Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Professional Photographer?

It’s the dream of every hobbyist with talent and a garage full of expensive camera equipment: to do every day what they love doing at the weekends… and earn enough money to pay the mortgage and more.

But are you sure you have what it takes to survive as a professional photographer?

Find out with our quick quiz. (You don’t have to answer “yes” to every question, but the more positives you get, the easier your ride will be.)

1. Can you cope with weeks without work, wondering where your next job will come from and hoping the lights stay on… and then have days of action without a break?

For many photographers, work comes in bursts separated by long periods of waiting. Can you handle the down time?

2. Can you leave for a job at short notice, take the shots fast, edit them and have the memory card on the editor’s desk by lunchtime the next day?

For all photographers, deadlines are tight and getting tighter.

3. Can you learn new skills and cope with new technology as it comes out, even though you love the way you work now?

Photography has changed massively in the last few years. It won’t stop changing now. Neither can you.

4. Would you be prepared to travel… frequently, long-distance and sometimes in the back of a truck to a place where you’ll have to sleep on the floor and shower from a bucket?hut.jpg

For photojournalists, four-star hotels can sometimes refer to the number of constellations they can see through the hole in the roof.

5. Can you take a creative, unique image of someone sitting at a desk, talking into microphone?

All press conferences look the same. The pictures have to be different.

6. Can you swap creativity for functionality?

Editors want shots that stand out, but art belongs in galleries not front pages. The press need pictures that tell stories not exhibit your skills.

7. Do you know which buildings are copyrighted… or at least where to look to find out?

Copyright law can be difficult and unpredictable. (Stock photographers can sell a photo of the Eiffel Tower, for example, but not if it was shot at night). You need to know what’s marketable and what’s protected.

8. Do you know the difference between RF, RM, CC, FR and RR?

As a professional photographer, you’ll need to understand royalties (and abbreviations). You’ll need to know the difference between royalty-free, rights-managed, creative commons, full-resolution and restricted resolution to name just a few.

9. Can you put together a portfolio that sells?

There’s more to a portfolio than a collection of images. Your portfolio should show that you’re not just a talented photographer but a reliable one too.

10. Can you teach and write about photography?

Having supplementary income sources will give you the power to turn down jobs you don’t want and keep you excited about your work.

11. Can you talk easily to CEOs, Presidents… and their drivers?ceo.jpg

As a commercial photographer, you could be shooting a portrait of an executive one day and a team of blue-collar heroes the next. You’ll need to get the best out of each of them.

12. Can you maintain relationships with buyers, editors and agents?

Photography, like any business, is as much about who you know as what you know. You’ll need to know how to network and stay connected.

13. Can you take orders as well as give them?

Commercial photographers have to tell models and subjects how to pose, but art directors tell photographers what to shoot.

14. Do you know when to co-operate and when to compete?

Photographers can be a tight bunch but they’re also competing for the best shot. You’ll need to know when to work together and when it’s every man for himself.

15. And can you handle the pride of seeing your pictures in a gallery, your photos on the front page and your collected works in bookstores?

Professional photography can be tough work. But it has plenty of plus-sides too!

Photos by Wonderlane and Erwin Boogert.

[tags] becoming a professional photographer [/tags]

3 comments for this post.

  1. Amunga Eshuchi Said:

    As a two year old documentary photographer, I had to learn all these lessons the hard way!!
    I cannot even begin to say how TRUE they all the way, it doesnt matter how old you get in photography, they are ALWAYS relevant to each day on the job.

  2. AshlynRoberts Said:

    Hi my name is ashlyn roberts i am 14 and i love to take pictures i am saving up as much money as i can to get i realy nice camra.When i turn eightien i wnat to beable to travle citys states to take picture i want that to be my job. I want to beable to go to Paris,France Newyork.But first i have to get a job and i do not know how to get one like that.Many people have told me that photography is my special talent and i think i have what it takes to be a special photographer i just kneed the help to become one!!!!!

  3. Dalton Aiken Said:

    My name is Dalton Aiken, I'm a sixteen year old high school student from Texas. I began photography about three months ago and in that time period I have already had my photography taken into two galleries for sale and done many paying jobs. Am I considered a professional already?

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