How To Become A Pro Photographer in 5 Simple Steps

chase jarvis photographerUDPATE: for those that don’t GET IT, this post is tongue in cheek and isn’t really about how to become a photographer. It’s about how to commit to something. There are a zillion steps to becoming a photographer. Days, weeks, years of work on the craft. But the #1 think I see absent in people who SAY they want it….it a lack of commitment – a lack of those few last steps to get them over the line, get them off their asses, off the couch, off the internet where people hide behind fake names where they pretend they’ve DONE it, that they are a pro, or have even begun to commit… This is usually because of fear. Fear that you won’t be able to support yourself and MAKE A LIVING – WHICH IS WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A PROFESSIONAL. The reality is that you probably either want to become a pro and still need to do the following things; or you don’t want it. In the former case – that you DO want to become a pro and – then this post is a ‘you can do this / get off your ass’ message to you. In the latter case – the case of not actually wanting it — then I’ve got no issue. But please then stop pretending / posing that you do want it. And if you’re just here to learn about the process and your taking it all in? 100% cool with me – I actually LOVE that about you. My advice then is that commitment to pulling the trigger and calling yourself a photographer in front of your friends and you parents or God or whomever is one of the hardest things…

Got a note the other day from an aspiring photographer. He wanted to know what it takes to become a pro. I thought–very pragmatically–that it’s really not complicated. HARD maybe, but complicated, no. It might be what “the industry” doesn’t want you to know, but here are the 5 steps.

1. Declare yourself a photographer. That’s what you ARE in life. You’re not a student, not a finance-guy-slash-part-time-photographer, not a part time anything. You’re a photographer. People have to know this.

2. Be in business. Make it real. Get a business bank account, business license (city + county), business cards. Business. Otherwise it’s a hobby.

3. Read every book you can find at the library or online about the business of photography. Understand the rules. Because if you fail at the business part, if you can’t SUSTAIN this business, you’re not a pro. You’re unemployed, or back to part-time this or that. And back to step 1 you go again…wanting to be a pro. NOW then, if read these books and they make sense, and they teach you how to run the books and land the gigs…you gotta then break some of the rules you read in these books. And YOU choose which are the right ones to break. You’ll be right 50% of the time, you just won’t know which 50% until after you’ve taken the leap. Action is the only thing that matters.

4. Take photographs everyday and share them, pimp them, promote them like mad. For clients and for yourself. Get creative as all hell. Find YOUR voice through shooting more photos than you thought was possible. Aim to be different, not better than everybody else. Be brutal in your edit. Put forward only your best work around the the things you actually want to get paid to shoot. Break all the rules here too. And again, you’ll be mistaken 50% of the time, but you gotta take your swings to hit anything at all. Don’t forget, the DOING is the only thing that matters here too. What you THINK is nice, but it counts for zilch, zero, nada. Action wins.

5. Repeat.

138 Responses to How To Become A Pro Photographer in 5 Simple Steps

  1. Tony Bayliss March 1, 2012 at 9:54 am #

    Straight forward.. and hard work good post

  2. brandon shane warren March 1, 2012 at 9:57 am #

    check, check ,check, check – chase says im pro -its true and its final. haha heck yea – Ill have a beer to that.

  3. Beankssiduous March 1, 2012 at 9:59 am #

    Really straight to the point! Loved every bit of it. Action wins!

  4. Khaled Mosli March 1, 2012 at 10:01 am #

    Thanks Chase for sharing these thoughts. Inspiring and encouraging.

    My favorite part is: “Understand the rules. Because if you fail at the business part, if you can’t SUSTAIN this business, you’re not a pro.” I would to print it and hang in front of my eye on my desk :) so i can see it everyday.


  5. DanielKPhoto March 1, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    Nice post Chase, I’m good at some points but not on all of them, only 16yrs old yet so I’ll work on it :)

    • Barry March 29, 2014 at 1:02 pm #


      How old was Cameron Crowe when he got started? 16. The older you get, the larger the excuse matrix get that holds you back.


    • chris doyle April 19, 2014 at 2:03 am #

      16 years old hey! work on seeing the truth first DanieleK these 5 rules are nothing but hype.

