First you need to establish your goals. Does income from photography matter to you? If not, then join the millions of other people with the same avocation.

For perspective, the dictionary defines an avocation as a hobby or minor occupation. A vocation is defined as a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation. Photography invariably begins as an avocation.

After about five years of photographing regularly, you may think that now’s a good time to turn an avocation into a vocation – in other words – making the decision to pursue a disciplined pursuit on a daily basis with the possibility of mastering a craft and being paid well for your work.

Most of those who reach this threshold will have created enough images in that time period to feel pretty good about their work. That’s natural. Some of those images may be the best work you ever do! So start early and constantly practice.

Next, for those who have enough self-esteem (and savings), there may actually come a time when considering the idea of taking such a huge leap of faith and quitting your day job to pursue your dream job seems doable.

Please be prepared. If you decide to actually make the leap to being a full-time professional, you will now have to perform 100%, on demand, every time, time after time, and constantly exceed your client’s expectations.

Those who make that leap of fait, will be compelled to ask the question: “What is fair compensation for my photographic contribution to a real client.” Don’t be surprised if the responses from those initial inquiries are less than what you expected. After all, you are still learning on the job.

After a few more years of knocking on doors, those with an actual knack for photography will recognize that just having a gift, something unique and of value, may not be enough. The approach of turning a hobby into a real business, with all that entails, will require meeting other demands that will only increase exponentially with your success.

Are you willing to sacrifice what most people believe is a reliable income for something else? Do you always feel the desire to push the envelope until you create an image you are really proud of? The resilient ones will eventually attract the attention of clients who value greatness. That could take another five to ten years. If that happens, then welcome to the club.

In the end, the only way you will become even better, is to be humble, insatiably curious and constantly desire to develop the gifts you have been given and work hard to achieve your full potential. Feel fortunate that you have this predicament!

BIG PHOTO TIP: If a “master photographer” (whatever that is), agrees to meet with you for coffee or a drink….

Do not talk.