Do you love taking photos in your spare time?
If you have a good eye for detail and creative vision, you can turn your hobby into a professional career.
This is a great way to make money from something you are passionate about and can provide career satisfaction. However, it takes practice and persistence to transform your hobby into a lucrative career. Like many artistic pursuits, there is a lot of competition, and you need to prove you have the right skills.
So, let’s take an in-depth look at exactly how to become a photographer.
- What Does A Photographer Do?
- The Required Education
- Certificate Photography Programs
- Finding Your Niche
- Freelance Work
- Find a photography mentor
- Attend seminars and exhibitions
- Choose the right equipment
- Build your photography portfolio
- Create your online portfolio website
- Sell your photos commercially
- Launch your photography business
- Promote your business
- Launch a photography exhibition
- Join professional photographer associations
- Start your own photography group
- Start building relationships with clients
- Why Not Try Real Estate Photography?
- Final Thoughts
What Does A Photographer Do?
To put it simply, a photographer is someone who makes a living taking photographs. However, this role often also involves using dedicated software to edit and enhance images. Some photographers also use graphic media to add depth and different details to their images.
Photographers can either choose to work for a company or in a freelance capacity. Becoming a freelance photographer provides more freedom to choose working hours and clients. Photographers who work for a single company usually work full-time business hours.
The Required Education
If you decide to work for yourself, you don’t need to complete formal education. However, completing education is a good way to show potential employers that you have the right skills and discipline.
If you are planning to go to college anyway, gaining a bachelor’s degree in photography is a great option. There are also plenty of other ways to gain the skills and experience you need.
Read more: How to Become a Wedding Planner?
Choose a focus…
The first step to working out the qualifications you need is to choose your specialty. There are several areas you can focus on, including portrait photography, commercial photography, aerial photography, and fine art photography. Once you know the type of photos you want to take, you can choose a course that focuses on this.
Certificate Photography Programs
These programs can be completed in just a few months and serve as a good introduction to photography. Students learn the fundamentals of photography as well as other essential skills. This can include the principles of digital photography, image manipulation techniques, and how to use special photography software.
Associate Degree in Photography
This course usually lasts for two years and is offered by a number of colleges, universities, and art schools. Students learn a wide range of techniques during this course, from working in natural settings to transparency and negative films. The course also teaches students how to create photographs in a studio.
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography
This is usually a four-year course that is offered by universities and colleges. Students are treated to detailed information on the types of techniques they need to master. The coursework also includes projects that provide hands-on experience.
Master’s Degree in Photography
After completing a bachelor’s program, you can choose to study for a master’s degree. These programs last for one or two years and provide in-depth knowledge on a certain specialization. Students are provided with a wide range of practical experience and coursework that can pad out their portfolios.
Online Photography Course
If you are already working full-time, you might not have time to take a college course. Fortunately, there is a wide range of online photography courses for you to choose from. These online courses allow you to study in your free time and choose the skills you want to focus on.
A wide range of professional photography workshops are also run on weekends. These workshops give amateur photographers the chance to learn new skills practically. Workshops are generally informal and feature guided instruction during hikes and special excursions. These workshops give you the chance to meet other photographers and gain material for your portfolio.
Complete An Internship
Working as an intern alongside a professional photographer allows you to learn from this. This is especially important if you are interested in starting your own business and working for yourself.
In addition to gaining experience, you will get to witness how a photography business is run. Interns also get the opportunity to make valuable connections that can lead to work further down the line.
Once you have the necessary skills, experience, and qualifications, you can consider getting certified. There are several options to choose from, such as Certified Professional Photographer, Certified Forensic Photographer, and Registered Biological Photographer. Getting certified usually involves passing an exam, and this is a good way to impress employers and clients.
Finding Your Niche
There are numerous types of photography you can practice, from wedding photography to fine arts to pet photography. When you are getting started, it is important to decide which type of photography you want to focus on. Because this can be easier said than done, here are some tips on finding your voice and specialization.
Consider your interests
Start by thinking about the photographers and subjects that inspire you. Think about the types of environments you enjoy working in and the elements you enjoy. If you are an extrovert, event photography could provide an exciting and inspiring working environment.
Alternatively, you may prefer taking photographs of pets, babies, and/or family photographs.
Take creative risks
Trying out different techniques and styles can help you to discover what you are good at and passionate about. In the beginning, it is a good idea to experiment as much as possible and be willing to take risks. You never know what might click and turn out to be the very inspiration you have been searching for.
Capture your passion
Once you choose a specialization, you are likely to spend a lot of time working within that area. Therefore, it is important to choose a field that you are passionate about and will inspire you. You may find that taking photos of food floats your boat while becoming a travel photographer is ideal for adventurous souls.
