During the first few months of my journey towards becoming a professional photographer, I browsed a lot of famous photographers’ work to see what type of photos they sold and tried to produce similar images.
I posted them on my website, crossed my arms, leaned back with a satisfying smile, and waited for the clients to rush in and buy my work.
They hardly came!
It seemed that I had a few misconceptions about what being a professional photographer was. I thought it was all about creating great images, posting them on my website (or on Facebook), and that’s about it.
When the results were lacking, I quickly had to refocus on what I was doing and realized that being a professional photographer was more than just taking nice photos.
Here are three tips I learned that can help you be a successful photographer, too:
- Work on your skills and apply your own style
Needless to say, in order to become a successful photographer, you first need to know how to take good pictures. Fortunately, learning photography isn’t very difficult.
Understanding how to expose correctly comes with practice, and there are guidelines to good composition.
But photography isn’t just about copying reality. It’s about the vision of the person behind the viewfinder, combined with his aesthetic sense. It’s what makes your photos unique compared to every other photographer.
Clients will want to buy your own vision. So start developing your personal style, whether it’s about interesting compositions, lighting or creative processing. Your work will be recognized.
- Learn how to run the business part:
Professional photography is not about art. It’s 90% business.
There are countless photographers creating gorgeous images out there, but most of them are not making money because they’re treating it as a hobby and not as a business.
Learn how to price your work, how to negotiate, and how to find clients. Learn how to pitch to editors to get published in magazines. Start small and climb your way up the ladders. Set a roadmap and personal goals to track how you’re doing. Print business cards and place ads.
- Put yourself out there
Unlike a few decades ago, photographers don’t need an agent to represent their work and find clients. With the rise of Internet, we can reach hundreds of thousands of clients in just a few clicks.
But you also need to be proactive and put yourself out there to be found.
Create a website and add your portfolio. Update with regular content so that your work remains fresh. Start a blog if you’re up to it: people love reading about the behind the scenes of their favorite photographers.
Join communities and start conversations: it’ll help with your overall exposure (no pun intended).
And be active on social media. That’s where most people hang out nowadays, and you’ll want them to see your work.
You will soon become your own best marketer and agent.
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can fund your travels and make an extra income with photography, travel writing, blogging, and more in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel. Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Profit From Your Photos: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]