It’s the kind of vocation that can be undeniably fulfilling if you dedicate yourself to it, but it’s not exactly easy to make a living from.

There’s a lot of call for photographers nowadays, but there are also a lot of budding talents trying to make it. Even if you believe your work stands out above the rest, you have to prove it. If you want to start a career as a photographer, here are a few things you need to keep in mind.

Take your tools seriously

This is the very first step between the amateur and the pro. Without taking a serious interest in different cameras, different tripods, different lenses and so on, you are not going to have as much control over your shots as you should. There are plenty of great references on the internet like FujiUser that help you get a more technical understanding of your equipment and what it means for the shots. Yes, building the arsenal you need will come at some personal cost, and not a small amount, either. But you have to be willing to invest in yourself if you want others to do the same.

Dedication to the craft

A great camera will help you take great shots, but it’s not going to turn you into a great photographer. If you’ve never had formal lessons, they are a great place to start. But there are essential skills you’re going to have to develop independently and to keep working on all throughout your career. Whether you’re a studio photographer or you go out and capture images, you need to be able to find inspiration by being mindful of the visuals of your surroundings at all times. You have to learn real diligence, too. This might mean waiting for the perfect natural lighting for a shot or taking the same shot a hundred times over until you get it right. They say it takes 100 hours to master any craft, so the sooner you start putting the time in, the sooner you’re going to reach professional quality.

A marketing mind

A career means making money and nowadays that means you have to take care of yourself and your brand. An online portfolio is a must for the digitally obsessed world where being accessible online is a big part of getting employed in the arts. You have to get over the fear of self-promotion and take any opportunity you find to get your images out there. Submit pieces for galleries, enter competitions, share your stuff on social media. No-one’s going to start hiring you if they can’t see your work.

Once you’re working on all the above, it’s all about making the contacts. Starting as an intern with a professional photographer is a great way to start building a network once you’ve found what your niche is. Keep developing your craft, develop the people skills to go with the camera skills, and keep an eye out for the opportunity to strike out and win a client on your own.

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This contributed article was written for WhimMagazine.com

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