The last few days I have been getting a TON of emails from those new in the business! That makes me very happy because I'm very open about helping others and I love to support new photographers. I know there are many "seasoned" photographers who don't encourage newbies...in fact, they constantly blog and then pass along the blog sharing their thoughts on the matter! This has been a huge discouragement to others and I can't help but wonder how they got started...hmmm....did they just pop on the scene being awesome...I doubt it! But...with that said I do want to pass along a little advice and some "Do's and Don'ts" for all you awesome new photogs out there wanting to follow your dreams! This is meant to be as an encouragement and I hope I don't offend anyone, I'm just hoping that I can clear up some "misunderstandings" in the matter and make it possible for those "new" and "old" in the business to get along! :)
First of all remember photography is a skill, it must be practiced. You cannot buy that awesome camera and immediately become a "professional photographer". It takes time, and I feel that you must "work your way up" and to do so, advertise and present yourself in that matter as well. I think that is why alot of photographers are upset with the newer photographer. They worked hard to get to where they are...they invested alot of time and money and then all of the sudden someone picks up a camera and is advertising as a professional photographer...I think it boils down to them feeling like it downplays the hard work they have put into their business, and maybe it's a respect thing...well...here are my thoughts on the matter and this is what I did.
When I received my first camera, I had no plans on becoming a "professional photographer". I started taking pictures for fun of my family but before I knew it I was being asked to take pictures of others! I had no idea what I was doing, I was shooting on auto, having fun but I was far from calling myself a photographer! I took baby steps, I posted my first 6 months of pictures on my personal FB page. I was getting paid for the sessions ($50) but I did not have a name, I did not have a business page, cards or a website...I didn't feel that I was on that level yet...it takes time and I wasn't there!
A few months later, I attended a workshop, learned how to shoot manual mode and started using photoshop. I was feeling more confident in my work and I was crazy busy and booking sessions constantly! As a result, I raised my prices and decided to give my business a name, and I started a fan page on FB, this made me so nervous but I felt I was ready! I made it very clear that I was still in the portfolio building stage but it was time to move forward! OH and something VERY IMPORTANT, I got an EIN number and I PAID my taxes!!! Be legal folks! If you are making $, you are a BUSINESS!
A year into my "practicing", I launched my website and was "officially in business". I finally felt like I had enough pictures in my portfolio to do so. I was charging according to my experience and after shooting hundreds of sessions, I finally felt like I could call myself a "professional photographer". I felt like I had earned it...I had invested time, money, and LOTS of practice, it was time.
I took "baby steps" and I feel that everyone starting out should do the same! Practice first! Put yourself out there, volunteer to help other photographers and attend workshops. I do feel strongly that you should charge for sessions (you are working and your time is valuable) but make it very clear to your clients that you are JUST STARTING OUT and are in the portfolio building stage. I see alot of new photogs using "false advertisement" so to speak and are taking on shoots or weddings before they are ready for them. This is a big "don't" in my opinion, make sure you are ready! Practice, practice, practice! :)
So, with that said, I'm a HUGE supporter of you following your dreams and doing what makes you happy! I'm so glad I did!!! But, let's do respect those who have worked hard! Here are few little tips that will help along the way! :)
1. Build your portfolio and make it clear to your clients that you are just starting out...it's not fair to them and they need to know!
2. Promote your work on FB but respect other photographers in your immediate area, NEVER post your link on their page unless they give you permission, that is not a good business practice at all.
3. Don't compete with others and contact a potential or past client of another photog, remember to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you". You will not build your business this way...it's just not cool.
4. Earn your keep. Practice and be willing to work hard, volunteer to work for others and sometimes you have to forget about yourself and swallow your pride...it's hard, but by working with/for other photographers (most of the time for free) is a great way for you to become a professional yourself! :)
5. Stay humble...it is so wonderful to receive compliments but take them and keep working harder! Don't ever feel like "you have arrived" because when you get to that point...it's not a good place to be! Always keep the attitude of learning and getting better...that is what makes a good photographer!!!
6. Gain inspiration from others but be YOURSELF! Find your own style and embrace it! YOU are YOU and there are NO rules when it come to art! Find what makes you happy and shoot it!
I hope these little tidbits have helped...I know you will see alot of negativity in this business, it's not right but I do feel like sometimes new photographers bring it on themselves. Just practice good business sense and be nice to others...make a difference and that will set you apart! :)
Until next time,