Invest like a smart person
Don’t go all in at once
Be an optimist
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I know this is something many of you are considering and I also know it’s a tough decision, especially if your background has involved something entirely different than photography. So I thought I’d share a few things that I wish I knew when I got serious about making a full time job from photography. These are guidelines, so don’t think of them as elderly pieces of advice or rules that should never be broken.
Most of the investment you will make in order to go pro will probably be in gear. But spend wisely and don’t throw it all in one place, or more specifically on one item. You don’t need a 1Dx to be a pro. Also, figure out what you can borrow from fellow photographers without having to pay for it. If you do have such possibilities, try to return items on time and be careful with them as if they were your own.
If you think that your decision to become a pro photographer, however popular among friends and family, will bring clients fighting to your door, you are living in a dream. The first year is the hardest and chances are you are barely going to land a few contracts. But that means you shouldn’t give up on your personal projects. Use the spare time to add quality work to your portfolio. Ultimately that is your main tool for attracting clients.
Word of mouth and recommendations are among the best forms of advertising, but you won’t have much of that in beginning. Build a proper website and think about starting a blog as well. A Facebook page might also do you good, just be careful to manage your expectations. The likes you will get might not really be from the people you want to work with.
Don’t think that once you’ve made it to the pro league it means you know most of what there is to know. Even the rock star photographers have new things to learn. If it’s not how to use a camera, it might be a new editing skill. It might be a new of way of using natural or artificial light and so on. Keep your mind open and push yourself to learn new stuff each day. This is not just a recommendation. If you don’t keep up with your competition, you will be out of business pretty soon.
I know this sounds like cliché advice you would get from a self-help seminar, but the truth is being negative won’t get you very far either. If you have to choose between the two, might as well pick an optimistic attitude. You also shouldn’t be excessively sensitive to criticism. Good criticism will show you what you have done wrong. Bad criticism will not teach you anything and is worth ignoring.