Turning Passion for Photography Full-Time: What Nobody's Talking About

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The desire to make a living out of what brings you the greatest joy is a desire many people share. And the internet is full of articles about this. However, turning your passion into a full-time gig is not as easy as you may think. And it’s also not as cool as what the internet says. We spoke to bike messenger and part-time photographer Michele Cernigoi about this to know about the pretty and not-so-pretty parts of turning your passion to a career.

Written By: Tammy Danan

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An image without an alt, whoops

What is it about photography that draws you in?

It started when I was young, around 10 or 12 years old when I used to travel with my family. My father was taking photos with a film camera and there he taught me a few things about photography. Few years later, I started to be more interested to learn about photography. I think it’s safe to say I aim to take the most beautiful and iconic landscape around the world.

What do you think is the most important thing about photography? That thing new photographers should keep in mind?

First is to just have fun. Regardless if you doing for passion, hobby or for career, if you force yourself doing something which you don't like you will never take great shots. After that, for me is all about technique and create your own style. Photography is very personal and every photographer puts something of himself in their shots.

Can you share more about your transition from simply taking photos to photographing for influencers and actually doing it as a job?

Everything started when a couple of people saw my photos and told me I have a good eye for taking pictures. After that, I start to push myself to take better photos and show my portfolio and my skills. My career as a photographer really began during a trip in 2016. I was in Lapland during a trip organized by an Italian influencer. This guy saw my pictures and he was impressed because I was also able to explain to others how to take better pictures in those situations. After that trip, we kept in touch and a few months later we travel again to Jordan and his travel company asked me if I would like to take photos for them. They offered to pay me for it and from there, I slowly turned photography from a passion to a proper job.

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An image without an alt, whoops
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What’s the best thing about having your passion as a paying gig too?

The mere idea of having the chance to do what I like as a job. It’s less hard and more enjoyable even when something annoying happens. Also, it’s amazing to show all the passion you put on the work you’re doing.

What are the struggles you’ve experienced when bagging that paid gig?

In the beginning, it’s not easy because a lot of people try to get you for free because they think it’s just a couple of photos. Over this struggle, the only way is to explain how much job is entailed to have a nice set of photos and a professional portfolio to show.

Do you think turning your passion into a paying career has cons too?

Perhaps the first con that comes in mind is about to start to be tired of being behind the camera, taking pictures. Sure, it’s an easier job because it’s also a passion but sometimes you get tired of spending so much time behind a camera and then editing. Also, there’s a tendency you get less creative and it feels repetitive.

Another one is the client… sometimes I will find that a customer who doesn’t want to listen and you have to do what he says, which is how it should be, but sometimes you can have better ideas of how that particular photoshoot could be done.

Any advice for photographers struggling to bag their first paid gig?

Keep trying and don’t give up. In the beginning, I did a few jobs for free or asking a small amount of money. It starts small. This will help you be more prepared for the next one and for a perhaps bigger gig. Also, have more stuff and put it on your portfolio. The more jobs you get, the more confident you will become to ask a higher pay.

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Happy Shooting!