The 7 key steps to becoming a professional photographer

The 7 key steps to becoming a professional
photographer Step 1 – Find your specialty When starting out, it doesn’t matter whether
you’ve got a smartphone or a high-end DSLR… but you do need to know what kind of a photographer
you are. Experiment with different genres to find the
topics you enjoy and excel at. A good way to do this is to set yourself a
new objective each time you shoot. One day you might shoot fine art and the next
day street photography. Once you’ve found the right direction, you
need to establish expertise in that particular field… because a deeper skill set often
brings more value than a wider one. Finding work as a photographer’s assistant
will help you to gain experience and accelerate your learning. Step 2 – Get the right tools Once you find the genre of photography you
want to specialise in, you have to know what equipment to buy. There’s no need for a high-end set up when
starting out, but you must meet the basic gear requirements for what you’re shooting. An 85mm lens for example would be necessary
for portraiture, where as a zoom lens is ideal for landscape and travel photographers. A lightweight and portable tripod is also
a highly useful tool for nearly all forms of photography. Just as important is a powerful storage solution
where you can archive your work. Failing to back up could cost time, money
and even your reputation with a client. Step 3 – Build a portfolio A portfolio truly is the photographer’s bible
– and it’s also the first thing a potential client will look at. Social media sites are a quick and easy way
to share your work, but a personal website always looks more professional. This is where you can display a dedicated
portfolio of your work. When setting up your website, it’s a good
idea to use a provider with flexible and intuitive templates that you can easily manage. This way you can keep the content fresh and
update it with your latest work. It’s also worth thinking about the kinds of
clients you want to attract. Many photographers who want to get their photography
displayed at exhibitions will create more than one portfolio or website. This way they can separate their personal
projects from commercial ones – such as wedding photography for example. Step 4 – Find the right clients Once you’re confident about your work and
you’ve refined your portfolio, it’s time to seek out clients. Don’t be afraid to aim big and share your
work with large companies – but don’t send your portfolio to everyone! Identify the key businesses which you believe
can benefit most from your services. If you’re good at portraiture for example,
send your portfolio to companies who may need corporate portraits for their website. A good way to get your foot in the door is
to offer a day of free work. Remember, at first it’s better to show willingness
by providing a free shoot, than to set a precedent as someone who is cheap to hire. If they want to rebook, then you can charge
well for your services… just know your price in advance! Step 5 – Understand the business If you’re starting to land jobs, you need
to know the business. It’s important you keep track of your income
and expenses. Create templates for quotes and invoices,
request purchase orders from your clients, and be sure to register for tax in your local
area. You should also prepare a standard contract
which you can adapt for each project – this way you can ensure you always get paid as
agreed. Don’t forget to obtain written permission
for locations and models – and you might also want to get camera insurance, as you never
know what might happen! Step 6 – Refine your workflow To optimize your efficiency and output, you
need to create your own workflow so you never miss a deadline – reputation is everything! Even the little things like charging your
batteries before a shoot and formatting your SD cards can save valuable time. It certainly doesn’t look good if you arrive
unprepared! Get familiar with the post production process
and learn how to batch edit photos. Remember to regularly back up your projects
on a hard drive that you can store safely at home – and establish a logical folder-naming-system
to make your files easy to locate. This pays off if you get future requests from
clients. Step 7 – Promote your work Don’t get complacent with word of mouth. You should always make the effort to distribute
your photography at every opportunity. Use social media to share your work with relevant
brands and reward your followers with engaging, visual content. Self-promotion costs nothing online! Another way to spread the word is by creating
something physical. Produce small prints of your work and send
them out to former or potential clients. Even DIY-style flyers and leaflets can serve
as a strong reminder of your services. For personal projects and photo series, reach
out to galleries. Exhibitions are great places for networking
and building awareness. Oh and bonus tip! Never lose sight of why you started shooting
– this may one day be more important than you’d expect!

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