Happy Wednesday, friends! We’ve made it! I’m at the end of a series aimed to give encouragement to other aspiring photographers and creatives in general called “So You Want To Be A Photographer?” where I’m sharing a little bit of my background and all of the fears I had to overcome in order to finally make that leap. If you’re just joining me, you can catch up by reading the first three parts here:
Ok, so you’ve mustered up the courage and decided you want a change. You’ve made the choice to analyze your situation and take a risk. You’ve narrowed down your why and are really conscious of the more profound reason you are getting into photography. Now what? Well, friends, I’m here to give you 10 useful tips to help you get started in photography.
This information is based off of both experiences from other more established photographers and my personal experience, coming from a background that has NOTHING to do with photography. When I made the leap, I did it because I loved photography. But I really didn’t have an idea of what it meant to BE a photographer. So without further ado, here are some of the tips I’ve curated from my personal trial and error and from the experiences of others.
- Get inspired and start to think about your style
What brands do you like and why? What is it about their look and image that attracts you? Chances are, whatever brands you are drawn towards is what your editing style will reflect too! Take a look at some Instagram photography profiles and see what you like most. Your style will evolve and change in the beginning as you learn how to edit and thats ok, but it’s important to start thinking about what kinds of images feel most authentic to you. Do you like the darker, moodier images? Or do the bright and joyful images speak to you more? Are you people centered or looking to create more artistic images? Begin to think about these questions as you get started so that it’s easier to nail it down later on.
2. Know that having fancy and expensive gear, won’t make you a photographer
Oftentimes, people think that once you have this amazing camera, you’re set. You’re ready for business because that means you’re professional. But that’s simply not true. You need to know how to really use your gear. You need to put in hours of practice. You need to learn the business. You need to cultivate and hone your skills. Someone who has an old camera, but has spent time practicing and developing their artistic eye can be more of a photographer than the person who has the latest piece of equipment but hasn’t put in the blood, sweat and tears into really cultivating their skills.
3. Get to know your gear backwards and forwards
Piggy backing off of the last point, photography isn’t just aiming and clicking a button. If you really want to be a photographer, you really have to understand what each piece of your gear does and why. Take it slow and one function at a time. Think of it as layering on each element once you master it. Get familiar with ISO then add on aperture, shutter speed, white balance and all of the other camera functions. Think about composition and framing. Shoot in MANUAL. Shoot in RAW. Practice in your living room. Practice in your neighborhood. Expose yourself to different lighting conditions and fiddle with the settings. I strongly believe in getting your images to look fantastic IN CAMERA first so that you don’t have to rely on fixing everything in post processing. After all, you want to spend more time shooting photos, not more time stuck behind your computer editing them. Really knowing your gear is what is going to help stand you apart from the hobbyists.
4. Be aware that photography has an intense business side too and that you need to get to know it and be it’s friend
When I made the transition into photography, I was so excited to just START! But I quickly realized, oh man… there’s a meticulous business side of this that I knew existed but I wasn’t really fully aware of what it meant to be a small business owner and entrepreneur. I thought to myself, I want to be a PHOTOGRAPHER, I don’t have a business bone in my body!! And I’m sure there are tons of people out there who thought the same as me. But there’s no reason you have to make enemies with that side. Be practical. Read business related books. Set feasible goals for yourself. Think about what kind of income you want to be making… and double it as Mary Marantz says. By the time all expenses are cut out, you want to make sure that there is still enough to sustain you and your family! Break it down and think about how many sessions you need in order to make it to that point. Charge what you with you are worth taking experience into consideration, length of session, time it takes you to edit and what value you are giving to your services. Do what you need to do for YOUR business to grow and succeed.
5. Join a community of creatives
Had I not done this early on, I would have felt so alone and overwhelmed. It’s SO SO SO important that you have a network of supportive people who you can turn to for encouragement and inspiration and who truly know what you’re growing through and can empathize with your struggles. Without the help of a few other photographers in the industry, I wouldn’t be able to be here living out my dreams. You have a chance to really connect with other people in other areas of the creative world and make connections and friendships that help bring referrals, collaborations, perspective on your work and insight on business related struggles. The Rising Tide Society is a good place to start! Check to see if there is a local group of photographers to get together every now and then. There are tons of facebook groups out there, ask to join one.
