Many photography lovers and enthusiasts dream of making money from their creative hobby. But when you make the decision to become a professional and full-time photographer, you realize it’s not actually easy, and creativity alone is not enough. If you are thinking of switching from a hobbyist to professional, Matt Granger has created a pretty straightforward video to help you on the way of reaching your goal.
Doing what you love every day and making a living out of it really sounds like a dream come true. However, you’ll still need to invest a lot of effort, time and money to achieve it. Nothing happens overnight, and before you go on a long journey of becoming a pro, you need to know it. In his video, Matt gives five helpful and painfully realistic key points you need to cover before you make the big decision.
Like every big decision, this one also requests a lot of thinking and self-analysis. If you have a full-time job, you really need to think well before you ditch it all and go into something completely new. Yeah, even though you know how to use the camera – photography business is something else, and it will be new to you.
So, try making an accurate and completely honest estimate of your personal situation. Do you have a full-time job you love and that enables you a decent life? If the answer is yes, you may reconsider giving it up and going into full-time photography business. On the other hand, if there are no circumstances to hold you back from going pro in photography, there’s still plenty of thinking to do. Is the quality of your images on a high enough level? Do you have enough commercial experience? Be honest to yourself in answering these questions, because this is the only way of doing it right and making a right decision.
This process is very personal, sometimes scary and difficult – but it’s necessary. Think of your situation, where you are in life, what your priorities are – and act accordingly. If all the conditions are met to go pro – it’s time for the next step.
2. Your vision and goals
If you’ve completed the thorough self-analysis and decided to become a professional photographer – congratulations. Now you need to have a clear vision of your future and have the goals in mind. But be careful not to mix goals and wishes. Keep it realistic and viable.
Think of the style you want to develop, what you want to achieve, and how you want to achieve it. Think about yourself in five years’ time and where you want t be when this time passes. Grab a pen and paper and write it all down.
3. Setting the goals
When you have your five-year goal in mind, it’s time to break it down. If you are a person who shot one friend’s wedding for free, and see a five year older self as a professional who shots 40 weddings a year, it may seem intimidating and discouraging. So, set milestones. Write what you want to achieve in one, two, three and four years before reaching the main goal.
Make sure not to be vague, and set “smart goals”. This means goals you can measure easily and target clearly. When you look back at them in a while, you should know clearly whether you achieved them or not. Again, keep it real, and don’t write down the wishes, but the realistic, achievable goals.
4. Setting milestones and taking action
When you’ve set milestones, you can break them down further. This will help you create a short-term action plan and get moving.
Having a one-year and five-year plan doesn’t mean a thing if you do nothing about them. So, take the one-year milestone and look it from backwards. What can you do in the next six months to achieve the first short-term goal? What can you do this month, this week? For starters, it’s a good idea to set up a website, and that’s something you can start working on immediately.
5. Reality check
Just like the personal analysis from the beginning, reality check is also a painful process. Personally, I’d put it right along the personal analysis, and I think it should be done before you start taking actions towards becoming a professional.
Reality check includes thinking about your love for photography. Do you enjoy creating beautiful images, or you love everything photography brings? Because if your answer is the first one, you may reconsider becoming a pro.
Professional photography is a lot more than just being talented and creating beautiful photos. You need to have business, marketing, interpersonal and a whole bunch of other skills. You’ll often do a job of five people and work very long hours. You’ll need to take the jobs you don’t actually like, especially in the beginning. They bring money – and you’ll need money. Even when you build yourself up, your vision will sometimes be different than the client’s, and we all know customer’s always right. Give all this a thought before you make the decision.
If your life is at the right point and you’re okay with all the challenges ahead of you – go for it! And I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!
Are you thinking of becoming a professional? Did you go through all these steps? If you still haven’t decided – what’s holding you back? I’m curious to hear your thoughts in the comments.