First thing you need to know:
"Everyone thinks they're a photographer these days".
So how exactly do you separate yourself in a field that is becoming increasingly saturated with amateurs and freelancers? Well, there isn't really one specific thing to do or learn. It's the intangibles. Shooting is something you're born with. Sure, you can learn the basics, proper technique, composition, etc. But does that make you great?
I sat down with a professional cameraman. He gave me the skinny. And some tips for those looking to seriously get into the field of professional picture-taking. Here's the big three:
1. Don't take yourself seriously. Like I previously mentioned, everybody has a camera. And everyone thinks they know what they're doing. The most important thing you can do is shut up and listen. Learn as much as you can. Get the basics down, know the essentials behind lighting, composition, and subjects. Become a sponge and soak up everything you can. Just don't get ahead of yourself and get cocky.
2. It's not all about the equipment. Sure, a nice camera will leave you with some quality shots. But any geek on the street can put enough money towards a DSLR to make themselves think they're a "pro". Start off small, and within your budget. If you have the talent, it will shine through with a $300 camera or a $3000 setup. Be a photographer, not a guy with an expensive camera.
3. Be willing to take risks, and break the rules. Sometimes you'll need to get out of your comfort zone to get a shot. Perhaps a bit of trespassing? Think about it, There are a billion pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge, so how will yours be different? Angle? Exposure? Get creative and bring something new to the world, something they haven't seen before. Of course, you don't want to break the law, but don't feel held back. Get out there and get wild.