Let me make one thing clear…I am not nor do I claim to be a professional photographer. It is a goal of mine to be sure and I Am working hard towards that bit at the moment I don’t consider myself a pro. On my way to this goal I have figured out a few things and learned from my mistakes which I am sharing with you…My faithful reader.
Making the decision to pursue photography full-time was an easy decision for me because of my passion for the art but it was also difficult at the same time. I have always felt that my time on this earth is very short and making a leap into the world of professional photography is a bet I am willing to take on myself. I have no guide or mentor to steer me down the correct path and I have made a great seal of frustrating stumbles along the way. There was no guidebook for me to pursue photography as a career, all I have is my determination not to fail and a positive attitude about my work and where I am headed with it. I don’t claim to be a pro…I am just a guy who loves what he does. If you want to jump into the world of pro photography get a thick skin and these ten things to think about should guide you on your path.
1. Prepare yourself for rejection…lots of it. This one is the biggie and don’t fool yourself into thinking that you wont get your ass kicked every other day with no’s and rejections. We are all in a very crowded and competitive field with a ton of images out there. This isn’t a profession where you become instantly famous overnight but through years of hard work and dedication. You have to have an exoskeleton like iron man to let the rejections bounce off of you because if you don’t they will crush your spirit and desire…remembef you want to be in this for the long haul!
2. Digital camera equipment is expensive. You are going to need a budget and you are going to need to save for the gear you want…period. Do your research and know what kind of shooting you will be doing and the gear you are going to need to get the shots you want to make. Knowledge is key here and you don’t need to buy every piece of equipment that is advertised to you. Your gear is huge investment of money so buy wisely. Along with camera equipment comes all of your compute hardware, software and digital storage you will need for your image files! The list keeps growing…Trust me on this one!
3. Photography will be a second full-time job. The photography work doesn’t end when you click the shutter. Oh no my friends, There is much more work involved! The editing process itself from say a wedding for example with several hundred images to sort through is a Herculean task in itself. If you are a nature and landscape shooter like myself there is lots of prep time involved looking at sunrise and sunset times, weather and scouting locations. Just trying to get eyeballs on your work and get noticed in this crowded field isn’t for the faint of heart and can make even a grown man cry. Stick to your guns and stay with it…The weak will drop out of the race while the dedicated will remain and be prosperous.
4. Pay careful attention to how you present yourself online. This is another big one as these days you need to have a fairly large presence online to help spread the word about your work. Be cautious how you present yourself in your social media efforts. I am trying to be actively engaged in the photography community online…Sharing what I know and commenting and looking at others work. I am busy like everyone else and I cant do it all but I am as engaged as I can be. My Twitter and Facebook photo pages are strictly for photography related things and networking with other photographers..No personal stuff. How your are virtually is how people are going to view you in the real world..especially potential clients.
5. Shoot as much as you can and show your work as much as you can. This one can be a tough one when you are just starting out but an image taken that is never seen is an image you probably wasted your time taking. If you are dedicated and want to grow in the business then you do what you have to do. I am moving towards being really poor and only working part-time to continue on this photography path. For me I am at the point where this step will allow me to grow my portfolio and get a lot closer to my goal. Show where ever and whenever you can! You need to get people looking at and commenting on your work.
6. Be passionate about your work and photography. All of the awesome photographers I have had the pleasure of meeting are passionate, dedicated and write/ blog and show their work often. With this passion comes self-confidence in your work…You need this along with that thick skin to get by in this business! Your passion and dedication will really show to people and this in turn will help you to grow and prosper. Love what you do everyday!
7. You are never going to get sleep again. Nature and landscape shooters look for the best light which happens to be at the fringes of the day. We are out and working while everyone else is snuggled warmly in their beds. You have to learn to work at times when no one else is and work your ass off! Do more than the next guy and you will be rewarded eventually.
8. Always stay positive. Yes doing photography can lead to painful bouts with fear and worry but don’t let this effect you! Always, always stay positive and keep your mind actively engaged on your next photography project. We are not perfect and not every image is a keeper. Don’t dwell on an image…If it’s bad delete it and move on to the next one. Keeping your spirits high in this competitive field is a difficult task but one you must master. Keep your mind engaged and always thinking about photography and being positive. Dont let any negative nancy’s get to you!
9. No job is too small. Don’t ever think that any job is too small or beneath you. I do some volunteer photography a few times a year and I have a blast doing it! It’s also a good way to meet people and make contacts. Even on a volunteer job I still work as I always do…Diligently and I deliver my images as quickly and efficiently as possible. Do what you say you will, Take the small jobs or the free ones. Remember word of mouth can kill you so act like a professional at all times.
10. Take that camera off of full auto! This is one piece of advice that I have said before and I will say it again. You are an artist…Know how to use your gear. Start with the basics and work your way up to more advanced work. Painters don’t start out painting masterpieces! My work sucked when I first started shooting but with patience and a desire to learn how cameras worked, I learned and it showed in my improving work. There are times when it is appropriate to use the auto modes and I do very rarely but learn that camera! Don’t cheat yourself and your work.