This entry was posted on August 27, 2021.
You know your DSLR inside out, you have an impressive collection of lenses and you’re starting to produce immaculate images. You’ve also decided that you want to turn your photography hobby into a full-time career.
The question is, what now?
Not all photographers instinctively know their place in the profession. Quite the contrary, as it’s often a case of experimenting with a whole bunch of specialisms to find what works for you.
The professional photography game is competitive in the extreme. If you’re serious about transforming your passion into a career, you need to be ready to take the rough with the smooth.
For those who make it, a career in photography really can be a dream come true. After all, what could be more fulfilling than getting paid to do what you love most?
But as with all careers, you need to have your sights set on a realistic and achievable long-term goal. And that begins with identifying what kind of photographer you are, and what kind of photographer you want to be.
A Broad and Diverse Profession
Let’s be honest, every ‘professional photographer’ has a speciality. Ours is a vast field filled with opportunities; by far your best bet to succeed in professional photography is to pick which niche is the best fit for you.
For the lucky ones, the niche chooses you.
Regardless, there’s no shortage of possibilities to explore, and the vast majority can pave the way for a rewarding career.
To put everything into context, here’s a brief overview of eight of the most popular career paths a professional photographer can pursue:
#1 - Wedding Photography
There is always a constant demand for talented wedding photographers. Which makes this an incredibly accessible route for your professional career.
If you’re skilled at capturing the moment, there’s a strong chance you’ll find yourself right at home as a wedding photographer. And if you have an innovative streak of creativity running through you, chances are you’ll find yourself in high demand.
And, if not, you can still see huge success in this field through clever marketing or competitive prices.
It’s worth bearing in mind that this is a particularly high-pressure gig. It calls for flawless people skills, the ability to control a crowd and the patience of a saint.
#2 - Event Photography
This can be a particularly rewarding field, especially for those who get a kick out of things like live concerts and music festivals. There’s no shortage of pressure, but the thrill of being able to go behind the scenes and get up-close and personal with performers is something else.
Of course, there are various arms to the event photography game that go beyond live music.
These extend to the likes of:
- Corporate events
- Private parties
- Sporting events, and more
And yes, weddings fall into this category, too (we just thought they deserved their own entry).
Whatever the event, this type of photography calls for swift decision-making and a talent for photographic storytelling. If you struggle to capture those once-in-a-lifetime moments under pressure, consider another route (or practice until you nail it!).
#3 - Portrait Photography
This isn’t quite as easy to make a career out of, due to its nature. Portrait photography can be a tremendously fulfilling and financially rewarding profession. However (perhaps due to the rise of smartphones?), there isn’t as high demand for this as some other photography fields.
Still, there are always opportunities for those who specialise in family photos, corporate portraits, celebrity headshots and the like. There’s a degree of overlap between portrait photography and fashion photography, which is why many professionals cover both.
#4 - Fashion Photography
Fashion photography is one of the most desirable gigs to land, but also a notoriously difficult field to get into. This is due to the sheer competition for the limited spots available, which open doors to an enviously glamorous lifestyle.
Successful fashion photographers spend their time working in the fashion districts of London, New York, Paris and Milan. They gain access to the world’s most exclusive fashion shows and are constantly travelling to inspiring locations.
Breaking into the fashion photography scene isn’t easy, but it more than justifies the effort for those who make it.
#5 - Product Photography
One of the best things about becoming a product photographer is the fact that there are usually plenty of freelance job opportunities available. The same also applies to food photography, which (to an extent) falls within the same specialised niche.
In a nutshell, those who excel in making products and dishes look downright fantastic are always in high demand. Manufacturers, retailers, restaurants, take your pick – many industries are often on the lookout for talented product photographers.
What’s also great about this career path is that you can practice it relentlessly at home. And you’ll have little to no need for specialist equipment to do so. You’re always surrounded by products, ingredients and dishes; everything you need to perfect your art and build a fantastic portfolio is already at your fingertips.
#6 - Architectural Photography
Architectural and construction photographers typically work with property developers and agencies, often on a contractual or freelance basis.
Their job is to capture the essence of all types of buildings from visualisation to project completion in meticulous detail. These images may be used to pitch projects to potential investors, or to sell completed properties to buyers.
Successful architectural photography is about being able to see the details others overlook. It’s also about knowing exactly how to present the most appealing aspects of an architectural proposition to a target audience.
#7 - Travel Photography
The ultimate dream ticket for adventure, travel photography literally provides the opportunity to get paid for going on holiday.
All you need is a high-quality camera, a decent laptop, and a passport. Oh, and the knowledge and skills to tell inspiring stories in the shots you take.
Travel photography isn’t simply about taking pretty pictures of idyllic landscapes and coastal sunsets. It’s about presenting destinations and cultures in a way that transports the viewer in the blink of an eye.
#8 - Pet Photography
There’s surprisingly strong demand for professional pet portraits these days. If animals are your forte, this can be a far more accessible field than conventional wildlife photography.
It’s also a great idea for setting up and running your own business. Particularly as you don’t need a great deal of expensive equipment.
Frustrating at times but always entertaining, working with animals can be an absolute joy. It can also be a fairly lucrative gig, as there’s no shortage of people looking to capture magic moments with their pets.