How To Be A Pro Photographer

Most pro photographers discourage up-and-coming photographers from entering the field of professional photography and make it seem impossible to break into the business–but it’s not!  And I can prove it…

Not many years ago, I was a college student who needed to make money to support my family.  I started off selling my photography services for $50 on Craigslist, but quickly learned the ropes.  Now I charge over $1,000 for the same type of shoot and have been blessed to make a very comfortable living (Read my story here).

So I have been where you are, and I know what it takes to make your business take off.  I have coached many photographers through this process, and I am certain that you can create a successful business too.

So let’s get started!

What I Mean By “Photography Business”

It is easy to think of all photographers as doing the same thing, but the truth is that there are many different types of photography businesses.  Consider the following possibilities.

  • Fine art photographer selling prints
  • Stock photographer selling digital files to stock agencies
  • Wedding photographer
  • Senior portrait photographer
  • Commercial or product photography
  • Baby Photographer
  • Event photographer

Okay, you get the idea… there are many different types of businesses.  I mention this first because I find that many photographers have failed to consider just exactly HOW they want to start earning money with photography.  The first step to creating your business is to consider exactly what you want to do, and what will be profitable.

There are definitely benefits to specializing in one type of photography (like pet photography, or wedding photography, for instance), but I advocate a balanced approach to business.  Pick an area that you will focus on, but be open to new ideas and types of clients.

Set a Goal Right NOW!

It is impossible to achieve anything until you decide what it is you want to achieve.  I find that most people who come to me for advice in starting a photography business are all similar.  They tell me they want to know how to make a little money on the side with their photography, but in reality–they have secretly dreamed of quitting their day jobs to pursue photography full time.  Is that you?

If it is, let’s be open about it!  There is nothing wrong with dreaming, and you will be way ahead of the game if you set your goal properly right from the beginning.

Not you?  That’s just fine too.  Some people have day jobs they love, and if you really do just want to make some money on the side, then that is a wonderful goal to have.

Speaking of goals, here is my goal in creating this website:

 Excuse the Excuses

The reason I included “without complaining about the economy, equipment, or the competition” in my goal is that I have found WAY too much of that in the photography industry.  It seems that most professional photographers are absolutely determined to prevent newer photographers from turning pro or earning money with their photography.  It certainly takes a certain level of skill to earn money as a photographer, but this website is about eliminating the negativity and doubt.  This is about DOING SOMETHING about your passion.

The next excuse I hear all the time is that the photography market is too saturated with new pro photographers.  This gives you a choice.  Do you want to sit back and say it isn’t possible, or do you want to take advantage of this opportunity and MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN?  In my opinion, the increase in the number of photographers in the industry has helped get the word out to the public about how valuable professional photography is.  Complaining about the competition won’t get us anywhere.

Last, the economy.  It is popular to blame everything on the economy, but my business is thriving despite the down economy and I know that yours can too.

The old excuses won’t help you get any closer to your goal.  Only hard work will get you there.

Quit Waiting, Start DOING!

You have a goal, you eliminated the excuses, and now let’s get going!  You will never achieve your goal if you don’t start working toward it, so I encourage you to take the first step today.

In my opinion, the very first thing you need to do is to set up a website and a Facebook Fan Page.  Once you see your name and business on the top of a website or Facebook Fan Page, you’ll never turn back.  Be warned: You are about to start the journey into professional photography.

To create a Facebook Page (I recommend a Brand or Product Page), click this link.

Ready to start your website?  Follow this 20-minute step-by-step video…

Comments from the I.P. Community

  1. says

    I just want to say hank you for this post. It is really encouraging for me. I am just starting my journey as a professional photographer, and most this post helped me to see that I’m at least on the righ track. I’d love to get your feedback on my website (CharminglyDixie.com) and on my blog (CharminglyDixie.wordpress.com). I look forward to learning more from your site!

  2. says

    I found this site accidently on Pinterest. And it’s fantastic i think. Thank You very much that you are existing.
    I live in Russia and actually i’m a managing construction engineer. And I have a full day job in my specialization.
    But since i was 15 years old photography is my passion. And now when i’m 25 I understood that my live is a daily routine. Office work makes me a vegetable.
    I decided to make some money on the side and also to become a person who will be proud of herself. People like my pictures, but i’ve always made a selfportraits or pictures of my friends. Now when I started to try to make money on my shots, the pro-photographers here (some of them are my friends) started to critique me in such key that it’s not my way, that i’m just a stupid girl who bought a camera and thinks that that’s all she need for being a pro. And when I try to find any information in my native russian language about photography in the 90% of cases i find a rude answers kinda ”go to school, learn there for 5-6 years and then will answer yourself to your stupid question”. I spend my money to rent the studio and make pictures for free to collect my real portfolio, and sometimes i think that one day i just lose heart and stop trying. But thank’s God I speak English and thank You for making this post and this whole site. Your advices are really helpful. You halped me to understand that all is possible and that there are many persons like me who is trying and in the end achieves the goals.

  3. Joanna says

    Hi Jim, I’m from Trinidad and Tobago and would one day like to be as knowledgeable as you are in photography, I must say you have a great website and i’m learning alot. I would like to know in terms of photoshop, which software/s would you recommend I use to customize/inhance wedding photos and any other photos?

  4. dave says

    The first step in being a professional photographer is learning how to be a competent photographer. The next step has nothing to do with photography, but rather learning how to run a business because a successful photography studio is 90% business and only 10% photography.

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