What Does It Take to Be a Professional Photographer?

Article Read Time
This post takes approximately 1 minutes to read.

My version of the simplified, yet (hopefully) informative response is actually a paragraph from my coaching welcome packet.

Needless to say, I communicate with aspiring amateur photographers on a steady basis. Hobby-to-pro photographers are my coaching niche, after all. I also mentor in a group of beginner photographers. Eventually, the question will always come up: What does it take to become a professional photographer?

People will answer that question in a variety of ways. Discussion includes everything from complicated checklists to starting businesses, to the ultra simplified “Just charge for your photos.” That last one is where I usually just sigh.

My version of the simplified, yet (hopefully) informative response is actually a paragraph from my coaching welcome packet. It is near the beginning of the coaching journey, before the assessment that helps people decide if the job is actually the one for them, if they prefer to remain a talented amateur, or find some comfy balance in between.

To be a professional photographer, you will need to master several things, including, but not limited to,

  • 1) technical excellence
  • 2) business skills, whether you become a brand or a freelancer,
  • 3) marketing skills, and
  • 4) people skills to deal with customers, clients, agencies, associates, etc.

“Professional” does not mean simply that someone pays you money to do a thing, it means that you can duplicate the same excellence again and again and again. That is the broadest definition you will probably ever read, but it is a 100% accurate overview. If you are committed, you can do it, but photography is one of the most competitive industries on earth. You must be committed to the entire thing, not just taking great photos.

The best part is that every one of those areas can be learned. The one thing that can not be taught, however, is the implied #5) commitment to learning and sticking it out when things get tough. If a person has the commitment, he or she can accomplish anything.

Related:  Photography: The Art of Imitation