So, you’ve got a nice camera, you love photography, and you’ve thought that maybe it would be nice to make a little bit of money from this passion you’ve discovered. Before you decide to make that leap, read on. You may be convinced to throw that idea out the window, or you may find that you truly are ready, and it’s time to try your hand at photography as a career.
Before we go any further, I have to clarify something about the photos in this article. First of all, I had to include photos, because every article is better with pictures, right? Secondly, this session was inspiring, fun, and an example of every reason that I LOVE being a photographer. This client does not exemplify any of the cons of the business.
Also, for this article, “professional photographer” is defined as someone who gets paid to take photos, particularly portrait photographers. If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography.
What does a Photographer do?
A photographer generally works in a freelance capacity and is hired for specific jobs by numerous clients. Some photographers work exclusively in certain industry segments, such as wedding, graduation and other event-type settings. In contrast, others do mainly corporate work and spend most of their time taking photographs on business websites and other promotional material. However, others focus more on photography’s artistic side and choose their subjects and material that they wish to shoot.
A professional photographer is taking a picture of the northern lights.
Other forms of professional, full-time photography involve:
- Taking stills for motion pictures.
- Taking pictures of crime scenes in cooperation with local and federal law enforcement agencies.
- Taking pictures for digital and print newspapers (photojournalist) – though often newspapers will work with a photographer on a freelance basis rather than hiring him or her full-time.
A part-time or freelance photographer who a client hires is responsible for following the client’s wishes down to the finest details and setting up a business model that makes pricing and options clearly visible and accessible.
A professional photographer who works full-time often does studio work that involves taking pictures in a controlled interior setting with professional or amateur models. These photographers can be freelance or can also be kept on retainer by certain magazines and fashion companies.
Finally, photographers are responsible for the digital or physical development of their pictures and may also be responsible for small or heavy editing of their pictures. For physical prints, a photographer will be required to know how to best develop their film or will be expected to hire other professionals to develop their film for them.
The editing process of photographs, on the other hand, may include simple cropping or could include changing colour schemes, lighting, and adding or removing objects from pictures to ‘clear them up.’ Some clients will choose to edit the pictures themselves, while others will expect the photographer to do the necessary photo editing.
What is the workplace of a Photographer like?
A photographer will be asked to work in any number of settings and environments. This can include working in comfortable studios in a big city or working in a remote country’s frozen forests. A photographer is one of the few professionals that could be wearing shorts and a t-shirt one day, wearing a tuxedo the next, and a winter coat and boots the day after that.
Most photographers that are serious about their craft will also have a home office or studio that will include a place to work on digital or physical photographs for the purpose of development and/or editing work. We have the best wedding photographer in Yarra Valley to capture your beautiful moments on your wedding day.
Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Become a Photographer
1. You will eventually do your back in carrying all that gear. You’ll either have to work out, buy a trolley, get an assistant to carry everything for you or get so famous shooting phone images that you don’t need to carry anything heavy.
2. There’s a lot of other people trying to get business and chasing the same potential clients like you. Photography is hugely popular, which means there are lots of people considering becoming a ‘professional photographer. You’ll need a bagful of tenacity, business acumen and skill to rise above the rest.
3. Marketing is hard and expensive and probably the blackest of arts within a business. Without telling everyone your business exists, you are unlikely to get enough clients to make money. Marketing is essential and yet, possibly the hardest aspect of any business to get right. There are no silver bullets when it comes to marketing.
4. You’ll never be rich. Probably, but we sincerely hope you make it!
5. You will have to shoot things that bore you to tears and do it as well as if you loved it with all your heart.
6. Being in business is all about selling yourself, and if you’re any kind of an introvert, you’re going to struggle because you have to talk to people! Networking should be a key component of your marketing strategy.
7. You spend most of the time doing non-photography stuff like invoicing, marketing, filing receipts, backing up, blah, blah, blah. All boring, it will drive you nuts, but to run a business properly, this has to be done. Once you appreciate this, you become more than just a photographer, you have a business, and you’re running it. You have become a business owner. How exciting (or scary) is that?
8. Everyone is a photographer. Phones (damn, can you believe it, phones) now take great images. It’s easy for some potential clients to think that they don’t need images from a pro because they can do it themselves. How do you convince those potential clients that your work is way better than their phone pics? So much better that they pay you to shoot those images?
Planning your dream wedding and don’t want to miss out on the special moments on your big day? Worry no more, Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.
Things to Consider Before Becoming a Professional Photographer
You’re not good enough…yet
Maybe you love photography, and maybe you get many compliments on your photos, but you may not be a good enough photographer to actually take money from people yet. Do you sometimes take a bunch of photos where the majority of them are garbage? Do you often say to yourself, “I’ll fix that later in Photoshop?” If your photos aren’t consistently in focus, exposed correctly, and great IN CAMERA, you’re not ready before you get to Photoshop.
If you look at other professional photographers’ work and wonder how on earth they got their photos to look like that, you are not ready. I don’t mean that you have to produce photos exactly like the photographers you admire. I’m saying that you should have an understanding of how they achieve the look they get. You should know how light, depth of field, angles, etc., contribute to the photo. You should have an idea of how much of the photo is a result of post-processing.
Having a nice camera does not qualify you to be a professional photographer. Our exclusive range of Melbourne wedding photography will help you not miss a thing on your wedding day.
You don’t have enough experience
This goes along with not being good enough, but the experience is important. You have to be consistent every time. You have to know that every single session you do will result in good photos and that you can roll with the punches if conditions aren’t ideal. You have to know your camera settings inside and out because when you’re chasing a naughty toddler around, you don’t have time to try to figure out what your shutter speed should be.
