Should You Become a Photographer? [6 Photographers’ Honest Opinions about Photography in their Country]

These days it feels like every second person buys a DSLR and creates their own Facebook Photography Page. This is why every day it gets harder to get into photography business and get actually paid for the work you do. At times it can be very hard to tell an amateur apart from a semi-professional. No wonder why people expect young photographers to do their work for free. What they don’t understand is that every professional once was an amateur so the question is – how to break free from being seen as an amateur and to become a full-time photographer who can pay bills with an actual money instead of just receiving a permission to use pictures.

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As this is something that deeply interests me, I decided to interview 6 different full-time photographers from all over the world to find out about how did they start their career, what do they love and hate about their work, what is their best advice for the new arrivals and I even asked to share a funny work-related story. Even though they come from different countries with different backgrounds, they all share some things – passion for photography, never-dying motivation, willingness to meet new people and see new places every day. They are all ready to work hard and do their best. They emphasize that you should never lose your true self, never copy anyone. You should be ready to compete, to never stop learning, because the struggle in this field is real. All of them agree that the best part of their job is freedom. But you have to be ready for it. If you enjoy sitting on your couch doing nothing, this is clearly not a job for you. 

Read the full interviews below —–>

Should I become a photographer.

1. DINESH, India. [Check out his work]

Dinesh, India

1. How did it all start? How did you decide to become a photographer? 

I was an editor at first. Actually, I started as a video editor during my engineering days. I never took a proper education and everything I know is learned from online education.

I learned and did some college projects. Then I realized I need to learn photography first prior mastering video works. I started with Photoshop and it was all new world for me. Then I bought a camera and the world moved faster from there. I did not perceive what I was gonna be but everything I did has taken me here.

2. What gets you motivated on those days you would rather spend the day on your coach?

I never spend a day on the couch. I just push myself no matter what. Maybe I just realized in my conscience that the world is too big for my small time here.

3. How would you shortly describe your everyday schedule?

Busy. I edit, shoot or travel. I can pick any of 3 at any given moment. At this moment I am traveling

4. Who is your idol in photography? What inspires your work?

That is something I don’t have enough fingers to point at. Inspiration is everywhere I don’t follow one person and say he is the greatest. Everyone out there is great. I am greater than yesterday. We evolve every single moment. Whether its a billion dollar movie or a mad idea from a kid. It has to be heard for better.

Learning never ends and I prefer to learn from everything around me and that inspires.

5. What is your favorite thing about your profession?

Freedom.

6. Can you share a funny story, a situation that you have experienced during your work?

I don’t recollect anything as such, every day is fun.

7. What would be your suggestion for those who have just started their photography career in your country?

Just shoot, you’ll start to learn from there. Don’t get demotivated by professionals work but yourself. You are definitely better than yesterday – believe it. That should be your motivation. Keep a good hold onto that.

8. What is the thing you do not like the most or annoys you in photography industry in your country?

In my country, I guess it’s like that everywhere. People have to realize whether they want to be a creator or an audience. Being audience is the biggest gift. It’s like being the last sibling in your house, who gets every pleasure from the elders.

I personally love movies and that is the third thing I spend my time on. I have personally received calls about working in movies. But when I get my feet there I lose the pleasure of being an audience. Once you go there, there is no way out. I lose the audience in me.

People have to realize that, its the greatest thing. But on contrary people think they want to get a DSLR and recreate the same as a pro photographer has done. And that makes them a shift from creator to audience. From then they lose the pleasure of being an audience. Be an audience and enjoy the show.

9. What kind of challenges should the new-comers be ready for?

As mentioned earlier, the first thing we’ll do is comparing with a pro photographers work. Just remember that person may have lived with the camera for nearly a decade or more. So relax and keep motivating yourself. None can motivate you than yourself. Enjoy it. Don’t punish or push yourself. Take shooting as a pleasure. If that doesn’t create the dopamine in your head, maybe it’s not for you. You definitely know what you want to do.


