The digital revolution has made amateur photography more popular than ever before. The days of Fuji film and print processing have been replaced with talk of mega-pixels and memory cards. With hundreds of cheap digital cameras on the market, it's possible for anyone with a good eye for photography yet little practical knowledge of the mechanics of cameras, to capture great shots with simple "point and shoot" digital models.
For some, a love of photography can turn into a profession. If you're looking to take your photography to the next level, it's a good idea to first build up a portfolio of work, and then submit your work to the many dedicated photography websites or competitions. There are hundreds of amateur photography forums and websites where members can submit their work for critical appraisal by other members. Such websites also offer advice and tips on photography techniques.
Another way to get recognition and even payment for your photographs is to submit your shots to magazines. Either choose a general photography magazine to do this, or try specialist consumer magazines. For example, if you are a keen skier, submit your ski shots to a winter sports magazine; or if you enjoy fishing, try an angling magazine. Local papers are also a good place to submit photos, as they are often on the lookout for pictures to accompany their stories.
When submitting your photography to magazines, it's important to remember that photography is an extremely competitive field and that you will be up against professionals. Therefore, don't get disheartened if your shots aren't accepted at first - just keep on shooting and continue submitting; in the world of photography, persistence pays.
Amateur photography competitions are another great way of getting your photography seen, and can win you fans, prizes and even commissions or customers. A good idea is to start small; your local photography club will probably hold various contests; also keep an eye out for other competitions that are within your field of expertise. There are hundreds to enter, and they tend to have set themes - covering everything from travel to sports, nature to nautical and portrait to planes.
The 'Million Places on Earth' competition, for example, is offering a top prize of one million dollars for unique location images from anywhere in the world. Other competitions include Embassy Suite Hotels 'Happiness in Motion' competition, which carries an all expenses paid trip to Hawaii as their top prize; while UKplus are also holding an online photography competition with a top prize of £1000 for photographs taken within the UK.
Whether it's for fun, glory, or perhaps a new career path, photography is an extremely rewarding hobby. And you never know - you might just see your picture on the cover of National Geographic one day!