They say do something that you love and you won’t work a single day in your life. If only life is that simple. Societies are more complex now and finding the niche where you belong to is easier said than done. You can only wish to end up doing a job you’d learn to like as you go along. However, as technology continues to progress, changes are likewise taking place and opportunities are opening up to those who are willing to take the risk. Our love for social media and the visual arts proved to be an edge for aspiring photographers who want to make money out of their hobby of taking pictures.
Most photographers often make the transition of taking photography to the next level if only to cover the basic costs of pursuing their hobby. There are various opportunities when it comes to picture taking and you don’t always have to have the latest professional camera (although it helps) but have an eye for what looks good in photos or not. You can offer your services (at a lower cost) to people within your circle (family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors) to take photos during weddings or other special events for starters. You can also dabble with real estate photography or even sell your own photos as stock photographs or to collectors who don’t mind buying works of amateurs like you.
Starting your own photography business is a great way to add a second income or a main income, if you work hard. While the photography market is competitive, many photography business owners have been able to find their niche and build a sustainable career. Like most creative endeavors, you need to balance your passion for photography with real business skills in order to be successful. To build and grow your business, you need both raw talent and a knack for marketing. One photographer we spoke with said an ability “to market yourself” was one of the most important factors in success. You should continually be working to improve your craft and evolving your product, and work consistently on your own branding, online marketing and people skills. Without the two, the results will likely just be an expensive hobby rather than a viable full-time business.
If you want to turn your hobby into a lucrative career, the first investment you have to make is to buy that fancy looking camera with a long list of features that only pros know how to use. And mind you, they can be quite pricey especially high-end lens. You also have to prepare for additional lenses, flashes, memory cards, computers, external hard drives, and a professional-looking website to boot. If you want to make your business more legit, prepare additional requirements in securing a business permit, insurance, business cards, accounting, and contracts. It is quite a handful for a budding photographer like you but they are important requisites to becoming a pro.
In Instagram’s early days, few photographers realized the photo-sharing platform’s full potential. Often, it was used as an alternative portfolio or a way to keep your followers up to date on your day to day photo musings. But as Instagram has grown – it announced 500 million users last month – it has become, for some, an opportunity to work on commercial shoots where posting on their own Instagram feeds is part of the deal.
TIME LightBox spoke with five photographers who are leveraging their followings.
Pei Ketron for Pfizer
Few photographers have been seamlessly incorporating Instagram into their business as long as Ketron has. When Instagram-based assignments began emerging around three years ago, Ketron says it was i nitially with travel companies in exchange for lodging and airfare but has grown to bigger budgets as its value as an advertising tool has increased. She cautions photographers that “it’s a big ego boost to have companies approach you, but be weary of accepting the handouts in exchange for money to avoid undercutting the market.”
We now live in a day and age where things have evolved to fit our highly digital lifestyle. Social media is a force to reckon with but it can also be your friend. Photographers who mastered social media are able to leverage their income and make money from the photos they post on social media especially that of travel bloggers who travel the world for a living, so others can experience what it’s like from the photos they post online. Basically, they make money from being popular social media influencers with a cult following and do a lot of sponsored posts because that is where the money is at. It can even pave the way for your transition from an amateur to a pro photographer.
While talent helps a lot, it takes a lot of patience, courage, and skills to shift to professional photography where you can turn your hobby into your main source of bread and butter. Learn about building your brand and reaching out to a wider audience using the technology we have today. Just keep in mind that it won’t always be easy, so be ready to build your name and connections because they can help a lot in your future success.