6. Embrace the “community over competition” philosophy
There is room for everyone. Yes, the photography industry is pretty heavily saturated. But there is no need to be cut throat and envious. There is a photographer for every style and price point. When you have a heart to truly help others, you set yourself up for more success and positivity in your life. Sure, when you have an open fist, lots can get out… but a lot can get IN as well. And when you’re fist is closed, maybe not much get’s out, but nothing gets in either. And that’s a lonely place to be. I believe that success is built with friendships and help and by loving and serving others. So don’t be secretive. Don’t be envious. Truly rejoice in the success of others and genuinely praise them. Help them out when you can. And you’ll see that in return when you need it most ♡
7. Invest in education
I can’t say this enough.
Is it expensive? Yes. But it’s sooooo worth the amount of knowledge and insight you’ll get. Without education, you’ll suffer through things there was no need to suffer through. You’ll save yourself years of headaches and stress and money! Amy and Jordan are FANTASTIC educators and I will always always advocate for people to go to one of their workshops. Plus, you leave with so many new friends (… #5 already underway) and two incredibly successful people who are truly cheering for you and are wishing for your success. Honestly, there is no point where you’ve “made it” so that you don’t need to keep investing further in expanding your knowledge for your craft. So in the beginning, it’s especially important to go to worthwhile workshops. Just be wary of the people giving workshops solely for the sake of getting an extra income. They may be good at what they do, but they won’t be invested in you. They won’t be invested in your success. You may learn a few things, but because they don’t have the heart to really teach, I honestly don’t think it will be as beneficial to you… see #8.
8. Look into getting a mentor
Maybe you can’t afford this at the season you’re in now. But keep this in mind for the future. Having a mentor to guide you is sooo beneficial for so many reasons. Think about someone who truly has the heart to teach and help, not just someone who is good at what they do. Sure, there is an opportunity to learn with every opportunity. So assist, second shoot and pick their brains if they allow. But if they don’t truly have a heart to teach, it will be difficult to really grow and get challenged because that person isn’t really invested in your success.
9. Start a blog
With every session you do or related experience you have, blog it. It’s important that you get this started early on so that you can start to build that audience awareness. You may struggle for content at first, but don’t just post about whatever tickles your fancy. Take some time to think about quality content that might open the doors for you to connect with people. Be authentic. Write about what you love and are passionate about. People want to know you, and once they do, they’ll trust you more. At first it may seem like you’re blogging to an invisible audience, but stick with it. It will take time for you to get engagement and traffic. Plus, once you’ve reached the point when you do have an audience, you can reference and link back to those previous blog posts which helps get you more traffic.
10. When in doubt, always remember your WHY
Remember when I talked about how loving photography isn’t enough to sustain you? I know there are so many things to think about and so much to do to get started. It can be overwhelming and daunting. What do I do now? What equipment do I buy? I’m not getting clients! I’m not good enough. This is stressful.
Heck, I had many days of crying and doubting my talents in the beginning. And though there are still days when I get caught up in the emotions and the tasks and the… EVERYTHING, I just take a moment to remember my why and it all comes back into perspective. As long as you’re authentic to your why and you don’t stray from it… filtering all your decisions through that lens… you’ll be on the right track and you’ll be setting yourself up for success.
Well, friends, those are my 10 useful tips to getting started in photography. I hope they serve you well and help bring some clarity if you are in need of it! Remember to breathe. Remember to love. Remember that this is a LONG process and success won’t come overnight. It’s ok to not have everything together. It will come with time, with hard work and hustle. It’s better to have slow, sustained and authentic growth than to have a ton of followers in the beginning who don’t really care and end up un-following later on. You want the people who are truly fans of your work. You want the people who really connect with you and are authentic. So, keep at it. You’ll get there. Until next week! ♡♡