  6. Sergiu March 1, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    I would ad : make a constant effort to not let the business part of it damage the creative/artistc side.Also everyday stuff like taxes and payments.Real creativity killers.Thanks Chase!

  7. Christopher Collie March 1, 2012 at 10:08 am #

    Hells yeah. Now i’m pitching some lookbooks to the local designers here. I’m not holding back anymore!

  8. Ty March 1, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    Actually, the only thing I needed to be a professional photographer was paying customers.
    Repeat as necessary.

  9. Nicolas March 1, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    Good things to keep in mind… Thanx!

  10. XXX March 1, 2012 at 10:13 am #

    He left out the step about being born rich.

    • Ryan Parker March 1, 2012 at 10:34 am #

      Yo, XXX. Contrary to popular belief, you can actually go places by working hard and being exceptional at your craft—whether that’s as a photographer, a cobbler, a golfer, a welder or a ________ …

      Being born into wealth doesn’t give you the drive to succeed. That’s in you, bro. (Or not.)

      • Jason June 13, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

        More tools provide more creative freedom. Being competitive means shooting with pro gear. I get what he was saying. Initial financing is a major element left out of this post.

        • Lisa March 29, 2014 at 11:59 am #

          I have to agree too. I have a college degree in photography and I’m not half bad, according to opinions I value. However I lack the funds to pay for the type of equipment I need to really get my business off the ground. I’m getting there, but it’s a painfully slow process without the COLD, HARD CASHOLA!

        • satya March 29, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

          I disagree.. I came from nothing.. it isn’t your camera it is what you do with it. I have always been years behind on my gear.. and I am a full time pro and loving it. I worked my ass off for the gear that I do have. It builds on itself.

          • Nathan March 29, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

            Satya’s on the money here. As long as your gear is half decent you can create images that people will pay for. Are the extra bells and whistles nice? Hell yeah, but just check out 500px or flickr looking for tags of old Canon Rebels with kit lenses and you’ll be surprised.

        • Scott McGinn March 29, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

          To be a pro photographer you can do it with minimal equipment. Zack Arias is the king of the one flash portrait. There are guys who make money from this with Toy Holga cameras.

          This isn’t a “Buy a Hasselblad, 14 flashes, 17 lenses for every eventuality, and every other bit of kit” business.

          You start with what you’ve got, you look to get what you need, and you build as you go.

      • chris doyle April 19, 2014 at 2:05 am #

        wheres the like button. Well said Ryan

    • CoplandPhotography July 17, 2014 at 5:53 am #

      I know plenty of full-time pros, that have just one camera body and one lens…! I have been a full time Photographer for 3 years now, and until recently I was using a Nikon D90…! it did the job. You don’t need to go and buy a D810 with all the pro lenses to be good. I know people that were “born rich” and have all the kit you could ever want, but they have no ida what they are doing with it.

      Work hard and learn your craft!

  11. Ivan Nicolau March 1, 2012 at 10:29 am #

    haha. Just saw this post broadcast on G+ Chase. I thought, cool. perfect timing after my email. Then I saw the first line when i started reading it. Very cool indeed. Thanks for the info and the response.

  12. rob andrew March 1, 2012 at 10:30 am #

    “Action wins”! So true. Thanks for the simple and super truthful post. I’m gonna pimp this for ya!! XXX – I was not born rich and I am making it as a full time pro. I still need to work on pimping only the type of work I want to be hired for, that’s a daily struggle.

  13. Per March 1, 2012 at 10:30 am #

    Chase 5 steps seems to be much about head and mind, but what about heart? I can not image Chase being in the industry only for the money, only. I believe that heart an love and lust for the things you/we all do is 50% or more of the reason of success.

    • Chase July 16, 2014 at 6:02 pm #

      heart is critical ;)

  14. The Shades of Grey | Elal March 1, 2012 at 10:40 am #

    You have good points on this article! So I’ll declare myself as a pro from now on. :P

  15. Erwan March 1, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    Would you recommend any specific books? That would be helpful, thank you.

