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How to Become a Commercial Photographer

written by: Misty Faucheux•edited by: Amy Carson•updated: 1/28/2011

Commercial photography allows you to get paid for what you love. But, there's more to becoming a commercial photographer than just buying a camera. Learn how to become a commercial photographer in this article.

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    What is Commercial Photography?

    We all like to get paid for the work that we do. If you enjoy taking pictures, you may want to go into commercial photography. Commercial photography is taking pictures for businesses or for advertising. For example, fashion photography in magazines is probably the best-known type of commercial photography. But, before you jump into the profession, you need to learn how to become a commercial photographer. Generally, it means a lot of networking and a large portfolio.

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    Get Educated on the Subject

    If you are completely new to the field, consider taking a photography course at an art school, or you can even pursue a degree in the field. Not only will these help you learn the necessary techniques, you’ll also make valuable connections. Commercial photography may be more about who you know rather than what you know. Make and maintain as many connections as possible.

    Study the work of past commercial photographers. Pick up a few photography books on the matter and study the people that have made a difference in the field. Look at their angles, lighting and model poses. While you are at it, stop by the how-to aisle, and buy some photography guide books. These books will give you an overview of the right and wrong ways to take commercial photographs.

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    Buy Quality Equipment

    Next, invest in really good equipment. Your equipment is really your life when you are professional photographer. So, go ahead and Source: spend the money now. There’s nothing worse than having equipment break or not function properly when you are in the middle of a shoot.

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    Make Connections

    Now, it’s time to start hitting the pavement – hard! There’s nothing easy about becoming a commercial photographer. You need a large body of work, and you need client recommendations. If you have to, work for free to build up your portfolio. Or, try to land an internship or apprenticeship with somebody already in the field. Even if these are unpaid positions, you’ll make contacts, and the photographer may even pass some clients off on you if she’s too busy.

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    Start a Business

    Start your own business. Full-time, staff commercial photography jobs are rare these days. Most people rely on freelancers. So, you really need to create your own business. Market yourself using both paid and free sources, including social networking sites. And, always have a website to which you can refer potential clients.

    If you are worried about running your own business, take a small business management class. It will teach you how to create an operating budget and how to efficiently run your business.

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    Keep Practicing

    Keep perfecting your technique. Just because you have landed a few clients doesn’t mean that you should stop experimenting. Try different angles or lighting, and just keep shooting everything. Your goal is to create your own voice and your own niche in the business. Experimentation gives you ideas and sets you apart from your counterparts.