Ask HN: First steps to become a freelance photographer | Hacker News

> Find people who will pay you. Nothing else matters.

That's definitely the way to become a professional-photographer. If you're not getting paid you might be having fun, and you might be artistic, experimental and doing interesting things but you're enjoying a hobby.

When it comes to getting paid to shoot people, with a camera, there are a few routes. The obvious ones are shooting Weddings. I shot one wedding, and "never again". Bridezilla is a term you'll come to associate with very clearly if you're not unflappable.

My niche was photographing escorts, and grandchildren. Sometimes pets, but mostly half-naked ladies and children in the range 4-9. Needless to say I advertised upon different sites for these niches.

Escorts, hair-dressers, make-up artists, and similar professions will need regularly updated pictures. You don't have to charge a lot to become profitable, as usually they're pretty simple to do. You need to know poses, you need to know lighting, but you don't need much equipment (even amateur level stuff will do). Obviously you need spare bodies, lenses, batteries, cards, but you don't need them to be too expensive.

The kind of equipment I used started off was low-end Canon bodies and hign-end lenses. Over time my bodies became more advanced. Something like a 5D MK1 (x2) batteries (x4) CFCards (x8) and a small selection of lenses (24-70 f/2.8, 70-200 f/2.8, 50 f/1.8, 85 f/1.8) would set you back maybe £8000 which is an affordable price assuming you shot 4-8 people every weekend. You can start with smaller numbers of bodies/lenses, and expand over time (as I did).

Beyond the traditional options you could pimp yourself to pre-schools, toddler-swimming-sessions, OAP-homes, maternity-hospitals, and even cancer-wards.

If I had to start over doing this I'd probably look at underwater-bodies and toddler/child-swimming events. Parents love pictures of kids, and although phones are ubiquitous the results won't compare to a decent DSLR in the hands of an expert. Plus babies underwater look AWESOME!