I’m about to dive into some dark waters here, so let me start off by saying I am obsessed with what I do- being a wedding photographer and business owner is my passion, and I wake up everyday excited to work, and to create beautiful images for the best brides ever. But Lately I’ve had quite a few people each week ask me about breaking into the professional photography business, and it’s no surprise. With thousands of new photographers picking up cameras every single day it’s easier than ever to break into the world of professional photography. In this Blog post, I want to discuss some of the things I have learned in my first four years, and how being a photographer was NOT what I thought it would be at all.
On the outside, it looks like a pretty cool job. I have to admit, the first day I spent as an assistant I was pretty impressed with all of the photographers and how cool their job was. I was only about 20 years old, and had a lot to learn. In reality being a professional photographer involves lots of un-cool things like Holding a giant 5 in 1 reflector in public, carrying around bags and cumbersome equipment, awkward interactions in intimate situations with people you just met, and sweating…. lots of sweating.
Years later when I finally had the courage to start my own business, I quickly found out that this job comes with a tremendous burden of responsibility. It takes a huge amount of professionalism, and self esteem to be a professional photographer, Neither of which I possessed when I began. A photographer, especially a wedding photographer does not have the option of calling in sick, and most of us spend lots of hours worrying about what we will do if we get into an accident, break an arm or leg, or go blind on someone’s wedding day…. It’s a terrifying feeling to hold that kind of responsibility.
You need to be confident because there is always someone out there better than you- and sometimes that someone literally just went to best buy and picked up a DSLR kit while you went to school and achieved a degree….ouch! But taking the time to complain about that would just be a waste of time- It’s just the state of our industry right now, things have changed so much and we must change with them or go extinct. In an artistic profession school and training can mean very little sometimes people just have “the eye “. While it is easier than ever to start a photography business, the stiff competition makes it just as easy to fail as a photographer, so in the end only the strong will survive. If You have the tenacity to bite down hard and keep improving yourself even when you feel like your best images are crap- (and you will feel like your best images are crap) then you will be successful….eventually.
It takes mad time yo. Becoming a successful photographer/ turning a profit just won’t happen overnight. Sure there are a few exceptional photographers who really blew up big right away- but that is a rarity. I took a leap and quit my day job after the first year, because a day job will stifle your photography income- I could not be my full potential as a photographer while working another job. I don’t use much by way of equipment just excellent bodies, with full frame sensors, camera mount flashes a single reflector and prime glass- that is it and my minimalist set-up cost well over 15,0000. Not counting the costs to maintain and host my website, my internet bill, phone bill, marketing materials, ect….ect…ect…. the costs could be listed all day long but you get the point. Now guess how long it took me to make 15,0000 a year? 3 years. So three years, two of which I made less than 15,000. in income while incurring all of the expenses above. And after all of that hard work and sacrifice… after 85 percent fail…. the ones who make it are rewarded with a very average 30,000/ year income.
If you’ve read all of this and still are interested than go for it, pick up a camera and shoot shoot shoot. Sleep with your manual and camera by your side, practice on everything and never quit, when it gets hard hang on and try harder take classes, read books, subscribe to magazines, Join WPPI, and meetup with other photographers. If you still dream of becoming a professional photographer here is my advice to you: You have to be Talented, passionate and Hungry and when you feel like giving up- you have to keep going . Here are some of the best free resources out there to get you started And ten photography improving Resources I can’t live without.
Experienced Photographers: What is your advice for those who dream of a career in photography?
Aspiring Photographers, What questions or worries do you have?