If you own your own business, how did you first start out?

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by Amobailar, Jan 24, 2010.

  1. Amobailar

    Amobailar TPF Noob!

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    Did you have a crappy camera but the skills to make it work until you could afford a professional camera? OR Did you scrape for years to buy that SuperAwesomeSRL3000 camera before you began turning your hobby into a moneymaker?

    I want to start my own business doing studio/location, weddings and the whole bit. I don't have a studio or any equipment except for a Canon Powershot A590 IS which is pretty good but its no professional camera. I'm going to be limited to doing only natural light shoots until I can afford lighting equipment and a better camera. I would like to hear some of your stories of how you got started in what you do now. What was your starter camera? Equipment? Services?
     
  2. K.Li

    K.Li TPF Noob!

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    I havn't started my own business but I am guessing you would start by offering free/low cost photoshoot of friends and familly to build experience with basic equipment that you can afford.

    As you get better and word of mouth from people in your previous shoots will spread and you might get request from friends friend. You can start charging more and save up for better equipment and so on.

    I am not sure but i think thats how I would want to do it.
     
  3. Phranquey

    Phranquey TPF Noob!

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    Oh, Brandi... I hope you know what a flamesuit is.
     
  4. Amobailar

    Amobailar TPF Noob!

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    A flamesuit? lol why do you say that? :)
     
  5. GraphicsGeek

    GraphicsGeek TPF Noob!

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    A point and shoot camera, like your PowerShot, should not even be considered. You should start off with a low end DSLR like the Nikon D3000 or Canon Rebel. Learn about the different settings and how to achieve the look you want. Once you learn that stuff, and max out the capabilities of that camera, then start thinking about upgrading to a more prosumer camera. Max that out and sell it and upgrade and so on.
     
  6. lamergod

    lamergod TPF Noob!

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    Not trying to slam you or anything.
    Many people like you have the mentality that once you own a DSLR you're a pro.You think it's easy money shooting.Do you have any post processing skills?Im not talking bout levels and curves,saturation and all that,im talking bout intensive Dodge & Burn,HDR,DRI,black&white conversion from professional software like Nik Silver Efex Pro,not just clicking grayscale or desaturate.

    Next,do you have the skills?Do you know anything about composition besides rule of thirds?Do you know anything about lighting?Strobe?Fill?Bounce?Do you know how to direct a model and all that?Do you know anything about AD in wedding?

    Even if you know all that,do you know how to market yourself?Setting up a website,going thru all the paper works and all that?

    I too offered my service like in June of 2009.I thought I was good enough and all,but I stopped.Someone shook some senses into me.Though I still dream of myself being a photographer when I go out to work.
    I don't want to start my own business and get hired as a wedding photographer and spoil their whole wedding and give them F*UCKED UP wedding pictures.It's their wedding!Once in a lifetime!Do you think time can rewind for you when u go back to your PC and look at the pictures and think it's crap?NO!

    Here's a tip,I'm a aspiring sports photographer now.I have since gotten 2 gigs as a intern for a website and a part timer at another soccer website.I've got years ahead of me.

    Keep cool,try going for TFCD or hire a model,read up,understand how lighting works and all.Know the rules of portraits like framing,eye-contact,posing,distortion,chopping of limbs and all that
     
  7. mom2eight

    mom2eight TPF Noob!

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    I started with my canon 30D. I didn't want to go low on the spectrum with a rebel but too high since I was new to the DSLR world. A DSLR is vastly different than a point and shoot. There is a lot to learn. If you don't want to spend a lot of money it may be a good idea to buy something reconditioned. Get a good lense and practice. Like graphic said, you can always upgrade with time. In the mean time read and learn what you can. Best of Luck!
     
  8. Big Mike

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

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    I didn't take any professional gigs until I had TWO super-Awesome cameras, a handful of lenses (including a few high quality lenses), at least two flashes, more memory cards & batteries that I would need...etc.
    And of course, I had spent years learning my craft and getting as much experience & education as I could.

    Do you have any business education? Even the best photographer is likely to fail if they can't run their business well.

    I'd suggest sitting down and figuring out a business plan. Where do you want your business to be, and what will it take to get there etc? What equipment will you need and how much will it cost? What will your expenses be?
     
