Becoming a Photographer in 5 Steps [2023]

Are you interested in turning your love of photography into a full-time career? Becoming a professional photographer requires a mix of technical skills, artistic talent, and business savvy. Here are five steps to help you get started on your journey to becoming a successful photographer:

1. Get an education

While a formal education is not strictly necessary to become a photographer, it can be very helpful in terms of learning about the technical aspects of the trade and getting experience with a variety of equipment. Many schools offer degree programs in photography, and taking classes or earning a degree can also help you to network with other professionals in the field.

There are many modern ways to get an education in photography, including:

Online courses. There are a variety of online courses and programs available that cover a range of photography topics, from the basics of composition to advanced techniques like portrait lighting and post-processing. Online courses can be a convenient and flexible option for busy photographers.

Workshops and seminars. Many professional photographers offer workshops and seminars that allow you to learn new skills and techniques in a hands-on environment. These events can be a great way to learn from experienced professionals and get personalized feedback on your work.

Photography schools. Traditional photography schools offer degree programs and individual classes in photography and related subjects. Attending a photography school can provide a more structured and comprehensive education, and can also give you the opportunity to network with other students and professionals.

Books and tutorials. There are many books and tutorials available that can help you learn about photography and improve your skills. These resources can be a useful supplement to other forms of education, and can be especially helpful if you prefer to learn at your own pace.

Apprenticeships and internships. Apprenticeships and internships can be a great way to get hands-on experience and learn from experienced professionals. Many photographers are willing to take on interns or assistants to help with various tasks, and this can be a valuable learning opportunity.

2. Build a Portfolio

A portfolio is a collection of your best work that showcases your style and abilities as a photographer. As you build your portfolio, try to include a range of subjects and styles to demonstrate your versatility and range as a photographer.

Here are some steps you can follow to build a strong photography portfolio:

Select your best work. Choose only your best and most representative photographs to include in your portfolio. It’s better to have a smaller number of high-quality images than a large number of mediocre ones.

Consider your target audience. Think about who you want to show your portfolio to, and select images that will appeal to them. For example, if you are targeting wedding photography clients, you will want to include a mix of candid, formal, and artistic shots that showcase your ability to capture special moments.

Choose a portfolio format. There are many different ways to present your portfolio, including physical prints, online galleries, and PDFs. Consider the pros and cons of each option and choose the one that best fits your needs.

Organize your images. Arrange your images in a logical and visually appealing way. You might consider organizing them by theme, by date, or by location.

Edit and retouch your images. Make sure that your images are well-exposed, color-corrected, and free of blemishes or distractions. You might want to use photo editing software to touch up your images and make them look their best.

Write a bio and include contact information. Include a short bio that introduces yourself and your work, and make sure to include your contact information so that potential clients can get in touch with you.

Get feedback. Show your portfolio to other photographers, art directors, or other industry professionals and ask for their feedback. They may be able to offer helpful suggestions for improvement or areas where you can focus your efforts.

3. Find Your Niche

Many photographers choose to specialize in a particular type of photography, such as portrait, landscape, or wedding photography. Identifying your area of expertise can help you to focus your efforts and build a strong reputation within a specific niche.

Here are some ways to develop a niche in photography:

Identify your interests and passions. Think about what you enjoy most about photography and what types of subjects or styles you are most drawn to. This can help you to identify a niche that aligns with your interests and passions.

Network with other professionals. Connecting with other professionals in your niche can help you to learn from their experiences and build relationships that can lead to new opportunities. Consider joining professional organizations or attending industry events to meet other photographers and build your network.

Develop a Unique Style. Edit your work consistently. Consistency is key when it comes to developing a unique style. By editing your work in a consistent way, you can help to define your style and make it more recognizable. Don’t try to copy the styles of other photographers or force your work to fit into a particular mold. Instead, focus on developing a style that feels authentic and true to your own vision.

4. Learn the Business

As a photographer, you will be running your own business, so it’s important to have a basic understanding of things like marketing, pricing, and contracts.

Here are a few ways you can learn about the business aspect of photography:

Take business classes. Many community colleges and universities offer business classes that can help you learn the basics of running a small business, such as marketing, pricing, and financial management.

Consult with a mentor. Consider seeking out a mentor who is an experienced photographer and can offer guidance and advice on the business side of the industry.

