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Hey Amateur! Flirting with Going Pro?

March 21st, 2013 No Comments

A month and a week back this blog brought you a few caveats about going pro.  Today, Annie Tao casts light on How To Know You Are Ready To Become A Professional Photographer.

Actually, she does a bit more than that: she proffers some very sound advice on those oft-overlooked prerequisites, those ‘must-dos’ before you take the plunge.  Making mention of the plethora of books and courses on the subject, Tao’s goal is to provide “a short list of topline things” that will tell you when you’re “ready to make the leap.”

Tao’s seven-point checklist-style lesson starts off with “You know your equipment like the back of your hand” which she describes in two pithy lines.

Point 2 is the ‘Reality-Check Point’ (or ‘Reality Checkpoint’): Don’t forget that “Being a Professional Photographer means being an Artist and a Business Person” – the ‘and’ should have been emphasized.  Tao gives you a heads-up that “a larger portion of your time” will be taken up with business-side – make that boring-side – activities, of which she lists some.

Points 3 and 6 are related and have to do with the nitty-gritty of the business side.  The latter point, though its title talks about ‘documents’, enlightens you to the importance of things like contracts, business registration, separate bank account, and consulting with a small-business attorney.  Point 3 advises you to get your business plan clear in your head “before you start your business” because changing course later can be difficult.

On these scores, it wouldn’t be out of place to mention that our Australian readers would do well to look up the AIPP for career planning from the very outset.  For the pro who’s just getting started the AIPP can be a goldmine of guidance.

Points 4 and 5 are marketing-side items and it’s a pity they’re not fleshed out.  It’s all well and good to advise readers that a good portfolio is essential and to use social media to share your images but how do you differentiate yourself from the crowd?  Entering contests and getting a win or a recognition, face-to-face networking with everyone from fellow pros to friends, and keeping your own blog ticking with fresh content, are a few concrete ways to market your services and (try to) stand out.

Tao closes out her list with a “ridiculously simple, but . . . often overlooked” essential: Photographer, Know Thyself.  She advises you to choose your speciality and do what you do best and love most in the field.  Sound advice.

If you’re an amateur flirting with going pro then this very readable article is an excellent preliminary checkpoint.


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