ADVICE ON BECOMING A PHOTOGRAPHER

When I first started out in photography, there weren't really any photographers willing to hand out any advice. I don't blame them, photography has some stiff competition, especially now. However, I know what it's like to just be starting out and not have a damn clue as to what to do next. I've received a lot of questions over the years about photography and I decided to acknowledge them in this blog post.

Not only am I posting answers to questions but also advice on subjects that are important and never asked.


1. KNOW YOUR MARKET
What do you love to photograph? What are you great at photographing? A lot of problems beginners and hobbyists have is that they try to be great at photographing everything, from landscapes to models. Or they try to be great at what they think they should be great at. For example, if wedding photography becomes the new fad it doesn't mean you have to jump on the band wagon too. Know what you're good at and what fuels your creativity and put your energy towards it.


2. DON'T EXPECT TO BE AN AMAZING PHOTOGRAPHER OVERNIGHT
So you've got yourself a DSLR camera, this means your images are going to be amazing. Wrong. The camera has all the capabilities of taking a great photo, but it's the person using it that really creates it. Take the time to learn and build confidence. Don't discourage yourself, keep practicing and learn from those trial and errors.

After years behind the camera, I'm still learning new things. That's the thing with photography, there's always something to learn and new to try.



3. JOIN AN ONLINE PHOTOGRAPHY FORUM
An online photography forum is a great place to have strangers honestly (and sometimes brutally) critique your work and possibly give you pointers. Posting your images on Facebook is fun, but let's get real, everyone on there is a friend or family member. If your image sucks, no one will be honest with you.


4. PHOTOGRAPHY SCHOOL, CLASSES AND APPRENTICING 
With books, YouTube and Google, learning is at our finger tips and easily accessible. I'm a self-taught photographer, but that doesn't mean I'm against going to school or taking classes. It is completely up to the individual and how they prefer to learn.

If you do attend school or classes, keep in mind that in the end of it all, this does not certify you as a professional photographer. You may know the technicalities of the camera but you've got no real experience under your belt. Sorry, those images you took of your niece don't count. No one wants to pay a photographer who doesn't have proper experience or a portfolio. Assist local photographers and start doing some small jobs for free in order to gain on-set experience. You will be building your portfolio and gaining contacts/clients as you go along.

Apprenticing is a great way to get hands-on experience. Research photographers who's work you admire and contact them asking if they would apprentice you or if you can assist them on set of a photo shoot. If they decline, that's alright, ask another!


5. GETTING YOUR NAME OUT THERE
It's extremely easy these days to get your work out to the public. First of all, we all know nothing beats good old word-of-mouth advertising! The more clients you work with the more people will know you and recommend you to others. Just starting out? Photograph family and friends! They'd be more than happy to get your work out there. It also helps to have your business name or logo on web-sized images that are viewed on sites like Facebook.

The next best thing is having a Facebook Page. The great thing about Facebook Pages are that they are interactive with clients and potential clients, every time you have an update all of your followers will see it, it's extremely easy to use and upload images and best of all.. it's FREE. Almost everyone has Facebook, so it's a great marketing tool.

It's also important to update your Facebook Page to keep your audience engaged. I learned this hard way by not touching mine for months! This led to people leaving the Page and even sending me emails asking if I'm still a photographer!



6. THE PORTFOLIO
Portfolio's will differ depending on what market you are in. However, all portfolio's should contain your best images. Don't use too many images of the same subject. The beginning and end of your portfolio should showcase your strongest work.




7. GETTING PAID
Do you have a portfolio showing your range as a photographer? Have you done enough work to call it experience? Do you have people who are willing to pay you?  If the answer to all of those is yes, start charging for your time.  However, don't think you should be getting paid the same amount as the photographer who has been at this for years. Google other photographers who are at your caliber (be realistic) and see how much they are charging. This will give you a good idea of where you should start.

Keep in mind that photographers are becoming a dime a dozen these days, so you may have to aim your prices a little lower than expected at first.

Again, depending on your market, you may want to try signing with an agency after you've built up a bit of a client list.


8. BUSINESS NAME AND BUSINESS LICENSE
Depending on your market, you may not even need a business name, your legal name is just fine. However, many photographers in portrait photography like having a business name. When you find your business name, make sure no one is already using it and that you absolutely love it. It would suck if you ended up hating it after you've branded yourself under that name.

Now that you want to start being paid it's time to get your business license. These are pretty easy to obtain and allow you to legally be paid for your business. If you have a personal studio or you're working from home, make sure your location allows this type of business to be conducted.


9. DIGITAL IMAGES VS PRINT
Every photographer offers different packages to their clients. This also depends on your market. Offer what you feel is fair and comfortable for you and what you are being paid. Google other photographers in your market and in your caliber (again, be realistic) to give you an idea.


10. PATIENCE
Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to learn and grow as a photographer. If you haven't gotten to the caliber you expected, keep trying! Everything in life takes effort and your passion for photography is no exception. Don't compare your work to the work of others, compare it to your own previous work and watch how you're improving. Click here for a previous post I made on growing as a photographer.



Any questions? Feel free to send me an email here.

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