For many of us, photography is a fantastic hobby. We just love to spend our days traveling to great locations around our cities, provinces, countries and world to take memories, capture incredible scenes and generally photograph great moments. But for other’s of us, this hobby often morphs into something more. We want to take it to the next level and start taking photographs for other people, make a career of this fantastic passion. The problem is, how do we go about doing this? How do we know when we are ready?
Here are some ideas that will help you take your passion to the professional level:
When am I ready to be a professional photographer?
As you may already know, this is a really tough question to answer, but it boils down to 3 factors:
- Have you been asked to take photos for someone already? They wouldn’t have asked you if they didn’t like what you were doing. Take this as the vote of confidence that it is, and say YES! Remember, you have to do your first shoot sometime.
- Are you proud to share your work? Do you have photos in your portfolio that you want to share? Do you feel comfortable showing them to your friends and family as examples of work that you really like? If the answer is yes, then start sharing – you want feedback at this point, so start to put yourself and your work out there.
- Have you been learning? Have you taken photography courses before? Are you comfortable using Aperture Priority and/or Manual Mode in your camera? Do you feel like your editing skills are improving? Remember learning also means putting yourself in an environment where you receive feedback from an expert. So if you want a litmus test to see if you’re ready to “go pro”, ask your Instructor at your next photography course. If you’ve taken courses with us before, you can always send us a few examples of your work and ask us for our opinion. We’ll be able to provide you with plenty of feedback to get you set up on the right path.
What do I do to become a professional photographer now?
One of the main questions we get asked is “do you provide a certificate at the completion of your courses”? We certainly can, but as you can see from the steps below, the quality of your work matters far more than a photography degree, or certificate. You can be highly trained, but if you’re not practicing or building your portfolio, no-one will hire you at the end of the day. So here are our tips for getting going:
- Build your portfolio. In the beginning this will likely mean giving your services away for free to friends and family. [But please don’t do this for too long. Once you have a couple of photo shoots up your sleeve, for the advancement of photographers everywhere, please start charging for your services. (We thank you in advance)!]
- Keep learning. The more you learn, the more you interact with Instructors, the better your photography will be.
- Practice, practice, practice. Don’t wait for your next hired photo shoot – use your family, friends and even the occasional acquaintance to practice.
- Shadow a professional. Want to learn the inner workings of wedding / newborn / family photography? Offer to assist a professional at their next photo shoot. Then listen and learn – you will pick up a wealth of knowledge.
- Build yourself a plan. How are you going to market your new endeavour? Are you going to use Instagram, Facebook or a combination of both? Do you think you’d benefit from having a website? How much should you charge? Are you going to advertise? Build yourself a plan based off research (there are a lot of photographers out there who you can look at for guidance – Google google google!).
So our main advice? Learn, practice and give it a go! Really what have you got to lose??