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9 Things You've Heard (But Shouldn't Believe) About Being a Photographer

Author: Kara Dudley

A budding photographer amidst the buds.

Jon Bunting/flickr


There are plenty of myths surrounding the lives of professional photographers  and now it’s time for them all to be debunked.

1. You Can Work Your Own Hours

Photography is a service, and if the service you provide isn’t high quality, you’re done for. You must constantly cater to the wants and needs of your clients  especially as you begin to build your client base and portfolio.
Those free weekends and odd hours you imagined? That’s exactly when people plan events like photoshoots and weddings. And when you consider the additional time spent editing and communicating with clients, your free moments vanish faster than a shutter click.

2. Your Hourly Rate is What you’ll Earn

High hourly charges are not what they seem – not even close. $100 an hour quickly whittles down to a much smaller number when you figure in the costs: transport to and from locations; time spent editing; marketing costs; and administrative time. Another thing to consider is that you can’t count on being booked all day, every day  that $800 per diem you were dreaming about might actually look a lot more like $200 when all is said and done.

3. When People Compliment Your Pictures, You’re Ready to Go Pro

Just because your mom likes your pictures doesn’t mean you’re the cream of the crop. It’s only when people start putting their money where their mouth is  by buying your photos  that you know you’ve got a chance of achieving sustained success.

4. “Creative” Is Always the Goal

Clients want their pictures to be as clear and attractive as possible  as bold as your shots may be, those “creative” stills might just rub your client the wrong way.
Being a great photographer doesn’t necessarily mean being a great artist, and the artist-at-heart may find herself making some sacrifices to please her clients. That said, there’s always a balance to be struck, and your photos should always look stunning.

5. You Can Draw Up Contracts Yourself – After All, Photography Is About Trust

Bad luck or a bad client can straight-up ruin your career. A contract filled with legal nonsense makes a client think twice about breaking the terms of a deal – which clients invariably do. But a solid contract also allows you to defend your business or seek legal action against a client should those kinds of problems arise. In short, striking a balance somewhere in the middle is key. And be sure to choose your clients wisely, since some may lack the necessary funds or try to skimp on paying entirely.

6. Call Yourself a “Natural Light Photographer” and You Can Skip Learning How to Light

Natural light is a wonderful aspect of many projects — but it can’t always be called upon in times of need. Learning how to light your own subjects with a multitude of differing methods is a necessary part of just about every type of professional photography.

7. To Get More Clients, Just Host a Giveaway

It’s a common strategy, but hosting a competition for free picture prizes is only good for business if you can market it to a huge number of people  not just your family and friends. Your existing clients already know about your work and probably follow you online, so there is zero benefit in giving them free stuff for the sake of it.
Unless you pay to market your giveaway on social media or do a lot of the footwork yourself, you just aren’t going to see great results.

8. Networking Isn’t Necessary

Scores of photographers enter the market every day, which means that the world is completely saturated with cameras for hire. You need to do everything you possibly can to net new clients – networking is one of the best and, really, only ways to get your name out there.

9. Digital Is the New Print

Finally, as a respected professional photographer, you shouldn’t let anyone see work that isn’t in its absolute best form. Digital is everywhere, and it doesn’t catch anyone’s eye — at the end of the day, there’s no substitute for the real thing. Your photos must be attentively retouched and printed on the highest quality materials, which are available from trusted sources like Printique. They provide the professional photo books that will leave your clients awestruck.
No matter the difficulties you face as an aspiring photographer, if you’re passionate about your trade, you’ll bust these myths and carve out success.