Top 10 Key Tips for becoming a professional photographer

Turning pro – Key considerations and top 10 tips

Becoming a professional photographer is a rewarding career choice, its not easy – chances are you will end up working for yourself and end up putting in plenty of hours of work but then again the rewards can be great.  The idea of becoming a professional photographer appeals to many people however few follow through with their dream instead giving up too early.


For many new photographers they will attend a few courses, build a portfolio, build a website, create a Facebook business page and then give up claiming there is no work out there and the world is full of photographers.  This is not true and intact the chances are that these same people would not quite make it running any business of their own – you need to show ‘reasonable endeavour’, keep going and do the right things – heres a list of the essentials that I tell all of my menthes:


(1) Create – don’t go down the path of many by saying you want to shoot reportage photography – this roughly translates to the point that you are worried about giving direction to your subjects.  reportage photography is a skill and one that needs to be learnt.  Even the most naturalistic looking shots tend to have been ‘created’ by the photographer.  You need to work on creating shot and images, directing situations, controlling situations and making yourself a vital part of the shot.  If all you had to do was point a camera at people that you hadn’t ‘influenced’ in someway such as where to stand, what to wear, how to stand, how to interact then you will soon be out of a job and anyone could replace you.


(2) Flash – learn, understand and enjoy using flash.  Too many new photographer safe scared of flash and therefore decide to go down the easy route of saying they shoot natural / available light only.  That is fine and ultimately that may be your calling however make sure you have explored flash, know how to use it and are competent – you may be very surprised and enjoy it.  Not only that though, it may become a vital part of your armoury – flash puts off many photographers and so this is a great way to differentiate yourself – remember flash is not complicated – start with an open mind!




(3) Explore other photographers – I can’t state enough times about the importance of emerging yourself in photographer – you are surrounded by it – starting building a library of images that motivate you and inspire you.  Analysis of these images is crucial, look at:

  • How they have been shot
  • The posing of the subjects
  • How the images have been processed
  • How the images have been presented

Identify trends and then expire how you can transfer these ideas into your own fresh work


(4) Learn video – learn how to shoot video on your camera and then shoot video!  Modern businesses need video – its the way the world is going.  You can shoot testimonials for your work, shoot professional videos for your clients and use video to boost your SEO.  Start thinking of your work as a ‘lens based media’.  You can differentiate yourself again from the competition and not get left behind.


(5) Learn to run a business – no business is going to survive purely on a website and Facebook page – photographers will tell you it can but they are not revealing the full story of what else goes on behind the scenes.  You need to find twenty, thirty, fifty ways in which your business can be found.  You need to price appropriately and understand the costs of running your business.  You don’t need to be Alan Sugar but have a good basic understanding of how your business makes a profit.


(6) Have systems – All good businesses run buy having processes which they follow – it just good practice and means you will be doing the right things.  have schedules for how often you blog, tweet, update Facebook.  Have systems for what happens when you get a new lead, have a document process for this and follow them – discipline is crucial.


(7) Shoot – LOTS – keep honing your skills – you need to be shooting regularly – develop you r own private projects to work on your skills – experiment and strive to improve.


(8) Keep learning – by following point 3 and emerging yourself in photography then you will see work and want to be able to produce your own interpretation of those images. identify people you want to work with and learn from.


Fashion photography course - advanced portraits


(9) Showcase you work – you need to self-publicise and have your work critiqued – join sites like and  – join professional bodies like the SWPP or BIPP.  By showcasing your work you will draw other creatives towards you and this will help with your creative development and ultimately more work


(10) Be organised – to run any successful business you need to be organised but this is really vital  for a photographer.  You will be capturing precious moments that your clients will be cherished.  If your clients wants additional images in the future you need to be able to find then and treat them with respect.  Your records need to be up to date, backed up and ready.  As a photographer you are also head of Sales, Marketing, Pricing, IT and so much more – Be organsised.


-Extra point – have a great website – as a photographer you have got to have a stunning portfolio and website, this is fundamental – I use Photoshelter for my personal site – visit here for more information

Photography Courses – Nick Wood is a full time professional photographer who runs Unshaken Photography Training.  At Unshaken you can attend courses on portraits, weddings, fashion & sport.  Unshaken also run a professional 12 month mentoring programme aimed towards those people looking to become  professional photographers – visit photography mentoring for more information or call Nick on 01245 494258



About the Author:

Nick Wood is an award winning professional photographer based in Chelmsford, Essex covering social, commercial and sports photography.  Nick also runs Unshaken Photography Training delivering courses for beginners and professional photographers in Essex, Cambridge, St Albans and Maidstone.





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