Where to Start in Becoming a Professional Photographer

by Casey Kennedy

Becoming a professional photographer is a great career choice for those who like to tell their story from behind the lens of a camera. Although a college degree or formal photography classes isn't required, it is a highly competitive field that does require time and dedication. While few full-time professional photographer positions exist outside of the portrait studio, for those who persevere and learn their craft well, it can be quite rewarding.

Get Acquainted With Your Camera

You might think you need an expensive camera and a variety of lenses to become a professional photographer, but in reality, a lower-end model camera is really all you need to get started. Many modern cameras give you the ability to set the camera functions to manual even if the camera will automatically make lens and lighting corrections for you. Learn how all the different settings work on your camera and how to adjust the lens to get the shot you want. This will help you to learn how your actions affect each photograph that you take.

Practice Your Photography

Although anyone can snap a photo, taking quality pictures actually takes practice. Hone your craft by taking a variety of photographs, but don't just randomly point the camera. Instead, take each photographic opportunity to learning something and use that knowledge to develop your own personal style. Study photography books and magazines to learn tips and tricks on how to shoot great photos. As your knowledge of your camera grows, try different lenses and filters to learn new photography techniques.


Many professional photographers initially take unpaid jobs, such as working as a backup for an established professional photographer or hairstylist to create images that both can use in their portfolios. As your experience grows, promote your photography services everywhere you can. Offer your services to family, friends, event organizers and even other photographers.

Study the Ins and Outs of Your Desired Field

Professional photographer George F. Mobley states in a "National Geographic" article that you not only need to know everything you can about your desired field, you also need to learn who the decision makers are who can get you hired. Whether you are interested in shooting weddings, landscapes or portraits, develop interesting story ideas for your desired field and take plenty of photos to back up those ideas so that you can present them when you have the right opportunity.

About the Author

Based in Atlanta, Casey Kennedy has been writing online content since 2009. She specializes in writing about small business, careers, real estate, and ecommerce. She also enjoys writing about a variety of other subjects, including home improvement, gardening, and pet care. She attended the Academy of Art online, studying interior architecture and design while pursuing commercial flight training at Aviation Atlanta in Georgia.

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