Do you dream of earning a living leveraging your photography skills? As many pro shooters will tell you, it’s a tough time to make a living behind the lens but there are also many benefits–artistic freedom, flexibility to experiment and using your creativity to earn a living.
One decision to make early on is how to differentiate your skills in a crowded and competitive marketplace. Many times people start to offer their services as a second (or third) shooter at weddings, doing portraits for friends or presenting themselves as a ‘jack of all trades’ photographer. While it’s wise to try different arenas to figure which areas offer the most potential, you may also wish to consider concentrating on a certain niche.
Take a look at the professional photographers in your area. A simple online search will likely bring several photographers’ sites offering their services. What do they claim as their specialties? Do see an area that isn’t strongly covered? In that gap you might find an opportunity to fill a void that others have yet to recognize.
Corporations often need executive headshots and supporting images to be used in company brochures, financial reports and for their online presence. If you have a passion for furnishings and interiors, there are opportunities in architectural photography. Each niche requires specialized skills and those will only come through practice, but all acclaimed photographers had to start somewhere. Sports event photography for youth leagues, as an example, is competitive but quite profitable for those who establish themselves in a particular territory.
Once you find a niche, consider finding a mentor. Get involved in a regional or national professional organization such as the PPA (Professional Photographers of America) so that you can surround yourselves with experts who are willing to share their expertise. These conferences include seminars and presentations by working professional photographers. Strong professional support can be invaluable to someone who is just getting started in the industry.
As you practice and hone your skills, you’ll need to make sure your website, Facebook profile and other social media tools include searchable phrases and tags that point to your specialty. This will take a bit of time but consistency and persistence can yield substantial results and put you on the path to success.
Cast your net wide in the beginning while keeping one eye open for those niche opportunities. You may find yourself one day as a professional offering counsel to someone just getting started.