How do I become a professional photographer? What camera should I buy to take great photos of my family? How do I start in the photography business? What are the top ten tips to taking great photos? Where should I begin to start my wedding photography business? I am photographing my first wedding tomorrow, what should I do to prepare? I love snapping photos and am just starting out the photo, where do I begin? What are ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed? What is the best post processing software? What lens should I buy for my professional camera? Where should I post my photos online for client previews? How should I price my art to stay competitive? Do I really need Photoshop? What is Lightroom? What are RAW images and does that really matter?
All of these questions and many more probably come to mind for every new photographer trying to make a name for him or herself. The best advice I have give is that no amount of pre-planning or studying will ever be enough. Every good photographer spends years and decades learning and honing their trade and once he or she thinks that they have mastered their art, something new (like a new technology or web site) comes into the market and blows everything out of the water. But that makes it all the more fun. The best part of being a photographer is that the mind is never allowed to rest. There is always a fun new gadget or fun new and cool way of shooting images that is so revolutionary. New classes, new equipment and new thoughts of your own brain will constantly keep you alert and awake. Even after nearly two decades of wedding photography and family portraits, this professional photographer still goes all googly (yes, that is my own word) with ideas. If we just turn a little this way, or come catch the sun glimmer on your hair, or just a little step further, or hold this up… it never ends and it’s always fun!
If you think you want a calm career, with set hours, low stress, high income, plenty of time to spend with family, and the ability to be your own boss… then yes photography can be all of those things. However, to get to the point where the above is true, one must spend years in practice and discipline. It is not easy. You cannot simply just start a website using Wordpress or Blogspot and expect dozens of brides and new moms to start emailing you. You cannot just rent a studio space in an expensive part of the downtown area and expect dozen of people to walk in on day one (ok maybe you can if you have a supermodel in a bikini standing in front of your store… note to self… get supermodel). A good photography business takes time, costs money, requires knowledge and experience. Add in some sweat (summer time weddings in 100 degree humid weather), hard work (technical and non technical), sleepless nights (just one more photo to edit), and dedication (that is a given).
The reward of owning your own business is incredible. Eventually you do get to control your own hours. You can gracefully turn down clients who want their family portraits taken on Christmas Evening. You can say no to brides and grooms wanting you to drive to a dodgy part of town for their wedding. Or better yet refer them to your new apprentice, who is just starting out in the business of photography. The only thing to keep in mind is that at the start of your photography career you will have to give up weekends, holidays, and yes, even drive into a scary part of town with thousands of dollars worth of equipment to photograph family and bridal parties. The journey is long and difficult, and many will not survive. Those that do make it to the end will feel the satisfaction of the “thank you” card from a bride who loved her images, the boudoir client who cries when she tells you how amazing she looked or best yet the groom that says “you are the only photographer who has made me look good in photos”. Those are the proverbial pats of the back which keep us coming back to the studio and back to the hot summer weddings for another job.
In this magical place called the “internet” you can find plenty of articles, how-to tips, top ten lists, and recommendation for every question you can think of. Just “google it” and begin your amazing adventure into the world of photography. Good luck! And happy clicking!