How do you become a professional photographer or start a career in photography?
First and foremost:
- Do your homework
- Study your subject matter
- Do not go into any situation shooting blind- Know your subject -Build Relationships
The more you know ahead of time, the less time you will waste trying to come up with relevant, intelligent art. Let's take the simplest of situations shooting a sunset.
Be helpful to other photographers, especially other pros. A career as a Freelance photographer is a very difficult way to make a living so help out. Share info and equipment if you can. Be tolerant and friendly to amateur photographers who ask your help. They show their love and respect for something you believe in.
Rules of Professional Photography
You must never be a part of the situation you are shooting, whether it is a wedding or a news event or a family gathering. You must learn to be an unattached observer or you alter the purity and honesty of the events before you. You must not photograph people when you are in a private place unless you have their permission. That is invasion of privacy and against the law.
If you get their permission you are well advised to tell those folks what you intend to do with the photo.
In fact, you may not sell that photograph for commercial purposes, even though you received permission to photograph the person, unless you have a "Photo Release" form from that person, giving you the right to use the picture for commercial use.
If you are on public property and manage to photograph something that transpires on private property you may use that photograph for your personal use, and have it published in a legitimate media - like a newspaper or Internet website - however, you may not sell, or use, that photograph for the purposes of making money off of it.
Being a photographer carries with the responsibility of never altering a photograph. (You can lighten, darken, sharpen, or crop the image and be safe. To alter is to "Make or become different in some particular way, without permanently losing one's or its former characteristics or essence - either through darkroom techniques or digital "enhancement" - you are compromising the purity and integrity of the art.) Photography has an inherent quality of honest and you must have the courage to stand by the image.