I am pretty sure that the dream of every photographer is to become a top one. To be published. To be acknowledged. To live for photography.
But actually, how you can become a top photographer?Shooting!
Nope. Obviously you have to shoot photos, but that's the same for millions of photographers
Shooting, but better!
Nope. Obviously you have to improve your technique, but that wouldn't be enough. Technically perfect photos may be ignored more than sunset ones!
Nope. You should know how to edit your photo, remove some defects and improve details. Your photos will improve in quality and in "likes", if this is what are you searching for. But I doubt it. Having more likes is different to be a top. Way different.
I think that to be a top photographer, at first, you should understand which is your path, which story you want to tell, if really want to live for photography. It's a risky path, dedicating every day to understand and improve, risking to fall, risking to shoot just at weddings (Nothing against, it's a great job, funny and full of energy, but shouldn't be a second choice to get money ).
First. Which is your style?Street, fashion, landscape, whatever you like to shoot, you must develop your way to master this style. Looking at your photos, people should recognize that are made by you.
Second. Do you know other photographers mastering this style?A network is essential. Photographers look like alone figures, but nobody goes really far, without help. Start frequenting professional workshops, real classes where you can meet other photographers, take a coffee with them, talk, show your style, discuss how-to's and understand better the path you should follow.
Third. Be courageous.Invest. Time. Money. Energy. You need to improve your cv, with exhibitions, won contests, publish photos. Till your name will be well-known.
Last. Be prepared to critiques.Not everybody will like your work, but receiving critiques is not failing.
I think it could be interesting to read about famous photographers careers, to understand better what to expect: For example, from Sebastião Salgado biography:
Salgado was born on February 8, 1944 in Aimorés (...) Salgado initially trained as an economist (...) He chose to abandon a career as an economist and switched to photography in 1973 (From Wikipedia)
Basically he was an economist and when he was 29 he decided that photography is a way better way to deal with world problems!
Is never too late.
How did he switch? He was traveling a lot, he saw what real-world problems are, he decided to show it to everybody.
To be continued