How to get started as a Professional Photographer

I often get asked one could get started as a Professional Photographer. Through my Ditch Auto course, Facebook Group and Youtube Videos, I get comments from other photographers who want to start charging for their time and camera work.

The reason I put together the Ditch Auto course was to instruct people on how to shoot in manual mode with their camera. People would often ask why I was getting better photos out of the same camera they had. I had the same frustrations when I first started with a DSLR camera. I have started working on a course to answer the question, “How do I get started as a Professional Photographer.”

Through putting together “Ditch Auto: Start Shooting in Manual”, I realized that there is no easy answer to some questions. Learning how to operate the manual modes of your camera can not be taught over coffee, nor can one learn how to start getting paid for their photography work. There is a lot to discuss and understand.

When I started in photography, digital was still somewhat new. There were still a lot of photographers shooting film and many of them did not want to make the change to digital. This was also a time where wedding photographers were starting to charge for their time instead of trying to make their money on prints. It was a crazy transition for the industry, but it ushered in a lot of new photographers who were not interested in all the back-end work required to print in-house.

In this post, I only want to discuss a few topics as I will be completing this course soon and will make it available to all of you.

What makes a Photographer, Professional?

The dictionary says that any person who is engaged in a profession is a professional. That is pretty vague. That means the moment you start getting paid for your photography work, you are a professional. Obviously there are varying degrees of professional from there. Some people have won a few awards and call themselves, “Award Winning Photographers.” Others don’t even use the word “professional” and simply call themselves a “Wedding Photographer” or a “Portrait Photographer.” These days we see a lot of photographers specializing in very niche areas of photography. This is due to a lot of the Photographer Bloggers out there instructing people to specialize. I will talk deeply about specializing in my course.

It took me a while to consider myself a Professional Photographer. I followed a lot of other Photographers online who had amazing work and thought that I needed to be on that level as a Photographer to consider myself professional. Once I realized that my work was as good, if not better than the other Photographers in my area, I considered myself professional. This was about two years after I had already been charging for my work.

How much should I charge for my Photography?

This is another question I get asked often. How much should I charge for my photography, or how much should I charge as a photographer?

This question comes down to how you want to market yourself and where you live. I live in an area where the market is getting consumed by people who will shoot weddings for $500. I have too much gear and time invested in myself as a Professional Photographer to go and shoot an entire day for $500 and be responsible for a Bride’s once-in-a-lifetime event. I don’t take that lightly when it comes to my gear and I definitely don’t take the responsibility lightly.

How much you charge really does come down to how you plan to market yourself. Some Photographers market themselves to high-end clients who are more apt to purchase luxury things. It’s easier to do that these days because you can use social media to make your persona match what people would expect a luxury photographer lifestyle to be. I’m too real for that. I have heard some photographers say that you need to be on the high end or the low end of cost, but never in the middle. I don’t think many of these photographers know what they are talking about. I think you have to take a good look at your market, your abilities and what you are able to deliver. We will talk about that in detail in my course.

Who should take my course?

If you are a photographer and have wanted to start getting serious paid work, you should take this course. I am building this course for the person who wants to start a career as a Professional Photographer. The great thing about being a Photographer is that you can be a full-time photographer while working a regular job. I built my entire photography business while also growing my customer base as a website designer. I built websites during the week and photographed weddings on the weekends. I also took a lot of days off during the week and traveled a lot.

Stay tuned as I post updates about the process of this course on this blog and social media. Here is a list of places you can connect with me:

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