Seven Reasons Not to Become a Freelance Professional Photographer

7) Not a self-starter—In your first year or so you will be getting up with no photo shoots on your schedule. You must be able to fill your day with something that will be productive. If you are someone that takes initiative and rarely needs someone to tell you what you should be doing at work, then you might make it as a professional photographer.

6) Procrastinator—You may know what you need to do each day, but you can easily get distracted and not stay on task. If you have seen the movie “UP” then you will recognize the comment—Squirrel.  I know a good number of former photographers who just didn’t get around to doing what they should have been working on and now they are no longer working professional photographers.

Nikon D4, 70-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/2.8, 1/100–Marc Broussard

5) Hate rejection—If you get easily discouraged then you do not want to go into business for yourself—in any field. Just because your family and friends think you are a great photographer is not the same as everyone lining up to pay you to take photos. If you have people lining up and begging you to shoot things for money—then this is way different and makes you the only person I know to be in that situation. Successful photographers are only selling to 5 – 10% of those people they have contacted. 90 – 95% of the time they are rejected.

4) Poor Negotiator—For the most part photography is not so cookie cutter. This is very true for the commercial photographer. Each job is different from the rest and requires you to price differently. Due to this there tends to be a lot of negotiating with clients. Sometimes this may sound harsh when someone is trying to get you to lower your price.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM S, 2X, ISO 10000, ƒ/4, 1/2000

3) Do not like taking direction—many “artists” tend to think they know better what they need to create. Unless you are going to be a “fine art photographer” then you will need to execute other people’s ideas. You will need to learn how to bend to keep a client and get paid.

2) Do not like sitting at a computer for long periods—You will need to spend time editing your work for sure, but you will spend a lot of time connecting with people through emails, website, blogs, creating printed materials and searching the web for clients to name just a few of the things you will need to be doing on a computer.

Nikon D4, 85mm ƒ/1.4, ISO 200, ƒ/1.4, 1/80

1) No business skills—You need to understand pricing of your services that will help you make a profit for the long haul is not easy to do. You also have to be a risk taker in running your own business. Almost nothing is a sure bet and you will have to put money behind ideas that may or may not work. You also need to know how to market yourself to the world.

Now you don’t have to be good at all these things, but they all must be done to remain a professional photographer. You can outsource some of these, but the outsourcing will cost more than if you did them yourself. At a certain point in your growth of your brand you will find it necessary to outsource some of this to grow your business.

You might think of more things to add to this list–but freelancing full-time is not for the faint of heart.