    • Jürgen March 1, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

      I think Chase has told which book: “Read every book you can find at the library” – so oder at amazon, in the book shop at the corner or goto the library instead of waisting your time in front of the monitor and remember to leave your business cards at the counter


      • Clayton March 29, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

        A sentence is a sentence be it on a monitor or a in a book. The internet is full of useful information to help anyone develop at a certain skill. I’d actually insist that in many ways sitting in front of a monitor learning (reading articles, watching demonstration video and researching in general) is a better use of one’s time than finding a book to learn from. Although a book does help lesson the blow to one’s eyesight, but I stand by my point. Specific people learn best in a vast variety of specific ways though.

  16. Chris Plante March 1, 2012 at 11:16 am #

    Regarding the sharing part. In todays age, social media is the tool of choice to share/pimp images. However, who are you sharing with? I am a hobbyist. I follow other photographers whether they are a “pro” or not. Other photographers follow me. I cannot offer a photographer a well paid gig.

    The question is, how can one get their images viewed by the people who are in a position to offer a gig or employment?

    • Andrew Vanasse March 1, 2012 at 11:49 am #

      Find out who those people are and send it to them, call them, email them, etc. Like any business, you build a marketing plan and market to the people that really matter.

      I know it’s blunt but that’s what you do.

  17. Chase March 1, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    First, I want to say I almost watched the entire LIVE episode yesterday, and you did a great job playing nice with the other kids on the playground. It’s always tough when you’ve got two leaders like yourself and the head of another photography company working together to mesh two similar but different creative visions. You collaborated, mixed and matched then glued it all together. Can’t wait to see the finished product.

    On your post:
    Great advice. I disagree with the student part though. I believe you’re always a student (In the most general sense) first, and you choose what you learn second. Gaining knowledge about life and all of it’s intricacies, not just photography, is SUPER vital.
    That said, I get the emotion you were putting behind that statement and the overwhelming and consuming drive you’ve got to have to follow your passion.

    Thanks for sharing! Off to take some awesome arial shots from a glider over the Everglades!
    GoPro Hero+D7000=one badass weekend!

    Keep inspiring and sharing.

  18. Mike Schreurs March 1, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

    Awesome article. Thanks Chase. A question for Chase or anyone reading my comment – recommendations on any good photographer book to read like Chase mentioned?

  19. Sarah March 1, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

    I’d say that it’s way more important to understand the history of photography, shoot all the time, understand the segment you want to enter (it’s impossible to be relevant to everyone), ready about the rules but don’t rush in to declaring yourself a pro. Sometimes it works better for people to get a year under their belt to do the heavy promo. You might regret that work that you started out with. Also, if you are currently a hobbyist then understand that you’ll change the way you think about it once it’s a business. You have to really love photography to survive that jump. I don’t think you should declare yourself a photographer until you’ve shot a ton. Keep it a serious hobby until you’ve studied and shot long enough to call yourself a pro.

  20. jeroen March 1, 2012 at 2:17 pm #


  21. Moritz March 1, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    all good points and have most points ticked (besides the business bank account, as its only me i havent felt the need yet)

    think though one important step is contacts. far to often i see people who’s work isn’t great at all who shoot magazines or (cheap) commercials and 80% of the time its because they know someone in that business or got the right connections.


  22. Ryan Golla March 1, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

    Great article! Straight to the point, no BS. Thanks Chase for your words of wisdom.

  23. Matt Timmons March 1, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    “What you THINK is nice, but it counts for zilch, zero, nada. Action wins.” DAMN RIGHT. It’s what separates the pro’s from the flakes who will never be pro’s.

  24. Mark Fenwick March 1, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    Some great advice, and I think it’s important to enjoy the work you do, and do the work you were born to do. It makes it so much easier!

  25. lolaxfick March 1, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

    YAY! Now we can all be pro-photographers!!

  26. Mike March 1, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    The five steps are a few steps short of reality. One needs a good SLR or DSLR, several lenses, and alternative lighting. Plus knowing how to use the equipment. Also, the photographer will need business insurance to protect against failure to perform clients written expectations and liability insurance. Insuring the equipment is optional but why take a chance. Reading books is great, but it is better to go out and shoot everyday, write down a log of the settings, and learn how adjust to different conditions.

