Here at The Nutmeg News we work with a variety of photojournalists who gave us their top tips for aspiring photojournalists on starting the journey to being a professional soccer photographer.
#1 Purchase The Most Expensive Camera Possible
You know that you aren't going to make it as a professional with that Canon Elph that you got as a gift for working as a Server Administrator at that COLO for 5 years, so go hog wild.
The more you spend, the better your pictures are going to be. SPEND SPEND SPEND. You better not cheap out on that busted-ass 5D, friendo. If you are going to shoot sports we recommend the Nikon D5. The body will set you back about $6,500.
We can also suggest the Canon EOS 1DX II, but despite it having a faster frames per second rate than the Nikon and likely being a better action camera, it's cheaper by $500 which means it isn't as good and everyone lugging around a Nikon will know that you are just a scrub in this game.
#2 Purchase Every Lens Available For Your Camera
Ok, so you dropped $6,500 on the camera body, right? Well you are only PART way there. You can't show up to a gun fight with an empty gun, right? You need bullets! Your lens for your camera is your ammunition. Hey Man, Nice Shot (Filter reference for you 90s kids)
So yes, start buying zoom lenses, portrait lenses, super telephoto zoom lens, a macro lens, and just about anything else that you might think you need. Remember, you can't have enough of a lens collection. Other photographers are going to judge you if you don't have the right lens for the conditions.
#3 Don't Accept That You Are A Peon
Look, you are a big deal. You spent nearly $15,000 on camera equipment with a bachelors degree in Finance. You need to work and by that we don't mean taking candid shots of supporters in the bleachers (although that is going to happen, see #5) Apply, first and foremost, for press credentials to literally every single soccer and sports event. Expect them to pay you for your work and fly you out there. C'mon guys!
#4 Create A Blog To Get Your Press Credentials
When tip #3 doesn't work, go to tip #4.
Soccer in the Untied States and Canada desperately needs people covering it, and with your blog www.topsoccernewsbyjames.com you will be able to get access to nearly anything even if your monthly coverage is just screenshots of the current results.
#5 Leverage The Fans To Generate Exposure To Your Work
People are incredibly narcissistic. If you want to make a name, start by shooting all your fellow fans who will share your work because they are displayed passionately in those same pictures. Use this to build a following, sell some prints, get a more stable press credential situation and eventually you will be one step closer to raking in the big money.
#6 Stop Shooting The Stands When You Make It On The Field
Professional photographers don't make their money by selling 8x10s of face painted fans. They make their money by catching an action shot from the right angle at the right time. Don't let the professional photographers know that you used to be up in the stands by continuing to shoot the stands when you get to the field. Just because they got you on the field doesn't mean you need to keep taking pictures of them once you get there.
#7 SOCIAL MEDIA -- ALL FORMS -- IMMEDIATELY
Instagram, snapchat, twitter, facebook, myspace, linkedin, reddit, deviant art, google groups, pintrest.... everything. Have an account everywhere. Make certain you are updating it all the time. There's no such thing as having too many photos out on the web.
#8 It's Making A Picture, Not Taking A Picture
See tip #7 and blast this mantra out to everyone. Remember that if you aren't having conversations about making a picture utilizing exposure, grain, noise, and composition that you likely are going to be taking pictures for the annual hayride and not the world cup.
#9 Filter Early, No Filter Late
Remember to use filters, sunbursts, contrast manipulation and photo manipulation early before you phase it out as you become interested in composition (see tip #8). You'll start out editing photos to your faux avant-garde standard with tweaks and do less and less of that as you move on in your career ensuring that you tell everyone about your new minimalist art style of shooting and displaying raw photos.
#10 MAKE THAT MONEY
Remember, you are a photographer, you make money. Go ahead and purchase that Ducati because the dollar bills are going to be rolling in.