Sunday, June 26, 2011

Newbie Do's and Don'ts...just a little bit of wisdom from little ole' me!

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 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 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 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'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'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'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 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'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,




  1. Thanks Julie, this is so encouraging!

  2. Wonderfully stated, I think this is some of the best, most straight forward advise given.Thank you! I consider myself a semi-pro since I have done quite a few sessions for friends and family and am getting better with each one. I do not consider myself a professional yet. In fact, I do not even have a website or business cards yet. I do need to step up to the next level and start building on my dream.

  3. Leigh RounsavilleJune 26, 2011 at 6:29 PM

    Yes this information is very true and will help others out even myself alot! Your FAB Julie!!!1

  4. This is very helpful! Thank you! I am at a point that I want to be in business, charge for sessions etc without calling myself a professional, because I know I am not yet! I put 5-10 hours into each session between from driving to a session to delivering the photos, I feel I need to charge for my time at least! But I wondered if it is appropriate to have a website and call my self a "photograher". Notice I didn't say "professional". I have always made sure that anyone that asks me to do pictures has seen my work and knows that I am working toward being a professional. A couple never got back in touch, and totally understandable! I know I could have run into all kinds problems had they expected something completely different and were disatisfied! Thank you for encouraging us newbies! I know I ain't a professional and it gets under my skin when I see someone that still shoots manual and their photos just look like point and shoot snap shops and they call them selves pro so I can only imagine what true professionals feel! Again thank you for taking a moment to share your wisdom!

    I am going to share this on the page I just started "Just Starting Out Photography and Photoshop", I think others will find it encouraging too!

  5. You put what I want to say in the BEST words :) This is so true and I did the same thing by practicing, practicing, and practicing and i agree striving to ALWAYS be better is a must! Thanks for this! I"m going to share it with some people I know that are starting out!

  6. Thank you so much for this! I feel like I am already following most your advice as a newbie, I will keep the rest of it in mind as I move forward. I agree with every word, and appreciate your candidness. :)
    Thanks again for posting this, it was very encouraging and straight forward.
    BTW, Your photos are stunning! Love your stuff!

  7. great article again and I so agree knowledge is meant to be shared. thank you :)

  8. I am going to share this! :)

  9. As a professional photographer, I feel that I will ALWAYS be learning. Therefore charging less for portfolio building did not make sense to me. I want people to hire me because they like my style, and my work. Discounting just hurts you in the long run, once is a while is ok but try using other incentives such as an extra photo sheet or not having a time limit while doing an event. Do not devalue yourself just because you are new and learning!! Your work, your art and your time are just as valuable now than it will be in 20 years. There is no change in how valuable you are, simply because you will always be learning and improving. To me, being a professional is knowing your limits, making those limits clear and doing your best no matter what. If I don't have the the style you are looking for I don't mind helping to find the photographer that is for you.

  10. Thank you for summarizing all of these tips in one spot. I love that you emphasized the value of practice. It's hard to be patient, but it takes a lot of time and practice to develop your skills and your own personal style. I attended your workshop back in February, and that was a great starting point for me. Thank you for being so helpful to others--those like me who are just starting out and seasoned photogs as well.

  11. Thank you so much Julie! Reading this gave me "warm fuzzies"! When I was first staring out I sought another photographer to mentor me because I really admired her work. She was so mean and hateful that I nearly put my camera down and walked away from pursuing my passion. I'm so grateful for photographers like you who really want to help newbies and yet maintains the proper respect for those who have worked so hard at their art! Thank you! I hope you have years and years of capturing beautiful moments for your clients!

  12. This is awesome!

  13. Thank you so much for your words of wisdom, I really appreciate you sharing your knowledge. :)
    A newbie to the 'art'.

  14. I loved this article. I started out a couple months back and still working hard. Hoping to maybe someday even come close to some of you guys...

  15. Newbie or not, I think your work is what people will look at and choose you before another. If somebody has really good work when they start, then thumbs up. Clients have to take the fall if their photos do not turn out by knowing they did not do their homework up front. Clients picking a "bad" photographer will make them pick a good one next time. It is all by word of mouth both ways. A "bad" photographer will be out of business fairly quickly if I understand things correctly.

    Still, I think this article was great.

  16. Thanks Julie. I've been taking pictures for a little while, but just in the last 6 months, been advertising more and getting more "non family" clients :). I know I am in more of the portfolio building than professional stage, but am taking strides towards that on a consistent basis. I appreciate you writing this, and all you do. Thanks!

