In our recent survey of professional photographers, an overwhelming 98% said they love their job. Yes, that’s right – nearly everyone we asked. That’s one happy bunch of people and a beckoning finger to anyone thinking they might become a professional photographer. (Although we're still a bit sad for the 2% who aren't apparently in love with what they do.)
And the reason? Top answer among our cheery respondents was their capacity to capture their clients’ special moments and make their customers happy. Perhaps not all that surprising.
Balancing that selflessness, however, were more practical reasons to beome a professional photographer related to photographers’ own wellbeing and included:
- Being able to be creative
- Being their own boss
- Having a good work/life balance
Of the 300 professional photographers we asked, the majority switched to photography from a career they didn’t enjoy.
And 23% said they fell into photography by accident – it wasn’t planned or a specific move away from another career.
Given that many photographers were keen to move away from lacklustre jobs elsewhere, or changed career with very little planning, it perhaps isn’t surprising that the majority (62%) of this enthusiastic bunch were honest enough to admit they didn’t have enough experience in the early days.
While not necessarily career-ending, this could make for a tough start if you've taken the decision to become a professional photographer. Because it's not always easy to get a business off the ground.
Our sample were also upfront about the fact that just being creative and enjoying photography aren’t necessarily enough to forge a career in the industry.
In fact, almost all of those who responded (99% to be exact) agreed that ‘there is a lot more to running a photography business or being a professional photographer than simply taking a great picture’. Despite this harsh reality, seven out of ten would still recommend being a photographer.
From the horse's mouth
We also asked people to pass on one tip or inspirational comment for anyone else hoping to become a professional photographer, or for those just starting out.
The biggest single piece of advice was ‘make a business plan’. Any successful photographer will agree they need to develop their business as well as their negatives.
The second most common piece of advice was ‘find a niche and don't try to be a jack of all trades’. Clients will be prepared to pay more if they can see a level of expertise and style in a particular field. Don’t try to please everyone but pick a genre and an approach, and you’ve got something unique on which to build your business.
‘Charge what you’re worth’ was another useful tip. Set your price point appropriately for your level of experience and field, but equally don’t undersell yourself. As they say, ‘you’re worth it’ so hold your ground on fee negotiations.
And finally, ‘know your equipment’ and don’t stop playing around with it. It’s often the case that the kit can do much more than’s asked of it.
Here's more from the survey in a handy infographic:
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