In this first part of a 3-part series, Peter Eastway offers his insights and advice on taking your first steps to becoming a successful professional photographer.
So, do you really want to be a full-time professional photographer?
The profession of photography is a combination of the glamorous and the mundane!
The idea of turning pro, of becoming a professional photographer is exciting and attractive. As a professional, you are in charge of your own destiny, your work hours and the type of work you shoot.
Or are you?
Image: Adobe free stock library
EVERYONE’S A PHOTOGRAPHER
The challenge is to make a place for yourself in a crowded market. With the development of modern cameras and software that automate many photographic processes, it’s easy for everyone else to become a professional photographer as well.
The last two decades have seen the number of people who call themselves professional photographers increase dramatically. Photographer Bernie Griffiths counted around 15,000 people advertising themselves as photographers in Australia in early 2014. Who knows how many are there now!
Nevertheless, if you can create a market for yourself, a clientele of people who want to buy your photographs or hire your services, it can be incredibly rewarding selling your photographs for a living.
But it is not all glamour. Many successful professionals spend more than half their time marketing themselves, selling their services and creating opportunities. Then there is all the post-production and office paperwork that accompanies each and every job: writing up invoices, ordering supplies, organising locations, hiring assistants and following up customers who are late in paying. Being a professional photographer is a business just like owning a retail shop or running an accounting practice.
At present, you love photography as an enthusiast or an amateur. You can choose what you photograph and when you photograph it. You also decide what you like and what is successful.
Image: Adobe free stock library
A FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE
When you work as a professional, you have to satisfy the demands of your clients. They tell you what to photograph when to shoot it and decide if the results are good enough. Instead of something you are doing for recreation, there is pressure to perform and produce a result. People can be depending on you, and this completely changes the dynamic of being a photographer.
Yet if you can accept this fundamental change, photography is an exciting and attractive way to earn a living. So, your first decision is whether or not you are prepared to turn what you love as a hobby into something that you may not love quite so much because it becomes a business.
Header Image: Christopher Gower on Unsplash
About the author
Peter Eastway is an award-winning Australian photographer known internationally for his landscape photography and creative use of post-production. A practising professional, he shoots editorially (mainly for Better Photography magazine) and works selectively in advertising and portraiture.
About the ebook
This is an excerpt from Peter’s ebook, What You Need to Know to Be a Successful Professional Photographer. A six-part package that includes business planning, it can be purchased from the Better Photography Education website. If you are a Head On member, save 40% off by logging into your account to recieve your discount code. To see more of the ebooks, visit the Better Photography website.