1. FSV

    FSV

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    Blaine
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    Evening all, just after a little assistance if possible please?

    Firstly a little bit of a back story....

    I have been working in the motor trade since I left school (2001) and due to a few recent health scares It has made me think long and hard about what I want to do for the rest of my life. Now I am fortunate enough to have a very supportive wife who is encouraging me to pursue my hobby into a career. Now I understand there are those people who say you need experience, etc, etc. However there are plenty of people that have built up a career in photography who have been self taught. It is those people that I am wanting to seek advice from if possible please?

    I know I am not going to become a millionaire and lead an extravagant lifestyle as a result of earnings from photography however If I can make £15K per year after a few years I would be happy. I am still working at the moment and I intend on spending every spare minute I can taking photographs and reading to improve my photography further.

    I guess what I am asking is can anybody please offer any genuine advice that can help me get to where I want to? I have done a few weddings in the past however I would like to get involved more with Nature or motorsport photography as these are my main subjects that I like to shoot. I know this is not going to happen overnight and I have set myself a 5 year plan to achieve this

    I would genuinely be grateful if anybody can offer some realistic advice and help with this please. I am not looking for sarcastic answers such as 'we all want to do that' etc. This is a genuine request for assistance. If you would rather contact me via PM this would be fine also.

    Thank you

    Blaine
     
  2. shapeshifter

    shapeshifter

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  3. Lensflare

    Lensflare

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    I have been a full time professional photographer since 1985, most ly working in the editorial sector, which gave me clients in advertising and PR. They were the cream on top, the editorial was the bread and butter - but in order to make it pay properly, even in the heady days of the 80s when publishing was awash with money and budgets were virtually limitless, I was working 20 hour days 7 days a week. I did one 5 year spell for my main publisher where I had 7 days off - not 7 days a year, that was 7 days off in 5 years. It nearly killed me, but i will admit, it set us up quite nicely. That publisher doesn't exist anymore. Reed in Sutton was another big client, giving me 8 or 10 jobs a month, they sold off the entire division I was working in about 15 years ago.

    I don't mean to put a big downer on your dream, but the 'professional photographer' from my era no longer exists. Why? because there are so many 'gifted amateurs' prepared to work for pocket money and to see 'their name in print'. Why would a publisher pay me £350 for a morning, when they can get Jim from the packaging department to do it for £50? he has a 'good camera' and won one of the photography club's competitions, so he must be good enough.

    Budgets are no longer there. You can thank Mr getty and Mr Alamy for that. I used to make about 30,000 a year from my stock sales alone, until the 'royalty free' market started (Corel was the first big player I remember). Where I could command £350 for a one use of a picture quite regularly, that same shot now is worth about £35. In 1986 The Field paid me £250 per day, plus expenses, to do a feature shoot - and they sent a proper journalist to do the writing, on a similar budget. So that is £500 plus expenses for the feature - they now pay £150 all in and you find your own expenses, that is for the feature, not the photography - so that £150 is for the photography AND the copy writing. Would you go and do a grouse shooting feature in Caithness for that - you have to pay for your own trip remember! Yet people do it.

    Weddings might not seem very exotic, but they do pay something. I think the budget is probably about the same as it was in the 90s - averaging about £2000 per wedding? I don't know, but what I do know is that the EXPECTATION now is far greater. With that budget spread between 2 photographers and a video operator. Some people manage to do it themselves, but the stress is enormous (I gave it up because of it - yet I was commanding a minimum of £1500 in the 90s and 00s).

    If you are thinking that going down the photography route would allow you to 'kick back and earn a few bob' you are clearly clueless. If you want to earn, you have to stand out from the crowd - that means anything but taking it easy. The mileage you will wrack up, the hours you will need to put in - and then the paperwork and marketing on top.

    There are a few jobs available. one publisher I still do the odd job for actually recruited one this January. That post involves 6 days a week, full days. It also means writing the feature as well as shooting it - the salary?



    £22,000.

    They asked me to apply for the post... I declined. I still get some jobs from them, because as they have learned, a staffer cannot be everywhere at once!
     
