I constantly hear from people who tell me they want to turn pro. They want to make a living as a photographer. Rather than tell you how hard that is, and list all the reasons why you shouldn’t turn pro, I will just share with you one simple test that can help you decide whether or not it’s something that you REALLY want to do.
But first let’s define a professional photographer. When I say professional photographer, I am not necessarily just talking about making a living selling your photographs, although that is part of turning pro…I am more accurately talking about being PROFICIENT.
Dictionary.com describes the word PROFICIENT like this:
well-advanced or competent in any art, science, or subject; skilled:
a proficient swimmer.
In my experience, when I first started to realize that I could REPLICATE, over and over, the specific photographic results that I could see in my mind’s eye, before I even pressed the shutter button, then I could call myself a pro. Being professional means you no longer have to guess whether or not that picture “came out.” It means that you know you can produce the results you expect, time-after-time. It means that if someone hires you, they can count on you delivering what you promise.
So do you want to go pro? Let’s find out. Here’s the test. This test is based on a simple (and proven) premise…
Writers get better at writing by reading. Film directors get better at directing by watching films. And yes, photographers get better at photography simply by looking at pictures.
Not just ANY pictures, but pictures that are of professional caliber. Pictures that have won contests, or been published, or sold well as prints or been licensed for commercial use. If you REALLY want to become a professional photographer, you need to dedicate AT LEAST – let me say that again AT LEAST, 10 minutes EACH DAY, to seriously studying, not just looking at professional-caliber work. You need to sometimes study the same picture, day-after-day. Why? You need to start thinking like a professional photographer to become a professional photographer.
If you’re not willing to study other work, then you probably aren’t willing to do everything else that’s needed to turn pro. The point of this post is to get you to be honest with yourself, whichever way it goes.
Ask yourself this question…Do you REALLY want to be a professional photographer? Are you willing to study and practice and apply yourself so that you can consistently replicate the expected results in your photos?
Whatever your decision, I am rooting for you.
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