This article continues from “Survival tips for new digital photography pros – Part I” so if you haven’t read that yet go and check it out!
If you are an emerging digital photography pro the following tips and advice will help you to survive in the rapidly evolving world of digital media. Read on and take notes!
7. Think outside of the box
Since digital photography is so widely accessible people have been saying that “Anyone can be a photographer.” They say that anyone can take the amazing photo that you just took, and that they can do everything you can do. Here’s the thing: They can’t. You not only have the training to use your equipment and tools such as cameras and lighting, but you also have the mental ability to visualize a concept and execute an idea. You have to make yourself stand out more than ever right now, so show everyone that you’re not just another guy with a digital camera.
Most DSLRs can shoot HD video now. Learn it and master it. It’s great when you can offer a client a video service as well as still images. The market seems to be shifting towards video, especially with tools like the RED camera available now.
9. Use social media
Twitter and Facebook are wonderful marketing tools. These days clients want to get to know you, because nobody wants to work with a jerk. Make yourself a professional twitter or facebook account, you typically want to keep your personal life seperate from your professional life. Not saying that you should only use these outlets to market your work – there’s a fine line, nobody likes spam. Give it all your personality, but keep it business.
10. Shoot for you
Come up with projects and portfolio work that interests you. If you shoot something you love, that love will come through in spades when people look at it. You will go crazy very quickly if you only shoot head-shots for months in a row when you really love shooting still life. Make some time, get some ideas, and mix things up.
11. Know when to walk away
If a client is way too difficult to work with or is taking advantage of you, or if you are offered a job that you know you would hate shooting or pays way below your established minimum, walk away. It can be tough at first, especially when you’re just getting started, but you have to learn when something is just not worth your time.
12. Take breaks
Photography can be amazingly stressful. Marketing yourself for 60 hours a week and shooting for 20 can drain your physical and creative juices very quickly, so take a break once in awhile. Set your camera bag down and pursue other interests. People know when they are working with a burnt-out creative type, and you need to keep your mind and eye sharp.
With the way digital everything is changing the way we work as artists and photographers, it’s only smart to pick up on the newest technologies and trends to stay in the game.
A lot of photographers are adding video to their services, and a lot of companies are using those services alongside regular still photography to help promote their products.
If you’re just getting into this video stuff, you won’t need a super high-end camera, especially if it’s only for self-promotion. Make sure your camera is small and light-weight and offers HD recording capability of at least 1280x720p.
However, if you don’t like the idea of operating a video camera or you aren’t very good at it, there are other ways to integrate video into your workflow as well.
Something a lot of clients are asking for these days – especially in the field of journalism are multi-media packages. It could be as simple as a photo-slide-show with voice-overs and music to something as complex as a a project that spans a slide show and makes a connection your website either through content or continuity.
This was my first venture into multi-media, a personal fine-art project that focused on visual style and concept. I didn’t even use a video camera – I just used a still camera with a high frame-rate to give it a unique look. Good concept + visual style + effective audio = memorability in a multi-media project.
Behind the Scenes
For those of you who don’t like the idea of producing and directing a a short film can turn to a behind the scenes option – Have a friend video-tape a shoot that your doing. It’s fun and it’s an effective way to show potential clients your personality on set. The videos should be short – no more than 3-5 minutes, and they should always contain the finished product, the photos. You can also have an interview with yourself, weather it’s about a certain project or if it’s an autobiography. Just make sure you don’t play it up to the camera too much, just be yourself.
And here’s where it all comes together. Get yourself a Youtube or Vimeo account and use it alongside your twitter or facebook account. Tell people about your videos! Share them! Things are moving along very quickly in the digital world of today, and you wouldn’t want to be left behind.
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.
July 20, 2009 | Categories: opinion, Tutorial | Tags: advice, APA, artists, digital photo pro, facebook, livebooks, marketing, pdn, photography, photoshop, Social Networking, twitter | Leave a comment