Do you really want to go pro?

Do you really want to go pro?

One of the biggest complaints I've heard from many amateur photographers that have spoken to pros about the business is that they always seem to get put down and told to stay away from the business and not go pro. I've basically heard people trying to scare others away from professional photography.

To those wanting to go pro, while it may not be as serious as trying to scare people away, do try to find the reasoning behind the warnings you're getting. Lets be honest, anyone that can buy a camera and create a Facebook "fan page" seems to now claim to be a professional photographer. Even the recent redesign of Flickr came with a comment from Yahoo's CEO Marissa Mayer.

"There's no such thing as Flickr Pro because today, with cameras as pervasive as they are, there's no such thing, really, as professional photographers when there's everything that's professional photographers." Yahoo's CEO Marissa Mayer

This isn't for the weekend warrior or the hobbyist, this is for those who actually understand what they're doing and are at the crossroads of keeping their steady job or taking the leap of faith to go pro with their photography to support themselves. Here's a few things worth considering if you're on the fence.

1 Money - Contrary to popular belief, there still is some money to be made in photography, if you know where to find it. However if you don't know where to find it and you think you're going to rely on the few "clients" you had while you were shooting for fun, then this isn't going to last very long. You're going to need to keep yourself paid and in a decently steady stream of work to make this happen. With the devalued nature of the business, everyone seems to expect photographers to work for free or for exposure. I'm sure you've seen plenty of internet memes and posts shared by photographers all over about this subject. The key to not working for free.... is to not work for free. Value yourself and your work and keep it moving when you're expected to work for free. "Exposure" never put food on anyones table.

2 Full Time Job - Working for yourself means that you're almost always working. There's always an email to be answered, a bid to submit, an image to retouch, a call to be made... you'll always be doing something so get used to it. Invest in Red Bull because you're going to definitely be pulling some all nighters to make deadlines. If that bothers you, self employment in a competitive business might not be for you. If you're going to make it you're going to have to be hungry and go get the work and assignments you want.

3 Networking - Until you've hit the level where you can hire a rep, you are your own rep. If networking and dealing with people bothers you it may be time to reconsider. You're going to have to meet people and conduct yourself professionally at all times. Design a great business card and keep some on you at all times. You never know when you're going to bump into someone that can become a potential client.

Andrew Link

A commercial photographer and editor for RIDES magazine



  • Richard
    Richard Monday, 10 June 2013 12:56 Comment Link

    you could say that these tips are good for anyone looking at going alone. Dont give up the day job until you've done as much as you can with the time you have got with your business. Then job! Exactly what i did with my car valeting business.

  • Doc Fluty
    Doc Fluty Friday, 12 July 2013 01:18 Comment Link

    As with starting any business it take s nice initial investment and possibly struggling the first year in order to succeed.

    When I lived in west los angeles my rent was $2100 a month... Shooting cars while paying the rent, car payment (s), food, insurance, gear, gas cost, ect is very tough for many beginner photographers. I guess that's why I see lots of people switch to weddings, portraits or other more consistent type of clients. If you're pricing your car shoots $300-$500 a pop then you would need at least 6-10 car shoots a month just to break even.. where as a good wedding guy is more likely to get 1 or 2 weddings a month for $2000-$5000 each.

    Once you establish yourself as a pro and can shoot for a big company, say Falken, you can then charge $2000 or $5000+ for a advertisement... but you have to struggle first and show you can get it done.

    Many Photogs take 2nd jobs or just give up.... tough tough business.

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