So You Want to Become a Professional Fine Art Photographer?

Since I was a teenager, nature has always captivated me, so it seemed natural for me to start photographing and sharing these moments. To my amazement, people reacted positively to my images and began asking for prints – thus starting this journey of selling fine art prints!

Are you considering taking the plunge from amateur to professional photographer, as I did? While I love my career in professional photography, there have been a few unforeseen surprises along the way. To save you the same trouble, I'm revealing five essential tips that every aspiring landscape photographer must know before setting their sights on success. By reading this article, you'll be well aware of what can be required to embark on a successful journey as a professional photographer.


Sand Dunes at Sunset in Death Valley National Park, California.

Most of Your Time Will be Spent as a Business Owner, Not a Photographer

As a professional landscape photographer, the bulk of my time is spent on business and administrative duties such as editing photos, marketing projects, meeting with customers, and managing finances - all while striving to create successful SEO strategies, write blog posts, and manage my website.

Editing pictures and adding content to your website can be one of the most time-consuming tasks on any given day. It's not only a technical process that requires knowledge but also proactivity to create something unique when editing images or writing blog posts. Each aspect needs to meet stringent requirements concerning quality and presentation. Don't forget that customers are paying for an experience as much as they're purchasing a photograph - make sure it counts! Therefore, photographers must prioritize devoting sufficient time to editing their work and also expanding the amount of quality content available on their websites.

Snow on Sawmill

A chilly morning in Magalia, California, as Sawmill Peak is warmed by the soft light cutting through the cold winter air.

Strict Production Limit of 100 Editions.

Establishing awareness of your work is just as essential as creating it. Without its visibility, there will be limited demand for your services or products. To get the word out, you can use a wide array of platforms such as social media channels, websites, blogs, newspapers publications, and magazines - even good old-fashioned word-of-mouth! However, keep in mind that marketing requires consistency to spread recognition about yourself and what you do. This entails providing frequent updates on all mediums with content tailor-made for prospective customers.

Meeting with clients should always be approached as a unique opportunity, one that must be taken seriously and requires preparation to deliver the best premium experience. Clients expect nothing less than superior customer service from start to finish. Thus, they should anticipate being treated exceptionally well during all interactions leading up to the delivery of fine art prints. Following the delivery of prints, it is essential to follow up with customers to guarantee a mutually beneficial experience. As you progress in your business journey, don't forget to manage finances properly. Promptly invoicing customers and organizing records of income/expenses are essential ingredients for success.

Ultimately, becoming a professional photographer requires dedication to all aspects of managing a business such as marketing, customer management, and managing finances.

Bastion of Light

The Citadel Mountains splashed with light during a passing storm in Glacier National Park, Montana.

Strict Production Limit of 100 Editions.

It's Not Always Glamorous

When most people think of professional photographers, they often imagine us flying around the world, taking pictures of majestic landscapes in far-off destinations. While this can certainly be a part of the job, there is much more to being a professional photographer than just taking pictures in exotic locations.

Capturing the perfect photograph takes a great deal of effort and skill. Not only must we spend endless hours meticulously refining our work, but also have to manage potential clients, juggle finances and be ready for any long days on location with heavy gear in tow. From executing precise edits to enduring strenuous physical activity while lugging around equipment, running an efficient photography business is no small feat!

Not only do we have to make sure that our photos are well-executed and aesthetically pleasing, but also ensure that they are properly framed and composed to tell a story. Furthermore, post-production is equally as important. With Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, you can unlock your creative potential to craft stunning images that represent your unique vision. These advanced photo editing tools are essential for any aspiring photographer looking to produce exceptional fine art images.

A Lone Cotton Candy Sunrise
Lone Pine Peak surrounded by pink clouds and sagebrush at sunrise in the Owens Valley.

Last but not least, professional photographers need excellent people skills when it comes to dealing with clients - both before and after someone buys prints from us. From providing samples of our work beforehand to maintaining communication throughout each sale or project, we must be able to build strong relationships with those who hire us so that we can exceed their expectations every time.

In short, professional photography isn't just about capturing beautiful photos. It's about putting in the hard work required to turn those photos into captivating stories that people can relate to.

You Need More Than Just a Camera

Having a great camera is only the beginning when it comes to becoming a professional landscape photographer. Knowing composition, light, and exposure are all essential skills that are required to create beautiful photographs. To be successful in this field, you must have an eye for detail and know how to take advantage of the environment and available light.