Join a professional organization. Many professional organizations offer resources and support for photographers, including information on the business side of the industry. Consider joining an organization like the Professional Photographers of America (PPA).

Read books and articles. There are many books and articles available that cover the business side of photography. Reading these resources can help you to learn about topics such as pricing, marketing, and financial management.

Attend workshops and seminars. Many professionals offer workshops and seminars that cover the business side of the industry, as well as technical skills. Attending these events can be a great way to learn from experienced professionals and get practical advice.

5. Continue to Learn & Grow

The world of photography is constantly evolving. It’s important to stay up to date with the latest techniques and technology. Attend workshops and seminars, join professional organizations, and be open to trying new things in order to continue to grow as a photographer.

Here are a few ways to continue to grow as a photographer:

Keep learning. There is always more to learn in the field of photography, whether it’s learning about new techniques, exploring different styles, or staying up to date with the latest equipment. Consider taking classes, attending workshops and seminars, or reading books and articles to continue to expand your knowledge.

Experiment with new subjects and styles. Don’t be afraid to try new things and push your boundaries as a photographer. Experimenting with different subjects and styles can help you to develop your skills and find new ways to express yourself.

Network with other photographers. Connecting with other photographers can be a great way to learn from their experiences, get inspiration, and find new opportunities. Consider joining professional organizations or attending industry events to meet other photographers and build your network.

Practice, practice, practice – As with any skill, the more you practice, the better you will become. Make time to shoot regularly, and be open to trying new things. Take on new challenges to help you continue to grow as a photographer.


In summary, becoming a professional photographer requires a combination of technical skills, artistic talent, and business savvy. By getting an education, building a strong portfolio, finding a niche, learning about the business side of photography, and continuing to grow and learn, you can set yourself up for success in this rewarding field. Don’t be afraid to take risks, try new things, and seek out feedback and guidance along the way. With dedication and hard work, you can turn your passion for photography into a fulfilling and successful career.

professional photographer demotte indiana

Top 5 BEST Cameras for Photography [2023]

What are the best cameras for photography? The best camera for one person is not always the best option for another. In 2023 there are hundreds of options, but these are the best for you based on your lifestyle.

To keep it simple, I have broken down this list into categories.

Travel Photography

If you want a camera that packs small into luggage, backpacks, and can even fit in your pocket, then this category is for you. My pick for the best camera for travel photography is the FujiFilm X100V.

FujiFilm X100V

This little beast of a camera will run you nearly $2k, but don’t let that scare you. Every other camera on this list consists of a body with a separate lens. This is a fixed lens camera. One lens for everything. After you pay the initial cost, that’s it. No additional lenses.

This camera is next level. The X100V features snappy mechanical external controls, film-stock presets in-camera, crystal clear viewfinder, and a sharp 23mm f/2.0 fixed lens. All of that is packed into a ruggedly-solid, camera that is only around 5″x3″x2″.

This is truly a travel photographers dream.

Low-Light Photography

Anyone who shoots primarily at night knows the struggle of pushing high ISO and getting back a grainy picture.

Luckily, camera manufacturers have been putting a lot of effort into improving the low-light performance of their flagship products.

Anyone who knows cameras knows that when it comes to low-light, Sony is king. My pick for the best low-light camera in 2022 is the Sony A7S III

Sony A7S III

That zero-grain low-light photography does not come without the price tag, though. Running almost $3,500, this camera is not recommended for beginners. This is truly a professional camera.

Wildlife Photography

Photographing wildlife is a beast of its own. I commend everyone with enough patience to do it.

With wildlife photography, you need a camera that supports great telephoto lenses, and can shoot in very high speed bursts.

You can’t risk not capturing the next cover of National Geographic because your gear wasn’t up to par. That is why my pick for the best camera for wildlife photography is the OM System OM1 Mirrorless Camera.

OM System OM1

At just over $2,000, this camera does everything a wildlife photographer will need it to do and more.

This camera features incredible stabilization, a continuous mechanical shooting rate of 10fps, and shoots 4K video at 60fps.

General Photography

For this category, general photography consists of family photography, pet photography, newborns, weddings, etc. You get the idea. If you just need a camera that can take great pictures, this is the category for you.