Once you have gained qualifications and experience, you may decide to work for yourself. Being a freelance photographer gives you the freedom to choose your clients and the projects you want to work on. Because there is a lot of competition for work, you should map out your path carefully.
Find a photography mentor
In addition to an internship, a mentor can teach you how to set up your own business. Many experienced photographers are happy to pass on their knowledge to those who are just getting started. It is possible to find a mentor online or in person through a local photography group.
Attend seminars and exhibitions
These public events are great places to find a mentor and make connections. Once you find a mentor, ask them to set you assignments that will increase your knowledge and skill. You can work closely with your mentor and assist them with areas of their business to learn the necessary skills.
Choose the right equipment
You need to put together a collection of cameras, lenses, and other types of photography equipment. It is best to start with a good DSLR camera, a tripod, and perhaps a few lenses. You can always upgrade and add to your collection when you start making money. You will also need a solid bag to carry your gear in and protect it when you travel to different locations.
Some projects may require you to have specific pieces of expensive equipment. However, it is possible to rent most types of photography equipment for a few days at a time. This will give you the chance to put the equipment through its paces and find out if you really need it.
Build your photography portfolio
Your portfolio is an important document that you use to showcase your photography skills. You can present your portfolio to potential clients to show them examples of your work. You should try to make your portfolio as diverse as possible and update it regularly to reflect recent projects.
Create your online portfolio website
Having an online portfolio allows potential clients from all over the world to view your work. You can sell your photography directly from your website if you want and use the website to secure projects. Make sure that your online portfolio is as clear and vibrant as possible and encourages people to browse.
Sell your photos commercially
Several websites purchase different types of photographs from photographers. Companies like Shutterstock and Getty purchase large numbers of photos that they can then sell to advertisers and other clients. This is a good way to make a little money while you are working on your freelance business.
Launch your photography business
Once you are happy with your online portfolio, it is time to turn your attention to the business element. First and foremost, you need to set your pricing and know how to do basic admin tasks. This includes filing your tax returns, creating invoices for clients, and finding the best way to ship your photographs.
Promote your business
It is now time to make sure everyone knows about your business. These days, the best way to do this is through different social media platforms. You can create Facebook, and Instagram accounts for your photography and build up a following.
Encourage friends and family members to join and promote your social media platforms. You can engage with users by asking them questions and asking them to set you challenges. Take the time to find the different online platforms for photographs and be an active presence on them.
Launch a photography exhibition
This is a great way to spread the word about your photography and gain potential clients. You need to find an art gallery or other type of venue that is interested in showing your work. You can create a special event to launch the exhibition and invite potential clients and supporters. This gives you the chance to meet potential clients, show off your work, and maybe sell a few pieces.
Join professional photographer associations
There is a wide range of networks, groups, and associations for professional photographers. These are great places to connect with other professionals, learn from them, and build your network. Making connections with photographers who specialize in different fields can lead to a lot of work. These photographers can refer clients to you and vice versa.
Start your own photography group
If there are few associations in your area, consider starting your own group. This can be an online or physical space where amateur photographers can get together. This is a good way to get feedback on your work and make connections that can lead to work.
Start building relationships with clients
You need to be professional and polite at all times to impress clients and win projects. Clients need to know that they can trust you to complete their projects in the best way possible. This includes discussing the aspects of the project clearly, creating a contract, and delivering what you promise.
It is important to go the extra mile to impress clients and exceed their expectations. This can lead to repeat work and valuable referrals. Make sure you keep clients in the loop on the developments of the project and be willing to edit your work.
Why Not Try Real Estate Photography?
This type of photography can earn you a good income if you’re any good, so start with my How To Become A Real Estate Photographer to see if it’s something you would be interested in.
We also recommend this collection of excellent handbooks such as How to Make Money as a Real Estate Photographer, or The Real Estate Photographer: A Beginner’s Guide to Real Estate Photography, as well as the Shot Lists for Real Estate Photography: What to shoot, and why to begin with.
Next, we move on to the Business Techniques for Real Estate Photography or perhaps improve on How To Take Photos That Move Houses and Photographing Real Estate Interiors and Architecture along with Photography for Real Estate Interiors and Photography for Real Estate Exteriors all available online in 2023.
Working as a professional photographer can be a rewarding career for anyone who loves taking photos.
However, you need to be able to market yourself well and have a good head for business. Present yourself and your work in the best possible light to attract clients.
The secret to success is to keep practicing and learning new skills. Even when you don’t have work, you should take photographs every day and practice different techniques. This will help to make sure your portfolio is well developed so that you impress potential clients.
All the very best in your new career as a Photographer!