For me, the best part of photography is getting to explore. It doesn’t matter if you’re exploring the same lake in your neighborhood that you go to every night, or photographing the friends you see every weekend, or travelling to a new country and capturing the most beautiful new things. Every time you take a photograph, you’re telling a story, evoking emotions or conveying a message without words.
Realizing that this was clearly my thing, came to me in the form of a Christmas present. I was gifted with an awesome Canon Rebel t6 (perfect beginners camera!), along with the additional lenses, filters, tripod and carrying case. Only problem was, I had no idea what I was supposed to do with all of it. I started lugging all this gear around with me everywhere I went, despite looking like the ultimate tourist/nerd. I played with the settings, and after a while, found how much I loved not just shooting great pictures but editing and sharing them with everyone. This was something that brought me real happiness.
After researching the profession and realizing it wasn’t actually an impossible feat to make this a real career option, I decided to take my hobby to the next level and get some proper training. I researched some local schools in the southeast Alabama area, including Troy University. While reviewing Troy’s photography course I thought it may be the right option, but upon reading the instructor’s profile, I noticed they had graduated from the New York Institute of Photography and decided to give their program director a call. After discussing my options with them, I decided to go for it. It is a world renowned online program, with mentoring from a variety of professional photographers working in different areas of the industry. They are available 24/7 to assist you with any questions, or to review your work and give feedback and guidance.(An added bonus is that this school and course is approved by Military One Source’s Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program (this service assists military spouses research options for training in a portable career field, and covers tuition up to $4000!). Now that I’ve kicked off my formal training, and I’m learning new techniques, I’m ready to start preparing for some real-world work in the field.
From what I’ve read, the first step to becoming a real freelance photographer, is creating a professional site to display your work. This allows possible clients to see your expertise and talent first hand. There are a number of free sites, such as WordPress, web.com and WIX, that allow you to create either a photography blog or an actual site for a business. All of these are great platforms to start and have free options for those of us that aren’t quite ready to commit to paying for the site just yet.
With that being said, you need content to put on your site in order to show people what you can do. Which in turn, of course, means you have to get out there and take some photos (usually for free). Having your camera ready at any moment also helps, obviously, it’s not always possible, but taking it along on every day trip lets you have it hand then a perfect moment appears. Another helpful way to get your name out there is to volunteer. I reached out the the Warrant Officer Career College here at Fort Rucker and found out they really needed volunteer photographers to capture each class’s graduation from WOCS. This is a great opportunity to experience what it’s like to photograph a large event, and capture great photos and remain a fly on the wall even throughout the chaos. Another great way to expand your portfolio is to ask your friends to model, or offer to do a free engagement or maternity shoots.
The road to becoming a professional freelance photographer will not be easy, but it sure has proven to be fun. Stay tuned for more insight into my journey there!