My top pick for an all-around fantastic camera is the Canon EOS RP.

Canon EOS RP

Probably the most affordable of Canon’s mirrorless line, the Canon EOS RP does what you need it to do, and very well.

At just $999 at the time of writing, this camera would be a great upgrade for anyone currently shooting with any of Canon’s older DSLRs.

The only con to this as an upgrade is that this camera utilizes an entirely different line of lenses. If this is a deal breaker for you, check out Canon’s new 90D.

Beginner Photography

If you are just starting off with photography and looking to make the move to get a nice camera, this is your category.

Keeping my pick under $1,000, I have to go with the Canon 80D.

Canon 80D

You can no longer buy this camera new, but that is more than okay. Buying a used camera is the best way to get into the hobby and start exploring the world of photography.

This camera can be found on eBay for anywhere between $500-800. You may even be able to find one for less on Facebook Marketplace or other local sources.

The Canon 80D was released in 2016 and was an instant hit with vlogger and influencers because it does it’s job incredibly well.

Don’t expect to shoot 4K video or have the fastest autofocus, but for the price this camera can’t be beat.

The One You Already Own

The best camera for your photography is the one you own. If all you have is a cellphone, get the most out of it. There are tons of online resources that will teach you how to get great results from a cellphone camera.

Photography is not just about the newest shiniest gear. Learning how to pose people, find unique shots, and thinking like a photographer are far more important than having the best camera.

What was your first camera? What are you currently shooting on? Let other’s know your favorite camera down below.


Top 5 BEST Gifts for Photographers [2022]

Whether it be a family member or friend, any photographer will appreciate and regularly use any of these great gifts! These are the best gifts for photographers.

SD Card Storage

No photographer shooting digitally can do much without an SD card. Coming from a photographer, we really can never have enough of these guys.

SanDisk 64GB SD Card

Get it here: Amazon Affiliate Link

Camera Strap Anchor Links

This is easily one of the best gifts for photographers – of all time. These super easy snap on/snap off linkages for camera straps are crazy helpful when out shooting. And they’re only $25!

Peak Design Anchor Links

Get it here: Amazon Affiliate Link

Insulated Photography Gloves

You would be surprised by how many photographers overlook the need for gloves until the day arrives for a winter shoot.

Being able to keep your hands warm while having the ability to effectively operate your camera is really helpful.

Get them here: Amazon Affiliate Link

Leather Camera Strap

While you may need to know a bit more about the camera they use, these beautiful real leather camera straps are well worth the effort.

Each strap is hand-made in a small workshop in New York. This is an heirloom quality gift.

Tap & Dye Leather Camera Strap

Get one here: Tap & Dye Leather Camera Strap

Brevite Camera Bag

Not just any old camera bag, a Brevite came bag! Their sleek modern designs and unlimited customization makes for a gift that any photographer will appreciate.

Brevite Camera Bag

These bags are nice. They have several different pockets each with their own purpose, and a modular interior that can be changed around as necessary.

On top of that, they try to help solve a problem that all photographers fear: theft. Brevite bags don’t look like your typically camera bag that may be targeted by a thief in a big city.

As a Brevite bag owner myself, I can safely say that this bag is the best photography accessory I have ever owned.

Get one here: Brevite Camera Bags

Can’t Decide?

Don’t worry, neither could I! That’s why this list isn’t a numbered list. Each of these gift ideas are equally as useful.

What are you considering getting a photographer in your life? What is the most useful gift you’ve ever received? Let me know below!


7 Best Photo Spots in Northwest Indiana [2022]

Photos in Northwest Indiana

While at first glace Northwest Indiana may appear void of beautiful photo ops, that could not be further from the truth. Due to the wide variety of geography in the Northwest region of the Hoosier State, there are actually many beautiful spots that are perfect for photography.

Below is a list of the 7 best places for photos in Northwest Indiana.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Photo Credit: National Park Service

Entry Fee – $25/family-sized vehicle

Hours – 6:00am – 11:00pm daily all year round

Highlights – Rolling sand dunes, endless waterfront, beach

Starting off our list with the most obvious location, the Indiana Dunes National Park located in Porter is a classic Indiana landmark for photos.

From the rolling sand dunes to the rich green foliage, you really cannot go wrong here. Because it is a national park, there is a fee to enter, but don’t let that deter you from going.

