How to Become a Professional Photographer: Master Your Skills

How to Become a Professional Photographer: Master Your Skills

This is part three in a five-part series about becoming a professional photographer. To start from the beginning, read How to Become a Professional Photographer: Part One.

Part Three

This is part three in a five-part series about becoming a professional photographer.

Part 1)  Define Your Goals
Part 2)  Establish Your Business
Part 3)  Master Your Skills
Part 4)  Produce Defining Work

Master Your Skills

A professional photographer must be a master of their craft. It’s important to be fully competent with your equipment in order to tackle any photographic challenge. Embrace learning opportunities and continue to challenge yourself to improve.

Know Photography

It’s not enough to snap a good picture now and then, and you certainly cannot get by shooting in auto mode. You must fully grasp the ways in which aperture, shutter speed, and ISO work together to ideally expose a scene. Experiment in manual mode. Stop time and show motion. Shoot in the day and shoot in the dark. Aim for razor sharp images with minimal noise. Shoot as often as possible in a variety of conditions. Learn how different lenses affect the depth and feel of your exposures. Become capable of manipulating light to achieve your desired outcome.

Explore the basic rules of good composition so you know how and when to break them. Compare your photos to photography you love and identify the differences to determine what quality standards might be lacking in your work.

Photography is a balanced interplay of technical know-how and artistic expression. There is much to learn, but these skills are developed and perfected naturally over time. How quickly and how well you master photography will determine the pace of your own career.

Know Your Camera

Knowing your own camera is imperative. Hardware and software controls vary among different DSLR brands and models. Can you boost the ISO on your Canon? Adjust the shutter speed on your Nikon? Swap lenses on your Sony? Continually dig deeper into the capabilities of your own camera. Learn to control all of your equipment quickly and efficiently, without second-guessing.

Know Your Software

In the age of digital photography, your post-processing techniques are arguably just as important as what you capture in camera. Can you work with camera RAW files? (You are shooting RAW, aren’t you?) Can you navigate popular image processing programs like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop?  You should know basic developing and image enhancement techniques. As software continues to evolve, this will be an ongoing process. It’s a great idea to participate in regular industry events to grow your skills.

Continue to Learn and Evolve

Like any other artistic endeavor, your photography will continue to improve and evolve over time. Foster this creative growth by intentionally seeking opportunities to learn. Read books covering all aspects of photography—from basic composition to advanced exposure to post-processing and workflow techniques. Get inspired. Join photography meetups and make friends with fellow enthusiasts. Attend photography workshops by established photographers. Participate in industry events and experiment with new tools and techniques. Embrace the evolution of your work and enjoy the process of learning.

Mastering your skills is a lifelong pursuit for any serious photographer. As techniques and technologies evolve, so will your photography skills and approach. Focus on producing your own defining work to stand out from the crowds of competitors.

Continue Reading…

Read Part Four: Produce Defining Work.

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Photo credit
© rumos / 123RF



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Written by Hillary Fox

Founder of OnGoingPro, Hillary Fox is a travel and lifestyle photographer working throughout Europe and Africa. Visit her site at hillaryfox.com.

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