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I didn’t study photography in college although it was my original intention. Like you I started in computing, studying to become an engineer, realized it didn’t interest me and moved on to graphic design. Loving design but still itching with a desire to shoot, I took every photography course offered and when I graduated from college moved to NYC and started assisting. It was then that I started to really learn how to shoot.
If I had to do it all over again, I’d have taken about a years worth of business and marketing courses. It is as crucial as being a good photographer. Then I would have moved to NYC and started assisting, networking and building a portfolio.
Networking with other photo people will land you 2nd assisting jobs and if the photographer likes you, you move up when the 1st moves on. Learning the tech end will up your day rate and gets you in the seat next to art directors. Who you assist is important as well. I did a stint as an intern at one of the super studios. It was unpaid but I met a lot of 1st assistants that got me on their crews working with some pretty big names. 1sts that have a good portfolio have been known to get awarded jobs that their photographers have passed on – it depends on the relationship.
I could go on and on. But anyways, yes, your portfolio is not good, but everyone’s was when they first started out. So if you think it’s something you want to do, but aren’t ready to leave school yet, at least try a photo course or two. I don’t regret staying in school studying something I wasn’t completely in to. I met the love of my life there and I gained invaluable design skills that made me a rockstar tech to art directors and are crucial in advertising.