Becoming a professional photographer can open a lot of doors, not just in your career, but also in life. You will meet new people almost every day, travel and be able to express your creativity and get paid whilst doing it.

Learning how to become a professional photographer isn’t easy, but if you follow the right steps, you will be able to work your way up and be booking your dream clients in no time.

We’ve taken a look at some of the questions you may have when making this transition and offered a few tips and tricks on how you can become a professional photographer.

Do I need a formal qualification?

Many photographers take formal courses in order to hone their skills and gain experience before heading out into the world of professional photography. However, it is not essential that you hold a qualification in order to become a professional photographer.

Skill and experience are more sought after than certificates or diplomas, and when hiring a new client, it is your portfolio that they will want to see, not your qualifications. Getting work experience, working on your own projects and building up your photography portfolio should be the first step you take when deciding to make photography your full-time career.

Do I need to find and stick with a type of photography?

When you’re first starting out, you may want to experiment with a number of different styles and this is strongly encouraged. You can learn a lot from exploring different ways of shooting and it can massively help to shape your style.

It is advised to pick a type of photography further down the line, however, as a consistent portfolio will allow you to book bigger and better clients. Remember, you are always free to shoot what you like outside of your business and if you do want to offer 1-2 different types of photography services, keep your portfolios separate so as not to confuse your potential clients.

How much should I charge for my services?   

How much you should charge for your photography services relies heavily on two things:

  • Your skill
  • Your experience

The more experience you have or the more skill that’s involved in your photography, the more you can charge. Of course, like deciding on any freelancer rate, it is not all black and white and there are a number of different factors you need to take into account when deciding on your final pricing structure.  

Below, we’ve pulled together a rough pricing chart to help you get started. This is based on a per hour rate combined with years of experience and skill level. This is just a guide and you may progress up the ladder quicker based on a number of factors such as speed of learning and opportunities.

£25-£100 per hour

1-3 years with basic skill

£100-£300 per hour

4-6 years with moderate skill

£300-£500+ per hour

7-10 years with exceptional skill

You can also choose to charge per image. This works particularly well with portrait photography, as it is studio based and you can better calculate how long it will take you to complete the shoot and better monitor how many shots are taken.

Do I need expensive camera equipment to become a professional photographer?

When your clients book you, the likelihood is that they will not understand cameras and therefore the camera you are using won’t hold much value to them. These clients will be more concerned with the quality of your work than the equipment you use.

If you can get exceptional quality images with very basic kit, there is no need to splash out and purchase the latest camera and equipment.

However, there may be some cases where you will need better quality equipment in order to capture what the client has asked. This can be found in cases of wildlife or travel photography. These styles may require you to have multiple lenses in order to capture anything and everything on the go.

The style you choose and how you use your equipment will determine whether you need to invest in new or extra equipment, so think about the type or style of photography you want to create and whether your current kit will be sufficient.

What skills do you need to be a professional photographer?

To become and call yourself a professional photographer, you need to know and understand your equipment inside out. You need to be able to use your camera to its full capability in order to get the best out of it and not be limited creatively by your equipment.

However you will also be running your own business and working with clients, so there are other non-photography skills that you will need to master. Managing clients and client accounts is something you should become familiar with and also work on improving your communication skills. This will help massively when it comes to delivering something the client is happy to pay for.

You will also have to be business savvy, learning basic business skills like accounting and bookkeeping, marketing and sales. These also improve with time and it is normal to make mistakes in your business when you are just starting out.

Remember, if you are becoming a professional photographer and turning your passion into your career, make sure you are properly protected. Check out our photography insurance and find out how we can help you on your journey to becoming a professional photographer.