Turning Pro

I am often asked the question, how did you transition from law to photography?  In this day-and-age of overwork and under-leisure, people secretly wish they could just follow their dreams.  For many people, that would be becoming a nature photographer.

Well, here are my thoughts and experiences on that subject, published over at Nature Photographers Online Magazine.  Darwin and I see so many talented, up-and-coming photographers who sell a few images and so start to think of turning their photography into a business.  I say, by all means take the plunge!  But a little research can’t hurt either. 

We’ll be talking about marketing your work and surviving as a photographer with John E. Marriott as part of the SNAP! Seminar in April.  Hope to see you there!


~ by Samantha on February 1, 2010.

7 Responses to “Turning Pro”

  1. Hi Sam, I enjoyed reading your article (and I’m going to read it again right after I finish writing) and it’s given me a lot to think about.
    I have a regular full time job that pays the bills but also leaves me jaded. I’d like to do more with my photography but I need to figure out the direction I want to go in and whether that direction is even the right one.
    I don’t think that I have any delusions about the life of working photographer and I understand that it’s not all about being out there taking photos. I understand there is a lot more to it than that and I’m ok with that.
    My two big stumbling blocks right now are a) although I could probably write something, (a lot of people say I write well but I’m not 100% convinced) I have a hard time coming up with things to write about. That’s the main reason my blog is so lacking. And b) I’m not much of a people person and I don’t think that is too helpful in the business world.
    Anyways, like I said, a lot to think about. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts in your article!

    • Hey Tom!

      You of anyone would have a pretty good idea about the realities of being a photographer. You’re right though that there is a surprising amount of ‘people skills’ and writing skills required to be successful. Think of the big names; they’re big partly because they go public with their art in a huge way. Ya gotta like people a little to do that!!

      I think the balance is to do a lot of photography but still have some job as a backup that you like. Maybe another career would be the answer?

      • Hi Sam,
        I think what you say makes a lot of sense for me. At least to the time being. I’m going to keep doing my photography on the side but I’m not going to give up my day job. I might change my job though, we’ll see…
        And, it’s not that I don’t like people, because I do. I just find it hard for me to talk to them. It’s my curse. 🙂
        Anyways, I signed up for the SNAP! Seminar on the weekend and I’m really looking forward to it.

  2. Hi Sam,
    I enjoyed the article. I’m in the planning stages of turning pro and have started to hit on the points you wrote about. Like you, I have a law degree (and biology degree) and have worked in various jobs in and around the legal field for a decade. I find little satisfaction in the work and can’t wait for the day I can focus on the work I want to do. I’m curious if you’ve ever found it helpful or a disadvantage to be a woman breaking into this field? I’ve noticed that the majority of photographers online are men.

    • Hi Margaret,
      Thanks for the response on the article. As for your comment on there being a dearth of females in this field–so true! I think this will change, and is changing, but I don’t know where they all are yet in terms of nature/landscape photography. The reality is that this is just harder for women to do both physically and for safety reasons. Tromping around alone in the bush with 40lbs of camera gear is not for the faint of heart. Also, I find that nature photography is dominated by men and a male worldview. The technical parts of the craft are given plenty of attention while the artistic side often suffers. I’m always amazed at how much data men know about lenses, camera models, tripods…yet so many can’t name their 5 favourite historical photographers or compose an image to save their life. So, depending on what area you head into, it might be worthwhile to think about how you are going to fit into this industry. I thought law was dominated by traditional thinking–that’s nothing compared to some peoples’ views of photography!

  3. Hi Sam,

    It is really hard to go pro. I would love to be a nature and landscape photographer full time. However, it seems in my area, the ones that make money are the ones that work in portrait, wedding photography, stock photography etc. I don’t have the same passion for that. The only portrait photos I take are of my own family and are personal moments for me. So, now I have a day job which so far I am enjoying but I look forward to the weekends when I can at least go out and take photos for a few hours. I hope to attend the seminar. I am looking forward to hearing about this specific topic.

  4. Hi Sam, really interesting article in NP…Me too I am doing that exciting change, in my case from civil engineering and academia to the quick-sands of nature photography. I guess nowadays, nature photography calls more and more people for two reasons: it is not only that photographying the outdoors is amazing, is that our generations have completely lost the contact with the nature that our grannies had…and I am talking from Europe, where the thing is even worse! In any case, it is true our society is following a way which leads nowhere in the long term. In a way, we are realizing that the material stuff and that rat race where the motto is focused on growth is not what will give us happiness. Infinite growth in a finite planet? Just not possible…Meanwhile, nature photography becomes not only a creative scape, but also a non-material scope, a way of getting down the train and having some time to look around in a different way. The only detail is, whatever romantic that might sound, we still are part of this crazy world, and bills need to be paid and trends need to be followed. In a way, that is a practical thing that also adds some pepper to the trade…very often I have a bigger rush of adrenaline when someone gets a big print from mine to decorate his office than when I witnessed that very same sunrise depicted in the image. People buying not only fills your account, it is the definite proof they like your art! I do not think the competition makes living from photography difficult, but the lack of imagination and enthusiasm. The more we are, the more we copy, and the less we are ourselves. Nature is infinite, as it is art by definition…And then, we are becoming, without knowing it, the “marketers” for the health of this Planet. Difficult yet crucial moments will be witnessed in the next couple of decades, and I am sure nature photographers will play an essential role in getting a public awareness about the sustainability of our actions.
    Keep the good work and say hi to Darwin,

    Rafael Rojas, from that tiny alpine country (but hey! I am spanish!)

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