Becoming a professional photographer: from dream to reality!
It is estimated that there are about 25,000 professional photographers in France. In other words, the competition is tough and in this business places are expensive... But you can stand out! If becoming a professional photographer is your goal,we'll help you achieve it.
The steps to follow before becoming a photographer
Youare passionate,you have the stuff of a business leader,you feel ready to become a professional photographer... Don't throw yourself too quickly into the wolf's mouth! Let's look together at the last elements to validate before creating your business.
Step n°1 | To become a photographer: Master the photo technique
There is no secret, to be a good photographer,you must certainly have an artistic eye, but you must nevertheless neglect the technique. To be one of themarketplayers, you will need to know how to sell your shots. And for that, they must be of quality. Here are some technical elements that you will need to master:
- Have a very good use of the manual mode of your camera: shutter speed, iso, aperture ouverture, white balance, etc.
- Dealing with natural constraints: brightness, backlight, contrast, etc.
- Master the sharpness of images: focus, focus peaking/steaking,etc.
- Know the basics of the composition of a photo: rule of thirds, play with symmetry, use the escape lines to guide the eye, know how to handle diving and counterdiving,
- Master a retouching software dedicated to post-production: Photoshop, Premiere, Lightroom, etc.
Note thatthe profession of photographer is a profession that is constantly evolving. Over time, you will adapt your own style to the technique acquired from session to session. You will evolve and refine your skills in image processing, frames, visual propositions... In a few words, you will let go!
Step n°2 | To become a photographer: Have photo equipment
To become a photographer,you must necessarily be equipped with equipment adapted to your activity. Note that this may takeup somespace. So, before creating your business, be sure to equip yourself to measure your needs (photo studio or office).
Here is an exhaustive list of the tools you will need (these elements may vary from one photographer activity to another):
- A reflex camera, anyway!
- A powerful computer to process your images,
- Licensed image processing software,
- A calibration probe,
- Artificial lights (flash, projector or studio lighting kit),
- Memory cards (3 to 4 cards of 64GB each),
- Ideally two spare batteries (especially if you want to move towards video shooting),
- An external hard drive that can accommodate all your sessions (lasting at least 6 months),
- A tripod,
- All the accessories necessary for your activity as a photographer: studio backgrounds, polarizing filter, portable power station, etc.
Step n°3 | To become a photographer: Master post-production
Have you bought image processing software? Perfect! Now you have to know how to use it. Don't worry, here too you will evolve over time. There is no point in training you for days and days on your software. The main thing is to know the basics and be comfortable with the basic settings.
Then, and according to your needs, do not hesitate to consult tutorials available for free on the web to optimizeyour performance in terms ofimage processing. YouTube will allow you to learn more about the post-production technique, while Pinterest or Instagram will give you inspiration for your future projects. The web is a gold mine,teacher!
Step n°4 | To become a photographer: Practice, practice and practice again
Nothing like the practice to evolve in the profession of photographer. Feed on what surrounds you, call on those around you to pose in frontof the objective, capture outdoor shots, your pet, everything that inspires you and play with light, with iso, shutter speed... In a few words, get your hands on your camera and take the opportunity to master your image processing software.
To go further and to fill your future portfolio,you can, and we advise you, offer sessions. Thus, in exchange for your photos, the models give you the right to use these clichés to communicate.
Step n°5 | To become a photographer: Create a portfolio
Now that you have explored all (or almost) the technical possibilities of your camera and have mastered the workings of your favorite image processingsoftware, it is time to select the shots that best reflect your activity,your universe, your style and your eye in a specific area.
The creation of a portfolio can therefore be done very well before launching your activity as a professional phographer. This will allow you to support your skills with your potential customers by showing what you can do. Needless to say, the images that should be in this portfolio are the best! So keep the essentialand direct your choice towards photos that will illustrate the field you decide to target (wedding photos, portrait photos, fashion photos, etc.)
Step n°6 | To become a photographer: Choose your specialty
You probably already have a sensitivity in a particular area. This should not prevent you from continuing your activity in very different universes. See it as an opportunity to stand out and learn more and more with each session.
By identifyingyour specialty,you make the choice to orient your digital strategy by adopting an editorial line consistent with your work, by displaying shots related to your universe. This is about defining your difference!
Step n°7 | To become a photographer: Define your target
Once you havedentified your specialty, you can now set the profile of your target. As you will have understood, the goal is not to sell just anything to just anyone. The important thing is to sell something important to the right people.
So be relevant and focus your efforts on the target customers, that's where your business plan lies. This will allow you to identify the right tone, the right lexical field, an adapted editorial line and offers consistent with their expectations.
Likeany company, we invite you to create your persona. Thus, you will have to be able to know certain data about him:
- Demographics: age, family status, gender, etc.
- Geographical data: city/country of residence,sector of professional activity.
- The professional situation (if you decide to touch a company): function, status, training, socio-professional category, typical day, tools used, responsibilities
- Interests and sources ofinformation: hobbies, artistic sensitivity (painter, illustrator, photographer, favorite sculptor?), readings, activities on social networks, etc.
All this information will allow you to define the ideal profile of your target and thus find the right levers to touch him.
Now, let's get started!
Let's summarize: you have completed your training that reports on photography courses, mastery of your camera or the purchase of equipment adapted to your activity. You have also selectedthe photos that will illustrate your portfolio and identified your specialty and the profile of your target. Right now... Make way for branding!
Step n°8 | To be a professional photographer: Find a business name
One thing at a time... And before you start thinking about your logo,we invite you to prepare a document that will give rise to your company's philosophy,what youcan bring different to your customers, the benefits of working with you and how you defineyour universe. Don't forget that by becoming a professional photographer, the brand: it's you! So you need to reflect who you are (dynamic, soft, solar, condensed, etc.).
