Some advice I recently gave to an emailer that may be helpful to any of you out there hoping to one day make the jump from a day job to full-time photo.
"Sounds like you’re right where I was at 22—congrats for figuring out a day job that gives you a bit of a balance of what you like and what pays! My best suggestions are to find ways to take as much advantage of your current situation as possible—learn everything you can from your colleagues, soak in all of the knowledge you can about building a business, doing marketing, everything. Ask questions and treat everyone around you like a mentor. At the same time, take advantage of whatever free time you have (be it evenings or weekends) to develop your photo skillz and vision. Start thinking about the kinds of things you’d like to shoot if you were to go independent down the road, and start spending time networking in that community. Interested in food photography? Go figure out how to attend foodie events and bond with restaurant owners/food community movers and shakers. Interested in tech photography? Start networking in the tech scene, and so on. It sounds like you’re already networking in the music scene, which is awesome. From there, I’d begin to focus your attention on how to start networking, online or otherwise, with folks that work for Pitchfork, Billboard, Rolling Stone, that sort of thing. Start building relationships now so you’ll be ready to use ‘em a few years from now. Friends and colleagues will eventually become your clients."