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Photography – From Hobby to Profession

Digital photography can become a lucrative profession. Taking pictures is an exhilarating hobby to many people, but to transcend from a hobbyist to the ranks of the professional photographer, it is necessary to take two steps: get educated and practice.

With the boom of relatively low-cost digital SLR cameras, it seems everyone is trying to start his own photography business. It’s common to see prosumer photographers at work on location taking family pictures or bridals. The question is: do these photographers know what it takes to compose and shoot professional pictures or are they running their cameras on auto mode, trying to get a few lucky clicks.

The first step to becoming a professional photographer is to know the craft. This does not necessarily require enrollment into expensive photography classes or online courses. Everything can be learned from good books on the subject. A couple of gems are: Understanding Exposure, by Bryan Peterson, and Master Lighting Guide For Portrait Photographers by Christopher Grey. These books contain the fundamentals any hobbyist needs to transcend from snap-shooting with crossed fingers to making photography a moneymaking endeavor.

It is essential to understand how exposure works, how to manually adjust camera settings to artistically get the best pictures possible. This means you must understand a concept called depth of field. Depth of field is how much area and at what distance subjects in the image appear in focus. Some photos, perhaps of landscapes, have wide depths of field with every tree, every rock, every part of every subject in crisp focus. Other photographs, perhaps portraits, use narrower depths of fields; subjects might be in perfect focus, but backgrounds might be out of focus to help punch subjects out of the backdrop. Understanding how to use aperture settings and shutter speeds manually controls depth of field.

Like any other worthwhile endeavor, becoming a great photographer takes practice. However, the old adage, practice makes perfect, is not entirely true. This adage can be effectively changed to, perfect practice makes perfect. To merely take a camera out and shoot random pictures, hoping to snap a few gems does not constitute practice.

To effectively hone photography skills, it is more effective to learn a new aspect of photography, perhaps the rule of thirds, or shooting action with increased shutter speeds, and practice that singular aspect of photography for a time. With a few good books and a constant willingness to execute principles from those books with the goal to make them natural photographic skills, one can become a great photographer.

There are ways to make money with photographic skills and refine talent at the same time. Stock photography sites allow any photographer to enroll as image contributors. To contribute, it is as easy as reading the rules which often include excellent learning tips and fill out an enrollment form. Once enrolled, even amateur photographers can submit their best work for review. Stock photography sites look at each contribution with a stringent eye on composition and quality. The best pictures are accepted into their libraries. Pictures that don’t make the grade are rejected. This is an excellent way for amateur photographers to get free feedback on their craft.

Some online stock photography sites that allow amateurs to contribute work are: and Once pictures are accepted into stock libraries, royalties are paid based on sales. The trick is to take marketable photographs that businesses might use for brochures or web-sites.

With a little education, a lot of practice, and some good equipment, anyone can make money as a photographer. But with access to high-end equipment at such great prices, the competition becomes more formidable all the time. The best approach is to refine photographic talent and put together a portfolio that knocks the socks off would-be clients. Education, practice, and contribution to online stock libraries can be valuable tools to help earn extra income by taking pictures.

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