So You Want to Be A Professional
It is the greatest profession there is IMHO! But surviving the long term is not what you might think, certainly not what I’ve seen written by most. You have NO idea how many emails, Facebook Messages and other means folks contact me and say “look at my images, my website and tell me how I can make money.” Or my favorite is the email that says, “I want to be a professional photographer, can you tell me how” after I look at their Flicker account. My first reaction is, “Do you really understand what you’re asking?” I’ve been doing this photography thing since 1981 and I wouldn’t trade it for ANYTHING! At the same time, when our son Jake said he was going into the profession, mom & dad tried everything at the beginning to talk him out of it. If anyone knows the ups and down of this industry is Jake who, is doing great at the business of photography. But he had NINETEEN years of exposure to the business before starting out. I know he’s never emailed a stranger out of the blue and asked, “How do I become a professional photographer?” and that includes me. The ups and downs of this profession you have no clue about. The insecurity, the back stabbing and haters, how simple weather can totally destroy all plans. And yet, I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
First and foremost, if this is your desire, the last thing you do is send a stupid email to a working professional asking how to do it!!!!! There is no way in hell it can be answered in an email or Facebook Message so don’t look so stupid. And really, you think someone in a successful business is going to give away their “secrets” to a stranger for free? If you want to really, honest and truly get in the business, submit an article!!!! That’s right, compile the photographs, write the text and stick your neck on the cutting block!!! When I decided to go fully into aviation photography, I followed the same route I used for my wildlife, I did my research and submitted articles. My teachers have always been and remain to be the photo buyers who KNOW the business. I don’t care what aspect of photography you love, the editorial market place is where you LEARN and as a photographer, you MUST constantly LEARN your entire career or you fade away! So do yourself a HUGE favor and if you want to be a professional start by acting like one. And in photography that means you start with your photographs and move forward. That’s how you answer the simple question, so you want to be a professional. (If you see me in person and you want to have this discussion, I’m more than happy to do so!)