Did you know that the average salary for a photographer is $30,000 to $35,000? Nobody should become a photographer for the money. There should be a passion within you to express yourself through moments captured in time. It is possible to make $100,000 a year as a photographer in your area or much more if you’re shooting the top jobs around the world. If you want to make the big money, you need to devote your life to photography. When you’re not getting paid for it, you should be out experimenting on your own. Study every picture you see. Figure out how the image was lit, how many lights were used, was a diffuser involved? Study the ads in magazines on TV and on billboards. I continue to do these things every day. I actually buy magazines sometimes just for the ads. Since I shoot commercial properties in Las Vegas, I also pick up the free home magazines. Also visit photography supply stores like Adorama or B&H Photo to learn about all of the equipment available.
The shortest route to becoming a photographer is by being an assistant to a professional photographer who works in the particular field you’re interested in. Ask every question you can think of and don’t concern yourself with how much the photographer is paying you. Don’t even consider it a job. It’s an invaluable learning experience.
The knowledge is so valuable that I would have paid more experienced photographers for the opportunity to help them. Good thing they didn’t know that. I worked for free or for very little pay, long after my own career was off the ground. I knew that the knowledge gained would make me money for the rest of my life. I personally didn’t learn much about taking pictures from my mentors because I was already pretty advanced but I did learn a lot about the business… How much to charge, which labs to use, how to present myself, which promotions work and which don’t.
Do you need a lot of money to start a photography business?
Well unfortunately yes you do. The equipment today is very expensive and you need a powerful computer to run photoshop and manage all of you image files. With that said… I started getting paid as a photographer when I had one prosumer camera and one 24-70 lens. Obviously if you’re starting in a similar situation, the types of photography you can offer are limited. If you’re working as an assistant you’ll quickly discover which lenses work best for you and what type of lighting equipment you’re going to need.