Bet You Hear This All The Time - Photography As A Career

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Flutterby, Feb 8, 2006.

  1. Flutterby

    Flutterby TPF Noob!

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    Hiya,
    I'm so sorry to burden you with another 'I want to make a fortune as a photographer!!!!!!!' post, but I'm at the stage in my life (finalising A Level choices, thinking about what Uni courses and then what I want to do with my life) where I need to think seriously about what I want to do!

    A little bit of useless info - My passion is horses, and I would love to spend my days photographing them in a field, though due to a lack of finances I have no horse, and can not spend my days doing that. (School can get in the way as well!) I enjoy photographing them in their natural state, but most in competition - I was at the local county show, and loved sitting by the ringside taking snaps. Likewise, at Olympia :blushing: (Shouldn't have taken any!)

    I'd love to do this as a living - But how easy is it? How many people can actually make it in the Photography world? And most importantly - What A Levels would it be a good idea to take? I don't have a very good camera right now - Not quite sure what it is, but the shutter is slow and it isn't the best quality. Would it be a better idea to wait and see what I'm doing first, before jumping in and trying to find a better one?

    I would be very grateful for any replies! :hail:
     
  2. Rob

    Rob TPF Noob!

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    I am going to try and avoid any "horses for courses" clich├ęs here. Oops, failed.

    You're on the right track already - it's the best idea to link your hobbies and interests to photography as you are already comfortable and interested in the subject. You're also quite right about A-Levels. I would recommend Art unless your art teacher is a keen and competant photographer and your school is suitably equipped.

    For the camera, the best thing for a young-un is to learn the basics. A compact camera does not generally allow the level of control required to improve your abilities, so I'd recommend an SLR. Ask another question if you'd like some advice on a specific model or film/digital/whatever. You can get a great film SLR for very little money right now. If your parents are keen on this idea and suitably funded they may be up for buying you a digital, but your intial costs are going to be high and digital SLR cameras have many confusing features for a beginner. Personally I'm an old-school B&W shot on a 35mm camera with a 50mm lens advocate!

    The exciting stage comes when you leave school. Courses at adult education and college/university level are much more focussed (no pun intended) and you should be able to find something to suit you. If you're in the UK (presumably from A-Levels you are) then there may be a TPF member near you, or a meet-up where knowledge can be gleaned and equipment tried.

    Keep asking the questions... there's an expert in everything here! Probably even a horse expert!

    Rob
     
  3. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    Becoming good in a specialized form can get you noticed. If you take enough pictures of horses on your own and become good, people will want you to do the same for them. I don't know how big of a client base you would have where you live, but I wouldn't be surprised if you found people who wanted portraits of their horses as well as action shots.

    Hang out at the competitions, shoot them, and get to know the owners. I think you'll find that networking will work well for you. And practice, practice, practice. You have to get good before you make the money. I think you'll find that mediocre photography won't feed you very well, but if you can be one of the few that stand out in what you do, you can make a rather nice income.
     
  4. photogoddess

    photogoddess TPF Noob!

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    There are a few of us horsey photographers here on the board. Me, Karalee and a couple of others. There's a huge market for horse photography here in California. Getting paid gigs might be as simple as networking, hanging around barns passing out business cards or might be difficult as the horse show circuit is sometimes closed minded to new people.

    I have horses so it's my little "in" to getting horsey gigs. I ride with a group of people that all show together. When I'm not showing myself, I'm shooting. I do photo cds for the parents of the kids that are showing, contract myself out for individual riders and will often get more business at shows because I look official. Note that most shows have official photographers. Be careful not to get in their way or step on toes. It really is a tight group of people and you want to build a relationship with them to get jobs later on.

    I've done a couple of "photo days" at the barn. I make a small poster, post it in the barn (with the barn owner's permission of course) and give away free shots. Just a single 4x6 sized print but I've been able to upsell more prints to make it worth my time. I introduce myself to trainers and let them know that I'm available should they need photos for their own advertising or for "horse for sale" ads.

