How I turned a hobby into a potential career

During the pandemic, many people have acquired a new hobby or learned a new skill. For some it was learning a new language, for others it was learning how to play an instrument; for me it was photography.

I had received a camera for my 19th birthday which was also at the beginning of the pandemic. Although completely unaware of how to use it, I quickly fell in love with it; taking it everywhere and taking pictures whenever I had the chance.

I had taken a photography class in my sophomore year called “Photography for Social Change.” This class focused on depicting the current struggles of our country and countries around the world in the form of photos.

Photo by Thomas Ryan

This class really helped me gain the base knowledge of how to use a camera. The weekly assignments in this class really made us learn how to use the cameras on our own without the help of the professor, Linda Panetta.

As the holidays approach I asked my family if they could purchase me a new camera. The camera I have is somewhat outdated and the quality of my images were not up to speed with the newer cameras. But recently I was out on a shoot and realized that it was not the camera, but it was the person behind the camera. While that was a real slap in the face it taught me that I needed to become more serious if this was something I wanted to pursue professionally.

Cabrini Clock. Photo by Thomas Ryan

As the year progressed my knowledge of cameras quickly advanced, as did my results. I, among others, took notice to my improvements. This exposure to the public opens plenty of doors into the world of professionalism. Since receiving my camera I have gotten the opportunity to shoot for brands of my friends and wedding shoots of family members.

While these opportunities did not pay much, if at all, it gave me experience as to what it was like working with a team of photographers as well as putting my knowledge to the test.

I have been following famous professional photographers on social media for the past couple of months trying to find out what it takes to be the best of the best or who is the best of the best. I have come to find that the answer to that in the aspect of photography is everyone is great in their own sense.

Cavalier Stone. Photo by Thomas Ryan

“You can never shoot enough,” Peter Mckinnon, a huge photography role model of mine, said.

This saying encouraged me to not only overshoot, but to take extra time in planning each shot not focusing on the big picture but instead find uniqueness in each individual shot.

For me the most difficult part about pursuing a career in photography is not actually taking the photo, that is only half of the work. The most important and the most difficult part about photography is editing. I can only compare learning Photoshop and other editing software from scratch to being thrown in another country and being asked to do a list full of tasks.

Now that I am getting the hang of editing and taking photos, I am starting to find the importance in taking your time and making sure to remember that every little detail matters.