In the late 2000s, there came an era of digital cameras with me managing to get my hands on a Sony camera. I had a collection of pictures that I shot using that. One of the major advantage of that was not having a reel in it. You could click as many as you could. That's when I started enjoying it more and wanted to learn more about it. At the age of 19, I decided I wanted to know more in detail about photography, focusing, lighting and shooting. It wasn't just a hobby then. It had become something which I found my happiness in. That's when I made quite a bit of research and earned good amount of knowledge about photography and now at 28, I use a Canon DSLR and keep practicing different combinations.
Hope this helps!!
Great question! I didn't realized that I wanted to be a photographer until I was a sophomore in High School! I got myself in a field around qualified professionals in the field of photography & taught me the fundamentals of how photography started! Learned film, the importance of developing film, learning how to get your photograph right the first time, & learning patience, creatively! I found a mentor after graduating High School & still continued to excel! One thing that's important, "do not let others tell you that you can not accomplish this field of photography!" It can take you far but, that's completely up to you! Have faith in yourself & own it!
Here's my story. During my first year out of college in the early 70s while employed as a social worker in Detroit, my roommate bought a camera and darkroom equipment. He was a pilot and one day asked me to take photos from his plane with his camera, a Canon. I decided I wanted a camera and bought a Minolta which was $20 cheaper and I thought handled better. I soon began taking photos for my union at work and began taking an annual foreign trip with a friend. In 1976 I was able to go on an invited delegation to China, the only way you could get in at the time. This led to some of my China photos being published in the magazine of the US-China Peoples Friendship Association, the organization that had organized the trips that I had gone on.
Later a stock photo agency that was looking for China photos contacted the magazine that had published mine and was referred to me. I had no idea about stock photo agencies, but it sounded like an easy way to make money from my travel photos which by then included shots of England, the Scandinavian countries and Russia, and several in South America, as well as China. After that I was hooked and I began to propose articles with photos to magazines, including from a trip I made to Cuba in 1978 with another organization. I stumbled into getting an article published on Havana in Town & Country magazine and a couple of other small publications. That was when I decided to pursue the dream of becoming a professional photographer (and decided not to be a writer as that was too much like real work).
Over the next couple of decades I did assignments which I landed by sending out self-promotional cards and paying to be in directories of professional photographers. I mostly did regular assignments in Michigan and northern Ohio for business magazines such as Forbes, US News & World Report, and Info Week, and travel photos illustrating articles in Midwest Living. I continued to shoot and submit travel photos to stock agencies such as Tony Stone which became Getty Images. Many of these photos came from photography tours I organized for a company I started, Photo Explorer Tours, which usually covered by travel expenses and sometimes made a healthy profit. At one time I offered as many as eight of these tours in a year with some being led by other pro travel photogs.
I still do a photo tour about once per year and have done several cruises to shoot stock travel images with the images now submitted to Alamy in the UK. Because the photo industry changed radically with digital imaging and stock photos being licensed now over the internet rather than slides being sent out by agencies and individual photographers, shooting stock photos is no longer profitable enough to make a living from shooting stock. Photo tours, however, are still profitable to sell but the number of photographers leading them has grown exponentially and there is now considerable competition for clients.
I'm not as familiar with other areas of the photography industry, but my impression is that more photographers are competing for fewer jobs and lesser paying work. As one of my early workshop teachers once told me, "if photography was easy, everyone would be doing it." Well, with digital cameras it is now easy and everyone seems to want to be a photographer.
I don't mean to discourage you if photography is a career you seriously want to pursue. However, you do need to evaluate if it is still feasible to make a living in the area in which you are most interested. Photography requires a passion to do it, resilience in overcoming rejection, and the ability to create new streams of income from it, some of which probably does not exist at present.
Dennis recommends the following next steps: