I follow a lot of photographers and photography news from people and sources such as Chase Jarvis, Lee Morris, FStoppers, PurePhoto Blog. One post really caught my attention recently. It talks about being a photographer, and how to make the leap from enthusiast to professional. One quote from photographer Christopher Anderson really hit it home when he said:

“Forget about the profession of being a photographer. First be a photographer and maybe the profession will come after. Don’t be in a rush to pay your rent with your camera. Jimi Hendrix didn’t decide on the career of professional musician before he learned to play guitar. No, he loved music and created something beautiful and that THEN became a profession. Larry Towell, for instance, was not a “professional” photographer until he was already a “famous” photographer. Make the pictures you feel compelled to make and perhaps that will lead to a career. But if you try to make the career first, you will just make shitty pictures that you don’t care about.” Christopher Anderson’s work.

This is probably one of the most important things to follow when aspiring to become a professional photographer. Most of the jobs I have gotten were from people and clients who saw my personal work from my website. Very little of my professional work is used in my portfolio. It’s not that my professional work isn’t any good or I don’t like it, but because my personal work speaks so loudly to what I like to shoot and how i like to shoot, it has just that extra little touch of personality and enthusiasm to it that really represents me.

Have a look at some other great quotes from photographers for new photographers.

“Give it all you got for at least five years and then decide if you got what it takes. Too many great talents give up at the very beginning; the great black hole looming after the comfortable academy or university years is the number one killer of future talent.”

Carl De Keyzer’s work

“Try everything. Photojournalism, fashion, portraiture, nudes, whatever. You won’t know what kind of photographer you are until you try it. During one summer vacation (in college) I worked for a born-again tabletop photographer. All day long we’d photograph socks and listen to Christian radio. That summer I learned I was neither a studio photographer nor a born-again Christian. Another year I worked for a small suburban newspaper chain and was surprised to learn that I enjoyed assignment photography. Fun is important. You should like the process and the subject. If you are bored or unhappy with your subject it will show up in the pictures. If in your heart of hearts you want to take pictures of kitties, take pictures of kitties.”

Alec Soth’s work

Photograph because you love doing it, because you absolutely have to do it, because the chief reward is going to be the process of doing it. Other rewards – recognition, financial remuneration – come to so few and are so fleeting. And even if you are somewhat successful, there will almost inevitably be stretches of time when you will be ignored, have little income, or often both. Certainly there are many other easier ways to make a living in this society. Take photography on as a passion, not a career.”

Alex Webb’s work



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