Not long ago I wrote a post called ‘The Photo Nazi’ with some advice for a new photographer. This post generated a lot of traffic and comments, not all of it so positive. Some people thought I was a arrogant and had no tact. I have no problem with being controversial from time to time, but I thought I should make up for that post by giving some good advice for a change.
The thing is that the number of people who want to be professional photographers grows every day. With the new incredible digital cameras, many people can now produce decent images and feel they are only one step away from going pro. All they need is a little advice for the road but all they get is a serious lecture and talk about commitment, patience and persistence.
Why can’t we make it simple for these aspiring photographers? Does everything have to be so hard?
There are enough photo bloggers out there giving this kind of heavy-duty advice on how to become a professional photographer but no one is giving the right answers. Here is a list of some simple shortcuts; a few REAL tips on how to become a professional photographer, or at least FEEL like you are already there, which could be a good substitute for some.
1. BUSINESS IDENTITY is the first thing in the list. Make a business card saying ‘Professional Photographer’. You might want to include a picture on the card. Getting a logo using an old film perforation, a camera design or an image of and eye can make it simple for those who can’t read. Everyone will know immediately that you are into photography.
2. ONLINE PRESENCE. Get a website with lots of flash galleries and effects to stun the visitors. Use shock and awe effects. Use music to leave an ever lasting impression. HTML is way too simple and people might think you are cheap. Get an interesting splash ‘page loading’ effect.
3. DISCOVER THE ARTIST IN YOU. Once you have a website, you must create a ‘My Art’ gallery. Everyone has it. After all, you don’t want people to think that you are not creative enough, right? It is very simple to do. A few B&W pictures, a snap of a blue wall with a lock, a red door or an interesting reflection and you are there.
4. EQUIPMENT. Get a Canon camera. All the pro’s use Canon. buy two if you can afford it.
5. ACQUIRE KNOWLEDGE. Start talking only about equipment and which camera is better, Canon or Nikon. it is a very important question and you will never run out of words or people to talk with. Learn all you can about cameras and lenses, and make a wish list for the gear you want to get. If you see a picture that you like by someone else, try to find which camera he/she used and what was the settings.
6. CREATE YOUR IMAGE. Rent or borrow a BIG lens and get your Facebook profile picture taken holding it. It will draw tons of comments and people will envy you.
7. SOCIAL NETWORKING. Carry your camera bag to openings of photo exhibitions and photo fairs so that people don’t think you are just a regular visitor. It is best if you wear a photo vest. If you don’t have one you can hang your camera on your shoulder instead.
8. COMPLETE THE LOOK. Want to be a photographer? Start looking like one! If you are into photojournalism, buy a bandana, a white kafiya or light scarf and use it to complete the grunge ‘look’. If you smoke, start rolling your own cigarettes. Get an iPhone.
9. ASSIGNMENTS. Tell everyone you are loaded with work.
10. YOU ARE READY. Get an assistant!
This is not a complete list and not all the tips fit everyone’s needs. Use what you think is good for you and disregard the rest. This might sound funny to you but believe me, it worked for many people out there who are now busy traveling all over the world taking pictures and making money. What if it doesn’t work out? well, you can at least say you tried, or you’ll have to work really hard.