A lot of hobby photographers dream of making it to the pros and some make the leap. Before you make that leap, you should take a good look at your skill set and your business sense.
Are You a Pro Photographer?
Many hobbyists dream of being a real professional photographer, but what does being a pro photographer really mean? What does it take to be a pro photographer? Well, that depends on who you ask. Some say if you make any money at all, then you are a pro, others say that if you make at least $2000 a year, then you are a professional while some say that you can't say you've gone pro until you make your living off your photographic skills. My belief is that you are a pro once the general public accepts you as one. This means that you offer up your services for money and people pay you for your service and compliment you for it at the same time. Please understand that if people pay you for your services but they are unhappy with the results they receive then you might be offering your services too soon and should rethink calling yourself a professional. That being said, there are hobbyists out there who have the skills, the attitude and the drive to become true professionals.
Do You Have the Skills?
The first thing you need to become a professional photographer is skill with a camera. Many would think that this would be obvious but there are many photographers out there who charge for their services and are cutting off heads in photos, taking out of focus photos and who barely have an understanding of light. A professional photographer should have an understanding of the science behind photography, the way their specific camera works and know at least some artistic principles behind creating appealing photos. There are a couple of things that you can do to help you gain these skills. The first thing you should do is read your camera's manual from cover to cover. Keeping the manual with you as a reference when you are shooting is also not a bad idea. The second thing you should do is always shoot with your camera on the fully manual setting. This will help you learn about light and which camera setting combinations give which results.
Do You Have the Business Mind?
The most important thing besides photographic skill is a keen mind for business. Becoming a professional photographer typically means you are making some money but not a living. Making a living or at least a decent part-time income is normally the goal. This cannot be done without a good understanding of simple business practices. This includes good customer services skills, time management and an understanding of business finances. A lot of hobbyists soon find out they hate the business side of running a photography company and it ruins their company and their hobby. Think long and hard if running your own business, any business, is for you. You may want to pick up a book about opening a small business in your region to find out the specific and decide if it is really something you want to do. The life of a small business owner is not an easy one but if you can handle the workload and the stress, it is a very rewarding lifestyle.