The only tools you really need are a camera (any camera), a way to transfer and view your images (your laptop or even an iPad will do), and your passion for capturing pictures and creating. Bonus equipment like Photoshop and Lightroom software, are surprisingly affordable. Beware of the learning curve on these two, but don’t let fear stop you! Take it step by step. Focus on one thing until you have mastered it. Once mastered, you will be amazed at the powerful tools at your fingertips. Set time aside every day to learn one new thing. Taking each tool or concept and experimenting with it is the best way to grasp its use, function, and ability.
I am convinced that breaking into the business of professional photography is possible. The internet provides a venue for visual storytellers all over the world to share their work. Starting a business in a saturated market can feel overwhelming, but it can be achieved. I know this because in towns, cities, and suburbs everywhere, people want to preserve their memories. People want beauty in their homes and on their walls. Photographers are the ones who supply that need. It takes grit and hard work, but it is possible. Getting noticed is the most difficult part, but I believe that is doable as well.
One great way to get noticed is to find people in your community who need a photographer’s services. There are many ways to get your foot in the door. Offer headshots, storefront images, interior shots, or ask about other media they may need for their websites, etc. More and more people are working from home and need media for their websites. That is a known need you can fill. Practicing your craft while serving is the cat’s meow in getting noticed. Just saying.
Great cameras are at everyone’s disposal. iPhones and digital cameras and superb technology are generally affordable and available en mass. Everyone is doing it. Do not let that deter you! You can learn photography with perseverance. Becoming a master at it takes time and energy. Most people who start a business in photography don’t stick with it long enough, and close their doors within two to three years. However, I have found that refining your skills and networking with others is the best road to long-term success. Finding like-minded photographers to share ideas and goals with is essential. I’ve found them online in photography groups and in my community. There are photographers at every stage of our journey. Finding a mentor along the way can give you a leg up in getting your work noticed. Practicing and sharing with others keeps you accountable and forces growth. Finding a way to meet each challenge is key.
Mastering the Marketing Beast
Marketing can be terrifying. Start small and refine each step before taking the next. Social media is easier to use than ever and a great place to start. Start locally and with friends. Exchange photos for model time. Build a folio that you absolutely love and then share it! Take online courses that are helpful to your growth and knowledge. Do not compare your work with others. Everyone has a different style and is in place in their journey.
There are myriads of YouTube videos for learning. As you develop your skills and master your camera, put your work out there and ask for critique. It can be painful to hear someone trash your work, but learning growth is exponential if you are open critique. Oh, and entering competitions is a great way to learn and grow! Find magazines or other publications that need content and offer yours. Getting published is a great confidence booster and marketing tool.
The fear of “not being good enough” plagues even the best photographers out there. Face that fear and go for it, anyway. Fear will always be on board. Acknowledge it and move forward. The rewards are enormous. Along the way, it is a good practice to look back at your own work to see your progress. Everyone starts somewhere. Everyone…
I found it best to decide on one or two genres. I chose portraiture and specialize in newborns, children, and family. I keep my interest in photography peeked by shooting nature, specifically birds and landscape. No matter your choice, your focus will be refined along the way and may transition to other genres regularly until you find your own style. And, by the way, that is simply fine.
Here’s the best photography advice I’ve been given in my own journey:
Know your camera—use it every day.
Share your work.
Learn everything you can about light.
Study the masters—light, use of color, composition, etc.
Do not compare yourself to others.
Education and continued learning is essential.
Never shy away from critique and criticism.
Top-notch service, not money, is the goal.
Find a need and fill it.
Believe in yourself and your vision to create.
Observation is your friend. Practice it.
I have learned that one of the most important concepts is remembering that art is objective.
The observer will always have a different and unique perspective in response to any piece of art. It only matters what you think of your work.
Storytelling With Your Eyes
Each photographer captures moments with an individual, unique perspective. The universal individuality of a photographer’s work makes photography exciting and timeless. Photographers are masters of visual and artful storytelling, documenting life and the world around us. People want and need to keep their memories. They want and need images of beauty around them as well as documenting the world in general. Pictures are a universal language in storytelling. Find your narrative and create your story in pictures, then share it with the world!
I hope you will follow your passion for creating beautiful works of art in photography.
If you liked this, you may enjoy seeing a few of Sherry’s photos.
Sherry Pratt writes from Northern California.© 2017 - 2021 ASA. All rights reserved. Click here for content usage information.