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How to Become a Professional Photographer

If you’re considering taking your love of photography and turning it into a career then this article is for you! You’re not alone in your dream to become a professional photographer, which means it’s a pretty saturated market to try to get into. But don’t let that discourage you. With the right tools, knowledge, and some good ‘ol perseverance you can definitely be successful.


So many new photographers try to figure things out on their own… this means a lot of trial and error, failed advertising attempts, and discouraging waiting. But this doesn’t have to be you! There are so many great resources, online classes, YouTube channels, and other educational opportunities for you to take advantage of. Don’t waste your time building a website that won’t convert into bookings or your money on fb ads that won’t get in front of the right people…

Photographers (like me) who are a little bit further down the road than you WANT to share our knowledge and save you from the struggles we went through. I’m hoping this article can be one such resource for you.


Mastering the “photography” part of a photography business is actually the easy part. Learning how to use your camera in manual, figuring out how to achieve artistic lighting and composition, or how to edit and finding your unique style- that’s all the fun part, so it usually isn't too challenging to put in the time it takes to hone those skills. Setting up LLC status, or learning about how to properly code your website for optimal SEO…. those might not be as exciting for us "creatives". But that’s where the secret lies. Many photographers don’t invest the time it takes to figure out these boring “business-y” things and just focus the on the art- and these are the photographers who never see their business take off and who can never quite make enough to go "full-time". That’s what gives you the opportunity to be different; to be successful. If you’re willing to put in the work to learn how to properly set up the BUSINESS side of your business (ie. ads, SEO, funnels, marketing, social media presence etc.) you absolutely have the potential to take this business full time!


1. Educate yourself and PRACTICE

I know I just got through saying that learning the photography side is the easy part but it doesn’t make it any less necessary! Learn you camera, get comfortable shooting in manual, understand how to use light, learn your editing software, and practice, practice, practice! For me, a huge part of the learning curve was gaining confidence in directing people during a session, always having a prompt to pull out those genuine emotions and knowing how to pose people in the most flattering ways took some repetition but then it started to come more naturally. Figure out what areas you need work on and focus on doing it over and over.


There are tons of photographers on YouTube who share a lot of info about camera basics but also CreativeLive is a great resource to find affordable photography classes.

2. Find a Mentor

Finding a photographer to be your mentor is invaluable. You never know what questions are going to come up as you start to launch your business… but you can be sure there will be lots. Instead of scouring the internet for answers to each and every question that comes up, it's super great to have a friend or mentor who you can go to for insight. Not only that, but having a professional photographer to look at and critique your work, and give you advice is so so important. As you’re developing your creative eye it’s impossible to look at your work and see what someone else might be able to see. I paid for a mentorship zoom call early on in my development and it changed the way I viewed every single one of my photos and totally shifted the way I shot moving forward. (If your interested in finding out more about my mentorship program you can fill out this form here).

3. Find a Niche

In order to have a successful photography business you HAVE TO find a niche. You don’t want to be a catch all photographer who does kids, portraits, seniors, events, and more. Because when someone lands on your website even if they are looking for one of the services you offer they’d much rather book the photographer who specializes ONLY the thing they’re looking for. If you are a newborn photographer and that’s ALL you do, then when someone finds you who’s looking for photos of their newborn they’ll know they can trust you, because it’s all you do and so you must be good at it. Plus with marketing these days it’s super easy to get your product in front of the people who might want it as long as it’s specific enough.

If you're serious about wanting to grow your photography business I have an online class that goes over social media strategies, SEO, advertising and more. AND, for a limited time, this class is absolutely FREE.


4. Get the Right Gear

Depending on what niche you decide to go with you’re going to need to invest in the right gear for that setting. But I suggest putting as much money as you can behind a good lens and only buying one to start with. For example, if your do portraits, I suggest a 50mm 1.4 because that’s the most flattering for faces and bodies but if you’re going to do weddings you’re going to want a lens with zoom like a 24-70mm. Personally I use a Sony A7 iii and I absolutely LOVE IT. Regardless or what you choose to specialize in I strongly suggest to investing in a full frame camera body and a lens with a low aperture ability (f2.0 or lower). If you’re on a limited budget definitely look into buying gear used or refurbished! Along with gear you’re also going to want to invest in purchasing Lightroom/photoshop and a really good preset. You can check out my presets and brushes here. Buying presets can be really hard because they never really look the same on your photos as they do on the example photos… that’s because the type of camera effect the color tones and also every preset requires a little bit of tweaking based on the lighting scenario your photos were taken in. Mostly shifting exposure, tint, and temperature. I definitely wasted a lot of money on presets that I didn’t like and never ended up using…

5. Build your Portfolio

Now that you know what you want to specialize in and you’ve got the right gear it’s time to start building your portfolio! Start with photographing friends and family for free until you have enough images to fill the home page of a website (10-15 good images from about 3-4 different shoots). Then build your website with these images minus a portfolio page and run a Facebook ad offering a “model call” or “portfolio building session” and have it send them to a landing page on your website where you explain that you’re a new photographer looking to build your portfolio. Outline how long their session will be, how many photos they’ll get, where the shoot will be etc. and then have a contact form for them to fill out. Once you have about 5-6 free shoots set up take down your ad and wait until have the photos from these shoots to do the next step.

6. Build your Website

After you have the photos edited from these free sessions it’s time to build your REAL website. Use these photos as your portfolio and all over the other pages of your site. Be sure to keep SEO in mind as you build your site. Things like keywords, H1 vs H2 tags, google my business, location pages, back links, blogging, etc.

7. Set up Social

You’re also going to want to set up an instagram and a fb page. This is a super great way to be found as a photographer, plus it shows potential clients that your business is still active! Your'e going to want to be sure to keep a very cohesive look to your instagram and post multiple times a week. It’s also a good idea to use things like reels and stories to allow potential clients to get to know you a little better!

8. Market your Business

Last, but CERTAINLY not least, it’s time to market your business! In theory now you’ve created a great product: great photos because you’ve learned the basics and have good gear, a niche so people can trust you’re good at what you do, a place for them to see your work displayed and get to know you a bit through your website and instagram… the only thing left is to get the RIGHT people TO those platforms to see your work! The best way to do this is going to be through fb ads. People can also find you through hashtags on instagram, google ads or simple googles searches based on your SEO, but by far the most efficient way is going to be through targeted fb/instagram ads. By figuring out how to effectively use facebooks layered targeting, pixel, lead magnets, and sales funnels you’re basically guaranteed to find people who want to book you. It’s simply that easy. There are SO many people on these platforms and you have the ability to get so specifically in front of the right people that just by the sheer numbers you are going to see some response (assuming you followed steps 1-7 first).

If you're serious about wanting to start or grow your photography business I have an online class that goes over social media strategies, SEO, advertising and more. For a limited time this class is absolutely FREE.


I know this is a lot of information and it can definitely feel overwhelming at first but just move one step at a time. You can do this!! Good luck!!

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