5 simple steps to become a professional photographer
Do you ever dream about transforming your passion into a successful career?
It can sound scary at first but I can guarantee you that being a photographer is the best job in the world.
It happened to me naturally as I discovered photography while doing my BA in Journalism back in 1996.
I became a photojournalist and after that, I explored all the possible other options including teaching photography which I really love.
I prepared a list with a few simple steps to help you transform your dream into reality.
1- LEARN PHOTOGRAPHY PROPERLY
There is no way around it: you have to learn photography from scratch.
You need a solid understanding of the basics.
Knowing your camera and the principles of photography (that work for any camera) will give you the confidence to grow.
You will be ready when:
⁃ You are at ease shooting on Manual Mode of exposure.
⁃ The concepts of ISO, shutter-speed and apertures are craved into your brain.
⁃ You hold your camera as it is part of your body
⁃ You know where the settings are and which buttons to press to adjust them.
Another thing that must be automatic as well is framing and composition.
Training the eye to see through the viewfinder is an ongoing challenge. It must be done even when you don’t have your camera with you.
2- EXPLORE THE POSSIBILITIES
A fascinating thing about photography is the variety of career fields it can offer.
⁃ and advertising
⁃ to forensic,
⁃ and historical.
Having a camera and knowing how to use it can open many possibilities, including coupling it with your current profession.
But even if you want to be “just” a photographer, you need to decide what kind of photographer you will be. Invest in learning to “test” where your passion lies.
It can be revealing and surprising to discover a field you never imagined you could like.
PS: The Professional Photography Courses at LSP combine 7 workshops. Two essentials, which are Foundations of Photography and Lightroom. Four specialised, which are Portrait, Studio, Photojournalism & Street and Food & Product. And a key workshop that will help you to decide your path: the Career Coaching one.
3- SPECIALISE / CHOOSE A FIELD
It is easier to decide on a field after experimenting a few options and when you do, it will give direction to everything else:
⁃ from the equipment you need to get
⁃ to the type of marketing you will focus on.
When you decide your field, specialise by learning and practising a lot. If it is a real passion, this will be the best part.
In photography, there is ALWAYS something new to learn.
Technology evolves so fast and it is a challenge to keep yourself updated.
There are also the timeless concepts for each field that never change. Get to the essence and practise, practise, practise.
4- BUILD A STRONG PORTFOLIO
Forget your CV.
From now on invest on building a strong portfolio of images. What will really bring you work is what people see in your portfolio.
There are several techniques to define what images you must include in your portfolio and the most important of them is “less is more”.
Eight or maybe a dozen images will be enough. Photo editors have no time to see more than that.
A couple deciding for a wedding photographer doesn’t want to see your entire career, including the shots you did for that wedding workshop.
It can be a real challenge to select the photos you will show as an example of what you can do and it is a good idea to seek for help.
A Career Coaching workshop or a One to One time with a professional can be valuable to point you in the right direction.
When we choose our own photos, we can get attached to feelings about them.
Professionals are able to see and analyse objectively and even show aspects you have not thought about before.
How you present your photographs is another important choice. Will it be a box with prints? A slideshow on your iPad or a movie?
Nowadays there are hundreds of ways to showcase your work and depending on the clients you want to target, the way you do it can make all the difference.
5- MAKE A WEBSITE
Long gone is the time when printing some business cards was all you needed to start marketing your work.
By all means have the business cards, but also consider having a website with your portfolio of images and your contact details.
Buying a domain is the first step and if you are lucky to find your name and surname.com get it now.
There are several DIY website builders. You can try WordPress, Wix, SmugMug or Photoshelter. Or get the help of a professional
Let us know if you have any questions by writing in the comments below.
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