January 18, 2018
So, you made it. You purchased a DSLR and you’re going to be a photographer. It feels good, right? WRONG! It feels terrifying! I would know, I’ve been there before. It’s terrifying, but really exciting all at the same time! But, why so scary? Well that’s because usually when you first start out, you have no idea what you’re doing. Am I right?! Learning the technical side of photography is it’s own beast, but then there’s everything else – how to make a name for yourself, what equipment to buy and when, how to build your portfolio, and the list goes on and on. While it’s a lot to take in, I have a 6 uncommon tips for new photographers to get you started in the right direction!
Becoming a photographer does not happen over night. And your best opportunity for growth is reps. So, click away! At the beginning, work with whoever will let you take their picture. For me, it was my best friend, friends of friends, my hubs, and my dogs. If they needed pictures, I was their girl. Sometimes I got a thank you Starbucks, sometimes it was $50, and sometimes it was FREE. But it didn’t matter because it was practice. Consistently shooting not only gives you practice taking pictures, but also helps you become comfortable with your camera settings. And believe me you want to be comfortable with your settings because there’s nothing worse than fumbling with your camera in the middle of a session. So, whether you are in the beginning stages of photography, or you’ve been at it a while and want to jump into a new specialty, my best advice is to go out and shoot!
I’ve seen so many photographers start in aperture priority or auto mode, only to be disappointed in the limitations they encounter once they get a little further down the road. Those modes tend to be more appealing at the beginning because they have a little less of a learning curve when you’re first starting out. However, even if learning how to shoot in manual is more challenging, it offers so much more flexibility and control over the images you create. So, take on the task of learning how to shoot in manual mode from the beginning, even if it seems scarier!
Say what?! This sounds little backwards, I know, but just hear me out. Obviously, yes you need a camera to start off. But, if you have an amazing $3,000 piece of equipment and don’t know how to use it, you won’t get very far. So instead of being spendy upfront, I suggest buying a more reasonably priced, more basic DSLR, and investing in your education with the extra cash. Last year, I finally decided to invest in my business through educational courses offered by other photographers I admire. And WOAH, what a difference it has made! It was by far my biggest year of improvement! I feel so much more comfortable behind the camera because I’m not worried about my camera settings or how to talk to my clients during a session. Since it’s made a huge impact in my business, I have committed to myself that I will continually invest in educational opportunities. After all, there’s always something to learn!
This by far was one of the BEST things that ever happened in my business. Why? Because I have someone more seasoned than me that I can go to whenever I have a business or technical question. I get to second shoot with my mentor and learn hands on experience on a regular basis. She pushes me (as any good mentor should) and is helping me build my business. So, how do you find a mentor? Well, some photographers offer paid mentorships, but I found mine in a photography Facebook group. I put a post out asking if any of the other more seasoned photographers had any room for me to tag along (to a shoot, to a wedding, to anything photography related). Someone offered to meet me for coffee and we hit it off. I’ve been working/learning under her for almost a year now and it has changed my life and my business. Remember when I said to invest in your education…finding a great mentor is part of that!
With the popularity of Instagram and a world shifting from paid ads to instead utilizing influencers, blogging has blown up! In just about every city you can find a cute girl trying to make some extra money by blogging. And that’s exactly why bloggers are great way to build your portfolio and social following. Not only do bloggers come well-dressed and looking fabulous, but they also tag you and link to your website. They are also usually looking for a good deal, which means they’ll work with less experienced photographers for a cheaper price. And bonus- you benefit from the exposure. So, don’t be afraid to reach out to a few local bloggers and see if they are looking for a photographer to work with.
In the beginning you are growing so much that it is crucial to update your site often. Unfortunately, as I’ve seen with photographers (including myself), your site is often times what gets put on the back burner! Remember, your website is a current reflection of your work and ability as a photographer. If you have outdated images that shows a lesser quality than what you currently can create, then you’re doing yourself a huge disservice! So, when you nail it at a session and you know it was a HUGE step in the right direction for your portfolio, update your site with the photos to match. If that happens every week, then update your site every week. It doesn’t have be a website overhaul, just swap out a few images at time. Over time, as you find your style and your work becomes more consistent, you’ll update your website less and less!
Now that I’ve shared some of my success secrets with you, I hope you go out into the world and use these tips to build your business!