There are few impediments to becoming a professional photographer. You don’t need to get a license or join a union or even take a test to make a living with a camera.
Forget about learning the business in any classroom. It can’t be taught that way.
The best way to get started is to be a lowly assistant to an established photographer. This modern day apprenticeship is what really works.
I was fortunate to learn the business by working for a successful photographer in Dallas. This fellow shared studio space with some other photographers who ran their operations quite differently. By that I mean not so well. Watching someone struggle in their business is often more educational than the opposite.
One of the studio mates had an obsession with bringing everything he owned with him on his location gigs. A big cargo van was needed every time he went out. As he supervised his assistants, he could be heard justifying each additional item with the words, “just in case.” He spent more time wrangling and managing his inventory of unnecessary gear than he did taking pictures.
It was a powerful lesson for me.
The guy I worked for had no need for anything beyond the basics. That’s because he carried an unlimited supply of creativity and wisdom.
His resourcefulness reminds me of another guy that I photographed a while back. With just a few tools and a lifetime of experience, he makes things that stand the test of time.
About the author: I am Stephen Kennedy, an experienced photographer with more than 2500 completed sessions in all 50 US states.