Want to become a professional photographer? Test your potential.
There’s no doubt about it, being a professional photographer is a pretty great way to make a living however as with all things in life it isn’t quite as easy as it seems and it certainly isn’t for everyone. The majority of photographers I know work for themselves which has both pro’s and con’s about it but I like to think that the pro’s outweigh the cons. Becoming a pro snapper isn’t any harder than running any other business although the idea of it seems to appeal to a big group of people not all of which see it through though – it my experience these guys probably wouldn’t make it working for themselves in any industry.
There are quite a few costs to starting out on the road to photography from buying equipment, developing your photography skills and marketing your business – once you can build up some momentum thought he costs are not prohibitive. I would suggest investing in top quality gear though as the better equipment definitely helps although you need to get the most from it. i often had the old chestnut that a good photographer can take a great picture with any equipment however if you can afford to get better kit then do as it certainly helps.
As a bit of fun I have put together a quick test below deigned to identify if you are destined for photography superstardom or the snapper scrapheap – have a go and let me know the results.
Super Snapper Stardom Test
Q1 – What area of professional photography would you be looking to get into?
(b) No idea
(c) Social – weddings & portraits
There is money to be made in all areas of photography but in my experience the real money tends to be where people are involved such as portraits, weddings & commercial photography. poet photography continues to grow but many guys I know struggle with making real money from landscapes – get out there and work with people – if this isn’t your forte then maybe its time to rethink photography.
Q2 – What drives your desire to become a professional photographer?
(a) Kudos from friends – having the coolest job
(b) Access to the best seats at sporting events
(c) Providing a great service and taking amazing images whilst working for myself
Admitting you are a professional photographer tends to raise eyebrows – some say “wow” others say “that must be hard”. You need to be seriously well motivated individual to work for yourself – long hours and you never really feel off duty. This isn’t brain surgery but if you put in reasonable endeavour you can make it work. If you ticked option c you are well on your way. (Option b does work by the way if you can get your way into sports photography and your friends will be jealous).
Q3 – what motivates you
(a) I’m not motivated
(b) Producing great art
(c) Running a successful business
Now heres a controversial question – make no mistakes you need to take increasingly better images and provide a professional service but just to ruffle a few feathers let me say that the best photographers don’t always cut it professionally whilst there are plenty of professional snappers whose work could do with some improving. What I am suggesting here is that you need to ensure that you run a tight ship professionally – having a great business plan and a strong work ethic to succeed – if you do nothing but spend your your time improving your technical skills and becoming a master of your art at the expense of running your business you are likely to be in trouble. (if you selected option a then you really are in trouble).
Q4 – if you have a budget of £5,000 to start your business where do you invest?
(a) New kit – gimme them gadgets
(b) bespoke fancy website
(c) Depends upon my current kit, area of photography I want to get into but mostly funding the business.
Let me set the record straight – I like the gadgets and I can always find an argument to buy new kit or to upgrade but if you are going to start out then resist the urge and ensure that you save plenty to promote and market yourself. You may be surprised to see how much it costs to attend a wedding fair or spend on Facebook adverts. Having all the kit but no customers is a well worn path to failure.
Q5 – whats your view on processing (editing images)?
(a) It’s the work of the devil!
(b) I like my pictures to look natural as the eye sees it so I don’t bother
(c) I appreciate the need – I love it
Bit of a trick question here but really I can’t remember the last time I saw an image that couldn’t benefit from a bit of retouching. Your digital camera should take a nice sharp image but one that benefits from a bit of tweaking. This doesn’t need to be difficult or too time consuming. The editing side is very much about creating an image that suits your taste and style whilst bring out all the necessary detail. We try to get the image great in camera and then finish it in post (production). The camera sees the world very differently to how your eye does – it can struggle in places but often captures far more detail that you realise.
I hope the quiz helped to answer a few of your questions and provoked thought into new areas. Being a photographer is a real privilege and one that I would suggest to many people. You are likely to work for yourself so be prepared to put in the hard work – but that is working life for us all. If we can be of any help in your journey to being professional photographer then please give us a call on 01245 494258 or email Nick on [email protected] We run courses in Chelmsford, Maidstone, Rochester, Cambridge and St Albans.