Tips to go from Hobbyist to Pro
So you’ve been shooting for a long time now, you have six different cameras both 35mm and digital and you’ve just been asked to shoot a senior photo. “Wow, I can make money from this??”
Yes. Yes you can, and here’s how you can make more money in a much more timely fashion.
Get an Education
Now I don’t mean that you need to go get an MFA in photography, but taking classes can be as simple as going to your local Technical college or taking a correspondence course. The New York Institute of Photography has a very good, inexpensive certificate program, if you think you’re up to the commitment of a correspondence program.
Read, read, read. Time to ditch “Popular Photography” and “Shutterbug” magazine, it’s time to move up to the big leagues – top of the game is Digital Photo Pro and Photo District News, these will not only get you the typical gear reviews and feature-photographers, but they will make you aware of all sorts of news within the industry, as well as Juried competitions which offer some serious exposure to the winning party.
Other books such as Pricing Photography and Advertising Photography offer in-depth views on how to manage your business.
Get a website
If you want to make it in today’s world as a photographer, you will need a web presence of some kind. I mentioned this in my last post, social networking is very powerful today. Sites such as Twitter and Facebook all offer ways to stay connected not only with individual people, but with companies as well. You will be taken much more seriously as a professional though if you have your own website to show your portfolio on. Livebooks offers a great flash-based site that works great and looks really slick. And if you’re a student, you can get it for $100.00 a year.
Your website should be 2 things: Simple and consistent. Don’t have a lot of sidebars and complicated menus. Here’s a good test; show your website to your grandmother, and if she can figure it out you’re on the right track. Your work should be consistently good – clients know filler when they see it – so only put up your best work.
I am a member of the APA as well as a Photoshop usergroup, and these are valuable resources not only for getting information, but the people you meet can mean some amazing connections and work in the future. There are so many clubs and groups out there, that it would be hard for you to not join one.
Look at other people’s work
This one should be a given. Weather it’s the latest Ansel Adams exhibit or pictures of your niece’s cat, you need to soak up as much inspiration as you can. Go to portfolio reviews and art openings – it’s a great opportunity to see who’s better than you, and how you can improve.
Put your gear on a leash
Now just because you’re calling yourself a pro and you have a few paying jobs here and there does not mean you should rush out and drop $50,000.00 on all the latest gear. I do all of my professional shoots with a 12 Megapixel Nikon D300, and I have never had any complaints. I would say that 10 Megapixels with a good resolution is plenty, because it’s not the camera that makes a good photo. Don’t buy a strobe kit – you can rent those for $100.00, and how often will you really use them?
This should get you a good start. The rest you will learn in the field, on your own. Still, don’t be afraid to ask someone who’s better than you, read old out-dated photography books and get jobs that are way over your head. This is how you learn.
This entry was posted on July 20, 2009 by RSchultze. It was filed under opinion, Tutorial and was tagged with advice, APA, artists, digital photo pro, facebook, livebooks, marketing, pdn, photography, photoshop, Social Networking, twitter.