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2. LUPE, Argentina. [Check out her work]

1. How did it all start? How did you decide to become a photographer? 

Lupe, Argentina

I don’t think I decided to become one, it just happened! It started around 2004, a few months before I turned 15. In Argentina, we throw big parties for girls when they turn 15. Think big white dress, lots of guests and lots of food, similar to a wedding. I’ve never been the princess type and my family didn’t have the money to afford such a big party so I asked my dad for a camera instead of throwing our money away on a huge event.

And the rest followed. I started shooting my friends at school, and slowly started getting noticed and getting my first assignments.

2. What gets you motivated on those days you would rather spend the day on your couch?

When I have work to do I don’t need any extra motivation, deadlines are the best thing to get you out of bed and straight to work, or to keep you up working until really late. I think the hardest days are the ones when I don’t have anything on the horizon and I have to start thinking of ways to make myself busy. Seeing your savings depleting is also a strong motivation. So I start sending emails and trying to set any kind of work up, and if I can’t get any paid work, then personal work will do, it’s important to grow your portfolio. Sometimes a productive day doesn’t mean spending all day shooting but may be successfully networking and setting up a photoshoot for the future.

3. How would you shortly describe your everyday schedule?

Well except for those rare days when I’m actually out and taking pictures (shockingly photographers spend more time in front of the computer than shooting), I get up at 7 or 8 am, have a cup of coffee, and start replying to emails, comments, messages on social media. Once that’s out of the way I’ll get to editing, there’s always something I’m behind with and I got to edit. My editing will get interrupted a million times during the day by more messages, I must admit I get easily distracted, maybe checking in with my followers by posting some stories to Instagram and Facebook, taking a break to cook and have lunch while I watch some YouTube videos (I get a lot of inspiration and education from YouTube). There’s definitely a break for coffee in the afternoon, and maybe running errands if needed. Later during the day I’ll update my social media, I try to post one portfolio picture a day, and I post to 500px, Flickr, Facebook, Instagram, and insta sends the post to Twitter and Tumblr! Once that’s done I get changed and I go workout. Some days it’s Ballet, some days Taekwondo, some days Pole dancing, sometimes all three in a day! And when I get home I eat dinner and maybe edit some more if there’s time before I crash at about midnight. Sorry, this was not a short description of my day.

4. Who is your idol in photography? What inspires your work?

I can never answer this question. I keep finding incredible photographers on Instagram and all over the web, I get inspired by so many people. And maybe the things that inspire me change as I change myself. A cliché but always a true answer is Annie Leibovitz, not only for her polished photography but what I admire the most is what she can get out of the people she photographs. I want to learn not only to get a decent shot, that’s easy, I want to be able to express and to capture what makes each person special.

5. What is your favorite thing about your profession?

Maybe the unpredictability. It’s both the best and the worst thing. It’s the worst because I don’t know when my next paycheck is coming in, but I love it because it’s spontaneous and I get to do different things all the time. New challenges, traveling, meeting people. Sometimes I even have to do things I have no idea how to do, and when I manage to get the job done, I feel like I got paid for learning. It is a wonderful feeling.

6. Can you share a funny story, a situation that you have experienced during your work?

Oh, there are many funny ones, but he’s a few I can remember right now:

One time I got to shoot in a castle in Scotland and the Duke who lived there gave us the keys to the place so we could scout locations. After the whole day of shooting, we went back to the hotel and realized we had forgotten to give him the keys back!! Luckily we were going back to shoot again the next day so we returned them before getting in trouble. 

Sometimes things I remember as funny weren’t so funny at the time. I’m thinking of when I was shooting in Germany, the campaign was for winter clothes, but the client was from Buenos Aires, so let’s say, the clothes are not super warm, certainly not Berlin ready. And of course, a violent snowstorm broke out when we were shooting the last two looks. The model was such a trooper, he did not quit even though he was not dressed for that weather, and we shot right through it. I love the shots I got but I remember we were all freezing. Not so funny at the moment but funny to look back on it now! Especially when I tell the story to my friends in Argentina who have never even seen the snow. And I can remember similar situations in Latvia too! Much much colder in Riga than Berlin. I’ve had to retouch many a red nose and freezing fingers to bring them back to life in photoshop!