The price is well worth it, and the funds raised from entry go straight back into the maintenance and infrastructure of the park.

Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve

Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve – Owen Cooper Photography

Entry Fee – None

Hours – Dawn to Dusk daily all year round

Highlights – Pond & fountain, boardwalk trails, masonry pavilions

Located in Chesterton, Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve, often referred to as simply Coffee Creek, is 157 acres of wetlands, woodlands, prairies, and walking trails.

Any place in Coffee Creek is a perfect spot to snap a few photos. Wooden walking trails sprinkled with stone pavilions blanket the park, making it easy to navigate and make your way around.

County Line Orchard

county line orchard photography
County Line Orchard – Owen Cooper Photography

Entry Fee – $2/person (Includes access to general property & orchard)

Hours 8:00am – 6:00pm daily during the Fall (Barn is open for reserved events year-round)

Highlights – Apple orchard, corn maze, fall decorations

No mention of Northwest Indiana would be complete without County Line Orchard (or their world famous apple cinnamon donuts). Located in Hobart, County Line Orchard is a sprawling property complete with a huge apple orchard, pumpkin patch, flower gardens, and early-century barns.

They are a seasonal establishment and have an entry fee, but the photos taken here will be well worth it. They offer special event packages as well for birthdays, weddings, and anything else you can host in a barn.

Don’t forget to grab a donut and some hot apple cider on your way out.

Crown Point Courthouse Square

Crown Point – Owen Cooper Photography
Crown Point – Owen Cooper Photography

Entry Fee – None

Hours – N/A (Courthouse hours 10:00am – 5:00pm Mon-Sat)

Highlights – Historic buildings, night-life ambiance

At the heart of historic downtown Crown Point stands tall the Old Lake County Courthouse. The courthouse and surrounding area offers an unlimited number of angles, lighting situations, and colors to choose from for next shoot.

The courthouse square is one of my personal favorite places to shoot. If you plan to go in the summer, try to be there on a Thursday afternoon.

Each Thursday the local classic car gurus park their rides on the square which make for excellent photographs. If you chat up some of the guys, they’d be honored to let you pose with their wheels.

Hamstra Gardens

Photo Credit: Hamstra Gardens

Entry Fee – None

Hours – Reservation required, and closed during winter months

Highlights – Beautiful garden, water features, pavilion, stonework

Nestled comfortably between DeMotte and Wheatfield, Hamstra Gardens is the first choice for local photographers. The unique architecture takes inspiration from all around the world, with a focus on Bali, Indonesia, and Dubai.

The gardens themselves are perfectly maintained by the owners to ensure a magical experience each and every visit. Whether for engagement, wedding, or senior photos, Hamstra Gardens will deliver.

The gardens are a very unique location, as it is private property. It is free to visit and take photos, but they do require you to schedule an appointment on their website.

Deep River County Park

deep river county park
Deep River County Park – Owen Cooper Photography

Entry Fee – None

Hours – 7:00am – Dusk daily all year round

Highlights – Historic buildings, wedding gazebo, nature trails

Another spot on the list for Hobart, Deep River County Park is my favorite choice for senior photoshoots. Over 1,000 acres, the park is host to a gazebo, historic grist mill, general store, walking trails, bridges, and a creek.

Deep River County Park is open year round, but I will warn you if you plan to visit in the spring: it will be muddy. As long as you pack your rain boots, I think you will be more than pleased taking photos here.

Buckley Homestead County Park

family photography demotte indiana
Buckley Homestead County Park – Owen Cooper Photography

Entry Fee – None

Hours – 7:00am – Dusk daily all year round (Historic building open seasonally)

Highlights – Multiple historic buildings, nature trails, pastures

Down the backroads of the Southeast end of Lowell lies 500+ acre Buckley Homestead County Park. I have personally done more photoshoots at this spot more than anywhere else on the list. It is definitely a fan favorite.

Of all of the spots for photos in Northwest Indiana, this is the first I will recommend. It is free to enter and open year-round, and boasts sprawling pastures, hiking trails, a bridge. Additionally, Buckley has many historic buildings on property including several barns, a log cabin, and an old school-house.

Being a county park, they do periodically host events. Make sure to check their calendar before planning a shoot!

