One of the first questions many photographers ask when looking to turn a hobby into a profession is ‘what formal photography qualifications do I need’. The answer is actually none if you want to set up your own business.
In fact, if you are looking to undertake any professional training at all, your starting point should probably be nothing to do with photography at all. What you need to know about, first and foremost, is business.
Becoming a self-employed professional photographer can mean that you might, potentially, earn a living doing something you enjoy, but this will only happen if you know how to run a business as well as being able to take photographs. If you don’t want to do this, then get another job and carry on taking pictures as a hobby.
If you do decide to go for it, don’t rush in headfirst without giving every aspect of running a business proper consideration. Passion and enthusiasm will mean very little to a lender who is chasing you for repayments on your start-up loan.
To even get a loan in the first place you will need a sturdy business plan that details more than just your desire to take great pictures. There’s a lot of advice on starting a business on the government website at gov.uk/starting-up-a-business. You can also find local business support through the National Enterprise Network’s website at nationalenterprisenetwork.org/business-directory.
Don’t see becoming a professional photographer as an extension of your hobby. Only a tiny number of photographers can start out taking just the snaps they enjoy taking – and actually make a living. You will have to put your personal preferences aside if you want to establish yourself in the business; taking whatever photographs are in demand and pay well.
You may not set out wanting to be known as a Sopley Mill wedding photographer, for example, but weddings and similar events are lucrative gigs that could facilitate you being able to spend time taking the pictures you enjoy.
Fill the Gap
There are some photographers that do specialise in one particular area, such as Nick Rutter Sopley Mill wedding photographer, but there are many others who offer various photographic functions, or else use their business acumen to tap into a particular gap in the market. Either way, business knowledge will always be key to identifying a need and then fulfilling it in a way that achieves financial success.
It is fine to see photography as your art, but how many artists do you know who actually manage to get rich as a result of their paintings or sculptures? In contrasts, most of us will know of a successful wedding photographer or snapper specialising in family photo shoots who drives around in a nice car and goes home to a comfortable family environment.
Don’t abandon your dreams of fame and fortune – follow them in your spare time, whether through entering competitions or funding your own exhibitions – but, unless you have exceptional talent that has already made you a marketable name, leave the more outlandish ones at the door when you enter your business premises.