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  4. DG Phototraining

    DG Phototraining Woof

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    Sorry but you're way off with this @Lensflare

    I think the budget is probably about the same as it was in the 90s - averaging about £2000 per wedding? I don't know, but what I do know is that the EXPECTATION now is far greater. With that budget spread between 2 photographers and a video operator. Some people manage to do it themselves, but the stress is enormous (I gave it up because of it

    Few full-timers are taking £2,000 as an average, its probably nearer to £1,000 and most don't have a 2nd

    ALL the newcomers are happy to shoot from £200 all day and a USB, which is fine, some move upwards to 'proper' rates, many hover around £500 and are pretty poor photographers at that but there's a HUGE market for cheaper togs, so its very busy at that level - this is relatively easy to get into and earn £15,000 pa

    I only see a videographer about twice a year, so less than 1:15 of mine also have one

    I do it all happily myself having used 2nds in the past and not wishing to do so again

    I certainly don't think Weddings are stressful but if anyone does than I usually tell them they shouldn't be a Wedding tog, as you've already proved

    I can't comment on the editorial side of things but I respect your advice there, and I suspect that being a nature or motorsport tog is equally badly paid or hard to get into

    Good luck to the OP - its great that you're expectations are unrealistic as they often are :)

    Dave
     
  5. Lensflare

    Lensflare

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    Way off bit...hence my question mark after the figure and my statement of 'I don't know'....inviting clarification!
     
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  6. DG Phototraining

    DG Phototraining Woof

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    lol

    Having said all that - most that are around £2,000 probably do have a 2nd too; which I've never understood as it doesn't help much really, causes real problems if they're shooting style isn't exactly like your own (moreso if they aren't using the same camera type), gives you potentially twice as much editing to do and cuts deeply into your profits!

    If one's photography is much better than the typical £500ish tog then it can be quite easy to be both a WW (Weekend Warrior - so working during the week and shooting at weekends) and get close to that £15,000pa; which would now be my way-in to being full-time if I was just starting :)

    Dave
     
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  7. Lensflare

    Lensflare

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    Simon Everett
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    Oh - a bit more about the magazine market - sticking with The Field, look through the credits and see how many photographs are sourced from iStock rather than direct with the photographer. Those pictures, on a regular contract basis with iStock, which is a bulk buying scheme across their titles, earns about $2 - DOLLARS. About enough to cover the cost of the electricity to take the picture!
     
  8. DG Phototraining

    DG Phototraining Woof

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    Just 'Liking' that seems inappropriate :(

    The (photo!) stock market now has crashed beyond belief meaning you need thousands of sales monthly to get anywhere

    Dave
     
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  9. KIPAX

    KIPAX Waldorf

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    KIPAX
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    Not really how an open question on an open forum works though is it....

    OK first alarm bell..recent health scares... well photogrpahy isn't as laid back as it sounds when doing it for a living and especialy self employed... its stressy, long hours and heavy kit to lump about.. not sure what your health scares are (guess heart?) but just saying .. being self employed photographer can give sleepless nights esp in first few years..

    never met anyone making a living from nature... and motor sport is a hard one to get into... But more doable from what I have seen on these forums.. again few and far between and not sure anyone making a living from it

    I chose sports and just celebrated my tenth year as full time self employed sports photographer.... as well as turning 62 :) so its never too late and its doable.. and it takes time... but one things it not .. its not like the hobby.. nothing like it at all I am afraid
     
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  10. Lindsay56

    Lindsay56

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    Lindsay
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    I'm not a pro tog - not even a talented amateur imho - but I've been self employed for 30 years with a small IT consultancy. Therefore I can advise categorically that if the health scares are things that might cause you to take time off sick, you are better off as an employee; however if they are stress-related (eg heart or depression) then whilst the same is still true, the support of your wife to accept a low income in exchange for your state of mind is wonderful and to be seized, but should not be abused by having rose-tinted glasses.

    There's good advice above, if a little dispiriting. However if you can pursue the dream whilst still earning...and I am guessing that your current job maybe provides the beginnings of a client network for motor-related photography work? Promo shots for your current employer, etc, and maybe an inside track to the advertising dept of the brand of cars you are selling? Maybe you can. in the foreseeable future, change your current role to part-time?