  27. Mario March 1, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

    those this mean, going to school to get a degree is not that important? just wondering because school isn’t a option right now

    • Gavin June 9, 2014 at 4:48 am #

      Loads of pro photographers don’t have degrees. David Bailey for one. If you want one, study for one but it’s not essential :)

  28. Dan Oksnevad Photography March 1, 2012 at 5:14 pm #

    Completely agree as I have implemented these stems and had success. I registered my business while at University, presented myself as a photographer (not a student) and ended up paying for my last two years of school from photography revenue alone. It only grew from there after graduation. And yes… read, study and shoot like mad and you’ll be there in no time.

  29. Kerry James March 1, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

    This is a great post really just puts a spotlight on if you work hard at anything you can be whatever you choose, the problem with anything that looks glamorous most people only want to drive past the hard work stage. Great reminder for me and many others I’m sure. Thanks Chase!!


  30. Arlene D March 1, 2012 at 9:44 pm #

    I so much love your style, attitude and knowl

  31. Arlene D March 1, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

    What I was basically trying to say above was great post! Action is it. Simple. Thanks Chase.

  32. Jim March 2, 2012 at 12:25 am #

    Your No. 1 is right on. First thing I did once I committed to being a photographer was to declare myself a professional photographer. The second thing I did was to write a business plan. More businesses fail because of lack of a business plan or a flawed business plan. We plan our vacation, we know where we are going, where we are staying, when we are leaving, and how we are getting there. But when it comes to starting a business most people don’t make a plan. Write it down. Do the financials, tweak as your business evolves. Re-examine once a year or more often if needed. It is the most important aspect of being successful. Shoot all you want, without a plan you will not reach your full potential.

  33. #5 X1 million

  34. Sam March 2, 2012 at 5:16 am #

    Great advice as always Chase. I believe this can be applied to most things in life, but not everything. The question I’m constantly asking myself is where do I want to be?

    I know exactly, but It’s getting there! It frustrates the hell out of me. That feeling of it bottling up all those ideas and aspirations in side you. The difficulty of putting it all in to play and just doing it, I think that it comes down to circumstances. When is the perfect time to release the create beast we all have inside of us?

    I’m not a pessimist by any means, It’s that doubt and feeling of failure that scares most. Sometimes I sit down outside in my garden thinking about what next. I’m 26, to me that’s the wrong side of 25 to be in a position i’m in now. My heart’s there, with ideas and passion oozing. Looking up to sky, constantly wishing I could end my 9 until 5 so I could follow my dreams. I’m the only one that can make this happen.

    Everyone need to ask themselves… Am I ready to take the first step? There are major factors beyond the title “Declare yourself a photographer.”

    Going back to the topic of discussion, I love the attitude and the post you put up on the blog. They’re ever so inspiring.

    Thank you Chase,


  35. steveb March 2, 2012 at 6:43 am #

    oh geez, this is going to be work isn’t it……..

  36. RobyFabro March 2, 2012 at 7:53 am #

    Well said Chase, I would invert the order though, starting from n. 4 to n. 1; and according to what photography you want to do, being prepared to do a lot of networking and knocking on doors, you don’t get clients sitting on your chair!

  37. Glenn March 2, 2012 at 9:52 am #

    Jack Nicklaus once said that his best golf shots were probably not that much better than the best shots of an avid amateur. But, his worst shots were a lot better than the worst shots of amateurs. I think of pro photographers as being able to get a really good capture every time they click the button. As an amateur, my hit rate of shots that I would want to show someone else is maybe 10%. Would love to hear what others believe their hit rates to be.

    • Ryan Parker March 2, 2012 at 10:47 am #

      Hey Glenn, for me the “hit rate” is different based on the work I’m doing. If it’s event work, I might keep 25%, but the definition of “keeper” in those shoots is super loose.

      A bit higher up the chain, I usually have a handful of images that capture any given shoot in a way that meets my level of expectation and that of my clients. These images might represent 1% of the images in the shoot. (This is the number that starts to rise as you hone your craft.)

      However, for an image that I’d put in my portfolio (i.e. a photograph that accurately represents my eye, creativity and technical ability), that’s a totally different deal. I’m fairly new to photography as part of my profession, but of all the thousands of images I’ve taken, I might have 30-40 that rise to that level of critique.

