Professional photography is an excellent career choice for anyone who wants to get paid for using their creative talents. It’s one of the few fields where age and college degrees aren’t as important as a good eye, a quality product, and self discipline. Photography is a competitive field, however; so be prepared to start small, while you perfect your craft and build a portfolio of your best work. The tips below should help get you started.


Know your gear. A major misconception about professional photographers is that you must have a fancy camera body or multiple lenses in order to be successful. While having a great camera certainly does improve your business, being a successful photographer has more to do with knowing the ins and outs of camera basics. Before considering photography as a business, you need to know your camera and gear like the back of your hand.

  • Start off with a basic camera before jumping into buying a camera ranging in the thousands of dollars. A good photographer can take photos with a lower-end camera model, so get comfortable with a basic body first. As you begin to understand the camera and lenses, then look into purchasing new additions.
  • Read books, magazines, and online articles for the most up-to-date information on camera settings and tips and tricks. These will help to teach you new ways to use your camera and lenses to create great photos.
  • Make sure you are knowledgeable in how to use your other camera gear, such as a remote flash or different lenses. Having a background in these will significantly improve your photos.

Build your portfolio. In order to get hired by someone who isn’t a close family member or friend, you will need to have a portfolio built up to show off your best work. Use photographs from multiple shoots with different subject matter to show the range of your talents. Make sure that your portfolio is comprised of more than just five or ten photos; people will want to see the great work you’ve done.

  • Take photos every day to hone your skills and provide a wide range of images to choose for your portfolio. These photos don’t have to be of planned photo shoots; they can be from scenes in everyday life.
  • Hire beginning models for free from local agencies in exchange for free prints to use for your portraits. This gives you the opportunity to pose someone however you would like without having to pay them.

Decide on your forte. If you love doing portraits, then advertise yourself as a portrait photographer. If weddings are your favorite, then get the word out that you are a wedding photographer. Find your area of expertise and use it to your advantage in your business.

  • Try multiple areas of photography before settling on one as your favorite, and don’t exclude any business opportunities simply because they aren’t in your realm of expertise.
  • If you are incredibly opposed to a certain type of shoot – for example, many photographers refuse to do weddings because of the high stress levels involved – don’t feel forced into it because it represents a business opportunity. Only do photography that you enjoy and feel comfortable with; you will begin to dislike your business otherwise.

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