I did not have a resource like what you are currently reading. As an amateur photographer, I operated by the‘seat of my pants’ (and I kept losing my shirt[s] year after year). Hindsight being twenty-twenty, the following is what I wish someone had told me to consider:
Ask these questions of your work:
• Can I consistently compete in the photography marketplace? Is my work good enough to earn an income? Full-time or part-time?
• Look at your work in relationship to other photographers’ work. Look specifically at the work of photographers earning a living in your market niche, area of specialization or interest. Compare your work to the work of popular photographers as well as lesser known, but, highly talented, photographers. For the purposes of assessing, disregard the fact that you are relatively inexperienced.
• Is my work good, very good, very-very good or superior? Examine your best work closely. Is the picture free of dust, scratches and spots? Is it sharp and well composed and well exposed? In other words, does your work look like the work of an inexperienced or experienced photographer?
• Do my photographs make dramatic statements? Look for the obvious. Is the background cluttered? Are the shadows to harsh? Are the images too abstract? How are my angles?
• Are my photograph subjects compelling? Does your work evoke emotions such as surprise, curiosity, happiness, reflection, confidence, etc.?
• Are my techniques powerful or just cutesy? Cutesy and artsy don’t sell well (unless those niche marketsare identified and targeted). Is quality obvious in my work?
• Are my photographs cluttered? Does the background contribute to the subject or take away from the subject content? Are there too many vertical lines?
• Do the photographs reflect outstanding quality? All photographers, amateur photographer, part-time, hobbyist, owe it to the legacy of the great photographers to only sell our quality work. In other words, always continue to improve your photography skills and photographs.
Honest assessments are sometimes difficult for us to make when it comes to something we have produced. Find other photographers to help you make honest assessments. Your friends and family don’t count – unless they are competent photographers.
Don’t lie to yourself – know what drives your passion for photography.
To be successful, you have to want to be a photographer. You have to truly enjoy photography. A now-and-then photographer produces so-so work. Quality photographs aren’t a result of luck. You will have to shoot a great number of images to develop your skills to a proficient level. You have to shoot even more images to develop a photographic style that rises above your competition. And, you will have to shoot still more images to have the confidence needed to navigate to turbulent, chaotic and exciting world of professional photography.
Professional photography requires lots of time, effort and work. Many hobbyists and amateurs dream about entering the world of professional photography and reaping all the luxurious trappings – ‘As seen on TV.’ They don’t know about the stress of deadlines, the unknown terror of failed equipment, the changing appetite of customers or the unseen costs of having no business and marketing plans. Developing skills takes time. Building a good portfolio takes time and know-how. Becoming known requires patience. In the business of photography, rejections are a way of life. The rejections aren’t personal. But, they still hurt – at least, the rejections hurt me! Once I developed a marketing plan and applied it, I got fewer and fewer rejections. In fact, the harder that I work at marketing, I get fewer rejections.
These are some of the issues that I dealt with when I decided to become a professional photographer.
As a rule, too many photographers do not have or follow a business and/or marketing plan. Of course, this spells disaster in a photography business, part-time or full-time.