Professional London Photographers

How To Become Photographer?

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(c) Photoshoot at Headshot London Photography. All Image rights reserved by Headshot London

For most professionals, photography is a career that grew from a passionate hobby to a full-time job. After all, you have to love being behind the camera to want to do it full-time. So how do you make the transition from skilled amateur to paid professional? There’s more to it than just investing in a camera and advertising your services.   Seven steps to becoming a pro

  1. Nurture your skill – just loving photography isn’t enough to guarantee your success as a pro. You actually need to be good at what you do, so take the time to master all the technicalities and practise at every opportunity you can. Critique your work and analyse areas for improvement, read as widely as you can to improve your technique and become totally familiar with each new piece of gear you purchase.
  2. Search for a strength – don’t be a Jack of all trades and master of none. Finding your own niche as a photographer will make your far more likely to succeed than being a generalist. Work out what sort of pictures you love to take – portraits, wildlife, fashion, macro, artistic – and develop your skills in that area. At the same time, investigate the market for that type of photography – there’s no point in developing a specialism for which there’s minimal demand.
  3. Create a kick-ass portfolio – only ever show your best work in your portfolio and be strict over what you include. This is your most important tool for winning business. You need to show potential clients exactly what they can expect from you, so invest a fair amount of time in building a collection of pictures that is representative and excellent. Furthermore, when you start out, you will probably need to offer different types of photography to different clients. For example, you might want a wedding photography portfolio and a separate corporate portfolio to emphasise different aspects of your portrait work.
  4. Hone your business skills – if you want to run your own business, being a brilliant photographer is only half of the job. You’ll also need to be proficient at running a business. If you’ve never been self-employed before, you’ll be facing a steep learning curve – you’ll need to make a business plan, keep accounts, pay taxes and national insurance, create a website and a marketing plan, take out necessary insurance policies… The admin might seem endless but there’s plenty of help available on line or from your bank manager. Talk to friends and family who run their own businesses or find an experienced freelance photographer who might be willing to act as your mentor and advisor.
  5. Set your rates – the moment your first client picks up the phone, you need to know what you want to charge them. Analyse your costs: fixed costs will include your equipment, rent and utilities if you have your own studio, insurance and so on; variable costs will include transport if you travel to the shoot, consumable items and the cost of your time. Check out what other photographers in your area are charging. Don’t price yourself way below the average as potential clients may view you as an amateur. Likewise, don’t charge way above or your clients will find someone cheaper.
  6. Start marketing – you’ll need a good website that shows off your work to best advantage and business cards you can hand out wherever you go. Even if you can’t afford an advertising budget, start networking and building up your contacts. Learn how to use social networking to promote your business and never fail to take an opportunity to let people know what you do.
  7. Set realistic goals to work towards – new businesses grow slowly and this can be discouraging. However, all the hard work you do at the start will pay off at a future point as long as you keep your mind focused on the job. The best way to do this is to set goals – work out what milestones you want to achieve along the way and a timeframe to aim for. For example, how many shoots per month you want to do, building over time, or average earnings per month. Set specific goals with real deadlines and then do everything you can to achieve them.

Moving from amateur to professional may sound glamorous but really it’s all about hard work. Go in with your eyes open and only do it if you feel you can really make the commitment – in other words, if you can’t imagine yourself doing anything else for a living! That’s when you know you have the passion you need to become a professional.   Find out more: How To Run A Successful Photography Studio? (c) Headshot London Photography – Interior and Still-Life Photographers

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