How to Turn Photography Into a Career

a woman takes photographs with her camera

Starting your career can be overwhelming, especially if it means you’re starting your own professional business, too. If you’re an amateur photographer looking to make it your professional career, there are a number of tips that can help you along the way.

Make Sure It’s Your Passion

With social media and tons of camera options available, it’s no wonder that tons of people are suddenly interested in photography as a hobby. What you need to realize is that launching a career is a whole different ballpark from doing something as a hobby. You’ll be shooting and editing for hours every day, so it can quickly become more tedious than it is fun. The salary of a photographer depends on how many clients you have and how often you work, so it’s important to take the salary of a photographer into consideration as well.

Learn and Know the Basics

Every photographer is constantly learning about different creative techniques and technologies to use, but if you’re going to be a professional photographer, you need to know the basics about aperture, shutter speed, lighting manipulation, etc. Reading photography blogs and tutorials can always be helpful.

Decide What Kind of Photography to Focus On

Once you’ve decided that photography is what you want to be doing day-in and day-out, it’s important to pick a photography specialty and build up a client base. Common photography specialties are sports, portraits (senior pictures, newborns, etc.), events, and landscapes.

Start Small and Work Your Way Up

You can be a paid photographer with a decent salary without working full-time. You may have a full-time job and be doing photography on the side while you build your portfolio and client base. The longer you do this, though, the harder it can be when you start having more and more clients.

Understand That Your Price List = Your Salary

Professional photographers are basically freelance artists, and so their salary is strictly based off of the amount of work they find and their prices. If you’re going to be working professionally, you need to have set price lists to give out to clients. When you’re building a client base, you can always offer discounts to family and friends, but it’s important to show them your normal price lists so they can recommend you to new customers. Keep in mind the amount of time you’ll spend editing the photos when you determine your price list. Generally, the more experience and credibility you have, the higher your prices can be, and therefore, the higher your salary. Don’t start off by asking for $1,000 for a one-hour senior pictures photo shoot when you have no prior experience.

Utilize the Internet

Blogs and social media are great tools for helping to build your business. As you build your portfolio, create and keep up with your own blog so that potential clients can get a feel for your work. Use social media to attract customers, share tips, and network with other photographers.

Build People Skills

Part of being a good portrait photographer is allowing people to feel comfortable enough for you to be able to bring out their personality in pictures. Even if your specialty isn’t portraits, it’s important for you to be able to build good relationships with clients, because rapport will help you build your client base.

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