  9. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    I started with 3 SLRs, 1 rangefinder, a decent selection of lenses and a "darkroom in a suitcase." My SLRs were Minoltas, hardly what was considered pro gear in the PJ world. Didn't see a lot of them in the field but they got the same photos. ;)

    A lot of professions require specific tools just to get started. Those tools don't always need to be top of the line to do the job but sometimes the market will require it. For example, when I started shooting weddings I was told that in my area I would be lucky to book any if I shot with 35mm so I bought my first MF camera...

    But, as Big Mike suggests, there is more to starting a business (including photo) than just having the tools.
     
  10. bennielou

    bennielou TPF Noob!

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    There is something pretty funny going on at Craigslist at the moment. I don't remember the whole ad, but it's something like (paraphrasing):

    "Hey everyone! I just got a camera for Christmas, and I'm ready to take your wedding photos!"

    On a serious note, because I didn't start out at the top....

    My first camera was a 20D Canon. Not the best, but reasonable. I took lot of shots of flowers and kids, and I thought I was pretty banging. (when I look back now I giggle about those shots.)

    So anyhoo, still thinking I was super great, I landed a wire service agent. Made about $2000 bucks total chasing stories, hurricanes, riots, etc..... In how much time you may ask? About 6 months. And that was before spending my own money to take my car around the country, getting Motel 6, gas, food, and all the rest.

    I finally realized as good as I THOUGHT I was, I wasn't the tops of the tops, and I needed to go back and learn.

    I called every wedding photographer I knew and said I would help. For free.
    I remeber one of my first jobs with another photographer. I thought I was all hot stuff and I showed up with TWO cameras. He saw me and told me and my cameras hanging off every part of my body, and promptly told me to go put my cameras back in my car.
    The rest of the day, and many days after that, I spent lugging his stuff around, helping with his lighting, loading lenses on his cameras, and formatting his cards.

    BUT.....I learned more than I ever did in my life.

    I watched him. Studied him. And when he told me I could shoot some shots, I was over the moon.

    Now keep in mind, all the while, I was stockpiling equipment. I had two of everything, just in case. I would save up money, and buy stuff that I knew I would need.

    I assisted for another year.

    My first wedding was a disaster. Even with learning all I did, I only knew what to do from an assistants point of view. Weddings are so fast they will take you totally out of your element.

    So the years roll by, and I keep upgrading my equipment, my post processing knowledge, and my sales. Now days I am doing good. I'm solid. I have a great business. But it's been many years of building. Working really long hours. By that I mean between 70-80 hours a week.

    It kills me, when I see someone who just got a camera, come in and take the short cuts. It won't work. Not at all. You have to make the total commitment. You have to spend time working with someone who knows, really, what the hell they are doing. You have to spend every dime you have to get better, and get better equipment.

    And THEN you might be ready.

    I'm not trying to rain on your parade, but you need to know what it all means.
     
  11. VirtualPhotographyStudio

    VirtualPhotographyStudio TPF Noob!

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    We've been professionals for almost 20 years now. When we first started, we actually started out with a friend who was a photographer. He booked weddings, and we tagged along as an "assistant" for the first year, learning the ropes of the business. I will tell you as a high-end wedding photographer since the 90's, weddings are the most difficult thing on earth to photograph. It's the only time you get dozens of personalities together at a very stressful time, you must know how to photograph in bright sunshine, and a very dark corner of the reception hall, and you get one shot at it because everyone leaves the next morning for different parts of the globe.

    Many wedding photographers look for assistants. Visit your local photo association, and offer yourself as an assitant. The education will be invaluable. Also look to top wedding photographers (and others) that offer classes. You'll often find several day classes where they will teach you the ins and outs of their business.

    From there, I would also recommend photographing portraits to start. Start with family and friends to build your portfolio and your experience, and start building marketing materials from there.

    By doing both of these you're also going to start learning what you like and what you don't like. It will start pushing you towards the type of buisness you'll really like to continue in.

    You may also benefit from reading my post on building our wedding photography business past the $100,000 mark.
     
  12. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    I was given a Minolta SR-T 101 with a 55 mm prime and a 200 mm zoom lens by my fiances father in 1981. He never used it. I checked a book on photography out of the library the same day.

    Two weeks later I sold my first prints. They were shots of local stock car racing I'd taken the week before.
     

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