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Many photographers on all levels find themselves, at some point, wondering if they should pursue photography as a full time job. There is no single answer to this question, but rather a personal analysis each person has to make for themselves. There are a lot of aspects to turning full pro as a photographer. Do you have a family to feed or are you on your own? Do you have any sort of business experience and marketing skills? The life of a freelancer has some great aspects to it, but it can also make a hard transition from a regular 9-5 job. Here are a few things to take in account and help you make your decision.
You do what you love.
One of the best parts of being a freelance photographer is getting to do the thing you love most and get paid for it. There are quite a few folks out there with steady, well paid jobs who dream of turning their hobby into a living because their current jobs don’t make their hearts tick. No matter what your field of work is, if you love what you’re doing, it will often not even feel like a job.
Your own schedule
The work schedule of a freelance photographer is a double-edged sword. You don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself. As your own boss, the time you put into your business will directly affect your progress. Working for yourself as opposed to an employer brings new motivation and drive.
Meeting a lot of different people
Networking and making new contacts isn’t really optional in this business. It all comes down to forming solid, long-term relationships with clients. No matter if you’re a wedding photographer or a commercial one, it’s other people you have to get to like your work and be ready to pay for it. This is a great opportunity to meet fantastic persons you wouldn’t be able to come in contact with by working in a cubicle.
Technically, you will be doing the same thing, which is taking photos, but it’s the diversity of people, locations and settings that makes it a great path to follow.
The financial downside of being a freelancer is that you can never be too sure of what the next month will bring. Gone are the monthly wages, the health benefits and the paid vacations. To enjoy each of these, you have to keep moving from one client to the next and sometimes the gaps between jobs can be quite frustrating. If you have a family to feed , that could bring more issues. That’s not to say that if you’re in your 20s and single it will be a lot more fun. Bottom line, you have to adapt to some degree of uncertainty in regard to all future income. Even the most sought after photographers face the occasional jobless week or month.
Your own schedule:
As I mentioned, this is a both a good and a bad thing. Because you aren’t tied down to a specific schedule, your input into your business will dictate its chances of success. However, especially in the beginning, this means you will burning the midnight oil a lot of times and, ironically, spending less time with your family or just relaxing.
Photography isn’t a cheap business to start, so make sure you don’t spend all your lifetimes savings. You don’t have to buy the most expensive gear out there. A lot of the costs will come in the form of marketing, a good website, editing software and who knows what other , unpredicted stuff.
It’s true that there are very few fields of work where there is little or no competition. Those are called niches and photography is the furthest thing from a niche. Being a pro photographer doesn’t mean what it used to, and since everyone who buys a DSLR can provide quality, at least in theory, it’s no surprise that this is one market where the supply is far greater than the demand. Competition is therefore, fierce. While you may hope that your skills and talent will set you apart from the rest, that may happen, but it’s far more likely that good marketing will get you further than photographic talent.
There you have it. A short list of why you should or shouldn’t turn pro. It can be a fantastic lifestyle, but that again, you shouldn’t be afraid of staying an “amateur ” as you, unlike the pro, have to freedom to shoot only what you truly love.
Image credit: spaxia / 123RF Stock Photo