Photography is one of the greatest businesses in the world for a number of reasons. If you are looking to get into business for yourself, here are a few reasons you might want to view the world through the lens of professional photography:
- You get to travel to exotic locations.
- You don’t need years of expensive university to get started.
- You don’t need an office or a staff to get the job done well.
- There is no limit to your potential clientele.
That is a subset of a much longer list. The thing to remember is that photography is still a business regardless of how much fun you are having. Starting a photography business still involves things like making a business plan, securing finances, and choosing a business structure.
While that is a good start, it is not the end. There are still a number of things you will need to make a successful run of it.
Here are four:
It is a bit of a catch 22. Before you get your first client, you need a body of professional work you have already done so your prospects can see what you have to offer.
That’s where an online portfolio comes in. You need a place online where your work lives, and can be seen by the people you need to impress. It can’t be just some free site with inadequate tools for things like e-commerce and client proofing.
Of course, you have to fill that website with work. That means you have to do a lot of work for free, on barter, or at a discount. You can start with people who are looking to do a wedding on a budget. You can quickly build a portfolio while making a little money in the process. Having an impressive portfolio is non-negotiable.
2. Travel Budget.
You have to be willing to go where the work is. There may not be a lot of people getting married or having major events in your small town of 15,000. But things are likely very different a couple hours down the road.
One of the better opportunities in photography is travel, in particular, travel guides. You can go to the places where first-time travelers like to go. Starting with great photos, you can easily make helpful travel guides that can pay for the trip, plus some.
You might go on to do photography books on subjects like wildlife, deserts, exotic architecture, and the like. You have to be prepared to go where the pictures are. That means you have to have a travel budget.
3. Professional Computer.
Everyone knows you have to have a good camera and an assortment of specialty lenses. But that is not enough. Digital photography requires a digital workflow. That includes professional editing and product retouching software and hardware.
The newest MacBook Pro laptops include HDR-capable displays, greater color range, powerful CPU options including a 6-core i9 with 32 GB of DDR4 RAM.
That is probably too much computer for the typical pro photographer’s workload. But you do need something powerful, fast, and with accurate colors.
Long battery life is also non-negotiable as much of your work will be done on a plane and on location. Portability is also important as you will be taking it with you everywhere. Don’t cut corners when it comes to your mobile photo editing workstation.
4. The Eye.
Photography is not just a skill. It’s an art. You’ve got to have the eye for the photogenic. You can take technically perfect photos that simply aren’t any good.
You have to develop the eye with practice and outside critique. You don’t have to be born with it. But you do have to work at it. Memorable photos that people are willing to pay for are taken less with the hand, and more with the eye and the mind.
If you have a camera and a passion for pictures, you are already half-way to becoming a professional photographer. You still need many of the trappings of a traditional business such as a business plan and capital. And you absolutely can’t live without an online portfolio, a travel budget, a professional laptop, and the creative eye where the magic begins.