7. What would be your suggestion for those who have just started their photography career in your country?

Yikes, this is a tricky one. A good reminder is to keep in mind that none of us in Argentina became photographers to get rich. That should be the last thing on your mind because you have to be passionate about it, you’re not going to be making a lot of money, and the struggle is real, not many paying clients and the ones who pay don’t pay well. They expect a lot for very little money. It’s rough.

8. What is the thing you do not like the most or annoys you in photography industry in your country? 

I’m sure this happens in every country in the world, but some people who have been more fortunate than others and have been able to get good gear with minimal effort or a lot of help, start working for free or for too little money, and it makes it really hard for photographers that are struggling to charge what the work is actually worth. Also, there’s a lot of mediocrity, Argentines have a habit of doing things half-assed and it’s very annoying. It’s not only photographers, it’s the clients actually, I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked to do something “así nomás” (just like whatever, hm I can’t translate it properly to English) by clients, just because they want to save a little and pay less than they would for a job well done. I do it right or I don’t. I wish we all had that attitude towards our work and learned to stand up to clients and make our work be respected.

9. What kind of challenges should the new-comers be ready for?

Maybe, that it’s ok to feel like you want to quit sometimes, it happens to everyone. Just don’t lose track of what’s important. How you feel when you’ve got the camera in your hands and you’re taking pictures. I can say I’ve been super frustrated in the past, about not getting work, about not liking my own photos, seriously thinking about leaving it all behind, selling the camera and finding another job. But then I’m back at it, shooting, and I realize I never feel more alive than when I am creating. Nothing gives me more satisfaction.


3. KINGA, Poland. [See her work]

Kinga, Poland

1. How did it all start? How did you decide to become a photographer? 

It’s quite funny as I never wanted to become a professional photographer. I wanted photography to always be just my biggest passion and my hobby. I was too scared doing photography professionally, for a living. I was afraid that it would kill all my love for it as I thought I might have felt kind of forced to do it for money. My friends had been pushing me to start doing it professionally though and so one day I decided to give it a go. I started doing photography for a living as soon as I moved from the UK to Italy and I love this way of living ever since!

2. What gets you motivated on those days you would rather spend the day on your couch?

I love photography and meeting new people so much I don’t need any huge motivator to go out and do my job. I live in one of the most beautiful countries,  close to Venice, and it doesn’t even hurt when I have to get up at 4 am for a sunrise shoot!

3. How would you shortly describe your everyday schedule?

Every day is different and that’s why I love what I’m doing. I get to wake up in different places, start working when the Sun is rising so the timeframe keeps changing accordingly to location and time of a year. I always work with someone new so that’s a cool thing too by the way! I’d usually spend few hours a day shooting or few hours a day post-processing. When not photographing I usually travel or wander around small Italian towns.

4. Who is your idol in photography? What inspires your work?

Some of the street photography icons such as Elliott Erwitt or Vivian Maier. Out of the ones living and creating today, definitely Rafał Bojar and Ivan Troyanovsky.

I think I’m mostly inspired by my favorite photographers, videographers, graphic designers etc. I get inspired by music and movies as well.

5. What is your favorite thing about your profession?

Freedom! I can work as much as I want. I can travel as often as I want. I can work wherever I want. I can do whatever I dream of!

6. Can you share a funny story, a situation that you have experienced during your work?

There’s been so many. I think my favorite are the ones happening during surprise wedding proposals which I get to photograph. It’s always only one person knowing what is happening whether the other one has no idea what’s going on. And that’s the main reason the one who’s about to propose is stressing out a lot, causing some troubles this way! Every time I get to see this it’s hilarious. Once a guy was so stressed he didn’t even remember to kneel down, he just popped the question while his girlfriend was busy taking a photo. She realized what was going on only when he saw her the ring!

7. What would be your suggestion for those who have just started their photography career in your country?

Be brave, do not copy anyone. It’s only your vision that can sell.

8. What is the thing you do not like the most or annoys you in photography industry in your country? 

Many competitors! Everyone’s got a camera now. You really have to be different to sell your work.


