Becoming a professional protographer had been a life long dream of mine. I never pursued it until quite recently. The decision to pursue photography as more than a hobby can be traced back to a single event: The destruction of my N90 in 2005. In 2005 I was with my family at Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, when I slipped and fell. My N90 landed prism-down and was smashed quite severely.
This led me to the decision to replace the N90 with a Nikon F body. In researching whether I should get an F5 or F6, I found Nikonians. Over the course of the next year, I also purchased a Nikon D200 body and attended ANPAT6.
The ANPAT's have been a life changing experience, providing me with mentorship for many fine photographers, including Digital Darrell, our Nikonians Founders, Bo, and JRP, and the Image Doctors, Rick Walker and Jason Odell.
But I think everyone following this blog knows Nikonians is a fabulous resource to gain knowledge. Over the last couple years, I found a few other resources that have helped me learn and make important decisions.
When I officially opened my business, I also joined the Professional Photographers of America. As part of the PPA membership, you also receive their monthly magazine, Professional Photographer. This magazine, and the PPA website, are also a great learning resource, particularly for wedding and portrait photographers.
Learning more about lighting is one of the primary skills I have picked up in the last few years. From the Nikonian's forums I also learned about The Strobist. Digital photography allows for a very rapid curve when playing with multiple lights, umbrellas, lightboxes, and other light modifiers. Nikonians and Strobist gave many good ideas for experiments to try with my herd of Speedlights. There are lots of resources for learning more about lighting, including Mike Hagen's book on the Nikon Creative Lighting System, and Planet Neil's Advanced Flash Techniques.
To learn more about printing, I took a prescription from the Image Doctors. They recommended an online video series available at Michael Reichmann's Luminous Landscape website. Michael, together with Jeff Schewe, have produced a complete and thorough video series, From Camera to Print. This video series provides an excellent tutorial of taking your images from the camera through the printing process, to obtain high quality, fine art prints. Thanks to this series, I can now produce prints equal or better in quality and consistency from my Epson 3800 than most labs.
So in order to reach my goal, I've been learning for years, and continue to look for new resources to improve my photography, and aid me in developing my business. It will be a constant journey.