“First Be a Photographer and Maybe the Profession Will Come After”

Is it your dream to become a professional photographer? Magnum photographer Christopher Anderson says you should focus more on the word “photographer” than the word “professional”:

Forget about the profession of being a photographer. First be a photographer and maybe the profession will come after. Don’t be in a rush to pay your rent with your camera. Jimi Hendrix didn’t decide on the career of professional musician before he learned to play guitar. No, he loved music and created something beautiful and that THEN became a profession. Larry Towell, for instance, was not a “professional” photographer until he was already a “famous” photographer. Make the pictures you feel compelled to make and perhaps that will lead to a career. But if you try to make the career first, you will just make sh*tty pictures that you don’t care about.

IdeasTap has a great two-part series in which Magnum members offer advice for young photographers looking to get into the game. Definitely worth a read.

Magnum: Advice for young photographers | Part 2 (via A Photo Editor)

Image credit: Lens or telescope? by San Diego Shooter

  • Spider- Man


  • Cochese

    I totally agree. I wish more of the people around me would agree. They seem to think to be a photography, you have to be a professional and you have to have all of the latest gear. And then they go and use their iPhone 4 and instagram and call it a day… Gah.

  • Cochese


  • Jamey Price

    my first piece of advice is to not carry your lens like the guy in the photo. Thats a good way to lose 8k worth of gear bc of gravity.

  • Tran-Shawn Yu

    I’ve seen lots of sports photographers carry their cameras mounted with long lenses like that…

  • Anonymous

    weird, all I needed to do to be a professional was to empty my savings on a 1D and the entire line of L series lenses. 

  • Richard

    The quickest way to make money from photography is to sell your camera.

  • Richard

    Actually, many sports and landscape photographers who use mono and tripods carry their gear like this. The key is to make sure everything is attached securely.

  • Anonymous

    What about advice for us not-so-young photographers? ;)

  • Azety Azety

    The Jimi Hendrix example is enough for me. He’s so right.

  • Bill Binns

    It’s funny because it’s true! Im sure B&H has made far more money off photography than Magnum has.