4. BENITA, Latvia. [Find her work here]

1. How did it all start? How did you decide to become a photographer? 

Benita, Latvia

I have been with a camera in my hands since I was 13 years old, but it was mostly like a game for me. For the most part, I made some photos of my family and friends. At times, my camera just rested on a shelf, but yet I never forgot about it. The biggest motivation I received from my kids. While raising them, I really wanted to do what I love. Therefore I set my goal to become a photographer. I asked my self what I have to do to reach it, so I started to take photos as much as possible. After a year of doing this, I saw improvement what made me feel very positive about what I have achieved.

2. What gets you motivated on those days you would rather spend the day on your coach?

It just doesn’t happen to me. I really love to take photos and edit them, I just don’t sit on my couch without doing anything.

3. How would you shortly describe your everyday schedule?

I am a photographer and a mom of two kids, therefore our schedules are subordinate to each other. I wake up at 7 or 7:30 AM, take my kids to a kindergarten, and then I have two options: either I edit pictures while editing pictures and answer to customer inquiries or I am going to a photoshoot. Evenings I spend with my family.

4. Who is your idol in photography? What inspires your work?

I do not have any idols, but I enjoy work of Oleg Oprisco, Richard Avedon, Gunars Binde and Fan Ho. I also like black and white photography, fashion, fine art, and avant-garde. So much of everything out there! I just walk around and notice all the beautiful places and after a while, I just shoot some model there. Sometimes before falling I sleep I see many images in my head of ideas I still need to make come to life.

5. What is your favorite thing about your profession?

Freedom.

6. Can you share a funny story, a situation that you have experienced during your work?

This summer I was shooting a hen party, it was very hot as it usually is before a storm. Weather app said that it will be sunny for at least 2 hours, so the girls were convinced it won’t be raining. So we went to our photoshoot destination, took a couple of pictures it started heavy raining. We did not have any other choice, but to fit 6 or 7 girls under one umbrella. We got soaking wet, of course. But it turned out to be fine since the girls were very nice and understanding and kept on asking it will all be alright with my photography gear. Ironically it stopped raining right after we said goodbye to each other.

7. What would be your suggestion for those who have just started their photography career in your country?

To listen to criticism and not to lose one’s true self.

8. What is the thing you do not like the most or annoys you in photography industry in your country?

The fact that there is no real control over it. Sometimes it is sad to see that people receive bad service and low-quality pictures and yet still have to pay for them.

9. What kind of challenges should the new-comers be ready for?

I believe it differs from person to person. And it is fine because it gives you an opportunity to learn and improve every day. The more challenges you face, the more interesting the life and work are.


5. ROMAN, Slovakia. [Check out his work]

Roman, Slovakia

1. How did it all start? How did you decide to become a photographer?

I started like when if you find someone on a street. I never planned to become a photographer. I participated in one project because of a friend. We bought a body and some lenses, and that is how I started. Unfortunately, we never finished that particular project. However, at this point, my career started. A lot of time I sat in front of my computer and read a lot of books to find out, how it works. I spent even more time on streets, nature, and other places to discover everything about photography. So it came naturally because I never knew when exactly I became a professional photographer. But I like my job.

2. What gets you motivated on those days you would rather spend the day on your coach?

My motivation was my ambition to become a professional photographer, or better to say, be the best I can at photography. Later on, a good friend of mine was my tutor. I really liked his photos and I wanted to be as good as him. His work really motivated me.

3. How would you shortly describe your everyday schedule?

My day starts at my favorite Italian cafe bar with classic and unbelievably good cappuccino and a conversation with my good friend. Then post-processing photos, going for a walk and finding some places for new photoshoots. Then communicating with clients and making price offers. And in the evenings I do a workout as it is my favorite relaxation.

4. Who is your idol in photography? What inspires your work?

My idol is – Dani Diamond from NY – amazing post processing and the best portrait photographer, and from Slovakia: Pavol Dalej – one of my favorites, absolutely best at composition and portraying emotions, Matej Kmeť – best photos with the cheapest photo equipment. I like his color grading and Lukáš Pastorek – amazing composition and the most clever person for photographing. I like his work very much.

5. What is your favorite thing about your profession?

Meeting a lot of new and special people and seeing places.

