For Lid

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by elsaspet, Mar 5, 2007.

  1. elsaspet

    elsaspet TPF Noob!

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    I had a poster here who asked how I got started and ended up where I am.
    Here is is Lid!


    I was not even 40 when I had my first grandchild. I really wanted a camera, because I know well how quickly children grow. My husband bought me a Canon Elan 7NE (film camera). I took pictures of flowers in my back yard, and because I didn't get to see my grandchild often enough, started taking photos of neighbor kids to practice.
    Pretty soon I learned that practicing with film was killing me, so I took my camera back to the store, and upgraded to a 20D.

    I found little local board, and started posting photos of some of the neighbor kids. A lady photojournalist liked the raw emotion, and asked me if I was interested in going to Haiti with her to photograph the condition of children in the civil war there. I was very interested, but couldn't go as I had a full time "day" job back then. She told me "no problem" and asked instead if I could help shoot some local stories on poverty. She liked the photos, and suggested I meet with her wire agent, which I did. He hired me, and sent me on a few really great stories. Even though I had more than several "featured photographs" with the agency for the Tomball riots and the Hurricanes, nothing much came moneywise.

    But several other things DID come.......I was approached by a few people who wanted to mentor me in my PJ work. One of them was the great Hertz Van Rental. He taught me tons, as did the natural eye of Jon Mikal.
    Local folks started to think maybe there was something there.

    One day I get this call from a guy who thinks I'm the Haiti photographer. We look alot alike, and he must have been confused. He asked me to teach him PJ. I explained the misunderstanding, but he was solid. I looked at his website and saw he was a PJ Wedding photographer. I told him I would teach him what I new of news if he would teach me wedding photography, so we each did our apprentice work with each other.

    At a point where I was getting fairly decent at wedding photography, he asked to pay me so that we could keep working together. I told him I didn't want money, but I DID want the images for my portfolio. I was honest that I wanted to branch out eventually.

    I had a website built using images that I had cultivated from the sole total of the three weddings I had done. With a background in sales and marketing, I put my shingle out.

    I started cheap and nothing much was happening, except for brides who wanted it cheaper still. I was frustrated, having quit my day job at this point. By now, I had two 20Ds that I bought on credit, and not much money in the hat.

    A friend told me to double my pricing. I did. And the phone hasn't stopped ringing since then. I did 43 weddings the first year, and then raised the pricing again. This year is sold out, and is booking 2008.

    The major lessons I learned was these:

    Post your photos. Don't be afraid. Listen to the critique than rings true, and disregard the talking heads.

    If someone you admire offers you an appenticeship, even with no money, take it immediately. I still apprentice for those who I want to strive to work up towards.

    Know your competition. Don't price yourself out of your market value, and don't sell yourself way too cheap. People are skeptical of both.

    Learn to market. Lots of great photographers business fails because they don't know how to do this. Check out books in libraries. Talk to other photogs on the net. Find out how, and you should make it.

    Ok Lid, that's pretty much it.
    Hope that helps you, and maybe others.
    Hugs,
    Cindy
     
  2. Jim Gratiot

    Jim Gratiot TPF Noob!

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    Excellent post, Cindy... there's a lot that people can learn about your experience.

    Particularly, this stuck out to me.

    When I consult with clients, or even give website critiques, this is almost always the first piece of advice I give them. People just seem reluctant to charge what they're worth.

    Congrats on your success... and thanks for sharing with us.
     
  3. elsaspet

    elsaspet TPF Noob!

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    Thanks Jim. If you ever need another talking head for your newsletter, let me know. It's time for me to give back, and I've been quite the media whore lately. LOL.
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I agree, great story Cindy. :thumbsup:

    I think you left out the parts where you used your considerable courage and determination to actually take the chance and follow your heart.
     
  5. elsaspet

    elsaspet TPF Noob!

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    Hehe, thanks Mike, but you give me too much credit! I knew I could have my old day job back if I wanted it, so that gave me some staying power.
     
  6. jemmy

    jemmy TPF Noob!

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    Hard to believe you started at 40?? - you only look 21 in your avtar! You truly are inspirational to me and make me even more determined to succeed in this field that I am sooooo passionate about x

    And the phone hasn't stopped ringing since then. I did 43 weddings the first year, and then raised the pricing again. This year is sold out, and is booking 2008.
    Wow!!!!!! you rock!!! So Cindy, have you really not been to school to study photography?? Just goes to show that us self-taught 'artists' can make it!
    Congratulations and thanks for the inspiration... ALWAYS look forward to checking out your posts! x jem xx
     
  7. lulu

    lulu TPF Noob!

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    Thank you so much for the post. I just joind the MD PPA group and I was asked to assist a wedding photographer. I am pretty sure the pay will not be much but I want to learn. I gave her a commitment for this wedding season only and go from there. I know that I can not use the photos I take as an assistant to show/advertise. what does one do to overcome that?
     
  8. jemmy

    jemmy TPF Noob!

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    Hi again Cindy,

    Have been meaning to ask what the following stands for??? Do they not have anything to do with studying photograhy??

    Member: WPJA, PPA, and WPPI

    I take it the PJ stands for photo journalistic and maybe PP professional photograhpers??
    Sorry for my silliness but would love to know x Jem xx
     

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