Things You Should Know Before Becoming A Full-Time Photographer
We all grow up in this world like children with hopes and dreams of working in various different occupations. Some of us may have wanted to be astronauts, scientists, or doctors. While others may have wanted to be athletes or teachers. Unfortunately, some folks, do not get to reach those dreams due to the demands of their life and must turn to other jobs to provide for themselves. In other scenarios, some may not reach their goals right as they reach adulthood but keep at it in hopes of one day making it a career full-time, as they work elsewhere.
A common profession where someone might hold on to it until they finally decide to pursue it full time is photography. Though it is a very noble act and makes for a good story if/when you do eventually succeed at it, it is not easy. There are many things one should know and take into consideration before leaving their full-time job to pursue photography full time. In this article, we will go over some points for someone in those shoes to consider before making their decision.
Weighing Pros and Cons
As mentioned prior we will go into the exact specifics of what you will need to consider in order to fully pursue this career. However, if there is anything that you take away from this article it should be that you need to weigh the pros and cons against each other to see if you can handle them. A lot of people make the mistake of minimizing the cons and only moving forward on the basis of the pros. When in all likelihood you are more likely to run into the negative side of things quicker than the positive when first starting out. This can cause a myriad of issues for a person like that such as doubt, losing love for the craft, etc. Thus you want to make the smart decision to sit down and write out the pros and cons instead of moving in a hasty uncoordinated manner.
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Maybe the most important thing you want to do from the start is to set your expectations in the “proper place”. This can be the difference between you pushing through the tough times and quitting after the first few months. If you are of the belief that straight out the gate you will be working daily as a full-time photographer, you may be sadly mistaken. Even great, renowned photographers do not get booked daily so you must tailor your expectations to understand that. Also, you must be able to accept that you will not be making a large amount of money based on your current experience in the craft. Once you are able to accept facts such as these you can begin to feel like you are at least kind of aware of what your life will look like in the beginning.
Piggybacking off of the previous point about not making a large amount of money at the start, it is important to examine your finances. It is recommended that you have a store of at least 9 months worth of expenses saved before you start your journey. This is to give you backing for the inevitable drop-off you will have in income once you leave your full-time paid position. Of course, if you have some amount of money coming in you will be able to manage how much you will need to have saved but it is always best to be on the safe side of things when taking a leap such as this. Also, remember you will always be needing to make upgrades to cameras, lenses, lighting equipment, etc. so you have to control your spending. The money you once had that could easily be spent on items like that will now have to be budgeted strictly.
Normal Work Conditions Don’t Exist
If you believe that you will be able to operate at regular ‘9-5’ hours with photography as your full-time profession then you will be disappointed. The hours for a photographer do not have any bounds. Of course, if you are not available to work then you don’t have to but you do risk losing a potential client and money earned. You will need to work days, nights, weekends and also long hours. Further, the weather can vary as well. For example, you can get booked for a wedding that will have you working the entire day from early morning until late night at the reception.
There is not any sick time that you accumulate in this industry, either. Every booking made is you committing to be present for whoever needs you because they are counting on you to make their vision come true.
Dealing With Difficult People
Everyone in life has dealt with someone that is difficult but they are usually able to walk away from that person or never have to deal with that person going further. Photographers do not have that same luxury.
When people are paying money for a service they tend to sometimes have very high expectations for what the outcome should be and they begin to nitpick, have unrealistic anticipations, or overstep in the creative process with you. However, through all this, you must keep a calm and professional disposition. We know that there will be people that go to the extreme or will be disrespectful and we aren’t advocating that you accept that treatment. Nevertheless, you have to know yourself and realize if you are the type of person that is ready to take on these kinds of situations on a regular basis.
Networking and Being Social
In today’s times, we rely heavily on social media, especially for promotional and networking aspects. While it is a great help and has been a catalyst for assisting in growing businesses, there is nothing greater than word of mouth. When people are talking positively about your photography to another person it does wonders for your business.
However, you cannot solely rely on social media or others to spread the news about your services. You need to do your own networking to grow as well and one of the best things you can do is be social. Even if you are not typically a very social person you must break out of that shell and reach out. There are so many stories of photographers meeting a venue owner, a DJ, a wedding planner, or even other photographers that pass on opportunities to them that help changes the trajectory of their career.
Sacrificing Your Creativity
Depending on what kind of photography you get into you will probably end up sacrificing parts of your creativity. A lot of the time you will work with clients who have their own artistic vision so you will be limited in what you can provide to the output of the work.
A way that can help you not forsake your own creativity, is taking time for your own personal creative projects. In working on your own projects and showing them to the public you may be able to draw a clientele that will allow you to utilize your own creative outlook for their shoots. However, this takes time and will not be your experience from the beginning.
Your Relationship with Photography Will Change
No longer will photography be a passion project or hobby for you, this will become your real-life way of receiving income. Although you may love photography, the relationship will surely change over time as you go from working on your own schedule to working on others, spending seemingly endless hours on editing, foregoing your creative vision for someone else’s, etc. Due to these occurrences, there will undoubtedly be slumps and burnouts that take place. You must pay attention to your mood and not let the bad moments linger because they can end up influencing your outlook long-term.