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Two Big Reasons Amateur Photographers Are Afraid to Become Professionals

Becoming a professional photographer can be a scary thing, especially because, unlike a traditional job, the pathway to sustainable success is much more nebulous and often changing. What are the most common fears people have about becoming a pro? How can you mitigate those fears? This excellent video features an experience professional photographer discussing the topic. 

Coming to you from Scott Choucino of Tin House Studio, this insightful video discusses two of the most common fears photographers have over going pro, namely fear of leaving a day job and being unsure of how to market their skills. While these are important things to think about, I think it is also important to note, however, that fear is often a healthy thing. Being a professional photographer is a risky venture, particularly in today's climate, and as such, it is a decision that should not be made lightly. I generally think that no one should go into a creative venture as a profession unless they cannot imagine themselves doing anything else, but if you have the passion, the talent, and the work ethic, it can be a rewarding and fulfilling career. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Choucino. 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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One of the biggest things is that moving from hobby to pro is a massive shift in perspective. Its not just as simple as being a great photographer and now making money.

Suddenly your life is less about the craft of photography and more about sales and marketing.

Suddenly creative freedom is replaced with pressure to construct something specific, consistently.

Suddenly you are responsible for managing and meeting expectations.

Turning any hobby into a career is always a risky play. It can play off wonderfully and be delightfully rewarding, but it also can ruin your love of that hobby by making something fun into work.

Another reason: Photography is a great hobby but less wonderful as a career. Would you really recommend anyone with a reasonable job or career to become a pro photographer in 2023?

This is so true.

At age 76, no way, unless they can go seasons of staving first. And gets some breaks.

Reasons have been explained pretty well by Ryan Cooper. Yet another one, which follows in line with Mr. Cooper's, once you make that change, there is no guarantee, of course, that you will make it within the first few critical years. If you don’t then you're back to square one. Or maybe back a step ot two. Depending on how much you were making before switching and add to that any inflation to have to adjust for the pay you DID get and the pay you NEED to get.

You better love it and have trust fund money, AND connections/ a circle that can push you to potential clients

can you find me a rich woman? I am in going Pro. LOL

At age 76, I started out 15 yrs ago and a hobby enthusiast. I went sort of semi-pro ( I had some modest fees for project). I live in rather small area in my state. I kept my regular work. I sought advice from friends who business acumen was notable. When I look into the capitol needed and the equipment it was clear I was under capitalized. The risk/reward ratio was not good. I found my skills had advanced, but not enough that good. I back out of going full time. It was a good decision as I look back. Fstoppers is a nice "spot" for me, though it markets to professional class in my view. Tomorrow I and doing a charity shoot for two women living in "sober living house". Both women lost everything due to alcohol and narcotics addiction. My hope I can assist them with their self worth, if my skills can draw them out of their shattered lives. I hope to post some if they work out.

Just what is a professional photographer? And why the need to refer to yourself as one? Have you ever heard of a professional landscaper, professional teacher, professional doctor, professional bricklayer, or a professional painter...? It seems unnecessary and a bit egoistic. What's wrong with "I'm a photographer?"

I imagine most pros photogs introduce themselves as "I'm a photographer". Saying "I'm a professional" is not some egotistical merit badge, its just a way of communicating that something is your primary source of income, that's it. It doesn't even imply any sort of vocational accreditation like say when a Doctor insists that you use "Dr" in front of their name. (Or MD at the end of their name)

Well, how many hobbyist teachers, hobbyist bricklayers or hobbyist doctors have you heard of, opposed to how many hobbyist photographers?

When your profession is also one of the most common hobbies in the world, the need to differentiate your self is only natural, and is neither unnecessary or egotistical in my opinion. It simply makes economical sense..

Taking photographs has very, very little to do with running a successful photography business. 5-10% of your time is spent actually working behind the camera if you're lucky. The other 95% of the time is spent running a business.

I'm not afraid but retired. Becoming a professional requires that 4 word "WORK". But like Paladn, Have Camera - Will Travel.