Many talented amateur photographers are so focused on what they are doing that they aren’t aware they could quite easily go professional and make a full-time income from there hobby. I have identified six indicators that could point you on the path to making cash from your camera on a regular basis or perhaps even a career.
It’s so easy to be so overly focused on your photography that you don’t realise there are possibilities beyond just shooting photos for pleasure. So maybe it’s time that you considered these possibilities and decide whether you could do this as a profession. It’s a hard world out there and the step from amateur pro is a tough one. What used to be a pleasurable experience now becomes your bread and butter and a daily grind if you are not careful. But, if you can answer these six key questions in your photography, then you stand a much better chance of going pro.
1. Are you selling your images on a frequent basis?
If you are selling your images on a regular basis then you have a foot in the door because you are already making money from your hobby. There are many ways to sell your photos and if you are able to do this consistently, whether at a craft fair, as greeting cards, framed at art shops or for stock agencies, then by focusing on it full-time you’ll sell more.
2. Are you technically competent?
Are you able to create better images by changing depth of field, shutter speed and all the other more technical aspects of photography. If you don’t have to think before setting up your camera for a composition then you are halfway there. Does working out the correct exposure and lighting come naturally and does it result in great images? Then, you probably find that you are ready to test the professional waters. Competence with all the technical parts of photography is essential before making it your livelihood.
3. Can you market yourself and enjoy it at the same time?
A pro friend once said that his business was divided into three areas, 40% debt collecting and admin, 40% marketing and 20% actual photography. Now this may not be totally realistic, but what it does reveal is that marketing yourself is a big component of being a successful photographer. If marketing is a drag then maybe you should reconsider going pro and continuing as a hobbyist making money on the sideline.
4. Do your images have a creative edge?
In order to make a go in the tough world of commercial photography you need to stand out from the rest of the crowd, and, the only way to do this is to have a creative edge to your photos. A unique look, different perspective or freshness will all give you an advantage when vying for business. If you are head and shoulders above your peers then maybe you have something that will give you a competitive advantage, essential to any business venture.
5. Do you receive regular photoshoot requests?
Many photographers start out in the realm of weekend social photography. By this I mean weddings, social events, child and portrait photography and other family related photos. If people are booking you for parties, events and weddings in particular then it’s likely that this will continue if you turned pro. This is a major indicator that you are ready to go professional and make a living from your photography.
6. Are you passionate about photography?
And last but not least, do you have a real passion and excitement when you take photos? If it doesn’t make you heart jump then maybe you need to reconsider. Any creative pursuit needs underlying passion that will maintain you during the dry periods when things are slow. If there is a drive that gets you up in the morning to go out and shoot great images then that could be the final pointer that says you are ready for photography as a professional. I know a children’s photographer whose heart pounds from excitement on every shoot giving her the drive and passion for her work.
In order to make cash from your camera you need to be self-motivated and full of enthusiasm for what you do. You cannot open a business and put your feet up on the counter and expect the clients and money to roll in. It’s a tough process and you need to stick it out until the good times roll in. If you enjoy nothing more than taking photos all day, then you are already halfway along the road to success.