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Should I go for it?

I got a very interesting email from Matt, a photographer at a crossroads wondering how to go about moving his photography career to the next level. I get these types of emails often, but what struck me about Matt’s email were some of the questions he’s considering that got me a bit concerned.

Matt doesn’t own professional equipment. He doesn’t have experience with strobes and perhaps hasn’t spent a lot of time with off-camera lighting of any kind. He also sounds a bit cash poor as he mentioned that he shoots digital when he can’t afford to process film and that he turned down pursuing a university degree in Photography because he couldn’t afford it.

He’s wondering if he should go into debt and possibly risk his credit to invest in gear. He’s also wondering if he’s got what it takes to be competitive as a photographer.

First off, I’m going to tell Matt no, please do not go into debt buying professional gear or any gear for that matter that you know you can’t afford. And do not do anything to risk your credit rating. Just a few missteps early in your career can have a lifelong negative effect on your future that you do now want to carry with you.

You may want to buy a car or a house in the future. Or perhaps take out a small-business loan to help build your business. The last thing you want to carry around with you is DEBT and or a bad or negative credit rating.

Making it as a photographer is seriously hard work. And it doesn’t happen overnight. So here’s what I recommend for Matt and anyone that feels they’re in a similar situation.

1) Save your money for the equipment you want of feel you need.
2) Do photo work in your free time to build your portfolio and skill set.
3) Go to photography workshops and learn about using strobes and off-camera lighting.
4) Develop a good workflow, from importing your images to editing and delivering them to a client.
5) Set short-term and long-term goals knowing that this will take time.
6) Network with people that are influencers and potential clients.
7) Develop your online presence thru a Portfolio website and social media thru Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc

There is no magic formula for success, however if you have a passion for photography and work hard at it and stick with it, hopefully it will pay off. In the meantime, take care of yourself and do what you can to avoid getting into debt and or damaging your credit rating.

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