Recently I was out and about with a friend who's just completed an evening course in digital photography. He really does have the eye for a good shot and manages to always come up with original composures. However he had no idea how turn his talent into a career. He doesn't want to do commercial photography regarding products etc, and that was as far as his thoughts went. . . How can someone so creative be, at the same time, so lacking in ideas?! So I thought I'd come up with a few options for him:
Portrait, Family & Baby Photography
Some photographers naturally find that they are betting at working with people. This can extend to either full on formal portraits or more candid shots. There is a great call for this style of photography today, but you have to be well rounded and able to produce a number of styles.
Many people still want the formal portrait photography, either single of family shots. While this doesn't essentially lend itself to great creativity, this style will be more a test of your technical knowledge and people will expect a very high quality portrait.
However, more and more younger couples and families are enjoying the more candid ‘action’ portraits. This is where the photographer gets to be more creative and will set up a few scenarios while letting the family naturally engage with each other. While you don't always get the ‘face first’ photograph, you often capture a more intimate feel of the subject.
Many freelance photographers enjoy nature photography, whether just for personal interest or for any paid work. However nature photography isn't just a ‘turn up and shoot’ option. To be successful you really should be passionate about this and the subject; patience is just as important as talent when dealing with nature photography.
Thorough research is essential. You must know your subject, where to find it? The best times to find it? How to approach? What equipment is needed? Don't always expect to get the results you want from one sitting.
Build up your portfolio and submit your images to nature magazines or production companies and see where it could take you.
Another one for the freelancer (unless you are very lucky and manage to affiliate yourself with travel / TV production companies) who wants to combine personal passions with work.
To stand out in this field you really need to be able to look at things in a way that others don't. You may be taking shots of a landscape or monument that many have seen before, but can you make it seem new or original?
It's not just packing up your camera and jumping on a plane however. Again, research is paramount. Learn the rules of the country and areas you want to photograph (not everyone welcomes a happy snapper). Try and visit areas that have relevance to world affairs. It's not just about recording your journey; it's making emotive reactions with people who may never have visited the area before.
For many city dwellers, the surrounding architecture and urban scenes are their landscapes and the recording of them is not only for commercial reasons but also for cultural recording.
There are many opportunities nowadays for an architectural photographer. Real Estate is of course a large industry to tap into; interior and exterior shots of building and residences and also their surrounding areas. You could also try architectural services and publications - going for structural shots, interiors and exteriors as well as works in progress. Proving yourself reliable and capable in this field could generate lots of repeat work.
There are also of course niches within this field - Historical publications, Religious publications (churches etc), Travel Publications etc.
Last but not least is one of the largest options for a professional photographer - wedding photography .
This is becoming less and less of a seasonal occupation now, with couples choosing more varied times of year for their nuptials. This means that you must be adaptable to light and weather conditions, while having the main skills of group and couple shots, being able to communicate with families without being an ‘intruder’ to the day.
The best wedding photographers are those whom you don't realise are there all day. Often it's a 2 man job nowadays, to get the mix of staged shots and candid shots. Versatility is also key, can you offer modern styles? Contemporary? Classical and traditional? You will find most couples have a definite idea of what they want.
Of course there are many other paths a photographer can go down, from sports and adventure work, newspaper photo-journalism to glamour work. Have a think about the subjects and styles you most enjoy and then see were this could take you. Be creative in your approach to who may want your pictures and never, never give up!