  38. Jim White March 2, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    Great advice, with “one” exception. You “don’t” have to be in business for yourself to BE a professional photographer. You can “actually” work for someone else. Imagine that :)

  39. CJ Chilvers March 2, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

    Shouldn’t the first step be to ask why?

  40. Algernon Parker March 3, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

    Great post! These are pretty much the steps I take and I’m adding as I go. And I never forget to repeat!

  41. matt s March 3, 2012 at 11:56 pm #

    Not sure about pimping your photos from go. Maybe I’d add an extra step: Learn how to critique your photos.

    Thank goodness there wasn’t a Facebook around to bore everyone with my terrible photos while I was still learning.

  42. Bluestill March 4, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

    Bravo and very good advice. I have read a few blogs and the information about going pro will make you cringe, if it were correct that is.

  43. Steve Deschenes March 4, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

    You make me “Beleive it” Thanks, Steve

  44. Karissa March 5, 2012 at 7:59 am #

    Exactly what I needed to hear. Number 1 and 2, so important…while I am technically still a “student” I need to get rid of this attitude and start viewing myself as a pro if I’m going to get anywhere. Thanks for the motivation Chase!

  45. Rick Lohre March 5, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    Nice bro!
    Super dig Simple.
    That’s what a lot of peeps need.


  46. Rohn Engh March 5, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

    Keep in a good frame of mind…

    • Chase March 5, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

      hopefully that goes without saying. it’s essential for life!

  47. Todd Suttle March 6, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

    As an entrepreneur I couldn’t agree more with what you posted. I believe that hard work, persistence and the ability to never give up while following your dream is where its at.

    Kind Regards,

  48. Carl May March 7, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

    You aren’t a pro until you are doing what you need to do to make a living at it. The joy of photography is for amateurs.

  49. Edward deCroce March 9, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    You are absolutely right Chase. Today, it means nothing if the work is awful. The only thing that really matters is that you are in business. And with a brand new photographer on every city block, the important part is the marketing.

  50. JC Ruiz March 9, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

    Leave it to Chase to be a man of few words yet those words have a resounding impact.

  51. Sunny Lau March 13, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

    Love the fact that the picture is a man in drag spoofing your other image.

  52. Carlos March 15, 2012 at 11:39 pm #

    If your life is ever incline to make picture images or just be awesome at something and you hate the self improvement kind of speeches, just follow/read Chase. He makes you go achieve stuff without being annoying.

  53. راب عربي March 20, 2012 at 7:35 pm #

    thank you طه فهد مرشحة وحوش العرب راب عربي وحوش الراب طه فهد مرشحة rap

  54. Salvador Zaro March 21, 2012 at 6:49 am #

    This is great! An associate shared this with me this morning on Facebook. Impressive.

  55. mystery shopper March 24, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

    Hello there! I could have sworn I’ve visited this website before but after browsing through some of the posts I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m definitely pleased I stumbled upon it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back frequently!

  56. Dan Howard April 1, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    I’ve been having a mini existential realisation over the last few months. I’ve been into photography as a hobby for the last ten years, worked as a company photographer for a year and all of a sudden I just didn’t see the point in photography anymore.

    People have been on at me to start my own business but I’m disenfranchised by the sheer amount of “soccer moms” who’s husbands have just bought them a brand new camera and now they think they’re… Chase Jarvis… and they advertise themselves for photoshoots and have the guts to charge for it.

    This post was very encouraging, I love photography, I’m half decent at it too. I’ll read this every day till I get my arse back in to gear.

    Thanks Chase

  57. Bradley April 5, 2012 at 11:28 am #

    I think these steps apply to most work related endeavors. I wasn’t really a web designer/developer until I started telling people that is what I am.

    I think step #6 would be to work your ass off.

  58. LRB April 27, 2012 at 11:22 am #


  59. Tim Rice April 27, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

    Where is the part about being a good photographer?

    Reading books about business instead of looking at art? Solid fuckin step lol

    • Gavin June 9, 2014 at 4:51 am #

      I think he’s taking the part about “being able to take good images” as a given. The rest is all business. Looking at art for inspiration is fine but it won’t tell you how to actually run a business :)

  60. roary May 4, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

    I what to be a photographer so bad.I am 11 years old but I am planning early.I work hard and I always get straight As on report cards.

