You might be very eager to get both feet at once into professional photography and have heeded the advice written above. But the most important step in getting into professional photography or professional anything for that matter, you need to create opportunities for yourself. You need to create opportunities to explore, to experiment, to know your talents for yourself, to display it to others, to earn and to take yourself one step further all the time. How you create opportunities for yourself depends on your creativity, involvement and well, the resources in your environment but you can always use the following tips:-
- Create contacts – If you’re a self-employed professional photographer then it is important that you sell yourself. In this regard the more contacts you have who know about your prowess, the greater your personal word-of-mouth marketing arsenal. Each locality provides distinct challenges to your trade and therefore you might want to meet other professionals who would’ve dealt with your prospective problems. In this end, you could try to meet other professionals who’re in same boat as you, ask them tips and tricks that might be of more relevance since you’ll be in the same locality or if you have a good enough rapport with them, even share or exchange equipment in case need arises. You could try to meet like-minded photographers through your local photography club or through services such as meetup.com where you’ll be able to meet groups of like-minded individuals who meet up to advance their common interests or perhaps you could create your own group if you don’t find one to your liking.
- Become an apprentice – This might be hard depending on where you’re put up but if you do see the opportunity, get hold of a professional photographer who is willing to help you advance yourself in your skills and knowledge and at the same time needs an assistant in his/her gigs. You could become an apprentice to such a photographer and learn firsthand how to become a pro like him/her.
- Adding to your book – Offer to take portfolio shots of models or couples that you know of for free. Approach them and convince them of your photography skills by showing them your previous shots as a pro-am that are perhaps on your mobile device. It shouldn’t matter what genre of photos you show them. People are generally pretty easily convinced of your skills if they see some amount of creativity and unusualness in your shots. Gain their respect and confidence and go out on shoots with your model or couple. If doing this for free initially seems stale to you then know that you’re not really doing it for nothing. You’re gaining experience and most importantly you’ll have something to show to your future paying clients who will most probably want to see such stuff before they commit to your services. In the initial stages it is preferable to take your couple/model outdoors for the shoot since indoor photography requires the right lighting gear and artificial set up and therefore becomes more expensive.
- Online Portfolio – If you’re going to want clients to contact you and request you to come cover an event for them or make a project for them then you would definitely want to have a presence in the field, in places where a prospective client might be looking for someone like you. And in today’s world you’re not going to walk around carrying bounded books of prints of your previous work in the hopes of encountering someone who might also have the need for your services. In short, the best way to get yourself noticed is again, online presence. But this time, not on media sharing websites. You are going to want a personal portfolio site, preferably a flash based website with right click disabled. There are services such as Smugmug, Wix etc. that offer packages for you to host your own personal flash photography portfolio site that comes with all kinds of data protection, backup, personalized themes, copyright protection etc. Flash websites are usually more attractive and the reason why you should insist on disabling right click on your site is that visitors should be able to see your images in full resolution without watermarks but not be able to right click on it and save it to their computers for their personal use. They are more likely to purchase your prints if you present it to them in an appealing way. In this regard services like smugmug offer options for commercial engagement of your work by allowing you to safely sell prints of your work. So as you can see an online portfolio of your work not only attracts business but also becomes your business.
As you can now imagine, becoming a professional photographer not only means you get to engage in your favorite hobby for more time with less guilt but also gain an income while you’re at it.
Hope this comprehensive guide to going from an amateur to a professional photographer gave you a clear idea about what you need to know and do to get to the rewarding status of a professional photographer! Good luck!