Goals for the Emerging Professional Photographer

Funny thing about our wonderful craft of photography. Once you begin mastering the camera and light techniques, along with a strong dose of composition and creating impact, you have to find a way to determine your future use of this craft. What do you want to do with this knowledge and your photographic ability? 

Many photographers and friends love the taking and sharing of pictures. And the love of travel and the reliving of a great trip is the end goal for these people.  However, there are others who want to consider photography as a career. Once this decision has been made you'll need to determine what kind of photographic work you wish to pursue. Let's take a brief look at some of the choices available:

Studio or Location Portraits - Many of today's portrait photographers have chosen to work for themselves and many are working out of their homes as their place of work. Of course, you'll have to weigh this against having a commercial location and there are reasonable benefits to each. Working out of your home offers the chance to have your hours flexible and the much lower cost of being in and conducting a typical "brick and mortar" business. Of course, one of the downsides is that if you meet clients at your home, it is always a location that has to be kept clean and presentable as well as the need for a flexible and understanding family. Oh, and it is very hard to "get away from the office" when the office is in our home. 

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Commercial, Editorial, and Advertising Photography - Once again you have some decisions to make. There are some wonderful things about working commercially and being with creative art directors and agency people when the opportunity presents itself. The collaboration aspect of much commercial work is inspiring and for many, the reason they do this kind of production work. On the other hand, there is the downside of needing an understanding of copyright, fair use, structure of model releases and more.

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A friend once had a small job that was a regional ad for a watch manufacturer. Two years later she saw the work on a series of billboards all over Europe and she had not been paid for this kind of international use. It is imperative that you understand the ins and outs of this kind of business in order to make it profitable, keep it exciting, and illustrate a professional persona with everyone with whom you come into contact. Understand the ways to work with a magazine editor who needs a story covered as well as the plant manager who just needs a new headshot for an annual report. My advice, join ASMP at once and understand all that is possible and all that is necessary.  

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Wedding and Bridal Photography - For many years I have listened to people tend to make fun of wedding photographers. They have often been referred to as "weekend warriors" and other derogatory names. However, some of the very best and most talented photographers in the world are working week in and week out with brides and grooms and their families capturing once in a lifetime moments. This kind of work truly runs the entire gamut and stretches your abilities like nothing else. You must be a fashion photographer, photojournalist, portrait and editorial photographer, architectural master and a psychologist, all at the same time and all while smiling and keeping everyone around you calm.  

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I feel strongly that there is always room in the local photo markets for a someone skilled in their area of expertise.  But I do encourage you to find your own voice, your own expertise and chase that specific type of work. if you consider a full time gig as a working photographer you must ask yourself a few questions. First, are your skills up to speed?  You CANNOT go by well-meaning friends or family members who "like" and comment "amazing" on everything you post on FB. You must have the work looked at by someone who is not only trusted, but really knows the business. A local pro photographer will usually be happy to give a solid and helpful look at your work.   

Speaking for Rob and myself, we wish you the very best of luck in your career and of course will happily answer any questions you might have, anytime...!

(P.S. I have just moved into a new studio space with two highly talented Master Photographers (ok, one of them is my wife Mandy), and collectively we represent all types of photography. The space is large and newly renovated. But the real excitement comes from the challenge of going after new work in a new market.).