How Do I Become a Commercial Photographer?

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  • Written By: Alex Paul
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 13 May 2018
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A talent and passion for photography is essential if one wants to become a commercial photographer, but skill alone isn’t enough to build a successful business. Commercial photographers also have to understand how to develop a business plan and market themselves. Choosing a type of photography on which to focus is another important decision. Some commercial photographers, at least to begin with, need to be skilled in a number of different types to increase the amount of potential clients.

To become a commercial photographer, it’s essential to be skilled at taking good photos in a variety of situations. A skilled photographer has a much greater chance of taking a great photo in a shorter period of time. Digital cameras and storage mean a photographer can take many more photos during a shoot, increasing the chances of getting a good shot, but a thorough knowledge of lighting, exposure and other aspects of photography is still essential. In most countries, there is no need to get a formal education or certification when trying to become a commercial photographer, though it may help to convince potential customers.

A business plan also is a necessary part of trying to become a commercial photographer. The business plan should include details about which type of photography the person is going to perform, how much money he or she needs to start the business, and targets for growth. This helps the business owner develop a clear idea of how the business should progress and also makes it much easier to get investment funding from banks or other organizations. Marketing ideas also should be included in the business plan.

The type of photography is one of the biggest decisions when trying to become a professional photographer. It affects the skills required, the type of marketing that’s likely to be effective and the equipment needed. Wedding photography, for example, is one of the most pressurized types of commercial photography. A wedding photographer needs to be confident in getting the right photos at specific times, while staying relaxed and approachable — often when the subjects of the photographs are anything but. Sports photographers need to be opportunistic when taking photos and may require expensive zoom lenses.

There are a variety of other considerations when trying to become a commercial photographer. Buying the right equipment, including computers, editing software and accessories, is often a problem for new commercial photographers. Setting a price that attracts customers while maintaining a healthy profit margin also is important. Marketing, through advertising, social network interaction or entering competitions, is essential when first starting a photography business.



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