Is it really that hard to become and be a pro photographer?

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by bluemary, Jun 7, 2008.

  1. bluemary

    bluemary TPF Noob!

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    So sorry if this is in the wrong forum! I have no idea where else to put it though.

    I've been thinking about becoming a professional photographer for the past 2 years (I'm still in high school) and I really want to do this.
    But I'm a little afraid that I won't be good enough, that I won't make enough money for a living and that I'm just one of millions (who are better or same level as me).
    There is also the question of the training. I'm thinking about going to college and taking photography as my major. Does anybody know such a college (UK & US) that offers photography as a major and has a good reputation?
    I'm really sorry if this is boring, if this question has been asked so many times before but I feel really insecure and here in Switzerland, there is nobody who can answer my questions because photography is not very known here (as a training).
    So, thanks in advance!

    ~Mary
     
  2. Alpha

    Alpha Troll Extraordinaire

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    Depends on what market you're targeting. General portrait work and weddings have markets everywhere. Commercial as well, to some extent, though more-so in larger cities. Beauty and fashion, being necessarily published professions, require nearby publishing houses. That's why you rarely see anyone shooting them outside of NY, LA, San Francisco, Paris, or London. I suppose you could add Berlin or Munich.
     
  3. bluemary

    bluemary TPF Noob!

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    I'd love to do nature or fashion shots. I'm not the studio type of photographer. Weddings and family portraits either. But for doing the fashion and nature shots you need to stand out, right? And I'm really not sure I can!

    Thanks for your answer!
     
  4. Alpha

    Alpha Troll Extraordinaire

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    Nature is VERY difficult to break into, though not entirely impossible.

    There may be some publishers in Zurich...I don't know. In any event, fashion is difficult to break into as well, though certainly not impossible. You'd need to do the following: Find models, makeup artists, hair stylists, and wardrobe designers. Do as much Trade for Print/CD as possible, pay when you have to. Put together a respectable portfolio. Apply to assist a big-name fashion photographer. Work with a couple of these guys for a few years and you're set to break out on your own. Time spent with them is for a) Learning and b) Networking. You cannot escape doing studio work, though.
     
  5. bluemary

    bluemary TPF Noob!

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    You're saying to shot nature is harder than to be successful in fashion shots? That's interesting! I thought it's the other way around.
    Do you know any college? Or would you say no college but "learning by doing" (apprenticeship)?

    The field of photography seems so wide, I have no idea where to start!
     
  6. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Well part of the problem with nature is kit and time - to get the best shots you generally need longer lenses - and they cost and arm and a leg! Not to mention trying to find wildlife to shoot and then getting those shots (often in less than ideal conditions)
    Even if you just zoo shoot there are challenges (elminating bars and cages in zoos) and also zoos do not let you shoot for free on their land - you have to ask to do so and there are conditions attached (varies from zoo to zoo and I am not certain what they are, but either a commission from sales or free (rights as well probably) copies of your shots in their zoo).

    After that there is the problem that most people don't buy loads of wildlife shots - they buy maybe one or two and that is it - this limits your user base where as a portrate people might buy several - and then want them printed and sent to friends. Or wedding where you might be expected to make loads of copies and also people really do seek you out for your services - meaning you get paid not only for hte shot, but for your time as well directly.

    As for degrees - well you don't need one to get into work - what you do need is a portfolio displaying your work and your skills - a course might force you to work in different meduims and situations than would would freely choose which can give you a wider selection of skills. Futher for many it acts as a form of confidance that you have done a course and past = confidance to get out and trust in your own skills

    But to start - start with YOUR intersts - as an art you won't do any good trying to shoot things that you really don't enjoy shooting.
     
  7. Rhys

    Rhys TPF Noob!

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    Anybody can be a professional photographer. Your question should be "how do I become a successful professional photographer". All it takes to be a professional is to have a business licence which in my state costs just $50.

    To be successful you have to make money enough to live on. To do that you have either to be very good at selling or very good at photography and pretty good at selling.
     
  8. That One Guy

    That One Guy TPF Noob!

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    Formal training would definitely be a plus.

    Is it hard to become a pro? that depends on YOUR definition of pro.

    Equipment will cost a small fortune however ;)

    I am a big advocate of pro results require pro tools. You can skimp on the body a bit, but not on the glass.
     
  9. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    Photography is a tough racket for sure. Start looking at schools all over Europe and the states. There are plenty of good ones. Just takes a lot of research. Keep in mind that wildlife & nature and or fashion is everyones first reaction to the types of photography that they would like to get into. After time that may change. You will have to look at studying photography as a whole then decide what field you would like to go into.

    And yes you have to be really good. If your heart is in it you will be. Fact of the matter there is room for everyone in the field. Like anything else you just have to work hard at it.

    Love & Bass
     
  10. No, it's easy to become a pro. Making a huge living at it is a different matter.
     
  11. That One Guy

    That One Guy TPF Noob!

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    If your definition of pro is someone who makes some money (not sole income only) from photography, then most of us here would be considered pros.

    If your definition of pro is someone who can capture great images no matter the conditions, then the field narrows.

    If your definition of pro is someone who makes their living from photography, then we are down to just a very small number here that do.

    I do portraits for money but not as my sole income. I can tell you that for me doing this just part time I have to live, eat, and breathe photography. When I am not in the studio I am interacting with other photogs here at TPF:), reading and re-reading books on lighting techniques. I also spend time practicing lighting, exposure, and post techniques. Then on my small amount of "off" time, I do my accounting and market myself. There are not enough hours in the day and you are never done.
    Once my wife finishes her schooling, I will go full time :)

    Summary: you have to be a highly motivated individual. What you put into it is what you will get out of it. It HAS to be your passion. It HAS to be your life. Anything short of that is unacceptable.

    I almost forgot- when you have time to sit down and relax, then you have a meltdown. I had one of those yesterday. Thank God for TPF!
     
  12. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I can open a business, make cards and sign off my sister's ferret as the owner... it is therefore now a professional photographer... however, it doesn't even know how to do more than press the shutter accidentally now and then... lol.

    IMHO, anyone... can become a professional, but the question you should be asking is... will you be any GOOD?
     

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