Blog - Carla Coulson
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So You Want To Be A Photographer – Getting Started

Chasing a Dream – Carla Coulson

Morning Lovelies,

Yesterday I gave a brief overview of what is required to succeed as a working photographer. A question I am often asked is ‘How to Get Started as a Photographer ‘. I would like to give some insight into getting your photography show on the road in 2012 through my own personal experience. And boy have I road-tested it!!

When I was at photography school I was enamoured by many diffent types of photography. I adored the reportage style of Henri Cartier-Bresson, I loved the fashion photos of Paolo Roversi and after passing almost a life-time behind a desk I dreamt of travel.

Boy was I confused!! One of the toughest choices starting out is which type of photography to choose. I remained confused for the first couple of years. My first story published in Marie Claire Australia was a travel story on Naples and within a couple of years I was also shooting fashion. It gave me a great chance to have a look at different parts of the photographic industry and it also helped me to decide. If you can decide straight away what field you want to specialise in you are already ahead of the game.

Chasing A Dream – Carla Coulson

Carla’s Tips To Getting Started As A Photographer

1. Educate yourself on photography through schools, universities, courses, workshops and books.
2. Take time in the beginning to experiement with many different types of photography.
3. Form a clear picture of what field of photography you want to start in.
4. Look at 5 professional photographers doing what you would like to do. Look where they are working and for whom. Write a list..
5. See if there is any chance of assisting one of your favourite photographers. A true short cut to seeing how photography works in all senses.
6. Make a business plan. Defining who you are, who your potential clients are and a marketing strategy to get where you want to go. Write a long list of all your potential clients.. Only you can make it happen.
7. Create a a body of work that you can use to sell as your first photographic story if you want to be published or use it as a portfolio.
8. Make a budget for your first year listing costs including rent, cameras, electricity aand what you will need to live on.
9. Have some savings that will get your through the first year of your business or consider working part-time whilst you launch your new career.
10. Believe in your vision, your work and yourself.
11. When you are ready put your business plan into action. I have always had a plan and a list. I have been writing lists almost my whole life. Every morning I write a list and slowly cross things off as I achieve them and add more things to the list. These lists keep me focusesd and staying focused is tough..

12.. Take small steps each day. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. If you have a water tight plan just keep working towards it. YOU WILL GET THERE.

So You Want To Be A Photographer – Overview

Who wouldn’t want to be a photographer?? We get to go to great places, meet incredible people, participate in amazing shoots and work our own hours.. Sounds like the best job in the world.. And most days it is. But what is the reality of working as a photographer?

Any of you thinking of taking the plunge in 2012 here is a little overview of what you need to know to make it as a photographer. I don’t want to freak you out!!

So many people not involved in this industry don’t see what the big deal is about being a photographer. Isn’t it just a couple of clicks here and a couple of clicks there??

Well the answer folks is a giant NO!! Being a full-time working photographer requires hardwork, planning and most of all a burning passion..

Richard Avedon shooting his portrait series In The American West

Here’s Carla’s List of what you need to know to succced as a professional photographer.
1. A Clear Picture of what field of photography you want to do (ie, travel, food, fashion etc)
2. Your own style of photography
3. A Business Plan (yes folks this is a business)
4. Money (to finance all those delicious cameras you want to buy)
5. Camera gear to suit your field of photography and you need to know your stuff
6. Presentation – Your work needs to be visible to the public so you need an online presence of your best work
7. Team Up – A community of people in your field that you can work with and help each other.
(ie I regularly work with journalists, make-up artists, stylists)



8. Work Ethic.. I like to think I have never let any of my clients down in all the years I have been working as a photographer. You are only as good as your last job so do what you have promised.
9. Understand money streams – There are many alternative ways to earn money as a photographer. Including royalties from book sales, photo libraries and agents on-selling your photographic stories.
10. You need to know how to work with your subjects and never lose your cool. You’re the director and you are there to bring out the best in your subject.
11. Photographer’s Agents – To be respresented or not. It is a photographers’s personal choice if they want to be represented. Depends on where you want to go and how you want to live your life.
12. Social Media – Have an online presence it’s vital.
13. Set Backs – Know what to do when things go wrong.
14. Pricing, Paperwork and Model releases.. Uggh the thought of paperwork.. This is a vital part of life as a working photographer. Paperwork covers your back and makes everything clear upfront. PUT IT IN WRITING.
15. Keeping Accounts – As I mentioned in point 3 if you plan to work as a photographer you need to be clear that this is a business as much as a creative art. You need to know how to keep accounts and run a business.

16. Have fun – This is one of the most important things we need to hold onto. We started in this photography thing because we love images. Great images come in fun atmospheres and through people doing what they love.

Always have fun..

Make a Plan


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