How to become a successful photographer
Alright, I’ve seen one too many Facebook Posts or Instagram Posts asking how to
get paid, go full time, or become successful as a photographer. I may not be a top-tier
photographer teacher but I did have to learn from experience and many a painful mistake.
So here’s how I got started and what worked for me!
I’m compiling everything I can think of off the top of my head that helped me and resources that I know will help you!
So something I had to do to really get any paying customers coming my way was to have free shoots. Either model calls or creating my own styled shoots. I did bridal styled shoots to get started and paid for styled shoots made by other photographers or wedding vendors as well. I know this mainly applies to the wedding photography niche but this advice can apply to other niches as well! I’ll have to create another post at another time on how to create your own styled shoot but for now, do a model call or at least write it on your list of things to do.
Funny side note my first “styled shoot” was with my best friend in my mom’s wedding dress from the ’80s.
I used a bug net as a makeshift veil, so the term “use what you got” really applied here.
Now laugh at me all you’d like but this landed my first paid job as a second shooter!
My second self made styled shoot (a DRASTIC improvement if I do say so myself)
My first paid styled shoot, this photo above is taken by me from a
Not only should you network with models and other vendors for styled shoots but just starting out, networking with other photographers is a game-changer, my favorite thing to do was grabbing coffee with another photographer, I asked for a moment of their time in exchange for a cup of coffee. I learned some valuable lessons just by listening to what these photographers had to say. Unfortunately, the harsh reality of this trick is that you will be met by a handful of mean photographers but hopefully you’ll find good/nice photographers as well who are willing to spare their time. Another mistake I made was not listening enough when it came time to meet these photographers. Bring a notepad and pencil/pen and put on your listening ears. Maybe even write a couple of questions or concerns down beforehand but know that “you don’t know, what you don’t know” allow for space for the professional to talk and you’ll have questions answered you didn’t even know you had.
My first headshot exchange
Networking with photographers can also lead to exchanging headshots which is
a great way for you to get a professional headshot in exchange for some of your time.
Let’s talk about resources!! There are business owners literally out here giving free
information away you just have to find it. This is how I LEARNED in the beginning when I
had NO money to put back into my business! A couple of free resources that I actually use/used:
Spotify has quite a lot of good ones but
these are the ones that helped me the most
Facebook groups can be very helpful, typically there are pros willing to dish free
information out, it helps to know what questions to ask as though.
Styled Shoots Across America
(an amazing resource for finding styled shoots all over America and even some beyond!)
Poseology and/or Promptography
(resource for learning poses and prompts)
Searching “your location/area” “photographers”
For me, this would look like: “North Carolina Photographers”
This helps to network with other photographers in your area
and potentially get second shooting jobs.
Searching “your location/area” “models”
For me, this would look like: “North Carolina models”
This helps to find models willing to do TFP or Trade For Print,
so you can build your portfolio with your ideal client.
Google is a powerful tool, granted it can be really overwhelming
if you don’t know where to start or what to search for. But none the less it is a free resource!
Here are a few things I searched in the beginning: Exposure Chart Photography, How to make my own website,
Legal Contracts for Photographers, and Photography Business Income Calculator to name a few
Another free resource, there are plenty of photographers sharing valuable information on this platform.
Search Result: Photography Business
Search Result: Getting a Tax ID for small business
Search Result: How to register a business
Search Result: Basics of Photography
Search Result: What is SEO
There are so many more resources online that you can find for free. I can’t possibly share them in one post.
But feel free to ask a question down below or if you’d like more one on one help with time
exclusively to you feel free to fill out my contact form and we can create
a one on one mentorship package ($50 per one hour).
This package will be catered specifically to your needs and desires when it comes to
becoming a successful photographer. Feel free to contact me today and we’ll set up a
time that works for both of us. We’ll work on any questions or concerns you have.
I’m an open book and unlike other photographers who are unwilling
to share certain knowledge, I don’t mind sharing everything I know!