Book Review - GOINGPRO: How to Make the Leap from Aspiring to Professional Photographer

Scott Bourne and Skip Cohen have put together an interesting twist on the theme of simple improvement, and that is, "What should I be doing if I want to be a professional photographer?"  Their book, GOINGPRO: How to Make the Leap from Aspiring to Professional Photographer, published by Amphoto Books 2011, is divided into chapters that seem to move from the basics of photography to the more involved marketing aspects of photography, specifically social media.

GOINGPRO: How to Make the Leap from Aspiring to Professional Photographer by Scott Bourne and Skip Cohen

One great thing about this book is its visual appeal.  It jumps off the bookshelf with its high gloss finish and colorful imagery.  The pages are thick and glossy, highlighting some great photography from the writers as well as Chase Jarvis, Vincent Laforet, and Nicole Wolf.   I think what this does visually, and possibly subconsciously, is show the reader: "Does your photography look as good as this?"  If the reader/photographer can answer in the affirmative, then perhaps the whole endeavor of "going pro" is worth it in the near future, and the photographer can move forward.  One of the most difficult aspects of moving to the professional level, however, is being able to recognize when one’s photographs are perhaps not of the highest quality.  For this, the intense, professional-level of photography in the book is both inspiring to the amateur and also a harsh measuring stick.

On another note, the book offers helpful advice on social media, even for the amateur or professional who simply don’t know much about a blog, Facebook, or Twitter.  I definitely learned a few aspects of Twitter that were not obvious when using this important area of social media for one’s business.  I suggest reading this book as a primer for social media for amateurs, advanced amateurs, or professionals who still feel behind when it comes to the Internet and the myriad of advertising possibilities.

For the truly serious advanced amateur who is spending a lot of time researching the specific aspects of his or her chosen specialty in photography, this book is not the most useful.  The first few chapters will seem oversimplified for the active professional, as they concentrate on telling the photographer about the many specialties that exist without giving much detail into each specialty.   This photographer needs much more specific advice on, say, how to market to advertising agencies for commercial or editorial photography, and what are the different ways to do this.  In contrast, the wedding photographer or portrait photographer will want much different advice on scheduling, accounting, and advertising.  I felt that by trying to write the GOINGPRO book for all specialties, the book is more geared for the amateur who is just starting to ask the question: "Is photography something I could do full-time?"  For these photographers, the book will start to answer many questions they may have about the professional field and will definitely give them some ideas for continuing their education and their shooting. In addition, there are many, many morsels of information scattered throughout the chapters.

Bottom LineGOINGPRO: How to Make the Leap from Aspiring to Professional Photographer is a great read for amateurs and some advanced amateurs who wonder about what it takes to be a professional photographer and any photographer who wants a primer about social media.  The book is not ideal for those who are advanced amateurs seeking professional advice for a specific specialty and who have already researched their field somewhat.  Overall:  Easy read with great images on a rich, glossy paper. It's always good to see more great work and what other people are doing for marketing.