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5 Things All New Professional Photographers Should Do

So you’re starting your career as a professional photographer, congratulations! Starting your own business can be an exciting, albeit daunting, experience. Turning your passion for photography into a successful career will require more than a keen eye behind the lens, but don’t worry - we’re here to help! Here are five key steps every aspiring photographer should consider when starting out on their professional journey.

1. Build Your Portfolio

The first thing you're going to want to do is to build an engaging portfolio that showcases your talent and appeals to your target market. Initially, you might not have a wide variety of professional work to exhibit, and that’s perfectly fine - it just means it’s time to get creative. Offer free shoots, or maybe organize styled sessions with friends and family. These sessions will not only help you build your collection of work, they’ll  also offer an opportunity to interact with clients and to experiment with different lighting techniques and poses.. The goal is to create a portfolio that not only demonstrates your unique style but also gives potential clients a glimpse of your versatility and competence.

2. Set Up Your Instagram Account and Website

Having a robust online presence is non-negotiable in today's digital age. You’re going to want to start by setting up a professional Instagram account dedicated solely to your photography. Instagram's visual-centric platform is perfect for photographers looking to showcase their work and attract a wider audience. Just remember to keep your content updated and representative of your growing skills!

It’s also time to get a professional looking website up and running. After all, the sooner you launch your website the sooner you can start appearing in local Google searches. There’s no better time to start building your SEO and brand awareness than right now! Your website is your digital storefront and plays a critical role in building credibility. Remember, your website and social media accounts are reflections of your brand, so make sure to invest the time and effort they deserve.

3. Develop your Marketing and Sales Skills

As a professional photographer, you are essentially a small business owner with a staff of one. This means wearing multiple hats. You’ll be responsible for sales, marketing, accounting, customer service, and you might even get to take some pictures. It's crucial to understand that your ability to create stunning photographs needs to be matched with solid marketing and sales skills. Invest in learning basic marketing strategies, understanding your target market, and honing your sales skills. Remember, your amazing images won't sell themselves; you need to get them in front of your clients

4. Join Local Groups and Seek Out Your Photography Community

Growing your network should be high on your priority list as a new professional photographer. Networking with peers can open doors to invaluable learning opportunities, potential collaborations, and a deeper understanding of the local market. Join local photography groups, attend meetups, and engage in online photography forums. The insights, tips, and tricks you pick up from these interactions can be game-changing for your photography career.

5. Seek out a Mentor

Learning from those who have walked the path before you can be incredibly beneficial. Look for photographers whose work you admire and reach out to them. Ask to assist on a shoot or work as a second shooter. You’ll likely be rejected a few times, but don’t get discouraged! It’s a lot of work for established photographs to take on a mentee, and not all photographers will have the time. When you do get an opportunity, absorb as much as you can. This experience is not just about improving your photography skills; it's about understanding the intricacies of running a shoot, interacting with clients, and managing post-production work. For bonus points, check out Focal's Not-A-Conference events for a chance to gain mentorship from some of the big industry leaders!

Each of these five steps provides crucial building blocks for your photography career. As you embark on this exciting journey, remember to enjoy the process and appreciate your passion for photography, your clients sure will!

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