Becoming Yorkshire’s Next Top Photographer: Pro Tips
Making the step up from passionate amateur to professional photographer isn’t easy. With practice though, and a little investment of both time and money, there’s no need to be a beginner forever. If you’re serious about your photography, read our pro tips for transforming yourself from hobbyist photographer to full-blown artiste.
1. Showcase Your Work
One of the best ways to develop as a photographer (see what we did there?) is to show off your work. How does this help? Simple: more and more people see your work and the feedback, both positive and negative, will teach you something about your photography. Invite a variety of opinions – from friends, family and, perhaps most importantly, from your peers in the amateur photography world.
Positive feedback is important, as a little praise can go a long way to encouraging you to stick with photography, to keep practising and improving. A little ‘negative’ attention can help too – when fellow photographers see your work, they can often offer a new perspective you may not have thought of. Don’t think of this as discouraging, rather see this kind of feedback as a challenge to try things differently next time.
There are a few ways to showcase your work. Publishing everything on your social media channels is a good start, but don’t rule out getting seen elsewhere on the web. Sites like ours regularly showcase the work of local photographers. Otherwise, why not see if your local arts space/cinema/village hall have some wall space for you? Print off your photos using an online fine art printing service like Digilab, a UK-based firm, or get yourself down to your local Jessops or Kodak shop. Nothing sharpens your focus like seeing your work in a hard copy format!
2. Find Your Niche
Once you’ve been doing it for a while, you’ll start to get a feel for what you enjoy photographing most. The majority of pro photographers gravitate towards one or two niches or specialisms. The most popular of these include nature photography – everything from country landscapes to animals – and people-focused photography – from candid snaps to portraiture. There are, of course, countless other niches to operate in – sports photography, weddings or events, fashion, food, urban landscapes and architecture… the list goes on!
Choosing a specialisms is beneficial for a few different reasons. Firstly, it allows you to focus honing your skills in one particular area of photography, getting you to a professional level in this niche much quicker. Secondly, it means you can stock up on the equipment you’ll need for your chosen niche – camera equipment can be expensive, so having a few select items for your particular speciality is a more attainable goal than accruing more gadgets than James Bond! Lastly, having a niche will focus your attention on the most relevant publishers when you’re ready to sell your work.
3. Start Selling Your Work
It seems like an obvious step to becoming a professional, but so many photographers miss out on the true value of their work by never even trying to sell their pictures. A wide range of publishers – from online magazines to print media, big businesses to small – require a steady stream of photos for their outlets. A quick online search will point you in the direction of editors looking for photographers.
If you’re not quite confident enough to start sending your work to publishers, there are a couple of other routes to explore. Online services like ArtPal allow you to market your own work – a bit like Etsy, Amazon Marketplace or Ebay, but specifically for painting and photography. You could also start out by entering some competitions; from local newspaper contests to national prizes, there’s a whole range of competitions to enter so you can dip your toe into the waters of having your work professionally appraised.
If you start earning a little money for photography it can be a really nice bonus. If you become serious about taking on photography full-time, start by building up a professional portfolio, contacting potential clients and creating a website for you and your new business. Just don’t quit your day job just yet! This should only ever be a consideration if and when you’re able to sustain yourself on photography alone – it’s a competitive business, after all.