  17. This is amazing! I am now two years into this "officially part time", and got myself a business name- after several previous years just doing it for friends and family for a few bucks or as a gift to someone who otherwise wouldn't have had a wedding photographer. I always told brides/grooms how new I was, and I kept in close contact with my good friends who were seasoned professionals (and even referred a couple of clients there way when I knew I wasn't up to what they wanted) Even now I always speak highly of the professionals who inspired and encouraged me. Just this last few months, my work has reached a level where I feel I can start really calling myself 'a professional photographer'- but even at that I am still learning and have a long way to go. I've registered for a workshop with an amazing photographer I follow on fb, and I can't wait to learn more.... thanks for posting this article! I love it.
    (oh, and for posting links on other photog blogs...this one asks for an account or a URL... so I gave my website as I don't have the other see, now you've made me self-conscious)

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  19. Well put. Thank you. I've been in business for less than a year (and will offically be paying my 2011 taxes!), but I have clearly posted on my website that I am, "up and coming photographer." Most clients are just thrilled at the thought of having a picture or two used in my portfolio. I don't hide my past - I'm pretty upfront with it.
    On the flip side - I have been shunned so much by other photographers, even some that are not in my 'area.' It's been so discouraging. They've been so unwilling to answer 'newbie' questions, they were all there once too, right? I always hope and pray that I'm not stepping on anyones toes or doing anything that would be considered, "not cool." I'd honestly hope someone would tell me if I was.
    I'm always learning and will always continue to learn. Maybe one day I'll consider myself (or another photog will) a professional too.

  20. Thank you so much for the refreshing take on newbies. I am a hobbyist and nothing more. I practice taking pics of my nieces and nephews. I've been asked to take others' pics. I always steer them toward a professional in the area. I have no plans to do this for a living at this time. I've had pros in my home area downgrade me. But I've also met pros who are more than willing to "mentor" us newbies. It's great to know you and others like you are out there!:)

  21. Thank you for the tips I have had my new camera a d90 for almost a year and I like you just wanted to do it as a hobby but have been getting a lot of questions about sessions So I have asked other more seasoned photographers for advice and very few will answer the questions so thank you for this advice

  22. I totally agree with what you are saying, it's a responsibility (to take client's pictures) and it's important to explain what to expect from you.

  23. Thank you for this. I am not the kind of person who is a jump in there and trample toes. I am just the opposite but I am dedicated to this dream now. My baby step was deciding to purchase my first DSLR camera last fall. I have taken pictures almost everyday since the wonderful UPS man arrived at my door with my camera. I post on my personal FB page and have had friends ask me to take photos of them. It started there. I haven't been able to as of yet due to the winter yucky weather. Up until tonight I had no idea how to start this dream rolling. Now I do. Thank you for that. Now for the courage to do so. =)

  24. I do have to say that was well put!! I myself am still learning and don't consider myself professional... I make that clear everytime some one wants a session with me! I can relate to your start off very well! alot of people don't realize all the work and time that gets put into the art that we do! but it is all worth it in the end when you see the faces of the clients when they see the finished product! Thank you reading this gives a lil encouragement and makes me realize I am not alone!

  25. I found your site through the grapevine, beginning with the 'be nice' project and wanting more to understand what it was about. All in all, 'be nice' fits in every aspect of life :) but it's so good to have the support of fellow artists.

    I've read this post and completely agree with most of what you've shared. I began my 'name' long before I put it out there into the local world, through blogging. Shooting with a simple camera {Canon Powershot SX110IS} manually for a couple of years, people would want me to do their portraits. I couldn't, just couldn't with a camera like that. They didn't understand that I would have felt like such a fake carrying around a little pocket camera for portraits. I worked my way up, purchasing the next step but not buying the DSLR {MISTAKE} - I hated that thing. Another Powershot but with the ability for bells and whistles - a great zoom but the manual abilities made me nutty. I needed more.

    Still, I wasn't out there locally.

    I purchased my DSLR and got acquainted. Shortly after, people were pushing again...get noticed.

    I began in October 2010, very slowly...not 'advertising' but by word of mouth. I've been on the internet world sharing my photography for YEARS, mostly through blogging and such.

    It's really difficult for me, personally, to put a price tag on this!! I see what others charge and it scares me to think of ever being there. I began at $50 also, like you....{honest with taxes and such - can't stand that part of business}. My biggest struggle is the money.

  26. Well said and thank you so much for sharing your advise...
    I am one of the "new ones" on the scene (in Ireland) and I started exactly as you did. After years of snapping everything and anything, upgrading to better cameras and even getting studio equipment I am still learning. I am doing a course at the moment and only recently started using manual (!!) on the camera. I am aware of mistakes I make but don't always know how to change them. My Photoshop CS5 is brilliant, but can't always fix those.

    Fiends and family kept on telling me to go and do it professional, but I didn't feel confident enough. Only recently I created my facebook page to clear out my private one and to promote myself. I am still not sure how much to charge people that's why I hardly earn with my shootings yet, even offer free sessions to build up my portfolio and being confident enough to charge more.
    Photography is my passion and I love working with children. I don't do it for the money!!!
    It will probably take another few years till I'll be able to call myself professional. Photography is an art and you can't just copy and paste other professional photographers knowledge. But you can learn of them that's why I am greatful for people like you sharing your pictures, tips and tricks and treasure all your advise to grow with my camera to a higher standard.

    Thank you from a big fan of yours