There are two aspects to being a professional photographer and you need both to be successful: the photography and the ability to run a business. Matt Ebenezer is skilled at both, but he argues our profession needs more practical teachers and fewer 'rock stars' to lead the way.
"Being a great photographer doesn't necessarily mean you're a great teacher. And similarly, attending a seminar doesn't mean you're going to discover the secret to success. Everyone wants a short cut or a magic bullet, but business doesn't usually work this way."
Matt explains that it's not hard to have a business that grows strongly in the first couple of years, essentially because you're starting from a zero base. However, after two or three years, growing the business or just maintaining it so you can earn a living is much more challenging. The photographers who have been around for five or more years are the ones the procession should be looking to for guidance.
"The internet is full of advice. Every second photographer has a blog, offers a newsletter and is running workshops. There's probably too much information and so it's overwhelming for a new photographer to know who to trust."
One solution is to join an organisation like the AIPP as generally the people invited to present have been checked out beforehand. The other is to look at the track record of the people who are providing the information.
"If you want to learn, then workshops and seminars are great, but you shouldn't sign up for someone who claims to have made $1 million in their first year. Sure, a claim like this will get bums on seats for the presenter, but what you really want to know is how someone managed to stay in business for 20 years.
"Some people criticise me for suggesting that everyone has the potential to be a successful photographer. They say I'm selling a dream that not everyone can achieve, but I think the point is that everyone has the potential.
"Not everyone will achieve financial success, but everyone has the potential. I'm certainly very grateful to the people in my life who encouraged me to dream. Katie and I started our business with a dream, then we set out to gain the skills and knowledge needed to make it a reality. But it didn't happen overnight."
Matt and Katie Ebenezer have operated multiple successful wedding, portrait and video businesses over the past seven years. They offer popular business workshops so visit their blog for more details - www.mattandkatieblog.com.au