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How to Start a Career of a Professional Photographer

Starting a photography career

‘Why don’t I become a photographer,’ quite a popular idea to ponder for a while and reject on second thought. Indeed, many of us have a thing for photography, we take pictures while travelling the world, and we even use our photography talents as a hobby. Still, all these allegedly perks have nothing to do with the routine of a professional photographer and would hardly help us to become one.

In such a competitive industry, a high-end camera and artistic genius might not be enough to stand out. To get into photography and achieve success, you should be well-versed in dealing with social media, marketing, advertising, as well as you should have a good understanding of technical aspects of your camera, able to Photoshop, and finally, be a good businessman.

But don’t get scared. All big things have small beginnings. Chances are you have no idea of the mileage to cover to achieve the quality of, say, high-resolution stock images, but that’s only for the better. Start small by thinking through the pieces of advice below to bring the best of them to practice and get a head start in your career in photography.

1. Get education to learn the basics of the craft of photography

No matter whether you are going to learn portrait, scientific, fine arts, or industrial photography, you will need to master components – craft and art. The latter might be innate to your mind to a certain extent, but you are never a photography craftsman by birth.

Hence, the first things to take care of is to enrol in a good university, college, or at least take a crash course (the latter, though, might only be good to boost your skills in certain photography aspects and therefore not the best choice for novices craving fundamental knowledge).

There are myriad of different programs for photographers including those dreaming of combining two careers, say, photography and advertising, photography and science, etc., so that you can be very particular with your choice and pick the right angle you’re willing to take in photography.

Five best online photography schools

  1. Southern New Hampshire University
  2. Santa Barbara City College
  3. American Intercontinental University
  4. Savannah College of Art and Design
  5. Academy of Art University

2. Get started regardless of whether you feel ready or not

Getting ahead is not possible without getting started, so now is always the best time to make your camera (or anything capable of making pictures if you haven’t bought a camera yet) your best friend, even if you fear knobs, regimes, and various features of your new friend.

A few simple tips:

  • a) Take your camera (phone) wherever you go;
  • b) take pictures of what you feel worth capturing;
  • c) follow all-star photographers on social media;
  • d) experiment with your camera to find what you love most.

Most of the mentioned would make more sense and be even more natural if you would be studying theory and applying new knowledge to practice.

3. Get a good beginner camera

Nikon, Canon, and Sony are the cameras used by the lion’s share of photographers, and there’s no reason to choose any different. Perhaps the best recommendation for you as a newbie would be a small point-shoot-camera since it is lightweight can easily fit your pocket or bag, and usually have a built-in flash and a front lens.

Possible picks:

  1. Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II 
  2. Nikon Coolpix B500 Digital Camera
  3. Nikon Coolpix P1000
  4. Sony RX100 IV
  5. Olympus Tough TG-6

4. Get a job as an assistant

There’s no better way to comprehend photography than by working hand in hand with a master. Most employers prefer formally educated applicants, but there’s a tiny chance to be hired as an amateur as well. In all, whether you are offered a part-time or full-time job, paid or not, the best way to go is to accept it so that you would be able to have a sneak peek at the real job done behind the scenes.

What you’ll see, by the way, may not be as pleasant as you’ve expected: according to statistics, photographers spend no more than 10% of their time on taking pictures while the rest time they cull, edit, communicate with clients, complete business errands, etc., but the sooner you reveal the realities, the better for you.

5. Narrow down your focus and streamline your routines

While getting a degree in photography, completing a course, or doing your assistant job, you gradually comprehend different niches and aspects of the craft of photography and at a certain point should narrow down your focus to what you love and think you can do best. As Bruce Lee once said, fear not the man who has practised 10 000 kicks once but the one who has practised one kick 10 000 times.’ And that’s right what you need to do to become a pro. Hone your skills to perfection, gain specific experiences, and develop your voice and vision.

The focal point: Never give up

Just like any other endeavour that lasts long, conquering photography requires patience and, make no mistake; your willpower will be put to the test. Only by learning the crucial skill of adaptation and accepting failures to benefit from them, in the long run, will you be able to become a master of your domain.

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Recommended reading

If you enjoyed this post and have time to spare why not check out these related posts and dive deeper down the rabbit hole that is photography career advice.

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