Photography Cheat Sheet: How to Become a Professional Photographer

Ever thought about making photography your bread and butter but don’t know where to start? Today’s in-depth photography cheat sheet should help!

While photography is mostly a hobby for a lot of us, we’re sure there comes the point when some of us will feel like trying to make a living out of it. If that sounds like you, but you have no idea how to make it happen, we understand how daunting it can be. We have just the photography cheat sheet to help you map out your path to becoming a professional photographer.

The infographic below was put together by Robert Sail in 2016, but all the tips and information it contains still applies today. As described by Infogrades, we can consider this as a blueprint that newbies can follow to eventually become pros. It’s a challenging undertaking, but resources like this photography cheat sheet certainly make things easier.

First things first — what type of photography do you want to do? Robert’s suggestion to shoot the kind that you are passionate and most interested in makes sense. Not only will you be motivated enough to keep learning and taking on more challenges. You’ll also eventually specialize and be a master of your chosen genre/s.

Robert also gave another piece of sage advice — don’t quit your day job just yet! You’ll need the money to invest in yourself, not only in terms of gear but also for improving your skills. Take some photography courses, attend workshops, and explore other learning and training opportunities. All of these will let you master the basics and learn other additional skills if necessary. The more work you put into this part of the journey, the faster you’ll see better results.

Once you’ve gathered a good collection of photos from all the training, workshops, and practice, it’s time to put together a portfolio. You can make a Behance portfolio for starters, but it’s best to have your own website, complete with your own domain, professionally-made logo, and branding. These will give your work a more professional and legit look and increase your chances of getting clients and paid projects.

Ultimately, the goal of all the lessons, practice, and preparation is you landing photography jobs. Prepare your CV, check your portfolio, and be on the lookout for job ads where you can send applications. The reality is that many jobs won’t be advertised so you’ll need to do some networking and asking if there are any vacancies around. There are also not a lot of full-time and well-paying jobs available, so you will also most likely work as a self-employed or freelance photographer and gain jobs through your network or by marketing yourself. Some photography sectors could offer full-time positions, but these typically require substantial experience. You can give yourself the best chance to snag these jobs by building up your experience and taking as many assignments as possible.

Lastly, Robert tells us that becoming a small business owner is the only way to become a gainfully-employed professional photographer. It’s not going to be easy, and a lot of the work will fall on your shoulders. How you market yourself and the quality of your work will determine your success. Life as a small business owner running your own photography company will be both rewarding and challenging, so best of luck!

If you’re looking for more photography tips and tricks, we invite you to check out our growing collection of photography cheat sheets!