To become a successful photographer, you’ll need creative and artistic skills, in addition to technical photography skills and the ability to market yourself. It can be difficult to make a career out of photography, but there are several steps you can take to ensure your success as a photographer:
- Buy equipment. In order to become a photographer, you’ll need a camera. Decide whether you want to shoot in film or digital formats, and then invest in the best camera you can afford. Point-and-shoot varieties marketed to consumers can be a good way to get interested in photography, but once you decide to try your hand at professional photography, you really do need to invest in professional equipment. Don’t forget to purchase a camera bag, lenses, and all of the other accessories that you’ll need in order to take professional photographs. Studio photography will also require backdrops, lighting, and other equipments.
- Gain experience. Volunteer to take pictures for your high school yearbook, student newspaper, or community organizations. Contact professional photographers in your area about internship possibilities, as well as an informal meeting where you can ask them questions about the photography business. This will help you develop our skills in real world situations, as well as decide whether a career as a photographer is right for you.
- Develop your skills. Whether you decide to focus on news, advertising, fine-art photography, portraits, or some other niche of photography, you’ll need to develop your photography skills. Take classes at the high school or college level. Always be sure to get people to critique your work, so that you will be able to improve. You may also want a four-year degree that can further develop your skills and put you in contact with other professional photographers. If you do choose to attend college, try to take business and marketing classes as well. Many photographers are self-employed, so these skills will serve you well later on.
- Assemble a portfolio. Your portfolio will be essential for gaining new clients. Choose the best photographs you have taken, particularly those focusing on a theme. Whether you choose a hard copy or digital version, your portfolio needs to be professionally assembled, not sloppy. If you do not have many photographs, offer your services to family or friends. New clients want to see your past work to ensure that your photography skills will meet their needs in both style and quality.
- Begin at the bottom. Chances are, you will not be able to make a living as a photographer for a while. Start as a photographer’s assistant, and try to land freelance jobs as often as possible. Enter photography contests to get your work out there. Market yourself in as many ways as possible; any business or marketing classes you took will come in handy now.
- Continue your education. Attend workshops and classes, especially if you specialize in digital photography, to remain up-to-date in your field.
If you are persistent, you can develop a career as a professional photographer. However, realize that this career may require odd hours, and many years working your way up the career ladder. Being a professional photographer can be a fun and rewarding job where you can use your creative skills. There are many different options available within this career, offering you the flexibility to follow your interests.