. You also need to understand your needs. There is a good chance that you may not make money in the initial period of your work as a professional photographer. How you will survive during this period?
It is because of these questions that many hobbyists and even some professionally trained, educated and certified photographers begin their career as part time photographers.
Certificates and Degrees
Do you need a degree to become a professional photographer? Well, the answer is not necessarily. You need skills, but you don’t really need a degree or a certificate to become a professional photographer. However, it is a known fact that formal education and training would help you get quality work as soon as you start working. Otherwise who knows how many years you would spend taking pictures of birthday and wedding cakes? Also, formal training would help you learn many useful things,especially the things that you need to know as a professional photographer. With formal training in professional photography, you would get to learn new techniques, new methods to intensify your photographs and new tricks to manipulate ordinary pictures into great photographs.
There are many colleges and schools offering photography courses throughout the country that you can take. Also, you can find certificate courses of small durations to improve your skills.
Do you have the equipment to work as a professional photographer? Owning a digital camera alone is not enough to start working as professional photographer. You might need tripods, different lenses, and different cameras to get better results while working in different kinds of environments. You might also need a car or a van so that you can take this equipment with you on assignments. Many photographers arrange their own lighting equipment on special assignments to get better results. You would need umbrellas and protectors and maybe reflectors too in order to create a balance in the available settings and your desired effect of the photograph.
As a professional photographer, you might come across a situation where you need to take pictures using your own equipment under your own settings to produce the desired result. For such occasions you might need a studio. With basic equipment already at your hand, you would just need an empty space that you can set up as a studio. Many hobbyists use their own garages or home offices as make shift studios, but in the long run, this is not going to help you. In many big cities you can rent studios where you can go and shoot, but these studios charge on per hour basis and using their equipment such as lighting would cost you extra.
A Business Plan
Working as a professional photographer is also a business like any other. No doubt that you love taking pictures and you might be extremely talented at that too, but even then it is a business where success would be measured by how much money you are going to make. So even though it is your passion to become a professional photographer, but please take it as a business. Sit down, grab a pencil and a paper and write down a business plan. Write down the money you are going to invest in your business, how much more money you will need to expand the business, how you are going to set your initial goals, what you are going to do to meet these goals, and so on.
The competition among professional photography service providers is fierce. Just like any other business, you need to think about ways to bring in new clients and business. To do that you need to think about a marketing plan. How you are going to promote yourself as a professional photographer who is looking for work? Thanks to the internet you can easily make a website for yourself where you can showcase your work and describe what kind of jobs you are looking for and how interested parties can reach you. Also, you can use your social contacts to get new clients through word of mouth marketing. Many professional photographers submit their works to photography contests and competitions to gain recognition. Some photographers work voluntarily for non-profits to create an impressive portfolio to showcase.
The ability to capture stunning photographs alone is not enough to survive as a professional photographer. It will help you a lot in getting recommendations and recognition, but to get yourself started, you would need jobs that can help pay the bills and the cost of the equipment and gadgets that you will be using. The journey to become a successful professional photographer is not an easy one, but your desire to capture great moments into still format would keep your passion burning and as long as you have passion, you can easily get through the initial tough phase and move on to achieve success and glory.
DISCLAIMER : The views expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent the views of photographik or any member of the photographik organization.