How Does Beginning a Career in Photography in Your Early 20s Differ From Starting at a Later Age?

Sarah Murphy


Photography Business Institute
Photography Business Institute

There’s no wrong time to follow your dream. But while starting a new career at a later age isn’t bad, it might come with some differences. Some fellow creatives have shared their thoughts and comparisons on starting a photography career earlier or later. Their insights are below.

Sarah Murphy

Sarah Murphy

Founder and Creator of .

Maximize Opportunities

In your early adult years, you have a tremendous amount of energy, curiosity, and willingness to take risks that can help propel you forward as an up-and-coming photographer. There’s a fearlessness about putting yourself out there and trying new creative avenues that perhaps come less easily with age and responsibility.

I was free of commitments holding me back from extensive travel throughout North Carolina on photography adventures. Living out of a rugged van with my gear allowed immersing myself fully in remote landscapes without constraints. That raw exposure to diverse environments truly informed my artistic style in those formative years.

Of course, beginning a career so young meant much to learn from mistakes without a safety net. Building a portfolio and client base from scratch requires resilience through inevitable rejections and setbacks. However, it also meant several decades ahead to hone my craft through practice and make a name for myself professionally.

Now approaching my late 30s, I can say beginning as early as possible allows maximizing every opportunity that comes my way without overthinking risks. Starting later may provide certain benefits of life experience and financing, though; it depends highly on individual circumstances. The most important thing is following your passion, whatever age that may be!

Energy, Experimentation, and Enthusiasm

Young photographers may have more energy and enthusiasm to put into their work and may have time to experiment with various techniques and styles. On the other hand, they may lack experience and have to work harder to establish themselves in the industry.

Starting later in life, however, can bring a valuable perspective and life experience to a photographer’s work. Older photographers may also have a more established network and clients from previous careers. Regardless of age, pursuing a photography career requires dedication, hard work, and a willingness to learn and grow in the field continuously.

Jared Floyd

Jared Floyd

Executive Producer of .

Sarah Mills

More Time for Growth

I believe there are far more benefits to starting a photography career in your early 20s than starting later in life. The earlier you start, the more time you have for growth in knowledge of your equipment, experience in running a small business, and networking with others to further understand the photography industry.

Photography equipment is ever-changing and advancing, so mastering the gear that you own will only benefit you, taking even better images. If you know your gear, the session will also be less stressful and your client will feel more comfortable as you guide them. Trends are also another reason to continuously learn your gear and teach yourself more ways to use them.

The photography industry may differ for you based on where you live or the type of photography your business offers. Networking with other photographers is a great idea to learn from each other, sharing what has and hasn’t worked for you with client experience. It’s always better to choose community over competition in the creative industry.

Being a professional photographer does allow flexibility, choosing your schedule and the pace at which you work. Starting in your early 20s would be a great way to set yourself up for this in the future if that is not your current way of living.

This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors' statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.

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