While talking to an illustration student, the topic of“the business of art” came up. It’s been hardest lesson I’ve had to learn and I’m still learning about it everyday. Unlike any other business this industry is very rough and has a learning curve that I’d argue very few could handle for many years before they see the pay off whatever that may be to them.
My take on one aspect of what makes the business of art so very hard learn, you have a lot of things to focus on at once to get the job done then you still have photography to deal with.
One of the early mistakes I made consistently was I would give away my skill set in the hopes to “get the next job”. NEVER give your skills away for free! It hurts other photographers in your area, makes you look stupid, and it’s not a sustainable business model. If you continue down this path you’ll be done for good.
The best phrase that you can learn to combat people stealing from you “Nope. It’s not going to happen. It’s nothing personal, it’s business.” This is obliviously easier said then done, but with practice it gets easier.
It took me a long time to learn this simple idea and I hope that you can use it earlier than I did to help you with your future pursuit has a professional photographer. Good Luck!