Being a professional photographer is an expensive game. Even really basic equipment is hard on the pocket. A lot of us (myself included) get this nagging doubt that our current kit is holding us back. I'm also guilty of getting gear envy when I see other photographers behind the scenes shots on instagram. However, professional photography is a business just like any other and it needs to make a profit, meaning spending on kit needs to be proportionate to your profit.
Articles written by Scott Choucino
About a year ago I was drinking in a bar in Leicester, England. I got chatting to a gentleman who I sort of recognized from various events I'd attended in the past. After a few drinks, I discovered he owned a helicopter. At this stage, I was a bit worse for wear and thought it would be a grand idea to ask if he'd like to fly me above our hometown to take a sunset cityscape. We agreed, in our inebriated state, that this seemed like an excellent idea. So, just a few days later we met again (without beer) in a field; Me with my camera and a sickness in the pit of my stomach and him with his helicopter. We were all set for our flight.
There are many paths in professional photography. I have gone down the route of commercial photography, and whilst I am nowhere near where I want to be in professionally, I thought I’d share a few points that can go a long way to making it as a professional commercial photographer.
I am sure most of us look back on our lives and think, “You stupid idiot, what on earth possessed you to do/think/try that?” I am certainly no exception to this, especially in the professional arena. During my early years as a photographer, I made a heap of mistakes and I worried about all the wrong things.
Organizing a photoshoot, professional or otherwise, can be a daunting task. From a small portrait sitting with a local band to a worldwide ad campaign, there are some key steps that will reduce stress, ensure everyone feels understood, and ultimately help everyone work towards the same goals. As a bit of a disclaimer, I work in the U.K. as a commercial photographer, but most of these steps can be dialed up or reduced for any project, wherever they happen to take place and whether paid or not.
Free? Working for free? When I started out, being asked to work for free made my blood boil; Didn’t people know I had bills to pay, rent to make, black T-shirts to buy, rounds of beer to shout, girls to woo? These things cost money, and it still makes my blood boil when I’m asked to work for free. And yet I often work for free. Confused? Here’s how working for free is a good thing and how to ensure your blood doesn’t boil in the process.
The day you move from amateur to pro is one you never forget. But how do you decide to make that move? How do you know you’re going to cut it as a pro? How do you know if you’re ready? Will you ever be ready? Yes, you need a healthy interest from potential clients, and yes, you need a heap of camera gear. But what else? It is not all about the kit I promise you. That’s just a crutch. This is what you really need.