Making the Leap from an Advanced Hobbyist to a Professional Photographer

 

 

If photography is your passion, there will eventually come a time when you’ll consider turning your hobby into a career. Nothing is more satisfying than making a living doing something that you love, but you must carefully consider all of the variables and also take certain steps to ensure that your career will be successful.

There is a lot of truth to the saying that a camera doesn’t make the photographer; even the most expensive equipment won’t help those who have no eye for photography. Therefore it is not necessary to run out and purchase all of the most expensive camera equipment. When you’re scouring your local ads for DSLR deals, it’s best to keep in mind that investing in quality glass is actually more important than the camera body. Any skilled photographer with at least a Digital Rebel will have the ability to turn out high quality, professional photographs.

Once you decide that you want to cultivate a photography career it will become imperative to choose a specialty. While it is important to diversify, you’ll do your best work, and therefore build the best reputation, by doing photography that appeals to you. The first major distinction to make is between fine art work and portrait work. If your passion lies with nature or architecture photography then your best bet will be to market your photography to genre specific magazines, at art fairs and via an online store. If photographing children is more your cup of tea, however, then you’ll need to invest in quality backgrounds, portrait lenses and a light kit. Again, there is no rule that states that you can’t do both portrait and fine art photography, but focusing more on one of the two options will yield the best results.

 

Six Important Things to Know about the Life of a Professional Photographer:

1.) If you work for yourself, then you’ll have to pay all of your taxes each year at tax time. Keep records on everything that you purchase for your business and be sure to track your mileage, too. You will not be able to fill out your taxes on an EZ form, so you may wish to consult with a professional tax preparer. Your state or county may also require you to maintain a sales tax license in order to sell your services, so be sure to check into your local guidelines.

2.) Marketing and word of mouth are everything. Invest in quality business cards and make sure to place ads in all applicable places. Vflyer.com offers free Craigslist templates, which will allow you to stand out from the crowd. You should also consider offering a referral discount for clients who send you new business.

3.) Model releases are critical for photographers who are interested in selling their work. If a person’s identity can be discerned in the photograph, then you need a signed model release before you attempt to sell the image.

4.) Professional photographers who photograph other people need to invest in liability insurance, along with insurance on their equipment. Without liability insurance, you could end up losing everything if someone gets hurt during a shoot.

5.) Never shoot without a contract. Sample contracts are available online, but make sure that the verbiage adheres to all of your local and state laws.

6.) Don’t give away your work for free. Doing so sets a bad precedent and will make it difficult to charge people in the future.

Are you considering making the leap or have you recently done so? Share your stories and tips below.

 

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