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Categorized | Articles, Darwin Wiggett

Advanced Shooter — So You Want to be a Professional Nature Photographer? (preview)

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

Have you ever sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic on your morning commute to work and wished you could just be out in nature taking pictures of fiery sunrises and plunging waterfalls? Or maybe your job is as tedious as counting blades of grass in your lawn. Every waking moment you dream of ejecting yourself from the rat race to travel, photographing the wonders of world. Wow, what a life! So if you dream of dropping your T4s in favour of the freelance life of a photographer then read on.


First, before we start, it’s good to recognize that the public has a rosy view of the life of a photographer. Certainly it sounds romantic; travel to exotic locations, spend hours in the wilderness, meet fascinating people, see amazing sights…. When I tell people I am a professional nature photographer, they get that wistful, faraway look in their eyes and tell me I’m so lucky. Truth is, I’m very lucky, but the reality of full-time nature photography is quite far removed from the dream. So before you hand in your letter of resignation, let’s check up on the realities of being a nature photographer.

Reality 1 – Nature photography is a job

Nature photographers are almost universally freelancers and they work for themselves. To be successful, you need to have serious skills in business. This means you need to have a business plan, need to know about many things non-photographic like marketing, communication, accounting, networking, website design and so much more. You will spend more time doing all this stuff than you will making photos. Pro nature photographers are very lucky if they can manage to free up at least 30 percent of their time to make images.

The good news is that if you love the challenge and rewards of owing your own business and being your own boss, then the hard work of nature photography might be right up your alley. And even better, you’ll still get to

To read more of Darwin Wiggett’s column and other great articles from Outdoor Photography Canada magazine pick up the Summer/Fall 2014 issue of OPC today, or subscribe!

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