Starting Out As A Photographer – Overview
I know so many of you would love to work as a photographer and I often receive questions about starting out. So I thought a brief overview of what’s involved in working as a photographer.
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?
For any of you thinking of taking the plunge here is a little overview of some of the things that may help you start out as a photographer. Don’t be freaked 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??
I often have people say “I would like to do a shoot for just an hour”. Well the truth is 99,9 percent of things in photography take a whole lot more than an hour including (just packing your gear and getting to the job) all the post processing and unless you work in photographer it’s difficult to get a grasp on all the time and effort photographers put in to be able to get that shot over and over again.
Being a full-time working photographer requires hardwork, planning and most of all a burning passion..
Here’s my list of some of the things you need to know if you are starting a career as a professional photographer.
A Clear Picture of what field of photography you want to do (ie, travel, food, fashion, wedding, portraiture etc) If you start with a clear idea you can focus your energy on working in that field, marketing and contacting the right people and not losing your energy trying to cross over many different fields.
Your own style of photography. Having a unique look in photography and your own eye is what will differentiate you from others. Don’t be frightened to be different or take the photos that are burning deep down inside this is the key to the kingdom.
A Business Plan (yes folks this is a business). This is probably the most important point that new photographers overlook. They love taking pictures and being creative but to keep doing that you need clients. And knowing who they are, how you will find them and communicate with them is vital.
Money Though on the outside it seems as though you can get into photography without spending a fortune you still need to consider all the equipment other than cameras you will need to buy, such as computers, back up systems, money to live on in the first years when you are getting established, setting up a website, paying an accountant and all the other important things that need to be taken care of.
Camera gear to suit your field of photography. Each type of photography requires different equipment. You can save yourself a fortune by choosing the right camera gear for the style of photograph you want to do, that’s where the focus and being clear from the start will help you. Being a professional photographer and offering your services to clients means that you need to be able to produce over and over again the images in your portfolio. Everybody can take a great photo once but being able to do this over and over again is what will differentiate you from an amateur. Don’t be afraid to do courses, workshops and specialisations and hone your craft before putting yourself under the pressure as a working photographer.
Portfolio and Presentation – You need a red hot portfolio and your work needs to be visible to the public in an online presence of your best work. I am often contacted by young photographers looking for assisting work and often they don’t have an online portfolio where I can see their work. This is our language and it is the language of photography so without this you haven’t got to first base.
Team Up – Find your tribe! Form 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)
Work Ethic.. Do the right thing. Your work ethic will get you jobs over and over again. You are only as good as your last job so do what you have promised.
Money streams – There are many alternative ways to earn money as a photographer. As the world of technology, publishing and photography continue to evolve and move quickly there are many ways as well as offering your photographic services to supplement your income including royalties from book or print sales, photo libraries and agents on-selling your photographic stories.
Photographer’s Agents – To be respresented or not? It is a photographers’s personal choice if they want to be represented by an agent and particularly important if you want to eventually access high end advertising clients. Depends on where you want to go and how you want to live your life, you will need a polished portfolio.
Social Media – Marketing your work is of great importance to a photographer. Social media gives you access to the world, having an online presence is vital. Start with one social media such as Facebook or Instagram if you feel it’s too overwhelming.
Set Backs – If you know from the beginning that there will always be humps in the road. What’s important is how to handle them, to turn a negative into a positive.
Pricing, Paperwork and Model releases.. Uggh the thought of paperwork.Who would have ever thought that there would be so much to think about as a photographer. This is a vital part of life as a working photographer. Paperwork covers your back and makes everything clear upfront. PUT IT IN WRITING.
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.
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. Never stop taking the pictures that come from your heart.
I hope this helps you with some things to think about so when you start it will be clear sailing..
If you have a question please leave it in the comments section and I will do my best to answer it.
You may enjoy this interview with fashion photographer Mario Testino on how he got started
“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever. it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.” Aaron Siskind
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