How to Become a Professional Photographer
Choosing to become a professional photographer sounds like a great idea if you are the creative type looking for a job with flexible hours, exciting projects, and big financial rewards. But what you may not realize is that you're not getting a job, you're starting a business. To become a photographer you must first learn how to start a business and then sell your creative skills as a service to your clients.
Not All Photography Businesses are the Same
First, you should know there are four main types of photography businesses: Commercial, Retail, Photojournalism, and Art. Here's what you need to know about each.
Commercial Photography Business
Retail Photography Business
A retail photographer creates photographs for consumers and their photography services range from weddings to family portraits, to senior portraits, and so forth. The work you create is usually for one person or a family and is used for personal use only.
Photojournalism & Reportage
Black Lives Matter Protest in Portland, OR - Photo by Lauren Brooks Barbour
This type of photography can be either a salaried position or a self-employed freelance gig where you document current events for news outlets. Oftentimes, you are hired by a photo editor and given the assignment to do complete on a certain day or at a particular time. You are very much at the whims of a news cycle when you are a photojournalist. Some photojournalists will apply for grants to fund longer-term photo projects.
Photographers who sell their photography as art have the luxury of being able to shoot what they want, when they want, and sell it for whatever price they define. The downside is demand is usually low and supply is very high. It takes a photographer with a very unique vision to rise above the millions of photographers selling their work as art. Usually, a person buying your art is a collector or a patron is buying from an art gallery. Therefore, your client is often the gallery owner just as much as the art buyer.
Step by Step Guide on How to Start a Photography Business
No matter which way you want to take your photography business, you will need to do the following steps:
(just don't skip any of these steps)
There are many pitfalls to working for yourself as a photographer, but following the above guideline will keep you on track to succeed. Here are some of those downfalls to skipping any of these steps.
I hope this guide was helpful to you as you begin your journey of becoming a photographer. If you need any help with these action steps, I would be happy to be your guide.
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