    Kipax proves it can be done, if you do your groundwork and develop your skills and network well. Good luck with the dream
     
  11. StewartR

    StewartR Efrem Zimbalist Jr Advertiser

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    Stewart with a 'w'
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    Oh, it's certainly possible, but not necessarily just from taking photos yourself. The way to make money is to get people to pay you to take them to Kenya, Tanzania, India, Spitsbergen, Alaska etc and help them take photos.
     
  12. Major Eazy

    Major Eazy

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    Learning and studying is theoretical while actually taking photographs is practical. Thus, if you are taking photographs, whether learning at college or doing self-teaching, either way, you have started graining experience, and if you keep going, you are still graining experience. Even a professional photographer is still graining more experience. There is no such thing as 'You can only start a careers in photography from Experience Level X'. There is no such thing as where do experience starts and ends. Experience starts the moment you pick up a camera and use it, experience ends the moment you give up photography, regardless of your skill level.

    Tim Page, a British photojournalist during the Vietnam War, I don't remember much, but I think did not studied or trained in photography. He wanted to travel around the world, ended up in Asia, needed a bit of work to get some more money to pay for fuel for his motorbike, food, and places to stay, during his journey. He met a reporter, and the reporter gave him a camera, asked "Know how to use one?" Tim said yes, but his experience was mostly taking holiday snaps of his journey, and he ended up starting doing photojournalism without formal training. Despite his experience is only about how to handle a camera, and no formal experience in photojournalism, he went on to built up a reputation for being one of the well known photojournalist.

    In a sense, if you know how to handle a camera like the back of your hand, and can do some great photographs, you have already got the experience to have a go turning it into a career. You are right, many people who have photography as a career did start self-taught. People should not be told 'You have to have experience to make it a career!', people should be allowed to have a go. If your trying to turn it into a career takes off, great! Well done!. If your trying to turn it into a career nose dives, aw! Sorry but you tried your best. (In the past, men were told 'You can't be a military officer unless you are a gentleman!', but nowadays, guys can join the army and have a go working up the ranks to become an officer, and if they fail, it was their right to try anyway.)

    However, there is a such thing as Semi-pro. Thus you can carry on working at the garage (or whatever you do in the motor trade) in your main work hours, but do some bit of photography for a pay in your spare time. Part-time photography work, which could be a very good starting point, steady pay from your motor trade, with extra cash from your photography, until you build up enough reputation to allow it to become full-time. Many professional photographers have done it this way, start as hobby, it became part-time (AKA semi-pro), then it became full time.

    The one good thing is you have a supportive wife who believes you can do it, so make sure YOU believe in yourself to be able to turn it into a career if you want to.

    Hope it helps?
     
  13. itsdavedotnet

    itsdavedotnet

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    There's a comfortable living to be made in photography, absolutely.

    It'll always be way more difficult if your clients are the general public, though.


    Good luck OP, go take a lot of photos. Like, really, a lot. Concentrate on putting good things in front of your camera.
     
  14. DT01

    DT01

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    Drew
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    Copied and pasted from my response in another thread!

    You could put yourself out there as a jack of all trades shooting anything from portraits to properties to pets, put your flyers all over town and hope you get lucky.

    Alternatively, you could...

    1. Find a genre/style that you love and specialise in it to the point that you get seen as being one of the best at that. Become one of the 'go to' guys for that genre.
    2. Identify the market for that niche
    3 work out how to give that market what it wants in a way that is the least painful for them and still gives you the financial reward that you need.
    4 Connect with that market as frequently and in as many ways as you can.
    5 Repeat number 4, ad infinitum.

    NB. Face to face contact is the best. Go the extra mile and put yourself out there.

    For the record, I tried both. The second approach worked, the first didn't.
     
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  15. gcgraphs

    gcgraphs

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    GC
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    :agree: 100%

    Niche revenue stream(s) work perfectly. The higher the entry barrier the better, kills any of the "Joe public" freebie threats that some shooters experience.

    If the area you're looking at is mature/over saturated with supply you'd better be damned good or be able differentiate significantly from your competition.

    Before the criticism starts, I earn my corn by shooting (and adding value) for 2 x distinct markets, I really wouldn't want to be starting out as a sports or wedding shooter right now unless I had some massive advantage over the established guys!

    GC
     
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  16. petersmart

    petersmart

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    Way back when I was a Pro tog and earning my living from it doing mostly weddings Saturdays were always stressful - depending on how many weddings I had I would take, in advance, 1 Anadin tablet for every wedding - 1 wedding 1 tablet, 2 weddings 2 tablets etc.

