How to become a successful photographer

I know you’ve probably read a thousand of these same posts with all the clichéd, meaningless phrases that people tell you on how to be a successful photographer, like ‘follow your dreams’, ‘be unique’, ‘believe in yourself’ etc. These have no practical application in helping you become successful.

What I’m doing here is boiling down the advice from the pros (like Zack Arias, Joe McNally, David Hobby etc) in a recent YouTube video I just posted about here, to the practical points that you can actually use on how to become a successful photographer:

  • Work hard – Yep, pretty obvious but probably the number 1 thing and you’ve just got to do it. Stop daydreaming about your dream job, be proactive and do something about it. When you’re trying to make it you should be spending all your time shooting, marketing, blogging, editing, networking – it all counts. If you don’t, there are thousands of people out there that are spending every waking moment doing this and they’ll pass you by. Consistently working hard will benefit you in so many ways, from improving your portfolio to getting yourself known.
  • Shoot more – If you’re working hard you’ll be shooting more. If you shoot more you’ll be editing more and your portfolio will grow and improve. Shoot the stuff you want to be shooting and remember, free shoots are valuable – you’re getting paid in experience and building your portfolio, you’ll turn this into money in the long term. A good one from the video: contact clients you want to work with. Just try it, give them a call, pop them an email, what’s the worst that can happen.
  • Dont chase the money – A difficult one to grasp as you obviously need to make money to be able to survive and continue doing the job you want. But it’s good advice to stop thinking ‘how can I get rich from taking photos’.  Follow the above points, if you work hard, shoot more and take pictures you are happy with, financial success will follow. 
  • Network – again quite an obvious point but something people don’t really know how to do effectively. Networking means everything from contributing to online forums, contacting clients, going on photo walks, visiting exhibitions, attending events etc. The more you do this, the more people you’ll get to know and you’ll find the work starts to come in. This is how the world goes round, people would much rather employee someone they know as it’s much less work for them. And be nice to people!
  • Slash your expenses – If you’re finding budgeting difficult, try and manage your money better. Do you really need to go for that coffee? How important is it for you to buy those new shoes? Having the most expensive gear isn’t necessarily the most important thing either. Is it more important for you to live in an expensive plush apartment or to be doing a job you love?
My own contributions:
  • Research – get stuck into some books, videos and blogs on everything about the industry. Try and absorb as much information as you can about the business of photography and surround yourself by it. And keep at it!

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