Composition is key when creating a stunning landscape photograph. The right angle and placement of elements within the frame can make or break an image. As a landscape photographer, you need to be able to recognize different shapes and patterns in your surroundings and use these elements to create visually pleasing compositions. Additionally, knowing how to use the rule of thirds or leading lines can help draw attention to certain aspects of your photos.

Rise Above

The sun rising above a fresh snow on Sawmill Peak in Magalia, California.

Lighting is another important factor when taking pictures outdoors. As a photographer, it's important to understand how natural light affects the outcome of your images so that you can use it effectively in your creative process. Learning how different times of day affect how light interacts with landscapes will enable you to capture fantastic images no matter the time or area. You must also be aware of the local weather and adjust your shooting locations accordingly.

Finally, understanding exposure is necessary for creating beautiful images as well. Achieving correct exposure involves a symmetry between the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings on your camera so that each shot is well-balanced. If you don't get this right, either too much detail may be lost in dark areas or bright areas may look overexposed - both scenarios resulting in disappointing pictures. Taking courses or doing research on photography basics such as exposure can help enhance your skillset as a professional landscape photographer. Additionally, improving your skill through practice is also a surefire way to progress.

It Takes Time to Build a Successful Business

Becoming a successful professional photographer takes time, dedication, and hard work. While it is possible to have some level of success in a relatively short period, building a sustainable business will take longer than most people expect. It's important to remember that there are no shortcuts to success.

Yellow Delight

An oak tree at sunset with a field of wildflowers on Table Mountain in Oroville, California.

There is no single formula for success, but there are certain steps that need to be taken to build a strong foundation for a successful photography business. One of the most important aspects is marketing your work. Networking and getting involved in the photography community is also an important step in increasing visibility and recognition for your brand. Moreover, it is paramount to have an online presence with a portfolio website, as that should be the destination for your potential customers and clients.

Finally, developing people skills is essential when it comes to establishing relationships with clients both before and after the sale - good communication can go far when it comes to exceeding expectations!

In summary, becoming a successful professional photographer requires more than just taking great photos - it involves hard work, dedication, networking, and people skills too! Those who are looking for overnight success may be disappointed since there is no such thing. It takes time and patience before one can hope to reach the level of success one wants with their photography business.

You Need To Be Self-Motivated

Self-motivation is an essential quality to have if you want to become a successful professional landscape photographer. Being self-employed can be unpredictable, and there will be days (and sometimes even weeks) when no one is buying your prints. It's important to stay motivated during these periods and continue to make progress in your craft even when it feels like nothing is happening.

Tunnel Bloom

Local blossoms in February in Chico, California.

One of the most important things you can do is set goals for yourself that are achievable yet challenging. This helps to keep you focused on what needs to be done and gives you something to strive for. It's also beneficial to create a schedule for yourself with realistic timelines so that you can monitor your progress and stay accountable. This is something Jackie Battenfield stresses as a pillar of your artistic journey in her book The Artist's Guide (Which I'd highly recommend). Additionally, try not to compare yourself too much with other photographers as this can lead to feelings of discouragement. Instead, take inspiration from them but remain focused on your journey.

Another way to stay motivated is by focusing on the learning aspect of photography. Whether it's experimenting with different styles of landscape photography or exploring new gear, keep challenging yourself and gaining new knowledge. Taking courses or joining an online community is also helpful in keeping up-to-date with the latest trends and techniques, while also providing support from like-minded individuals who share similar interests.

Finally, reward yourself when you accomplish milestones in your career! Whether it's booking a massive gig or selling a prized print, celebrate these victories so that they motivate you further down the line.

Flowers Flow

A fresh spring lupine bloom, accompanied by local wildlife, on Table Mountain in northern California.

Becoming a successful professional landscape photographer requires hard work and dedication. It takes time to build up your reputation and portfolio to attract the right clients with the right interests. But if you stay self-motivated, set achievable yet challenging goals for yourself, focus on learning new techniques, and strive to be the best with relentless dedication. - success is definitely within reach!

I hope this article has provided some useful tips that will help you start building a successful career as a professional photographer. If I can provide any assistance with your journey, please don't hesitate to contact me. I would be happy to hear from yo