    If I didn't do this I would end the day with a splitting headache.

    And that was back when digital didn't exist, but even then I had to cope with sometimes over 100 guests all milling around and 15 mins to get my shots before the next wedding party rolled up.

    .
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2018
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  17. sk66

    sk66

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    £15k living wage... what is that gross in the UK? £35k? £50k? And that's before expenses like equipment/travel/business insurance/health insurance/etc/etc.

    The way to make money in photography these days is to become "an expert" and sell others crap they don't need... you don't even have to be that good of a photographer...
     
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  18. shapeshifter

    shapeshifter

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    That sounds like being more of a conman than a professional photographer.

    Maybe it would be better to sell double glazing.

    What was it "an expert that sells crap to people that they don't need and don't even need to be that good at it" It sounds like an advertisement for a double glazing salesman alright.:LOL:
     
  19. sk66

    sk66

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    Steven
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    Just about...
     
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  20. hashcake

    hashcake

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    I've only flicked through the posts so forgive me if this has already been mentioned.
    I've thought about doing the same in the past but I don't consider myself a good enough photographer.
    When I was made redundant in the mid 90s I set up a business selling pet foods, accessories, a small pet feeding service to look after animals when the owners went on holiday and a dog walking service.
    Myself and my ex wife posted 2000 leaflets but I was working from home.
    The business picked up slowly but when I took on a retail unit my turn over increased ten fold.
    I am not blowing my own trumpet but I was very good at what I did and my reputation was fantastic.
    I heavily promoted one of best dry foods (long before the likes of James wellbeloved) and I became well recognised.
    Due to making a bad business decision I entered into a partnership that didnt work so I left the business.
    Within a year my ex business partner made too many mistakes and the business was closed.

    My point is that you need to get your name out there and yes I am sure that there are professional photographers whose business pick up quickly from the start and perhaps had potential clients from the start.
    I also spent a lot money on advertising, some paid of and some didn't.
    I believe the best decision I made was having the retail unit.
    I know rents and business rates can be high and with photography you would need to have a studios and do portrait work.
    If your partner can financially support you while you build up the business then that's good, however, I never had that luxury.
    Do all that you can to promote yourself and get your name out there.
     
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  21. thequietman

    thequietman

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    This is the fastest route you can take.. could not have put it better myself..all others will be slow burners and take years to work if ever...in the long term ..the market is now too over crowded with hundreds of wedding photographers working from home all competing for the same type of customers..you need to stand out from the crowd move upmarket and set yourself up as some one credible who operates from a proper business premises...that looks professional to the public and the discerning spending customer....whether that be in a retail unit on an industrial estate in a busy part of town or a retail premises on the high street either in a secondary or primary location I’ve worked from several shops and home over the last 30 years and have a dedicated studio in the grounds of my home which houses a lab office and larger studio for family groups and also a high street shop with small front reception and small studio through the back which can take family groups of approx 6...guess which premises has the largest flow of customers on a daily basis with customers knowing exactly were to find me...of course choosing the right premises and knowing your town well also helps so you fit in with a similar ilk of business ..who all attract a similar type of ideal client..I am on a busy junction with thousands of cars passing day and night and also have a bridal store and menswear store for grooms along with mother of bride outfitters all either side of me along with several independent baby related stores. I would just never get this variety of customers passing by or walking in if I was sat in the office or studio at home and of course there is the added hassle of people trying to find you......
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2018
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  22. Phil V

    Phil V

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    I’ll repeat the concern from above, as I have in a similar thread recently.

    I don’t want to pry into your health issues, but for sports, events, wedding photography, you can expect to be carrying the weight of a small car around for a 12 hr working day, it’s not the most physically demanding job I’ve ever done, but nor is it something I’d recommend to someone with health concerns.

    Then as someone who’s had a business fail from a similar start point, running a small business is about 300% more stressful than any job offering a similar income. If you need a regular income, then getting a job alongside running a business will cut some of the stress.

    The good news is that being a pro photographer is very rewarding, but you need to go into this with your eyes open, dealing with s***ty customers when the buck stops with you, burning the candle at both ends to meet deadlines, having to bring home the shot, no matter what the challenges, it’s no holiday, and it’s certainly not to be considered ‘making money from your hobby’.
     