    Since horses move (sometimes quickly), you'll need to have a camera that doesn't have a lot of shutter lag or you'll miss the action. You'll also need a decent sized zoom lens. I use a Canon 10D with a 70-200 f2.8L now. I love it and the white lens looks so official ;) but having a lens like that isn't a necessity. I used the same camera with a 70-300 f4-5.6 for years. I'd recommend an slr for sure. Pick a brand - they are all good. Go to local shows and practice. :D

    Not to send you scurrying off to another forum since it sounds like you have much to learn still (we can help - just hang out and participate) but here is one for professional equine photographers http://www.equinephotographers.org/
     
  5. Flutterby

    Flutterby TPF Noob!

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    I'm going to definatly see if I can get out to more shows when the season starts, 'tag' along with a mate or something. PhotoGoddess - I've just been browsing the Image Showcase board - Wow! That's why I love horses... Yep, you're right - I have a lot to learn! I think I'll stick to lurking and going 'Wow, love that!' from my computer chair for a while!

    Rob - My current camera is a digital, just a very bad one. :p. It's a Pentax something or other, and hates working most of the time. Unfortunatly with Art, unless you're amazingly good, you're meant to have taken it at GCSE - and I'm not good.

    I may ask for a little help with a few of my old County show pics later... But I dunno, it's kinda scary! I don't mind them being ripped apart, but they're a little embarassing!

    At the minute it's a little hard for me to get out there taking pics, there's no shows on and I'm in between stables/possible share horses at the minute. Hopefully soon it'll get sorted though. Until then - I'm stuck taking snaps of my cats!
     
  6. Jamie McCoy Photography

    Jamie McCoy Photography TPF Noob!

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    ~Equine photog here~
     
  7. Jon, The Elder

    Jon, The Elder TPF Noob!

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    Flutterby...it can be done, but it will take a lot of very hard work to get yourself established.

    Here in the Mid-west (Michigan), it is a seasonal market. I make very good money but it is a 24/7 (work) kind of thing for a solid 6 months.

    People buy good quality and technically correct photos. To do this, you really need a certain level of equipment that can produce consistant results and take hard use.

    Unfortunately, once you do this as a business, it is no longer "Fun". It becomes a 80% business/marketing, and 20% photography thing that takes ALL your time.
     
  8. Mesoam

    Mesoam TPF Noob!

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    hope you like Ramen noodles
     
  9. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Not many photographers make a fortune - even famous ones. You would do better to go into medicine or law or business.

    I broke into professional photography shooting horse shows and doing horse portraits. I can promise you there wasn't a fortune to be made there.
     
  10. Icon72

    Icon72 TPF Noob!

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    But at the same time don't let the nay sayers bring you down, also, replace "make a fortune" with "make a living". :)
     
  11. Nikon Nick

    Nikon Nick TPF Noob!

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    I think doing everything you possibly can involving photography helps out a lot. Like joining a photo club, yearbook photography and talk to any local professionals in your area. It helps out a lot, and usually they can give you good tips. As to secondary school, I choose a college with a program that specialized in Photography (none of the first year fine art stuff, straight photography :) ) A lot of pros will say not to waste your money, others will say it's the best decision you could make. I'd have to agree with the latter. I improved 500% in a short 2 years. (not saying I'm good, just better then when I started, lol).

    I think photogoddess has got some good advice for you (as do the others of course), but also branching into other fields of photography will help you incredibly. Every skill is an asset. It's hard to make it into the field, but like Jon, The Elder said, it's a 24/7 job. You need to put A LOT of time into it in order to go anywhere with it. I hope you do well. :)
     
  12. Sweetsomedays

    Sweetsomedays TPF Noob!

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    <---Aspiring Equine photographer :) I think I may be one baby step ahead of you but as others have said it's possable. Those with more experience have offered some wondeful advice so all I can say is ditto, hang in there and best of luck!
     

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