Since introduction of first camera film in 1885 till today photography has been one of the essential parts of human society’s evolutions and culture.
From huge cameras to a professional grade camera technology in today’s mobile phone, people have been using cameras to take photos. Even though most of the people have very cutting edge cameras in their phones, the professional photographers are still there and their demand is ever increasing. So what is professional photography and how can one become a successful professional photographer? Lets see..
What is professional Photography?
Generally speaking there are photographers who can be divided in two categories, Amateur Photographer or Professional Photographer. An amateur photographer is a persona who uses Camera and photography equipment to take photographs for his own interest and to capture moments of his life, whereas a professional photographer is a person who shoots photographs for a client as per client’s requirement, though photographer will use his creative ideas to make photographs beautiful or cinematic or artistic, and charges for his Photography services and prints.
Photography as a career
With the boom in social media and social media/internet advertising a good photographer is in increasing demand. Photography can be deemed as one of the better paying professions provided you have the correct set of Photography skills, business or marketing skills and equipment setup. An established photographer today will charge you from a few thousand rupees for a single photo to 10-12 lakhs or more for a single shoot. But getting from a start to 12 lakhs a shoot requires learning, practice, establishing a good network and client base and more so the quality of overall services you provide to the clients.
What makes a successful Photography career in today’s world
As is the case with any profession, professional photography too requires basic knowledge of the art of photography and of running a business. Frequently I have observed that individuals will gain latest of Photography knowledge and skills but do not pay that much attention to business aspect of it and hence are less successful than what they can be.
Key aspects that one needs to consider and have mastery over to be a successful photographer are as follows
- Photography knowledge ,Skills and visualization development
- Business Knowledge, Business development and Marketing
- Staying updated
Now let us understand each point in detail from a perspective of a beginner who does not have knowledge and equipment but wants to take up Photography as a career.
Photography knowledge, Skills and Visualization development
Essentially Professional Photography is an artistic profession but in today’s world it is equally technical with all equipment and delivery platforms being digital and rapidly changing. Anyone who wants to start Professional photography must have basic knowledge of Photography, the equipment, basic rules of the art and of doing business. There are several ways to gain this knowledge such as Degree courses from College/University, Courses offered by Photography studios or Photographers themselves, Online learning courses. No matter what type of course you do, working for or assisting a good photographer will give you much needed experience and help in understanding how a shoot goes on ground, what to do at certain situations, what precautions to take plus you will most probably get hands on experience of equipment which you might not be able to purchase right now. So if you cannot do any course for any reason, ultimately assisting a good photographer can be your way into the industry even those who have done courses should work under a good Photographer or studio before starting their own business this will give you experience and will build your network.
Professional Photography is a Technology and equipment based profession today. To start with your photography career you will need basic equipment.it is good if you own the equipment but you can even start with rented equipment, rented equipment will allow you to try different brands and models and find out best suitable kit for you. For buying equipment I will suggest to buy in phases especially camera and lens kit this way you can buy latest most suitable lenses. The basic equipment one should have is as follows
- Camera Body: A mid-range DSLR camera at least
- Lenses: you can start even with kit lense but a 50mm and a zoom lense will give flexibility in types of shots
- Flash: Always use flash which is compatible with your camera, you can use any brand but the model should be compatible with your camera body and avoid using universal flash models. Also avoid flash with inbuilt rechargeable batteries, they will be useless in remote locations and if charging facility is not available
- Light setup: Basic 2 light setup for Weddings or Studio shoots
- Reflector: Any 5 in 1 circular reflector set
- Editing machine: A laptop/desktop with editing software’s
Business knowledge and Marketing
Like any other business, Professional photography too requires a good business plan, strategy and hard work to be successful and earn you those 12Lakh a shoot. So make a business plan for next one year when you start, decide on exactly what type of photography you are good at and what type of photography you will be doing. Decide what type and budget level clients you can cater to. Design a proper flow of Marketing-Business development- shoots-Delivery-Invoicing. Make a schedule of your time when not on shoot and use that time for marketing, lead generation, client communication and client servicing. Your business’ presence on social media platforms is very essential today and majority of lead generation can be done from them so create your professional account on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Behance and Linkedin. The profile should be professional and only professional work should be posted there. Keep observing/Studying these platforms for latest trends in your profession and client requirements. Next is having formal presence on internet through your website, so create a website where you will have your portfolio, client names, testimonials and feedback, Your business information and personal portfolio is essential to showcase your best work to prospects through updated portfolio, social media accounts.
Some Do’s and Don’ts for Professional Photographer
- Be creative and original
- Follow top, creative photographers and profiles for Knowledge, Inspiration but don’t outright copy someone’s work
- Be ethical and professional in your work
- You and your business must be presentable. I have seen many photographers and teams dressed shabbily on shoots and meetings. Always be well dressed and groomed nobody wants to see shabby, unhygienic photographer on their shoot. Suite, Formals or ethnic wear are your potions though suit looks most professional it can be hindrance on shoot a Formal shirt Pant, Jeans with Color Tee-shirts with your/Company name on it are best for both Formal shoots and weddings etc. Suit can be worn for meetings or presentations.
- Always keep learning and keep your knowledge and equipment up-to-date
Never delay: Always be on time for shoot and delivery. If you are late on shoot you may miss a shot which was important to client and if you delay delivery there may not be any use of the photos to client and this will harm your payments and client relations
- Though fair discounts are fine, never work for free even if the client is a friend or family. However initially you may work for free barter to build your portfolio, client network but keep it very limited.
- Never disrespect or ignore client’s ideas, privacy and guidelines. Try to blend your creativity and ideas with client’s ideas and guidelines
- Never handle equipment carelessly. Last thing you want on your shoot is equipment malfunctioning or not working. We have seen shoots stopped for hours because one cable stopped working leading to loss in payments.
So, I hope this small bit of information which I shared with you which I have gained through my years working as a Producer; photographer will help you in starting your professional journey as a Photographer. I will be shortly starting with a Basic Photography profession Course where along with Photography skills we will also teach some business aspects. Meanwhile you can connect with me if you have any queries.