I’ll admit that I didn’t have enough experience when I started. I did some sessions for friends and family, and then requests started coming in. I didn’t have the goal of making money with my photography, but when people started asking me, I thought, “Hey, why not?” Some of my early sessions are dear to my heart, but I look at and cringe at some of them. I feel bad that people paid money to experiment and find out who I was as a photographer.
You don’t want to lose the love of photography
Once you turn a passion into a job or career, you have a very real possibility of it turning into something you do because you have to and not because you want to. I’m not saying this happens to everyone, but I’ve seen enough professional photographers burn out and quit that I know it’s a very real thing. You may think that it will be fantastic to make money doing something you love, but are you ready for the possibility of not loving that thing anymore?
True confession here: I rarely get my camera out anymore for anything except a paid session. When I’m on vacation, sometimes the last thing I want to do is “work” while I’m there, and I certainly don’t want to drag my camera around when I’m supposed to be having fun. If I take some photos just for the heck of it, they sit there on my computer forever because I don’t really feel like sorting and editing yet another batch of photos. This doesn’t happen to every pro photographer, but I’m being real here. Sometimes I wish that I could just take photos because I love it, but the truth is, I’m often too tired after my paid sessions for the week to get my camera out again. I still love photography, but it’s more that I love my job; I love the photos, and what I can create, I love working with people, but I don’t love photography just for photography’s sake anymore.
You don’t want to deal with business stuff
Taxes, business licenses, contracts, equipment upkeep, scheduling, email, phone calls – it’s all a very real part of running a photography business, and it takes far more time and effort than you’d like to believe. Being a professional photographer is not just happily snapping some photos, collecting money, and then spending all of that money on anything you’d like. There are expenses, lots and lots of expenses. There are boring, repetitive tasks. There are hours spent doing behind the scenes stuff.
No matter how great of a photographer you are, if you aren’t good at the business side of things, you are going to struggle as a photographer. It’s hard. It’s frustrating. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. Some days horrible things happen, like The Cloud losing your entire photography calendar (yes, speaking from experience). Sometimes you have to ask people for money, and that’s not easy for everyone. You have to be able and willing to run a pretty tight ship with scheduling, collecting money, and sticking to your policies. You have to decide your policies and your fees, and how you are going to do business beforehand because believe me, people will ask you to change all of it for them, and you have to be ready for it.
You don’t like to deal with difficult people
Luckily for me, I actually really love working with people, but even then, sometimes, some people are hard to deal with. When people are paying you money to photograph them, sometimes they expect you to do anything and everything they want, and sometimes, even when you’ve done your best, they aren’t happy with you. If you are sensitive, like I am, that kind of criticism can be very hard to take.
Most people you will take photos of our fantastic, wonderful people, who love your work, and love you, which is why they hired you. That doesn’t happen every time, though. Sometimes you have to spend lots of time on the phone talking to a worried client (what about the weather? what about junior’s a bad haircut? what about clothes they’ll wear? what if they smile awkwardly?). Or someone who has lots of ideas they saw on Pinterest and wants to discuss every one of them with you, in-depth, even if they aren’t even remotely your style of photography. Sometimes you’ll show them their gallery, and they’ll say they love it, except can you photoshop every single wrinkle off of their face? Questions are great, and most people don’t have unreasonable demands. But, you have to know that sometimes people are just not on the same page as you are, and you have to be able to work with them and do your best to keep them happy.
It isn’t the fairytale job you think it is
I hear from people all the time about how much fun it must be to be a photographer and how much they wish they could be a photographer too. Many people who jump into the photography business without doing a lot of research and self-evaluation get a harsh slap to the face when they realize that it’s work. A lot of work. Many people pop in the “professional photographer” scene on a whim and pop right back out of it within a year or two, and sometimes don’t even last a few months. It’s work to get clients. It’s work to keep clients. They don’t just fall in your lap, waving hundred dollar bills and smiling their pearly whites for your camera.
You’re going to have competition and sometimes criticism from others. Sometimes the world of photographers can get pretty nasty. You will find wonderful people to collaborate with and those who encourage you, but you will also find some that will tear you down if they get the chance.
There are many benefits of running your own business, but it’s also hard. You have to know what you are doing, and if something goes wrong, it’s all on your shoulders. Being a professional photographer is much more than love to take pictures. When you realize all of the work it’s going to be, you might decide that taking photos for the love of it, and because you’re an artist, may be much more fulfilling in the end.
There Will Be Pressure to Constantly Update Your Skillset
You’d think that photography is a pretty simple set of skills, at least once you’ve acquired all the right equipment. But in fact, the business forces you to constantly update and enhance your set of creative capabilities – animation, video, editing, social media, colour, retouching and more. Not to mention new software that entices you to change and update your workflow. It helps to be tech-minded and even a bit of a digital explorer to keep yourself constantly relevant and talk the same way as your clients.
WOULD YOU HAVE IT ANY OTHER WAY?
Of course, there are things I would change if I could. Who wouldn’t? , the fact remains that photography is– in many ways– just like every other job and career. It has its ups and downs. It’s good days and bad days. Do I think our jobs would be easier if clients and the public had a more realistic understanding of what we do? Without a doubt.
On the other hand, travelling the world, partying like a rock star, hanging out with supermodels, and taking a break every once in a while to shoot some photos wouldn’t be so bad every once in a while either.
If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.
All-in-all, photography is great to work that really does give you a unique kind of reward for your creativity and effort. Sure, it comes with some bumps and bruises along the way – but what career doesn’t? Hopefully, at the very least, this prepares you a bit. Or to you veterans out there, it lets you know you’re not alone. Happy shooting!