Life as a pro photographer can be hard. It’s probably best described as a mixture of a profound sense of freedom and an acute sense of uncertainty. But it can be a deeply satisfying pursuit provided you’re driven by a will to succeed. Much like in any other business, the success of your endeavor depends on how passionate you are as a photographer and how good you are as a business person:
Taking photos is a small part of your work as a pro.
Believe it or not, the actual aspect of making images is just a small part of the whole process of running a photography business. If you really want to shoot more images, turning professional photographer probably isn’t a good way to ensure that. Or, you can leave the marketing and management side of things to someone who doesn’t shoot.
There is no security of income.
If security is what you crave, look for a 9 to 5 job. Photography, just like any other business endeavor, doesn’t guarantee you a paycheck at the end of the month. What you make is entirely dependent on your marketing acumen and your business sense. If you don’t get work for a month, there’s no paycheck at all. It’s as simple as that.
No one can fire you.
That said, there is a certain element of security, too. No one can fire you when you run your own business. Your success is dependent on your own hard work. You don’t have to depend on someone else for your success.
Standing out is a challenge.
A major challenge as a professional photographer is to find a way to stand out. There are a lot of photographers out there, all looking for work. They have decent gear and have good skills as photographers. With so much competition, standing out and being able to create an identity becomes a huge challenge.
It’s a dynamic industry.
One thing a photographer cannot afford to do is sit back and take it easy. The industry is changing all the time. Clients are looking through a diverse number of avenues when looking for a photographer. Instagram, for example, wasn’t even around a few years ago. But today it’s one of the major venues for getting new business. You can’t afford to overlook these factors.
You make new friends.
On the plus side, you get to meet a lot of new people—people who become fans of your work and your support system. You get access to some really cool people, all because of your camera.
You have freedom.
This is a big bonus. You get a lot of say in exactly what you do and do not do creatively.
Sometimes photographers have no control over the kind of work they do. But they have some degree of control; they’re making the calls and deciding how they’re going to spend their time. This sense of freedom to be able to do what you like is addictive. That’s a pretty big motivator for someone trying to put forward their best work.
What other advice do you have for photographers who want to go pro?
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