The Many Hats of the Pro Photographer

Once upon a time, I had romantic ideas of what it meant to be professional photographer. In my mind it was chic, sexy, and exciting. I was always working on some big project, with awesome people, making beautiful images. 

What I didn’t realize was that there is a lot (and I mean A LOT) more to being a professional photographer than meets the eye. It’s not just about the fun photo shoots, it’s also about running a business. It never occurred to me that I would have to learn how to be good at so many different things to succeed.

The way I see it, there are 4 main “hats” that the professional photographer must wear to be successful. They are: 

1. The Entrepreneur

With this hat on, we see the bigger picture of what our dream job entails. We’re inspired by the vision and have the drive to make it happen.

2. The Manager 

This hat covers all the details involved in making our vision come true. It includes the scheduling, the bookkeeping, the invoicing, the workflow management, etc. etc. etc. Think of it as the Day to Day management. 

3. The Employee

As the employee, we are responsible for getting sh*t done. We are the editors, the retouchers, the order fulfillment and packaging team, and the marketers. All of it! (sheesh! i’m tired just thinking about this hat!)

4. The Photographer

This is the creative hat we wear. With this hat we are the art makers and must stay inspired with new visions, ideas, and techniques so that people want to come to us in the first place.


When you stack them all up, thats a lot of hats for one person to wear!

According to Dane Sanders in his book Fast Track Photographer: In the 1st year, 60% of photographers give up their business. Of that remaining 40%, another 25% will fail within the 2nd year. The ones that make it are the remaining 15% who endure through the 3rd year.

Those aren’t very good statistics people! It’s very hard to wear all the hats well, but wear the well we must!

I’d like to share with you a few of the “fashion accessory” hats I’ve picked up along the way that have helped me get where I am today. This hats aren’t essential like the hats above are, but they sure make life easier when you try making them part of your wardrobe. 

1. The Adventurer

Mindset plays a big role with this hat on. It’s all about having a “no problem” attitude. No job seems out of reach when you have so many resources at your fingertips (thank you internet!). It’s all about believing you can do it and then making it happen. The formula goes something like this:

Talent + Mindset + Tools = Success

2. The Delegator

Knowing when to outsource and ease the burden of all the other hats is essential to making it as a pro photographer. This one can be particularly challenging because it can be hard to let go! But let go we must if we want to take it to the next level. 

3) The Gamer 

This is my favorite hat. To be successful we undoubtably have to be serious about what we’re trying to do. But what fun is being so serious all the time? Why not be seriously playful instead? In other words, play the game seriously, while having fun along the way! If something isn’t working - pivot and find another angle. Think of it like a game. Where there’s a will, theres a way!

I hope these hats come in handy! I personally believe they're going to look great on you!

Love, Meghan Doll 


Meghan Doll