  61. roary May 4, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

    do you have any tips?

  62. Samuel A. Smith II May 24, 2012 at 7:54 am #

    Just the direct push that I needed. It’s time to walk out on faith. Thanks Chase.

  63. Mary Penza May 29, 2012 at 7:10 am #

    Great advice. I have had businesses in the past which worked well, but never photography. Trying to go from hobby to business on etsy. Should I invest in the latest photoshop? I am using CS3. Thanks. Enjoying your blog.

    • Chase May 29, 2012 at 9:48 am #

      yea – CS 6 is a major upgrade…along with the creative cloud for adobe. just a monthly fee instead of having to throw down the big bucks for the software.

  64. Looo June 27, 2012 at 3:32 am #

    I’m very interesting in having some book titles too, being italian I’d like to read something about in the U.S.A. literature!

  65. Jim Ault June 28, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    I would add three words…

    5. Repeat with true passion

    Being passionate shows through and truly makes a difference to everyone around you.

  66. dwight July 5, 2012 at 1:20 am #

    Very informative tips and it is also nice if you’ll store your everyday photographs in an online storage so that you will have a backup on them and that they are secured. Like the one that I am using now I will recommend it because I am very satisfied with its services and it offers 7GB even for free accounts only. Check it out here:

  67. David July 11, 2012 at 11:51 pm #

    While I was young, I also wanted to be a photographer…
    Now I need to sell cameras to support my family…

    Life is struggle…but it is why life is amazing! :)

  68. Nancy Graham@free graphic design resources September 17, 2012 at 4:00 am #

    Very nice post,this post is very helpful for me thanks for the information.

  69. Nev September 22, 2012 at 5:02 am #

    Hey Chase, just wanna ask when you decided to become a pro how do you know you are good enough?

    • Anonymous September 22, 2012 at 7:22 am #

      by trying to succeed and seeing how it worked out… If i survived an made it, i was. if not, i wasn’t. there is no other substitute

  70. ha shyima yhayi October 8, 2012 at 8:04 am #

    ohw…. good point. I most interested to be a photographer!!!!!!!!!!! I always take picture just shot, shot, shot ever day………. hmmmm but my parents not be supported me that because I am still study … how can I be a photographer?

  71. Ken Topham November 9, 2012 at 6:24 am #

    Well said, I think some people forget about the taking photos bit!!

  72. Nancy Young December 25, 2012 at 6:22 am #

    The number of comments under the post shows how popular and useful it is. Thank you for such a great stuff! :) Keep it up! Also, I’d like to share with one more good awesome post on how to become a photographer: This is a true story of one guy that wants to be a photographer and works hard on it.

  73. Eric Cherry June 24, 2013 at 11:33 am #

    Sage advice.By the way I still have the drawing I did of you. I had your name in the background but you didn’t care for it. I’m just going to send it to you and let you figure out the background. Could you email me your mailing address?

    • Chase June 24, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

      thanks! mailing address is on my about page. send to seattle. much appreciated.

  74. how to become wealthy from nothing February 25, 2014 at 4:26 am #

    I seldom leave comments, however i did a few searching and wound up here How
    To Become A Pro Photographer in 5 Easy Steps | Chase Jarvis Blog.
    And I actually do have 2 questions for you if you do not
    mind. Is it just me or does it appear like some of the responses look like they are left by
    brain dead visitors? :-P And, if you are posting at other online social sites,
    I would like to follow anything fresh you have to post. Could you make a list of all of all your communal pages like your
    linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

  75. Lonnie Dawkins March 29, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    and check out CreativLive

  76. OK March 29, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

    You can apply this to any trade. Case in point, heart surgeon.
    Declare yourself a heart surgeon
    Open a bank account, pass around business cards
    Read books on how to do it
    Practice practice – sell yourself to hospitals

    Declare yourself a hair stylist
    Open a bank account, buy business cards, get a license
    Read some books
    Practice practice – can I use your head?


