If you decide to become a professional photographer consider the two paths open to you. You can become an assistant to a professional photographer or start-up your own business. The former route is one you might consider if you feel you require more experience and need the support and contacts provided by an established photographer. The latter path is a more difficult one to take but you can travel it if you feel this is the right way for you to go.
Before you begin, sit down and consider your goals, both short and long term. Where do you want to go with this new career? What area or type of photography will you focus on? Do you have a plan? More importantly, do you have a business plan? How are you in terms of self-promotion?
After you have analyzed your situation and know what you need to do to accomplish the initial and future goals, examine your equipment. Do you have the right type of equipment? How digital are you? How aware are you of the latest and fastest technology? Can you afford the best equipment? Can you afford not to have the best equipment? Once you have examined your budget, catalogued your equipment and created a feasible business plan, you can begin with the next step – promotion.
Take as many photos as you can and place them together with your best work in a portfolio. Do not stop honing your craft as you work on the presentation pieces. Ask for advice from a wide variety of sources, pay attention to their criticisms and act accordingly. Listen, particularly, to what they like and what they dislike. Learn from their criticism and apply it to your photography. This will improve your art and create a better, more appealing and salable product.
Remember, the goal is to improve your work and to promote your services. Collect your art into two types of format: computer disc and hard copy. This will allow you to display your versatility in more than one area. It also increases the opportunity to show it to various markets. When you buy a portfolio make sure it is of high quality. Select a leather ring binder, add at least 20 of your best prints and put them into plastic sleeves. Be sure to label each one with your name, address and phone number.
Promote yourself to everybody. Initially, this will be the best way to launch your professional career. Offer your services to friends, family, events and to other photographers. Be prepared to take plenty of wedding photos. Enter photography contests. This may not only provide you with some extra cash, but also helps you develop credits to add to your resume. It could, also result in greater exposure.
Another possibility is an exhibition. Check out local possibilities. You might find a restaurant, photography store or small gallery, museum or art shop interested in displaying your work. This provides exposure and grants legitimacy. It may also lead to further contacts and/or work.
Buy magazines and newspapers to see what sells and what does not. Look through them with an eye to seeing what makes the photograph suitable for the work it accompanies. Does it illustrate the story or article? Is the piece written around the photograph? Can you do both?
Think like an editor. Ultimately, it is this man or woman who decides whether your work will be published in their newspaper or magazine. When you decide to send off work, address the envelope properly, make sure the stamps cover the postage and always include a self-addressed stamped envelope.
Invest in a photography marketing guide. This will help you locate markets and tap into different possibilities. Buy one that is complete with contact information of magazines and both greeting card and book publishers. The inclusion of a web site can also help you determine whether the editor will be open to your work.
Do not forget the seemingly small things. Insure your equipment. Copyright your work. Maintain good records and keep all receipts covering your expenses. You will be thankful for this when it is income tax time.
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Grant Eckert is a writer for Maccaca. Maccaca is a leading Art Social Network
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