Making the Leap to Full-Time Photography

August 28th, 2017

When photographers decide to do full-time photography, sometimes it is the culmination of many years of part-time work under their belt. Other times, they commit to being full time right off the bat. Here, 10 professional photographers share the events that prompted them to take the plunge to full time.

Erica Peerenboom

“I transitioned from part time to full time once my husband and I converted part of our house into a home studio. From that point forward, I was able to shoot whenever I wanted in the convenience of my own home. It was a total game changer for me.”

Sara Kauss

“I used to work 9-5 Monday through Friday brokering palm trees for a tree sales vendor and then photograph weddings on Saturdays and edit on Sundays. Finally, my husband got tired of not seeing me at all, and we made the decision together that if I devoted 100% of my time to wedding photography then my business would grow and the revenue would replace my palm tree sales job! After that, I booked enough weddings to sustain my photography business without the additional income of a corporate job.”

Jeff Cable

“It was a combination of too many years in the corporate world, a growing list of clients and the addition of teaching workshops all over the world. I really love traveling and seeing other countries, so having the opportunity to do that as part of the photography business was the final straw for me.”

Dennis Berti

“I started to work in the wedding industry as an employee of a huge hotel, so my destination weddings at the beginning of my career were small (2-30 guests) and short (1-4 hours), and I was a part time photographer. But when I became an independent professional photographer I started to work with my own clients and had my own rules. The difference between 1 and 8 hours and between 20 and 80 guests was huge for me.”

John Baikie

“The transition to full time photography happened after entering my first photography competition and winning. That was in 2004 and the title Highlands and Islands Photographer of the Year changed things for me. It catapulted me into the public eye locally, and five months later I had resigned from my engineering job and set up as a full-time business.”

Laura Grier

“I forced myself to quit bartending after year one at age 21 and had confidence that I could make money on my own through photography. The more energy you put into your photography, the more reward you will have, and if you are only putting in part-time energy, then you will never have full-time rewards.”

Amiee Stubbs

“Even though I’d had years of experience in a photography studio, going back to college and getting a degree in photography is what gave me the confidence to become a full-time photographer. Refining my technical competence and visual awareness through a formal education allowed me to achieve a new level of growth in my work.”

Steve Bridgwood

“For me there never really was a part time to this job. Once I started photographing weddings it really just snowballed—I guess people liked my style. Most people also take for granted that it’s not just about photographing the wedding itself; there’s also editing, social media, meeting clients and keeping your website up to date. To be successful in this business you have to give it your all.”

Kevin Mullins

“I went from an IT geek to wedding photographer without any in-between time. But the need for a much better way of family life was the driving force to becoming a full-time photographer.”

David Williams

“I went to school for photography first with a degree from De Anza College and then got a degree in photography from Art Center College of Design. So, I went in dead set on being a full-time professional from the get go. Still, I found the true rhythm as a professional after many hardships, times that made me take a hard look at what it meant to be a professional—lots of self reflection.

I do think there are benefits to starting out part time and getting your feet wet, both to find your visual voice and to get your bearings as a photographer. Working part time for a professional photographer part time will certainly do that. You will also get a contact high just being around the business and will know pretty soon whether you want to do it full time.”

Take the leap!