  77. Maximus Hubris March 29, 2014 at 11:18 pm #

    Shark, jumped…

    Jesus, it’s like the last act of Wolf of Wall Street where the guy completely sells out and is making his money doing sales seminars for losers at the Holiday Inn on Route 9,

    A vacuum cleaner salesman would look down on you…

    Seriously, go do something else and stop jerking off hobby nerds for money

  78. Eric Tailor April 7, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

    Wait… say you’re a photographer… then open a business… THEN start to think about learning photography.

    • Chris June 7, 2014 at 9:42 am #

      Not exactly. It’s not about learning photography. It’s about learning the business stuff. But don’t take it too literally. There are many steps before and after these 5 steps mentioned above.

    • Gavin June 9, 2014 at 4:53 am #

      No, that isn’t exactly what he said. I think you’ll find he’s taking it as a given that you’ve already learned about photography BEFORE you start to think about turning pro :)

  79. Eddie Hill April 8, 2014 at 6:11 am #

    Mr. Jarvis,

    I wish I had known it was this easy when I started my Portrait studio 17 years ago. I cannot believe that I spent so much time and money and effort learning the craft of photography AND business before I hung a shingle on my door. Seriously, I am amazed that anyone would think they can be a successful photographer by following your method.

    • Chase July 16, 2014 at 6:05 pm #

      UDPATE: for those that don’t GET IT, this post is tongue in cheek and isn’t really about how to become a photographer. It’s about how to commit to something. There are a zillion steps to becoming a photographer. Days, weeks, years of work on the craft. But the #1 think I see absent in people who SAY they want it….it a lack of commitment – a lack of those few last steps to get them over the line, get them off their asses, off the couch, off the internet where people hide behind fake names where they pretend they’ve DONE it, that they are a pro, or have even begun to commit… This is usually because of fear. Fear that they can’t make a living. Which is actually what it MEANS TO BE A PROFESSIONAL. The reality is that you probably either want to become a pro and still need to do the following things; or you don’t want it. In the former case – that you DO want to become a pro and – then this post is a ‘you can do this / get off your ass’ message to you. In the latter case – the case of not actually wanting it — then I’ve got no issue. But please then stop pretending / posing that you do want it. And if you’re just here to learn about the process and your taking it all in? Cool with me. My advice then is that commitment to pulling the trigger and calling yourself a photographer in front of your friends and you parents or God or whomever is one of the hardest things….

  80. Fletcher Schmollinger May 15, 2014 at 10:38 pm #

    Oh no! I can’t make it and I’m so sad! I actually want to go but the girls are throwing me a likely away party that night at Angie’s. And i need so much clothes for my new job. So bummed. Anyway, possess a blast and that i would go when using the dress its fab! XOXO

  81. Filmmaker June 6, 2014 at 9:26 am #

    I can’t stand seeing people talk about how HARD WORK is the ticket. In this day and age, yes, hard work is needed. But it is trumped by WORKING SMART! Weaving throughout your network and knowing the right people gets you farther in this day and age. The two together are the best. For example, you know the big photographers in your area and you think, how can I be like him or her…Now thinking smart would be…I will work for him/her for free and see how they do it! Right! Now when you ask and them say yes, them you work your ass off that day week months. The other option is to think that you know and start out by trying to image what they have and how they do things. That will lead to years of misery. Ok…thats all I know! Cheers!

  82. vidyaputra June 6, 2014 at 9:30 am #

    resigning from my job this month, jump in … i feel afraid but happy, i know it will be lot of hard work, but happy :)

  83. Abhimanue.B.Raveendran June 8, 2014 at 2:58 am #

    Good post Chase.. :)

  84. Graham July 16, 2014 at 10:12 am #

    There is a sixth step which is not easy, and that is having or developing the talent to take photographs that people are willing to pay for. I really don’t care for the notion that it easy to accomplish these goals. While the five Chase mentions are certainly key elements, one still has to work very hard to implement all of them.

  85. Herb Roller July 16, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    Skip step 2, and change the title to “How to become a photographer”… not “pro photographer”.

    Only a blind idiot would try to become a full-time professional photographer today. Might as well work hard (with true passion!) to be the world’s best Pony Express rider, or a damn good typewriter salesman.

    You missed the boat. It’s already sailed. Pro photography is dying.

    It’s okay if you disagree with me, but you’d be wrong.

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