Monday, August 31, 2015

What every new photographer should know (and some photography thoughts)

Rich and I were discussing senior (think school) portraits the other day.  When we were seniors (both high school and college), senior portraits were taken in a studio set up in the school by a photographer contracted by the school.  Senior photos from back in the good old days do not look like senior photos of today.  I don't know of anyone who went to an outside photographer for senior photos.

When we talk about professional photography today, it's often said that the market is over-saturated.  And I tend to agree with that.  But (and there's always a but) there's a greater need for photographers today versus years gone past.  Today, there are senior photos, maternity photos, birth photos, first birthday cake smash photos, annual family photos, holiday card photos.  We live a new, digital world.  The demand for photographers has ballooned.  That being said, I don't agree with the folks who three months after pulling their new DSLR out of the box, still shooting on auto, open up shop.

I've been thinking a lot about photography as of late.  I do feel like I'm in a place technically where I could do this professionally but I'm already stretched out enough with a full time job and three kids.  So I continue to throw ideas around in my head.  I've been following some photographers who photograph bands (@mjambriz on twitter or instagram is good one) and truth be told, that's always been a dream of mine.  As in a true bucket list entry.  When I speak of "professional photography" almost everyone assumes it's photographing families, or weddings, or kids.  That doesn't have to be the case.

And because this blog is (usually) photo-heavy, I like to do this here and there.  If you're new to photography . . .
  • In the very beginning, your photos aren't going to look good.  Everyone needs to accept this.  Think about it.  No one picks up an instrument and plays beautiful music the first time.  (Well, there's always an exception but those exceptions are rare.)  So accept that your photos will be crap.
  • Your ability to grow as a photographer will depend on whether or not you can see that your photography skills need to improve.  If you look at your crappy photos and think that they're good (or really good), you're going to have trouble growing because you won't think you need to improve. (Now, keep in mind that it may take time to see that your photos aren't awesome.)
  • Accept constructive criticism.  (Easy to say, not so easy to do.  I know.)     
  • Be patient.  Growing, improving and developing skills takes time.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Take your camera everywhere.  It took me awhile to understand why so many photographers undertake 365 projects and the like - it forces them to pick up the camera every single day and sometimes we all need that kick in the butt.  
  • You'll reach a plateau here and there but don't be discouraged.  This happens to everyone.  Come up with a new project or a new skill to work on.  You should never think that you are beyond learning.  
  • Be prepared for camera/glass envy.  Photography equipment is expensive and it's easy to want what others have.  Remember that the photographer makes the photo, not the equipment.  Try to be happy with what you have.  
  • Find your own style and don't copy others.  This is how we end up with "trends."  It's okay to be inspired by others but going beyond that won't help you with your own style.  You'll just look like a copycat or your photos will be a hodgepodge of other photographers' ideas.  
  • Learn to shoot in manual.  I've said it before and I'll say it until robots replace me, you are smarter than your camera.            


Teej said...

"Until robots replace me" lol

Siné said...

I have just recently made the jump to doing paid shoots. I don't market myself as a professional photographer. I call them portfolio building sessions and charge a small fee to compensate me for the time in post-processing. I made the leap when someone asked me to do some paid photography for them. I totally agree about learning to shoot in manual; people are smarter than their cameras (once they take the time to be).

Wendy said...

I am in business, and I'll tell you-- it's HARD. The taxes, the licenses, the state fees, the insurance the LLC/Sole Proprietorship, marketing, products, shipping UGH. It's really, really hard. The shooting, editing and customer service are the quickest and easiest part (for me).

And if you accept $$ for your work, you're in business so you HAVE to be filing taxes-- Uncle Sam doesn't take kindly to fudging those, right Sarah?

Don't even get me started on the assholes shooting with their pop-up flash, in auto with no understanding of light, composition, natural posing... and charging $25 for sessions. ::breathing into paper bag::

MCox said...

I love the triple doll strollers. Precious.

Siné said...

I don't understand why anyone would feel comfortable setting up shop if they only know how to shoot in auto. That is just embarrassing.