So You Wanna Be A Photographer

I’ve had a lot of friends and friends of friends approach me about wanting to get into photography. So often people seem to feel bad or nervous to approach photographers which is understable, they aren’t all as nice as me. I’m always happy to give advice and tips, it makes me feel a little more useful in this world.

It’s strange to even have someone come up to me saying they want to get into photography, I still don’t really feel like a photographer. I have though been paid for my time and work so I figure, there’s that. So here are my tips for someone who is thinking of becoming a professional photographer.

  1. Make sure you are being paid for your time and for your work. Charge for the session when you take the pictures and charge for the prints they order. It’s hard to do this at first but you need to be worth something.
  2. Learn to love photoshop because you can’t be a photographer without it. Sometimes you need to spend 2 hours working on 1 picture and sometimes it just needs to be cropped. For me it makes the difference between a snapshot and a professional portrait. Here is the difference between a non-edited photo and an edited one. (See below)
  3. To build your portfolio ask to take pictures of your friends and their kids. Make sure they know that this is a one time deal and they won’t get it for free again. Only do this at the beginning when you are learning.
  4. When you go professional just because someone is your friend or a family member doesn’t mean they should get your work for free. Don’t let them take advantage of you. I have a family member who I did pictures for, for free and then offered the pictures to order at a discounted price and she refused to buy pictures. I can only assume it was because she felt she should get them for free.
  5. Do not do full resolution discs, the clients should pay for both the services and the product. Only do discs of images for weddings but make sure you are compensated.
  6. If you are going on a shoot make sure to bring water with you, you will get thirsty. You will also be starving when you are done, you’ll eat like you’ve never eaten before.
  7. Don’t compare yourself to other photogs. Find inspiration and ideas from them but don’t compare yourself, easier said than done. Here is some inspiration.
  8. If you are doing a wedding bring a second shooter. My first 2 weddings I didn’t have a second shooter and I wish I had. It’s so easy to miss an important moment when shooting a wedding.
  9. Light can be your best friend or enemy. Light can take a picture from a snapshot to a portrait.
  10. Communicate with your clients before, during and after the session.
  11. Always have a contract, just to cover yourself and the client.
  12. Don’t let anyone discourage you if this is your passion but also know that photography is a long hard battle that never ends, you can’t just magically become a professional because it’s what you want.
  13. Understand you will fail but always learn from it so you never make that mistake again.
  14. Make friends in your community of photographers. Join local online groups and find open houses to go to. That is the best way to learn and to grow.
  15. Find your personal style and love it.


I could go on forever, these are the ones I thought off right off the bat.


  1. Pauline

    April 21, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Great honest advice! 🙂

    1. Robin

      April 21, 2011 at 11:22 am

      I wish I’d known some of this stuff when I was starting.

  2. Alissa

    April 21, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Robin, you’re awesome. Thank you so much. 🙂

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