NYC-based photographer Steve Giralt wrote an excellent article called Photography Jobs Grow on Trees about what it takes to become a professional photographer. Steve talks about photography business as it applies to the field of dealing with professional clients (art buyers, photo editors, publications, creative agencies, etc), but the lessons here can be applied to just about every genre of photography. This definitely hits near and dear to me because I am also an aspiring fashion and commercial photographer who is looking to break into the professional realm.
All of his tips are great, useful tips that can help you become successful and avoid getting stuck in that no-man’s land between “Just a Hobby” and “Paid, Working Professional.”
The article title is probably the one that can be applied to your entire career, how photography jobs grow on trees. What Steve means by this is that just like a little tree seed, you have to water and nurture your clients until they become loyal clients who will regularly send you business. At the same time, while you tend to other seeds, you must still take care that tree because they will bear fruits to other trees.
Constantly shooting new work is also an important in improving your skills. There are a lot of great shooting and lighting tutorials on this site and other similar sites, but if you don’t experiment and apply them, then you don’t really grow. Plus, these personal projects and test shoots may even land you jobs. If you recall in one of our articles from A Photo Editor on How to Land a $100,000+ Advertising Job, a certain photographer sent out a promo mail piece with photos from his self-assigned fashion shoot to an ad agency. What ended up happening was that the ad agency wanted to refresh one of their most iconic ad campaigns and that one photographer’s personal work was along the lines of what they’re looking for. That personal work ended up landing the job.
Finally, the aspect of assisting other photographers, especially those who are working professionals in the field that you are aspiring, is such an important component in not only learning the technical skills, but also the business skills and relationship skills that it takes to play at that level. I myself had been able to assist several prominent photographers in photoshoots for People Magazine, American Idol singers, and high-end jewelry companies, and not only did I learn how to work in a team under pressure with clients and celebrity talents around, but I also learned how successful photographers run their show. Learning the industry from the inside is far more valuable than just reading about it on the internet.
Steve goes in depth with more tips on how you can break into the industry as a professional photographer, so be sure to read the rest of his article, Photography Jobs Grow on Trees.
So what are some of the tips that you follow or recommend to aspiring photographers, and to what field of photography does it apply to?
About Steve Giralt
Steve Giralt is a NYC-based photographer who was selected in 2005 by PDN magazine as one of 30 emerging photographers to watch. Visit his website here. His article was originally featured by Peta Pixel.