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Do you want to understand your camera and take great photos today?

Yes Please

Are you wondering how to become a photographer?  These days it seems like everyone is. This is because of easy access to cameras, photo editing software tools, and online sharing.

But access to the basics doesn’t make you a professional photographer.

So what can you do to get started as a pro? Here’s your quick guide on how to become a photographer!

instant photographs on a yellow background next to a Fujifilm Instax Mini - how to become a photographer

8. Start By Researching Your Area

Doing a bit of research can go a long way in easing the learning curve of early entrepreneurship!

You’ll want to take a look at your local market. Study other professional photographers in your area. Make sure to look at the rates that they charge for various packages.

You’ll also want to know what genres of photography are common in your area. If there are already many wedding photographers, you may want to market yourself differently.

Here, you need to reevaluate your photography skills or your business skills. Those other wedding photographers might not provide photography courses in digital photography.

Portrait photographers can change their field a little by breaking into the fashion world. Or they can hold photography courses in Adobe Photoshop or the basic fundamentals of photography.

This can help you start to get a sense for what niche of photography you want to shoot. This will also help you figure out the calibre of work expected and corresponding rates.

Photography magazines can also be a great source of inspiration and education. Keep in mind that they won’t provide local information.

It’s also always good to do research so you get to know your fellow professional photographers! Connecting with other professionals in your town helps to build your support network.

This will be vital as you grow your business. I can’t tell you how important research is in one of the most important areas in how to become a photographer.

A stunning cityscape panorama at night - how to be a photographer

7. Check Your Local Business Regulations

This process will vary with each city, state, and country. Be sure to ask your local officials about the process in your area.

Having the proper paperwork in place will help establish you as an official photography business. Both to the public and in your own mind!

This also lets customers know that you’re serious about being a business owner. If you plan to do business under a fictitious name rather than using your own, be sure to ask how to apply for that as well.

And don’t forget the photography contract. Becoming a professional photographer will often mean paperwork. You may need some business skills, but you don’t need a photography degree.

Do what you need to do in making sure your business takes off. Everything you want to do comes later.

6. What Gear Do You Need as a Professional photographer

Start with what you have and work with that! The artist is far more important than the machine. That being said, having the right gear for the genre of work you’re doing can help up your game.

Begin with what you have, and perfect your technique as much as your current gear allows. This can include shooting technique, lighting methods, and photo editing with Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom.

If you’re looking to try out high-end gear before buying, consider renting! Try it on a photo shoot before investing fully.

Renting gear is great if you have a big job that may require more than what you own. It’s also a good option if you’re thinking of investing in something but aren’t sure if you’ll like it.

Rental fees can be very reasonable. There are even online rental websites that will send the gear straight to your door.

Consider if there’s a specific niche that you want to work in. You’ll need different lenses for interior photography than for corporate events.

This is where a network of local professional photographers comes in handy. You can ask other professionals what gear they suggest for the niche you’re considering.

Even post-processing, editing software is important gear to have. Adobe Photoshop and/or Lightroom are two of the best tools to use.

interior photography of a modern loft living room with white furnishings, learning how to become a photographer

5. Why You Should Pick a Niche

Speaking of niches, focus on one type of photography. This can be portrait photography, product photography, event coverage, wedding photography, etc.

Specializing will make your branding clearer to your audience. And the right clients will have a much better chance of finding you!

You’ll most likely still take on jobs that are outside of your speciality. This will help increase revenue early on. But you can choose to only show one type of work in your portfolio.

It’s also normal to experiment with different types of work when you first start out. It takes time to find the niche that speaks to you.

The goal should be specialising in one type of photography work. This way, your brand becomes more defined, shown through your photo shoots.

If you are looking to make money with photography, it is better to find your own niche. This will allow you to avoid saturated markets.

4. Create an Online Portfolio to Share With Clients

The first thing that people will want to see from you are examples of your professional photos. Having a website to which you can direct potential clients is vital!

This can be a free site at first, as long as it has capabilities for large, easy-to-navigate galleries. It should also have an About page that includes your contact information.

Along with your portfolio, be sure to get business cards. Then you can share your website with everyone you meet! A few business skills can go a long way.

Here’s our 5 steps guide to creating a professional photography portfolio

A beautiful landscape panorama shot by a professional photographer

3. Tell People About What You Do to Grow Your Network

Those business cards will come in handy when you begin to tell people about your new venture! Start with your friends and family.

Social media is great for this, and be sure to include your photography website link when you share.

Next, you’ll want to start telling people farther out in your network. They can be acquaintances from work or folks you meet at social gatherings.

Bring it up in conversation. And offer a business card if they seem interested in seeing your work. Finally, you’ll want to seek out local events for casual networking.

That way you can begin making new connections! While this may seem intimidating, take it one event at a time. Don’t put pressure on yourself to find clients immediately.

Choose events that feel more casual and comfortable for you. And then experiment until you find what works for you. Find a way to enlarge your photography skills and get out of your comfort zone.

Telling everyone what you are doing can really make the difference. You won’t be an amateur photographer anymore, but a professional photographer.

2. Practice Even When You Don’t Have Clients

It should go without saying, but be sure to practice as much as possible. The more you shoot, the more you’ll grow as a professional photographer.

This will provide you with constant material for your portfolio & social media. It will improve your technical skills as you gain more experience.

And it will give you more courage as you get out and about more.

Of course, you should be shooting for clients. But don’t wait for a client or relative to request your services. Go out and shoot something every day!

A great way to do this is to create a 365 project for yourself, where you shoot one photo a day for one full year. Arrange free photo shoots to try new poses, settings and ideas.

This can start at any time, and you can set a theme to it to help guide you more. Get out your digital camera, go through the fundamentals of photography or do some photography courses.

An interior photography shot of a motivational notebook on an ottoman, tips on how to become a photographer

1. Try Workshops and Online Courses

Learning never stops, and it’s especially vital when you’re starting out and have so much to learn! Educational activities can take many different forms.

They can be an online course, an in-person workshop, or finding a mentor that you connect with and admire. This will keep your digital photography to its highest standards.

Whatever this looks like for you, learning should be a lifelong pursuit. That way you’re always growing and expanding the expertise that you offer to clients.

Consider also educating yourself on the business aspects of being a professional photographer. This has the potential to really boost your photography career.

Many of the photography magazines on the market today talk about business aspects. This will help make you a well-rounded business owner that can tackle all sorts of issues that may arise.

Conclusion

Deciding to turn your hobby into a professional venture is exciting. It can also seem overwhelming at first.

There’s lots more to running a successful photography business than what we discussed here. But these simple steps will get you started when you first dive in!

We have tons of great tips for getting started as a professional photographer – why not check our articles on how to write a model release form or the lowdown on using stock images for a start! But first, check out this cool video on how to become a photographer.

A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:

Thank you for reading...

CLICK HERE if you want to capture breathtaking images, without the frustration of a complicated camera.

It's my training video that will walk you how to use your camera's functions in just 10 minutes - for free!

I also offer video courses and ebooks covering the following subjects:

You could be just a few days away from finally understanding how to use your camera to take great photos!

Thanks again for reading our articles!

Natalia Robert

California-based lifestyle photographer and founder of The Grove, I specialize in interiors big and small for unique properties worldwide. With my spunky dog as my co-pilot, I'm always looking for the next adventure! You can find me at www.NataliaRobert.com and www.MeetMeAtTheGrove, and follow my daily adventures on IG (@nataliarobertphoto).

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