Pro Photography: 3 Keys to Success

Do you have what it takes to become a professional photographer?

by Vik Orenstein

portrait-by-Vik-Orenstein
Boy with binoculars
© Vik Orenstein
All Rights Reserved
There is one question that my outgoing BetterPhoto students ask me more than any other: "Do I have what it takes to become a professional photographer?" Usually what people are really asking is, "Do I have the talent? Is my photography good enough?"

If you are asking the question, the answer is probably "yes." But having what it takes doesnít guarantee success Ė just like having love alone doesnít guarantee a lasting marriage ... you have to work at it.

But there are things you can do to maximize your chances of realizing your dream. Here are 3 keys to success as a professional photographer:

Pro Photography: A Support Network

Is your family on board with your decision to do what it takes to "go pro"? Do they believe in your abilities? Do they give you kind (but honest) critiques of your work?

Even if the answer is "no," you still have a chance at succeeding. But your path will have fewer bumps and your journey will be all that much more rewarding when the people you love most are in your corner.


professional-photography-by-Vik-Orenstein
Outdoor Portrait
© Vik Orenstein
All Rights Reserved

Pro Photography: A Community

Do you have a group of like-minded folks to network with, to share tips and point you toward new resources for improving your photography and growing your business? This community can be local (people who you actually meet with and go out shooting with) or virtual (online with people from all over the world.)

Keep in mind that you only get as much out of the community as you put in. "Lurking" is fine, but participating is much better.

And remember the old adage, because itís true: "It is more blessed to give than to receive." When you help out your community members who are less experienced than you, you benefit by expanding and reinforcing your own understanding of what you teach.

Trust me: As an instructor, I know of what I speak! I learn as much from my students (of every ability level) as I teach them.


pro-photography-by-Vik-Orenstein
Musician
© Vik Orenstein
All Rights Reserved

More on how to become a professional photographer... An Embrace of Lifelong Learning

I once asked a friend and fellow professional photographer if he wanted to join me in attending a photographerís workshop. He said, "No. Why would I do that? I went to photography school." He clearly believed he had already learned all he needed to know about his art and his business.

But learning isnít something you just do until you hang out your shingle: itís a lifelong process, and itís as important to the long-term health of your business as it is to your start up.

Enrich your life in these three areas, and you wonít be asking anyone if you have what it takes to become a professional photographer. You'll just know.


Note: This article is excerpted from The Photographer's Market Guide to Building Your Photography Business by Vik Orenstein (Writer's Digest Books, 2010)


More on Vik Orenstein...

Pro photographer, studio owner, and author Vik Orenstein teaches several excellent online photo courses at BetterPhoto's online digital photography school: Also, check out Vik's Pro BetterPholio website: vikorensteinphotography.com/

Article by Vik Orenstein. To learn more about photography, explore the many online photography and Photoshop classes offered here at BetterPhoto.com.