When choosing a business name for your business, you need to think about everything that will come out of it:
- Business card,
- Commercial brochures, portfolio, etc.
- Your name on social networks,
- The domain name of your future website,
Reason enough to be strategic. This name must reflect your philosophy and your corporate culture. It should, ideally, be retained by your customers, easy to read, easy to understand and especially that you are happy with this name.
Step n°9 | To be a professional photographer: Create avibrant identity
To become a photographer,you will then have to think about your visual identity (charter, logo, webdesign, etc.). We are talking here about your brand image,so it must reflect a professionalimage, make potential customers want to learn more about you and work with you.
We invite you to follow a methodical process starting by identifying 3 words/adjectives/expressions that reflect your work and your universe. For example: sobriety - authenticity - nature / retro - simplicity - emotion, or life - solar - fullness.
You will then associate one, or several, color according to the words you have identified. This step may be done very logically by the strength of your intuition. However, you can also let yourself be guided by a simple guide to the meaning of colors:
- The color blue: calm, change, confidence.
- The color red: life, love, passion, glamour, danger.
- The color yellow: joy, youth, prudence, deception.
- The color green: nature, growth, hope, jealousy.
- The color pink: femininity, softness, romanticism, naivety.
- The color orange: creativity, exchange, vitality.
- The color purple: luxury, mystery,arrogance.
- The white color: purity, innocence, elegance, power.
- The color black: eternal, elegance, pain.
Do not hesitate to be inspired by the logos,the charter and, more generally, thevisualidentity of your competitors on the web. Create a folder where you will integrate the logos that touch you or reflect your sensitivity.
Step n°10 | To be a professional photographer: Launch a showcase site
It's time to move on to the creation of your web media,likeyour website. Do not panic, if you are not an IT professional, many themes are available to help you. Thus, you will only have to update the color or colors of your graphic charter as well as integrate your logo, photos and a description telling your story. Thus, we invite you to plan the creation of specific pages, such as:
- A page dedicated to the blog part: this will allow you to write articles to optimizeyour SEO on theweb. Now that you know your target, you can write texts that meet their expectations. The goal is that, thanks to these articles, your potential customers find you on the internet.
- A page dedicated to yourphoto gallery: this page will show your audience the different projects for which you have collaborated, the images that reflect your universe, your sensitivity.
- A contact page: this page must include information that allowsyour future customers to contact you(telephone number, e-mail address, physical address in case you have an office or a photo studio).
- A presentation page: this page will tell your story, your training, your studies, the school in which you studied photography, the projects that have marked your career, your universe, how you perceive photography... In a few words, what makes your difference in your job as a photographer!
- A page dedicated to your e-shop: if, and only if, you decide to offer reproductions, decorative objects (...) in connection with your work. This is a good opportunity to complete your end of the month!
- A page dedicated to your news: you organize exhibitions, workshops, photography courses, you participate in fairs or cultural and artistic events? This is a good opportunity to get people talking about you. Do not hesitate to update this information to provokethe meeting with your futurecustomers.
Step n°11 | To be a professional photographer: Mark your presence on social networks
This is one of the most important levers when you start working as a professional photographer. Today, 75.9% of French people use social networks. This is several million reasons that justify your presence on Instagram, Linkedin,Facebook orPinterest. Depending on your target, you will implement your brand on the networksadapted to reach it.
Here are some tips to mark your presence on the networks:
- Complete your profile 100%: write as much information as possible to immerse the user in the heart of your universe (bio, profile description, route, link to your website, etc.)
- Choose your lines of communication: this will allow you to know where to go and how. The best is to think about the expectations of your target. What exactly is she waiting for, what does she want to see, what does she need to read as information?
- Write a monthly editorial schedule: it may seem long but it is a way to keep a constant rhythm in your speeches. You also avoid oversights and demonstrate professionalism by keeping in touch with your audience by sharing your work.
- Publish regularly: this will allow you to maintain the link with yourcommunity, your prospects and customers. Publish an average of 3 to 4 posts/week and stories to keep in touch with your audience.
- Inject a budget for advertising: this will allow you to reach users who do not know you yet. Highlight your posts,page or profile to try to grow your audience over time. Advertising is an excellent lever for visibility and notoriety.
Step n°12 | To be a professional photographer: Define your legal statut
Freelance/freelance photographer, author photographer... What's the difference? For example you can choose:
- The status of artisan photographer: you therefore take the side of being freelance, or independent, and will therefore be subject to the URSSAF. You will therefore be able to choose your legal form among which we find the status of auto-entrepreneur, or micro-entrepreneur, of EURL, EIRL, etc. We invite you to take advice from an accountant to help you create your business. This statut is oriented towards photographers who practice social photography, such as photos of baptism, birth, marriage, pregnancy, etc.
- The status of photographer author: this status is dedicated to professionals who wish to sell photographs or transfer of image rights.
All that remains is to find customers!
We're here... It's time to dive into the big bath by finding your first customers. For this, we advise you to get closer to companies that might be interested in your work. For example, if you decide to move towards the profession of photographer in site monitoring we invite you to contact groups such as Bouygues construction or directly with the companies that carry out construction sites.
Do not hesitate to ask for thebrands in your region. They may still need photos to feed their social networks, to display POS in store, to communicate in small local magazines.
Then, there is nothing like playing your water to conclude your first contracts. Ask your entourage,your network of professional photographers, your teachers, all your contacts likelyto bring you valuable advice and information on potential customers.
Finally, go for it! Knock on the door of advertisingagencies, event or communication agencies. You will certainly be able to interveneir for them in the futurethen... get noticed.
Let's go, let the adventure begin!