Becoming a professional photographer seems to be one of the hottest dream jobs of the recent years, although it’s not always a guarantee of a prosperous income. However, being at the top in photography can be a fascinating lifestyle, and it is certainly a lot more interesting than most day jobs. It takes a certain set of qualities, much like any other art form or creative activity. It’s very true that many people have these qualities, however one thing that many get wrong is the belief that success happens overnight. The Internet is probably the root of this belief, but unfortunately it’s wrong. It takes years of hard work to become a true pro, one that has photography in his blood and also possess the correct marketing skills to make his/her business work. Many amateurs dive head in into full time photography without being properly prepared and often end their careers very quickly. There is no shortcut to this; however there are some habits and behaviors from professionals, that by emulating, you could speed up the journey a bit. Here they are.
It’s one of the most important tools in this journey. Your work is the ultimate proof of your talent and abilities, at the end of the day. Marketing strategies will get one foot in the door, but the photographs you show are ultimately what clients look for. You need to show only your best and to do so in the best way possible.. Patience is priceless - not only in displaying your images but in making them as well.
2. Websites and marketing
In today’s photography market, without a good website, you don’t really exist. It is essential to have a good looking website that makes your photographs shine, without stealing the attention. Having a webpage like this, however, isn’t enough .You need to constantly improve and work on your marketing strategies. Photography is a business like all others. You’re doing something you like, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t economic aspects to it.
3. Camera - lens -Action!
Many beginners, amateurs and hobbyists believe the secret to success in photography lies in cameras and lenses. They couldn’t be farther from the truth. Gear is nothing but a set of instruments for doing the job. It is equally true that professionals know what the right gear means. It doesn’t really have to do with being the latest or most expensive equipment, although some of the tools do set you back financially. The key is having exactly what you need for your type of photography, nothing more and nothing less. Buying the biggest and most expensive camera or the shiny new lens will give you a technical edge, but it will be a useless one unless you have the knowledge and skill to use them at their best.
4. Pro tools and the way we carry them
It’s not the equipment that takes the photos, but having the right accessories can make a world of difference in the field. Besides the obvious investment in lenses and cameras, a lot of the necessary purchases are represented by accessories that make the pro’s life easier in the real world. Items like lights, stands, reflectors, filters, light meters and so on are all part of a pro’s tool kit and each have a very specific use. One thing that pros look for a lot is keeping their hands free. Dangling a camera or two around all day over your neck and shoulders is extremely taxing on your upper body and back so solutions had to be made. Luckily, there is an alternative solution that is highly appreciated by pros around the world. It’s called the SpiderPro System and it’s designed by a company called Spider Camera Holster. The system is very simple, yet very effective and you can see quality built and thoughtful design in every detail. It’s a great way to carry your camera attached to your mid section (belt) without burdening your shoulders, neck and lower back like you would normally do. Spider Holster also allows for natural and fast operation, should an unexpected opportunity for image arise. It’s one of our own top gear choices for any shooting situation and we believe it should be in any photographer's gear bag.
5. Trade shows?
It’s part of a photographer’s job to keep up with everything in the industry and further his/her education. It’s not all just taking pretty pictures and it involves going out in the world and staying aware of what’s coming out and where things are going. Technology is one of the key elements in photography, it has dramatically changed the way we practice and perceive it and could very well give you the creative edge you need to stand out.
6. The art of referrals
Being a good photographer is crucial, but it’s close to useless if people don’t know about you. There are many ways to market a photography business, but simple word of mouth is arguably the most effective method. People trust each other if they sense they are satisfied with something, in this case, the services provided by a photographer. Pros know how to get referrals, and it’s an ability that takes years of practice and satisfied clients. It’s also one of the key elements in a successful photography business.
7. Know when to say no!
It’s one thing to have many clients knocking at your door, but it’s another to know which ones to work with. Naturally, early on in the journey, almost no one has the luxury of selecting who they work with, but after a while of doing things successfully, pros get to choose if they want to work with someone or not. It’s in the interest of both parties at the end of the day, and along with this ability to choose a client, comes the proper way of making a refusal. Remember, a job that is not worth your very best will not look as good as it could at the end.
8. Respect other’s work
It’s a tough market anywhere you go, and often getting a job means taking the bread of another photographer’s table. Still, that doesn’t mean there is no room left for appreciating another photographer’s portfolio. Nobody goes out shouting how cool John Smith’s portfolio is, because that would just look bad for business, but the good photographers who are confident in their skills and their business have no problem with recognizing a fellow photographer’s value in informing their own work.
9. Light above all!
Camera settings, aperture values, composition, color are all vital parts of a good photograph and mastering them is essential for any good photographer. However, nothing is more important in photography than seeing and understanding light. The very word means light in Greek, so it should be obvious. Many amateurs prioritize a lot of technical aspects without mastering this essential element without which they can’t work. Pros know how to make any light work to their advantage, and if it’s not there, they understand how to manipulate it.