“Wow! You’re as good as a professional!” Have you heard that lately? Sure you have. You are an active photographer, constantly honing your craft. So of course your images are good.
This may have caused you to wonder if it might not be a good idea to venture into the world of paid photography. You don’t have to jump into it full throttle. In fact, when considering how to become a professional photographer, in many cases it probably wouldn’t be smart to quit your day job. Not at first.
A huge reason for that advice is because it seems that everyone is a photographer now. In other words, why should someone pay for your photography when they have the bestest new smartphone or just got their own entry-level DSLR or mirrorless?
Well, my excellent photographer friends, that brings me to the very first most important step of how to become a professional photographer.
Be a Good Photographer
Okay, hear me out. I know you’re already a fantastic photographer. But in learning how to become a professional photographer, it is vital to deeply understand the art and craft of photography.
Think about it this way. We all have that friend that’s good with cars. Maybe it’s you. They can troubleshoot problems, do minor repairs. But, in order to open up an auto mechanic garage, they would need to know so much more than basic stuff or that one complicated thing they repaired.
Same with being a professional photographer. When pondering the thought of what qualifications do you need to become a photographer, take a good look at your current qualifications and skills. A professional photography course can be a great resource for learning how to become a professional photographer.
Develop a Niche
An important step in how to become a professional photographer that is sometimes discounted is to find what you’re best at or at least better at and concentrate on that. This step is closely related to brand building, another step in how to become a professional photographer that I will discuss a little later.
What is a niche in photography and how does this help you with how to become a professional photographer?
A niche in marketing is a specific area which has its own particular requirements, customers, and products. In photography, that would be defined further by types or styles of photography and whether you are selling a photography service or actual photographs.
As examples, perhaps you have an affinity or interest in people photography. This could indicate that portraiture could be the niche you should further advance and make flourish. An alternative could be wedding photography or other event photography.
I tend to divide wedding photography apart as a particular niche disconnected from other forms of event photography. Because of the specialized requirements involved with documenting that extremely important milestone in people’s lives.
Another example of how to become a professional photographer by finding and growing your niche is that you notice your landscape images get lots of positive attention. A business model offering scenic images worthy of the label Fine Art Photography could be a money making endeavor for you.
Create a Brand
Creating a brand is the next step for how to become a professional photographer. Your brand is what will differentiate your photography or photographic services from all of the other photographers out there. It’s how you stand out and get hired.
When you are thirsty for a soda, do you reach for your favorite brand name or will you take whatever is closest on the supermarket shelf? If you have a specific taste, you will gravitate to a particular brand.
The same holds true in this business. Whether becoming a freelance photographer or engaging in another style of professional photography, creating a brand is vital for returning business or to take full advantage of possible referrals.
Your brand flows naturally from finding your photographic niche. A great portfolio or website will showcase your brand, a step some list independently for how to become a professional photographer.
A website is a huge part of your brand, an important tool for modern photographers. Only your absolutely best images should be included in your business website. If you have a social media account that you post to, you might consider an independent account solely for business imagery. That way your brand is not diluted by pics of your lunch or Aunt Judy.
Unless your brand is a food photographer or family portraiture, I guess. Even at that, make an honest effort to cull down your business displayed images to only your finest work.
Ask for some critique from people who know photography and art. Don’t buy into too much of the extremely talk that some online sources may offer. There are some jerks out there, so try to find a forum that is both honest and honorable.
Just Do It
Now that you know some of the best hints for how to become a professional photographer, the only thing standing in the way of your new business is the question of when to start.
What is your answer? It’s a little complicated. You might start slow, freelance and part time, or you could jump into full time with both feet.
Whichever way you choose to start, be sure of your game plan, make sure you are comfortable with your skill level, and strive to make your new business a real success. Professional photography is an amazing business. I love it myself, couldn’t imagine any other career. I hope you have as much fun doing it as I do.