6. Can you share a funny story, a situation that you have experienced during your work?

A year ago I was photographing a wedding in Trencin, I came to brides family and one of her sisters said: I don’t know if he’s a photographer, but he can stay anyway because he’s handsome.

7. What would be your suggestion for those who have just started their photography career in your country?

Lots of practice, and never giving up. It’s a quite long journey to become professional. And never stop learning.

8. What is the thing you do not like the most or annoys you in photography industry in your country?

In Slovakia, it is a problem to evaluate photographers. Many people really don’t know how much work does it take to be a photographer. So in my country, the biggest problem is money.


6. Dorian, Italy

1. How did it all start? How did you decide to become a photographer? 

dorian

One summer when I was 4/5 I got my first camera from my father. A polaroid. It was pure magic for 2 days, then the film finished. From that summer I’ve always been fascinated by the mysterious process that could fix the instant and the effect it could have on viewers, including myself. I sporadically used polaroids and Instamatic cameras for few years, but then I got my hands on the bridge Olympus of my stepfather, discovering zoom and digital post-production. When I discovered Photoshop, aged 12-13 I knew I wanted to deal with visual art and communication.

2. What gets you motivated on those days you would rather spend the day on your coach?

I need to spend days without taking photos, accumulating inspiration/energy, contemplating and analyzing reality, finding new points of view without my camera and developing ideas around them. Those days I just need to breathe.

3. How would you shortly describe your everyday schedule?

Right now I’m working as hotel photographer in Canary Islands. My everyday schedule is going to the pool area and make friends. I eventually make some pictures of them after instructing on how to pose. I do this for 40 hours a week.

4. Who is your idol in photography? What inspires your work?

I don’t have an idol in photography. I know, respect and admire Salgado just like little contemporary (mostly unknown) photographers. Those photographers and other artists create the complex panorama that influences my works.

5. What is your favorite thing about your profession?

The universal power of visual art and communication. I also love to meet so many people and the challenge of entering their comfort zone.

6. Can you share a funny story, a situation that you have experienced during your work?

This is the story of the first time I got paid for taking pictures. I was 15/16, I and my friend started smoking pot at that time. The mum of my friend was seeing me as a bad influence but she called me to take some still life shots of some antique objects she was selling. I mostly spent the money on the pot to smoke with her son.

7. What would be your suggestion for those who have just started their photography career in your country?

If we are talking about a career I’d suggest to share without fear, don’t be hermetic. I used to be an introvert keeping my work for very few people only and not speaking about it. Public relation, collaboration, publication, and sharing will get your stuff out and reach people. It’s a vicious circle. Dare!

8. What is the thing you do not like the most or annoys you in photography industry in your country? 

I get bored very fast/easily so when I always see the same scheme, the same trick, the same combination I get annoyed.

9. What kind of challenges should the new-comers be ready for?

Compete” with 7 billion photographers.

 

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NEXT UP: “Should I Become a Business Owner? [Young Entrepreneurs Share Stories on How Did They Start]”


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112 thoughts on “Should You Become a Photographer? [6 Photographers’ Honest Opinions about Photography in their Country]

  1. two decades back photography was profession, now with enhanced cheap camera and lens technology, even common man has ability to take pics he likes !!so we can call it a revolution in photography!! we dont have pics of our grandparents or forefathers but generations to come will not only see us but they can see our everyday pics whenever they want . so it will serve as digital photo museum or library as well!!

    Liked by 5 people

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  3. I am in my mid-20s and I don’t know if I should start to really think about this seriously. I just know I’ve been interested in photography for a long time, but I have the fear of not being good enough. I have to say this post is really really inspiring and thank you so much for doing this! I’ve actually just learned how to use Photoshop and planning to buy a DSLR camera since it’s a big investment. I’m doing film photography now as a hobby. Do you think it’s too late for me to start thinking about this as a real career?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just do it! It is definitely not too late for you! I would advise to rent out a camera for a weekend before buying it. Some people love it, but others buy and understand it is not for them or that they wanna stay with analog. So I think it is always a good I idea to rent it out first so that you don’t end up with a camera forgotten in your shelf and collecting dust! 😀

      Liked by 2 people

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