This is a beautiful park that makes beautiful photos.

Go Explore

There are definitely too many great spots for photos in Northwest Indiana to include on just one list. Other than those listed above, the best way to find great photo spots is to get out an explore. Drive down backroads. Use Google Maps to find unique places.

Remember, you don’t always have to drive somewhere to take great photos. Got a few trees in your yard? Work with the angle of shooting to get the best possible backdrop for your photos.

It is not impossible to DIY a great location, just think outside of the box!

Did you favorite spot not make this list? Let me know what your favorite spot is, and I will include it in the next one.


Why pay for photography? [Why iPhone’s don’t cut it]

Everyone has a camera in their pocket. Why pay someone for pictures?

PHOTOGRAPHY: DEMOTTE, IN – In the modern digital age, everyone with a cellphone has a camera capable of shooting brilliantly sharp, colorful photos.

Why should you choose to pay someone for a service you could provide yourself?

Image Quality

At first glance, a photo out of a brand new iPhone 14 Plus and a Canon 80D may seem comparable. It isn’t until you boot up your editing software that the difference is apparent.

Due to the difference in the physical size of the sensor (the physical chip that captures light and converts it to an image), a professional camera when compared to a cellphone of the same generation will always have a higher dynamic range and better low-light performance.

Dynamic range is a measurement of the contrast in colors and contrast between darkness and lightness. This means that the image will have a more gradient transition from the darkest shadows to the lightest highlights.

The professional camera is able to take in much more data from what it sees, thus provides a larger amount of detail in the final image.

Images with more detail can be edited further than those with less. Is there a certain color palette or aesthetic you’re looking to achieve? A professional photographer will make that happen for you.

owen cooper photography demotte indiana
Owen Cooper Photography


Highly detailed photographs print beautifully. Only if they contain the correct color profile. A color profile is a way that technology reads and displays color.

Your computer screen reads color in RGB format, but a printer reads and prints color in CMYK format. This means that photos that are saved for digital viewing must be saved as RGB, and photos sent to print must be saved CMYK.

Failing to make the conversion can result in edited photos looking very muddy and colorless. This conversion is easy in a professional photo editing software such as Adobe Lightroom, which is a paid subscription utility.

owen cooper photography demotte indiana
Owen Cooper Photography

Support a Local Small Business

Doing professional photography in DeMotte has its pros and cons. There seem to be as many photographers as there are residents, and choosing the right photographer can be challenging.

Everyone will recommend someone different, but it is up to you to choose the photographer that is the best fit. Whatever you decide, go with someone local.

A local business is more likely to provide better service and a faster turnaround time.

What Does a Professional Look Like?

Photography is a saturated market for the wrong reasons. Many people buy a camera, switch it into Auto Mode, and start posting on social media that they are booking sessions. This is not what you want.

If you are serious about wanting great quality photos taken, then take your time choosing a professional. Experienced photographers have a nice, clean website, and a social media page that they share their work on.

Professional photographers know exactly what their gear is, and they know how to use it. A fancy expensive camera does not make someone a photographer.

An individual who shoots with an older camera but knows what every setting does is going to give a much better experience than an individual who has the nicest, newest camera and doesn’t know how to use it.

Testing a photographer’s general knowledge by asking them what camera and lens they use is an acceptable way to gain insight.

Be Happy With Your Photos

In the end everyone just wants to be happy with their family photos. There is no worse feeling that paying for a service and anxiously awaiting the final product only to be disappointed.

Now that you know how to find a fantastic photographer, I would love to hear some horror stories. Tell me about your WORST experience with a photographer.


Fall is almost over!

Fall is almost over!

As the year begins to come to a close, so does golden hour. Days are getting shorter and colder, but you still have a little bit of time. Family shoots look turn out beautifully when done in fall golden hour. The rich, vibrant colors of the turning landscape give fall photos a reputation for being the most desirable.

While on location for a couple shoot this past weekend, there were tons of families there getting photos done. Seriously, at least 50 people walking around in groups with their photographer. It was almost surreal to see so many shoots happening all at once. This told me two things: One- families are loving the fall scenery for photos, and Two- time for photos is running out. Don’t let that regret hit when you are receiving holiday cards featuring pretty family photos and you are stuck sending out cards with outdated photos from 2014.