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How do you become a Professional Photographer?


19 Feb 2017 5:28PM
Hello, I'm looking to one day be a Professional Photographer but I don't really know where to start! I'd say I have a good eye for photography but would need more training to make a living out of it. I have looked for courses and one academy course sounded amazing because you get a mentor and lots of practice shoots. It costs thousands of pounds though so it isn't really an option! I was thinking about emailing local Photographers about being an unpaid Assistant. Do you think that's the right way to go about it?

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Hello, professional photographer means earning income from photography, like weddings, or selling your images. Professional photographers are not always best photographer but amateur photographers sometimes are very good but amateur dont earn income from photography.

What is word professional means, its nothing, its just earn income from photography, its just you to push yourself into professional, no one help you to becomes!!!!!

If you are good at wedding and people like your work, ask you for another wedding and pay your fee then its called professioanl photographer.
saltireblue Plus
6 6.5k 33 Norway
19 Feb 2017 6:38PM

Quote:I was thinking about emailing local Photographers about being an unpaid Assistant

Don't really think any professional will be interested in training you - especially local ones, as one day you will use their expertise, which they have passed on to you, to take clients from them.

Having said that, I wish you all the best in your quest.
arhb 9 3.2k 68 United Kingdom
19 Feb 2017 6:40PM
Business management and marketing are what you need to study.
Continue doing your photography whilst studying, and by the time you're qualified, you will have a better chance at making a successful business, whetever it is!
MGJ 8 354 6
19 Feb 2017 10:02PM
I agree - with any business the key is good marketing, efficiency (attention to detail), and having a really good grip on the money and how much one is spending, compared with what is coming in.

I agree to about trying to get a professional to help. Having been in exactly the same situation - deer management - one got loads of requests, assistance, work experience and all that lot. With a small business one is incredibly busy, the last thing one wants is an unpaid assistant. One wants a darn competent assistant! No harm in asking of course, but be realistic about the chances of success.


RoyBoy 12 224 2 United Kingdom
20 Feb 2017 8:59AM
Really good advice from arhb I think. Well done.
collywobles 13 3.9k 10 United Kingdom
20 Feb 2017 9:19AM
Making a living from photography is extremely difficult Certainly you can earn some pin money doing weddings or portraits for friends but experience is essential. Your idea of helping a local tog with weddings is good, bearing in mind Satireblues comment However to start with all you will be doing is carrying the gear, parking the car,,,,,,,,,,,,, etc. Even so there will be tremendous learning potential and who knows if you are that good the wedding tog might give you more to do......... and maybe even take some photo's... One hard thing being a wedding tog is how to deal with and handle the guests to get the best shots for the B&G.

My advice is to go for it and don't give up, however do realise your limits.
Philh04 Plus
11 795 United Kingdom
20 Feb 2017 9:22AM
Sadly these days any one who owns a digital camera can call themselves a 'professional', you need to be good and offer a service equal or better than those around you, it is becoming harder and harder to make a decent living from photography... the advise about studying business management and marketing is sound indeed and is of far more use than studying photography.

Sorry if that sounds negative but having recently retired after a 40 year career as a photographer I have seen many changes in the profession....
keithh 13 25.3k 33 Wallis And Futuna
20 Feb 2017 10:18AM
For someone starting out now, business management aside, it's all about Social Media. FB, Insta, P'trest, blogs, twit, tube and anything else you can generate content for. If you want to be 'mainstream' as in weddings, portraits and the like, even events and low level sports sales, you will spend as many hours on social media as you do taking snaps and initially many many more.
thewilliam 8 6.1k
20 Feb 2017 10:20AM
It really depends on what sort of entry you're comfortable with.

Many of us drift into professional photography without really intending to make the move. I'd been an amateur for 40 years and an FRPS when I was made redundant in my late 40s. I couldn't find a job so I made a job using the skills that I'd accumulated. The transition wasn't easy but membership of the MPA with the contacts and mentoring saved me from bankruptcy.

People who read for a degree in photography need to remember that only 3% of graduates will find a long-term future in the industry. The successful graduates need the right personal qualities as well as their qualification.

Some, less scrupulous folk buy a basic digital camera and then just hang out their shingle as a wedding photographer with no real skills. Plenty of people have adopted a "work name", bought a web domain, and used business cards that don't give a clue as to their real name or physical address. Meetings with prospects will always be in a neutral venue such as a coffee shop. When things go badly wrong, that identity can be "burned" and the snapper can start again. There was one recent case where the disappointed bride was forced to hire a private detective before she could serve Court papers. I helped my wife at one wedding fair where one snapper was showing the Graphi Studio demo albums as his own work and I wondered whether he was showing any of his own work. We and most of our colleagues sometimes find that some newbie has stolen our images. Demo images can be bought from a library or taken at a "Portfolio Day".

You pays your money and you takes your choice!
Adey_Baker 3 15 United Kingdom
20 Feb 2017 11:14AM
A fellow photographer friend told me last year that he'd read somewhere that there were more students on photography courses in the UK than there were currently photography job vacancies in the whole of Europe!

Digital imaging has transformed the whole industry. I've been a keen birdwatcher for many years and up to 15 or 20 years ago most photos used in bird magazines would have come from a handful of well-known photographers, providing them with a useful income. When you look at specialist birding websites nowadays the quality of photos from a huge number of posters is equal to or, in many cases, much better than the 'old boys.' If only a percentage of them 'went professional' they'd swamp the marketplace and I suppose the same is happening in all areas of photography.
thewilliam 8 6.1k
20 Feb 2017 12:05PM
Actually it's even worse than that.

The UK produces more photography graduates each year than the total number of registered professional photographers in the whole of the EU. That doesn't include people taking other photographic courses.

Many commercial users of photography have learned that they no longer need to hire a professional photographer because modern cameras are so good that pretty well anybody can create a merchantable picture. Many publications now use only "reader" photographs in their editorial.

Usage rates for "ordinary" photographs have gone into free-fall. One colleague who specialises in high-end aerial photography has found that the majority of uses of his work result from theft rather than sale. This may be because punters can't understand or accept that his work costs a hundred times more than a micro-stock image from Getty or Alamy.

Only the real high-end photographers seem to be prospering these days because they create something that the punters can't. This is the most important concept that the OP must learn.
Philh04 Plus
11 795 United Kingdom
20 Feb 2017 12:36PM
Indeed... even when I graduated some 40 years ago there were more students than jobs going, I was lucky to be employed all this time and finally specialised in high macro for 34 of those years.

For the OP it might help if you let us have an idea of where you believe your skills lie.
Carabosse Plus
14 40.6k 269 England
20 Feb 2017 12:37PM
With the move to digital imaging, which started about 15 years or so ago, photography has become more like eating - everyone does it.

There are not many professional eaters around - apart from restaurant critics, I guess! Wink
20 Feb 2017 12:44PM
Hi all thanks so much for all your comments. I know it will be very difficult to make a living out of photography but I'm so passionate about it so I'm more than willing to try and make it happen. Excellent point about the business and marketing study. I think I'm at the stage now where I need to build up a strong portfolio. I thought unpaid work would be a good way to do that. I think I'll contact a few Photographers and see what sort of response I get.

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