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How to Become a Professional Photographer

200611101344The following is part 3 of my interview with a Pro Photographer.

How did you Go Pro as a Photographer?

I have always loved photography and in the early days (when I was a teenager) I never went anywhere without a camera. I must have cost my parents a fortune in film and developing but they fostered my love for my hobby.

I guess things progressed from hobby to profession in my early 20’s while I was studying at university (I was studying Engineering and hating it). I became known as the ‘guy with the camera’ and out of that was always being asked to photograph events in my friends lives.

When I wasn’t asked to photograph an event that I was going to I took the attitude that I’d do it anyway and went out of my way to give the best shots that I took to the organizers. This gets attention and when your shots are as good (if not better than the hired photographers) you get your name out there. It’s also great practice.

I also met a lot of pro photographers in that time at events and offered my services to them as a back up photographer to go with them and cover events from a more candid/paparazzi perspective. At first I did this for free but after a while they started paying me.

Over time and through word of mouth and networking I began to land gigs of my own and over a couple of years while I studied I gradually transitioned from a full time study/part time photographer to a full time photographer/part time student (I switched to study photography and did it at night school).

Over the last decade I’ve developed my own candid style (those early years of working as a secondary photographer paid off in that way as I learnt a lot) and have moved away somewhat from ‘event’ photography to portraits.

These days I still do weddings but also do a lot of family photography, usually in people’s homes.

My advice to wannabe Pro Photographers:

  • Promote yourself – offer your services where ever you can. To friends and family, to other photographers, to event organizers – to anyone. In my early days I was pretty pushy and had to sell myself hard, but it was worth it.
  • Hone your craft – take as many shots as you can but see each one as an opportunity to learn something and develop your own unique style.
  • Have a back up plan – don’t just ‘go pro’ unless you have enough work to justify it. I’ve seen a few people go bankrupt this way. While it took me a few years to build up to going full time as a photographer I always had other work to pay the bills in the mean time.

For more resources on turning your digital photography from a hobby into a money maker check out:

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Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

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