A Stupendous Mystery for You!
So, you're an amateur photographer of some level. You have a camera you love taking pictures and that inevitable question starts running through your head. Should I be a professional photographer?
Well, at least not until you have heard my advice. Let's just jump right in this.
Know The Basics
This has to be stated. When I'm out and about talking it up with different photographers or visiting the various photography forums this is a common issue that I see with people wanting to take that next step into the pro's.
When I say "The Basics" that's exactly what I mean. I've seen and read about photographers actually booking weddings and asking which camera mode they should be shooting in. If you have to ask me or any other photographer or google, if you should shoot in auto mode or not then you're not ready to be a professional photographer.
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You have to know the exposure triangle and you have to know your lighting. I'm not one of the photographers that will try to put you into this box that I think every photographer should live inside of but c'mon. You have to at least KNOW how to shoot in manual and know how to do it very well. You have to know how to change settings on the fly as you go from outdoors to indoors, day to night and all the other challenges that you'll come up against when you're out in the field.
I shoot in manual when doing studio work or when I know my subject is going to be still and that gives me complete control on how I want my image and composition to be. But, I do throw it in aperture priority in a pinch and when I know things will be fast moving with changes in lighting etc. I have done weddings in aperture priority. The point is, do what works for you and what you like BUT, you have to know the basics.
Know Your Gear
Falling right in line with knowing the basics is to know your gear!
This really goes hand in hand with knowing the basics of photography. As a photographer you'll have to live on your feet. Quick thinking, adapting and fast decisions. You have to know the capabilities of yourself and of your gear.
Knowing your gear can save you a lot of headache.and body aches. Carrying unnecessary gear gets really old, really fast. Don't learn the hard way, just trust me on that. Besides that, it's a beautiful thing to just know your camera and know which dial is where so that it just becomes instinctive to you. Being able to keep looking down the lens and adjust my shutter speed, aperture and iso all at my finger tips is something I cannot live with out.
Get Your Workflow Down
This is something I definitely am guilty of. I never took this serious when I was first studying photography and my mentor stressed it to me but I was just all into the art, the shot the blah blah blah. What you do after the shoot is critically important. I want to tell you now so you can avoid making some of my mistakes. Yeah, that is me looking out for you. You're welcome.
Don't take organization for granted. Using Adobe Bridge or Lightroom to catalog and tag your photos will save your life. After you'v done a handful of weddings, portraits and a few events you will have a hard drive of thousands of images. Not having those organized and cataloged will destroy a perfectly good day in the future when you have to sift through all of that mess.
Workflow is not just about the organization it's also about the processing of your clients' images. It absolutely boggles my mind about the delivery time of some photographers. We need to be able to shoot for our clients get our editing done and get the product back to the clients. I had one client come to me and said she had a pregnancy shoot done and the photographer took 3 months to get the pictures back to her. My brainit can't even put together a situation where that should be possible, excluding life emergencies.
Settle Into Your Specialty
Listen up. If you take one thing out of this article let it be this tip. Settle into your specialty!!!
This is another mistake I had the pleasure of making. I'm not alone, many of us have fallen into the trap. What trap you say?
Spreading yourself too thin.
When I first started, trying to become a professional photographer. I was a wedding photographer, a fashion photographer, a street photographer, a lifestyle photographer, a photo-journalist awell you get the point. I wanted to do everything. I figured if I advertised for all kinds of jobs and accepted everything that I would get more work therefore I would get more money.
It doesn't work. Please for the love of everything that is good do not do that. First, your portfolio will be a mess (we will get to that later). Second, the age old saying that says something like you can do a few things great or do a lot of things bad. Yeah, that saying, it's rings truer than ever in photography. Take time and find out what kind of photography that you love to do and if you want this to be your primary income make sure you choose something that can be profitable. Taking walks around your neighborhood doing shallow depth of field photos of flowers rarely leads to money in your pockets. Choose a specialty that is enjoyable to you and that you do well and put your effort into that. It looks better, it'll work better and it'll be better.
Build Your Portfolio
Hey, remember that one time when I was talking about something and said we would talk about portfolios later. Well, it's later
That portfolio needs to bang! It has to be the best of your best. This was one thing that I feel I did well. My portfolio when I was starting might not have been as good as a seasoned pro but it was MY best. That's what your portfolio is. It's the best that you can do that you will show to prospective clients. As soon as an image in your portfolio stops being your best than it needs to come out.
Your portfolio is a living document. It should always be changing and growing. If you are having trouble filling your portfolio then offer some free work to get it up to par. Free work and TFP shoots with various people, when your are just starting out, is a great way to beef up your portfolio and allow you to sharpen up your skills.
One last note about your portfolio, don't cram it full of images. Carefully select your best, I would say 10-25 images to put into your portfolio. Make it strong.
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Posted in Photograph Post Date 02/13/2017