So, Are YOU On the Edge of Turning Professional?

You have been told for years now nice your pictures are. Friends ask you constantly to take pictures at their weddings or portraits of their small children. You are the one at every school function who is moving around the edge of the room taking photos of everyone's kids, award presentations, and sporting events.  You ARE the photographer. But you are not quite ready yet by either circumstance or confidence, or maybe your ability to go after it as a full time profession.

One-light image taken in Austin, TX Aug 8. One light with Profoto B1 and 4' Softbox Octa. Canon 5D Mark III with Sigma 85mm 1.8

The decision of when to make "the big leap" is a very personal one and one in which people often are off on their timing. And of course, timing is everything. There are many things to consider that will help to support your decision on your new endeavor.

The addition of a second light adds considerably to the professional look of the image. In this case I added a 1' X 4' strip RFi Sofbox with an egg crate soft grid.

First, determine why you are going pro. Statistics show there is still a significant percentage of new business owners that just don't make it much past their first year. So, prepare yourself and understand one very large and important element; YOU CANNOT DO THIS ALONE.  I know you may want to, but trust me, the support, education, knowledge and troubleshooting of others either currently in the same position or having gone through it are invaluable to the new photographer.

Local and regional photographic groups and associations or Professional Photographers are vital to your success. Meet-up groups are fun and you share and exchange ideas. But they are not filled with full-time working photographers and there is a lot more to consider than taking a good picture.  Here are some things to consider:

You WILL succeed by doing the following

  • Talk to local professional photographers. Pros, not amateurs...They are not as worried about you as a competitor as you may think and can actually be very helpful for you. But only if you do this the right way.
  • Use professional equipment, not the first or second digital camera you bought on sale three or four years ago. Know what is available and know how to use it. Same with lighting equipment.
  • Join local and regional professional associations in the aspiring categories and truly, you will get help.
  • Attend conventions, conferences, programs and seminars that are posted in your area by local camera stores, vendors, or other groups. You'll learn and make photo friends too. I should know, I have thousands now.
  • Price your work in keeping with the appropriate rates and fees for the type of work you are doing that is consistent with others in your geographic area. 

You WILL fail by doing the following

  • Thinking you can do it alone, not asking for guidance, and not getting involved in the photo community.  You can't. You just simply can't!
  • Not investing in professional equipment designed to work under day in and day out professional working conditions. 
  • Price your work low and almost give it away in order to get started and to meet the expectations of those who know you are just starting out. This will cause you more trouble than you might think and will establish you as not serious to the local professional community and potential clients as well. They know what the work should cost and you are not doing yourself any favors by starting out low. Keeping your prices low because you don't think you are worthy to raise them up will not get you more work but will probably get you less.
  • Continually telling the world via your web site or blog that you are a natural light photographer. Essentially you are saying that your are limited to this style because it is what you like but might be interpreted that it is less trouble than for you to use all of the tools available to you to get the job done appropriately in any lighting or working condition.  

Find a way to learn your craft, folks. It will serve you and your communities well for years and years to come. Be the one person that can be trusted to do a good job and be professional in every way possible.  You'll be glad you did...