I don’t want to be negative or a downer but let’s face it, becoming a professional photographer is tough. I was poking around the other day and saw a youtube show about the reality of the photographic business and whether young people graduating high school should go on to college and study to become professional photographers. The presenter in his opinion said no and that he would recommend studying photography as a part of gathering useful skills. Major in marketing or business and have a photographic background you can use. I tend to agree. If you do some research the average photographer in the nation is earning $14 an hour! The mean salary for photographers is a little over $33,000 a year. Ok sure there are photographers that get paid a lot more but there are several factors that drive their salary. Education, location, subject field and so on. At one time I shot high school football for a local paper. They paid $25 a day and that did not include expenses. Starvation can be reality.
One of the big things new aspiring professional photographers need to understand and know is “know the business”. Etiquette, networking and business skills are a must. There is a lot more to it than knowing how to run a camera. Time management? Organization? Budgeting? So how do you learn this? It is not a natural thing to know. I have found a lot of videos on the subject on the internet. Most are not even close to what is needed. Find and seek out an experienced and qualified instructor who knows the business. Work as an apprentice if you can and become a sponge. Work hard to understand more than the dials and levers on your camera.
There is no shame in saying I am not a professional photographer. At one time I was but soon found out I was better suited to add photography to an assortment of skills. If someone becomes the highest paid photographer on the planet, great! Otherwise if they can pick the tool up and confidently use it to get a job done that is also excellent!