You’ve been doing photography as a hobby for a while and you’re thinking of turning pro. But is it the right choice for you? Should you become a professional or just keep doing it as a hobby? In this video, Ed Verosky discusses this topic. If you’re still indecisive as to whether or not you should turn pro, this might help you make the decision.
Amateur vs. professional photographer
For starters, let’s define what makes a professional and what makes an amateur photographer. The definitions differ and the difference isn’t always perfectly clear. However, for the sake of this video, Ed sticks to the financial aspect. Basically, a professional photographer is the one who makes a living from photography. On the other hand, an amateur does it out of love and not as a source of income. Of course, there are plenty more aspects that make a professional photographer, but let’s stick with the financial part.
So, you want to start earning money from photography and turn it into your main source of income. Is it the right time? And should you do it in the first place? Here are some pros and cons to both options, and hopefully they’ll help you clear your mind and get closer to the decision.
Pros of being a professional photographer
1. You get you be your own boss (kind of) – when you start your own photography business, you get to be your own boss. Still, when you get hired to take photos you sort of have someone else being your boss. But if you’re hired for your style and skill, the creative control will be in your hands.
2. You get to earn money by doing what you love – there’s nothing better than doing what you love for a living. Keep in mind though that the level of your talent isn’t necessarily going to be proportional to the amount of money you’ll earn because there are some other skills you’ll need to develop – but more on it later.
3. You still get to do your own projects – when you turn pro, you won’t be thrilled by all the projects you work on. But remember that no one is keeping you from working on your personal projects as well.
Cons of being a professional photographer
1. You have to spend time, energy and money marketing yourself – one of the skills you need to learn and start using is the marketing skill. For some people, it comes naturally to get out there and promote themselves, but it can be difficult for introvert types. It’s something to keep in mind.
2. You can’t be too picky (you have to compromise) – sometimes you’ll have to work with people you wouldn’t normally choose to work with. Also, there will be times when your clients will want to take control. You can explain that you make the creative decisions and don’t replicate other people’s work. But you also have to pay the bills and don’t want to lose a client. So on occasion, you’ll need to compromise, and your interpersonal skills need to be honed well.
Pros of being an amateur photographer
Total freedom – when you only shoot for yourself and not to get pay, you get to choose when, what and how to shoot. There are no compromises and no dealing with difficult people and situations. In my case, this is precisely why I chose to remain a hobbyist.
Cons of being an amateur photographer
There aren’t any, Ed says. What’s the downside of having a total freedom? I don’t see any, indeed. However, Ed mentions one possible downside: feeling unfulfilled. If you were born to be a professional photographer and you’re limiting yourself to staying a hobbyist, you may feel unfulfilled.
I believe that the decision isn’t easy and there are many things to consider. But basically, if you love photography and you’re also okay with dealing with people, marketing yourself and occasionally making compromises, then turning pro could be good for you. On the other hand, if you love photography only for the sake of taking photos, then perhaps you should stay a hobbyist (at least for now). At the end of the day, the decision is all yours. But hopefully, these pros and cons have brought you closer to it.
[Should You Become a Professional Photographer? | Ed Verosky]