Becoming a Professional Photographer in the Digital Age

If you are someone looking to become or are starting out as a professional, you might not be familiar with the common problems that we pro photographers face. Here are the most common problems and how to overcome them.

1. Expensive Equipment

Starting a photography business is very expensive in the UK. Even if you don’t find a lot of work, you would still have to invest on a number of professional photography gear like a good camera, multiple lenses, a professional computer (mostly an expensive one like the Macbook Pro), professional photo editing software, etc.

It would be impossible to start a photography business without investing a minimum £12000 on the above-mentioned gear.

The biggest problem with the profession is that they are fixed costs in nature. You would be spending a lot of money even if you have £0 in revenue. Also, most of the above-mentioned equipment tend to go obsolete often. You would be spending a lot of money on updating your gear and software every year. It wouldn’t be possible to stay competitive without possessing the state-of-the-art technology.

Photography Equipment ExpensiveOne way to tackle this is to get the expensive equipment for rent while starting out. There are a lot of rental services for photographers around the country. Novice photographers avoid them considering them as expensive.

What they fail to understand is that it would be far more expensive to buy the equipment yourselves and update them periodically. Also, you are only going to pay the rent when you find yourselves a paying gig.

2. People Rip You Off

A lot of people do not understand the value created by a photographer. A photographer is the one who

  • Makes your product sell by way of presenting it attractively to an audience
  • Records beautiful moments that you want to cherish for life in a professionally
  • Makes your website or brochure look good

The number of friends and relatives who demand your services for free is too damn high. What they do not understand is that I went to University to learn photography. I spent 2 years and took out a student loan for which I’m still paying for.

Other than people you know, there are other types of leeches that try to rip you off. There are a lot of businessmen that demand your services in exchange for ‘exposure’. They try to convince you that you are lucky to be even working with them and that you are going to get a lot of business by way of their recommendations. In my experience, this has never worked. Worse – their so-called recommendations demand your services for free too. I avoid these type of people like the plague.

3. Time Consuming

Time Consuming Post Production WorkA lot of people are attracted to the profession without understanding the stress behind post-production work involved behind photography. Post production is time-consuming and stressful in nature. Also, you cannot expect a good photograph after a half-ass attempt at the post production.

A lot of pro photographers hate this aspect of photography. Once you start getting steady business, you can start outsourcing the post production work to a freelancer or consider hiring a professional. However, while starting out, it would be wise do this yourself.

The problem is that you cannot charge your clients for the post production work. Most clients do understand the backend work involved in photography.

4. Very Competitive

The industry has become really competitive but for all the wrong reasons. As a professional photographer, I would love to compete against all the talented pros in my area. Competition is good – it makes me give my best to my clients. However, as a professional photographer, I’m competing with the hundreds of amateurs who have equipped themselves with a cheap SLR and a pirated copy of Adobe Photoshop. For the naked eye, we’re all photographers. For the potential client – we are all the same.

What is worse is that the amateurs are more than willing to work for free, so that they could build their ‘portfolio’. Whatever be the reason, as a professional, you should never undervalue your services. One way to overcome competition is to become a specialist. You could choose a field and specialise by way of amazing work. For instance, you can become the go-to guy for underwater photography projects in your area.

5. No Fixed Income

No Fixed IncomeUnless you are already in high-demand with a number of regular clients, it is impossible to scale your business as a photographer. Expect to be a single person business for years to come.

This is because the profession does not bring a steady business every month. Unlike other professions, there are no such seasons when photographers are in demand. You might be in great demand this month with no time to take up all the business that comes your way but no business the very next month.

One way to tackle this is to work for a studio part-time which could bring a steady income every month.

6. Finding a Gig

As a freelancer photographer, especially when starting out, it is hard to find paying gigs. Also, as a photographer, it is not likely that you possess the business skills that could land you clients. It wouldn’t be possible to focus on your field work if you are constantly making calls and meeting people to find work.

On the other hand, it would be great to talk to people who are already on the lookout for a photographer. Sphere Digital Recruitment helped me find most of my clients while starting out. I still check out the digital jobs section for full employment opportunities from time to time. As a professional photographer, you also find permanent jobs that are offered in your area.

Even though there are a number of problems for professional photographers, it still is a great profession. However, if you are choosing photography for the money, you are doing it wrong. There are a number of other career options that you choose intead for the money. Photography is an art and you would have to have an immense passion to succeed here. Good luck!


Post Author: admin

SteveN is a professional photographer and digital designer with work around the world and throughout web. Follow his rantings about the good, bad and ugly faces of graphic design and photography on the web.