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  23. FSV

    FSV

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    Blaine
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    Hi there

    Sorry for the late replies. Thank you for all the honest posts that you have put up on here.

    Just a few things to clarify. My recent health scares were exactly that, scares. I am certainly not unfit or unhealthy by a long stretch of the imagination. I am not going into personal details on here but there is nothing that stops me from doing my job currently. My current job is one of the most stressful jobs in the motor trade and I can cope with it very well, however after going through these scares it has made me realize that I certainly do not want to be in the motor trade for the rest of my life and would rather do something I enjoy for a living.

    My wife certainly does not have rose tinted glasses and is fully understanding that it will take considerable effort and money to help me achieve what I want to.

    As has been said before there are plenty of people that make a comfortable living from photography and this is what I am wanting to achieve long term. I am by no means suggesting that it will happen overnight! It is those people I was looking for some words of wisdom from.

    You have given me some good things to think about and I appreciate that.
     
  24. Phil V

    Phil V

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    Hi @FSV, you’ve hopefully just learned a lesson about marketing.

    It’s all about precision of the message. Only tell people what they need to know, if you tell them more than they need, there’s always a chance they’ll pick up on what you thought were throwaway details.

    You wrote about 300words and less than 50 were about business or photography.

    What kinds of motorsport photography are you interested in? Do you have any contacts?

    Did you enjoy the weddings you shot? Are you a people person? Do you have any other business background? Have you got a clue about marketing? How are your IT skills? Are you a quick learner?
     
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  25. FSV

    FSV

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    Blaine
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    Hi Phil

    Great point raised there thank you.

    As for motorsport photography, I enjoy BTCC, drifting and also motorcyle racing although to he honest I enjoy all forms of motor racing. I don't have any contacts in that field.

    As for weddings, yes I did enjoy them. I am a people person, my job is working with customers all day and I do enjoy that aspect a lot.

    I have an understanding of marketing however I do need to learn more regarding this aspect.

    IT skills are also good and yes I am a quick learner
     
    Phil V likes this.
  26. Kell

    Kell

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    Kell
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    This is coming from someone that hasn't attempted to do this, but I think @Phil V makes a great point about being a people person - certainly WRT weddings.

    The last wedding I went to (earlier this year), the groom had hired a 'pro' photographer, but I'm not sure how pro he was. He certainly had no presence and when group photos were being organised had no control over the crowd and therefore we spent a lot of the day not knowing what we were supposed to do.

    If I think back to my own wedding (19 years ago today as it happens) the photographer we used had recently won wedding photographer of the year. He was brilliant. Commanding without being overbearing, everyone knew what they were supposed to do, he made it fun for us all - it's a long day for the bride and groom don't forget.

    Now a similar amount of people would have been at each of those weddings and I can guarantee that no one asked the groom of the more recent one for details of the photographer. Whereas the guy we used got lots of business of the back off our wedding. Not that he needed any extra advertising, he was well known and respected in the area as he'd been doing it for years.
     
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  27. Kell

    Kell

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    Kell
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    Last edited: Sep 12, 2018
  28. Tdes

    Tdes

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    Tony
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    I did some photography at collage 25 years ago, have an eye for composition so did some photoshoots for my last company (5x week long shoots) with all the latest equipment. I went self employed as a designer and started picking up a few photography jobs, then a few video jobs. That side is now equal in size (revenue) to my design side, and I am not even showing it on my site or on social media, it is organically growing.

    Even with the success I am having now, I would not have quit a perfectly good job to do it full time from the start. I am lucky I have multiple skills that can bring in money, but would not have jumped in with two feet without knowing how deep the puddle was!!

    I find that when you need work you don't land any jobs, when you have plenty more works keeps flooding in!

    Without sounding negative, tread cautiously, follow your dream but maybe stage it. Make a few contacts, get a few jobs going weekends then make the leap when you have a head start.

    T
     
    Bollygum likes this.
  29. Tdes

    Tdes

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    Tony
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    To add, I'm not an expert photographer, I have an eye for composition and a basic understanding of lighting and a LOT to learn. But it seems to be working for me, off to Hungary for a week soon on a paid job!
     

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