Turning a hobby into a career is a common aspiration among today’s workforce. “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life”, they say. And while this may feel like an unattainable goal,there’s no reason why it can’t become a reality if it’s something you want enough.
Photography is one such hobby with potential to become a money-maker. While it’s a fantastic creative outlet (and there’s something truly satisfying about capturing the perfect photograph solely for your own gratification),turning your photography passion into a business could provide you with the lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of.
Photography retailer, Canon recently enlisted four professional photographers from different niches to share their insights on what makes a photographer. So, if you’re ready to take your photography hobby to the next level, read these six tips and feel inspired.
- Refine your photography skills
To make photography your profession, you must, of course, be taking photographs at a professional standard. There are a lot of incredible photographers out there already, so you’ll need to stand out in the crowd – but hey, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition.
Make it your mission to be constantly improving your photography skills and learning new techniques that will enhance your craft. Even photographers who have been working for years will continuously strive to be better and keep up to date with trends.
This may also require you to upgrade your equipment. While smartphone cameras are capable of impressive things these days, a DSLR camera is a must for professional photography.Hannah Harding, a natural light portrait photographer, says that “the robust interchangeable lenses, better image quality and control of shutter speed, ISO and aperture make DSLR simply unbeatable.”
- Step out of your comfort zone
The worst thing you can do as an artist is to fall into habit and routine. Sure, you may have found a composition or lighting technique that works, but repetition can become boring.
Saurabh Dua, a fashion photographer, says “a common mistake photographers make is to shoot by the rules; to stay within their ‘comfort zone’. I try to break that every time I shoot, whether I’m changing up the composition, the lighting pattern or something else.”
Travel photographer, Richard Bernabe adds that “general aesthetics are more important than achieving technical perfecting or adhering to ‘rules’ of composition. Often the best composition is one that just feels right.”
So, don’t be afraid to experiment and try out new things – you may be amazed at what you’ll achieve!
- Find your niche
The trick to building a name for yourself as a photographer and landing the best jobs, is to develop a niche. For example, you may decide to specialise in wedding photography, fashion, portraits, travel or even food.Narrowing your focus will make it easier for you to market yourself and clients will put more trust in somebody who has perfected their specialism, rather than become a jack of all trades.
Take your time to try out different types of photography and figure out what you enjoy the most or you feel your style best suit. From here you can work on refining your skills in this area.
- Build a portfolio
As a photographer, your portfolio will be your biggest marketing tool, so it really needs to demonstrate your talent. Ideally, it should communicate your photography niche and showcase all of your best work, so that potential clients are instantly made aware of your abilities and experience. It’s also worth leveraging social media to market yourself as a photographer and exhibit your work online.
Building your portfolio may require you to work for low pay or even for free in order to form a back catalogue or photographs to exhibit, however, it will be worth it in the long run when it starts landing you the best gigs.
- Seek inspiration
Always keep your eyes peeled for inspiration, as you could stumble across it pretty much anywhere and everywhere. And this doesn’t just mean the work of other people. Professional food photographer, Sid Ali suggests “you should draw inspiration from paintings, books, films and everyday life. The more places you draw inspiration from, the more informed and unique your work will be.”
- Find photography jobs
In an ideal world, clients would instantly start bringing work to your door, but unfortunately this isn’t likely to be the case as you start out. To find your first photography jobs, you’re going to have to do a bit of leg work to get your business seen by potential clients.
List your business on the relevant job boards, freelancer platforms and photography networks to make yourself visible. From here, you can both bid for jobs and receive job offers.Another way to monetise your work is to list your photographs on stock image sites and earn commission each time somebody buys the right to your images.
While taking the leap from hobbyist to professional photographer may seem like a big deal, it needn’t be. You’ve already got the skills in place, after all.It just takes patience and dedication to build a name for yourself in the industry and develop a client base. If you’re passionate enough about your craft, you’ll have it in you to transform it into the career you’ve dreamed of.