Newbie, questions about become professional photographer

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by EquiDreamDesigns, Mar 29, 2004.

  1. EquiDreamDesigns

    EquiDreamDesigns TPF Noob!

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    Hi everyone,
    This is my first post on this forum and I am so glad I found the site. I am a 25 year old college student and have been spending a lot of time in the last few years trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. I got a new digital camera (Panasonic FZ10) for Christmas and have rediscovered my love for photography. I am not an art major or minor, but I am at a small libral arts college that requires all sorts of general education courses as graduation requirements and I am trying to fit a photography course into my schedule as my art credit.

    I actually really like the idea of becoming a photographer professionally, but wonder how realistic a decision that would be. What type of life and career would I have as a professional photographer? Also, how do I really find out if I have the talent (and if I do how do I get the training) to become anything beyond a hobby photographer?

    Thanks :)
     
  2. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    There are many, many different kinds of photographers, but it's still a very competitive business overall. Don't expect to make a lot of money at it at first, especially if you want to stick to some sort of personal artistic vision. The kinds of photography that you can make money at, like journalism, weddings, and product ads, usually require your art to take a back seat to a client's wishes until you make a name for yourself.

    Most photographers I know that shoot for the art also have a day job or some other means to actually support themselves. This may involve photography also, but there tends to be a seperation of business and pleasure. They will have a portfolio of work done for clients and a seperate one the they call "my personal work".

    To see if it's something that really interests you I would check if there is a local community darkroom that offers classes. I've taken several classes and workshops at the one here in Rochester and I've learned a lot from them. Plus it helped me network with other photographers.

    I would also ask some local photographers if they would let you tag along while they worked, or at least would let you pick their brains. Some will say no, but a lot of people love to share what they do if given a chance. This would give you some exposure to what's out there and what the real world is like, as opposed to the how the movies make it out to be.

    It really does range a lot. I have a friend who specializes in bourdior photography who takes pictures of half-naked women in his converted coach-house turned studio. Another friend travels the world as a photojournalist, most recently to Bagdad as a staff photographer for Time Magazine. (Oops. I guess he's in Brazil now.) Another works as a teacher during the day and does scouting and portfolios for male models on his off-hours.

    There's a lot out there. If you like taking pictures, there's likely some field that you can combine that with and make a job out of it, at least part-time. It just takes a lot of work.
     
  3. EquiDreamDesigns

    EquiDreamDesigns TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the advice. So far I am getting a lot of practice shooting pictures of my 5 yr old and 4 month old nieces. I have really been enjoying that. I hope to start shooting some pictures of horses and dogs this summer. If I turn out to be good enough I would love to do some horse show and dog show/agility photography eventually even if it doesn't turn into a full time gig.

    I do tend to have an artistic outlook to some of my shots, but I am not set in my photography that it must be artistic. I really believe that having an eye for what is appropriate for each situation is important.

    As far as photography jobs go I assume pay isn't great? What types of photography might lead to staff or hired positions and which would more likely be freelance positions?

    Is professional photography getting into digital at this point or is most of it still traditional film? I just got started with digital (I originally used film of course) and I think that it has been really good for developing my eye for composition. I feel much more freedom with the digital to just keep snapping pictures and really play with the camera to see what works.
     
  4. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    I love digital too. It's really freed me up so that I don't have to worry about the tech side of things, as odd as that may sound. I'm much more at home with computers than chemicals.

    Teru has always been into film. One of his recent gripes was that Time went to digital for their photographers, so now he has all this extra equipment to carry around. With the quick turn-around available with digital, and now that the quality is there, more and more places that demand time-sensitive work are requiring digital.

    Photography is like acting. The pay can be great for the choice accounts, but there are an awful lot of starving actors out there. Most of the jobs I know of tend to be freelance. The client will hire the photographer that fits the bill for what they are looking for. Some journalistic jobs are staff, but a lot is freelance.

    I haven't had a lot of experience in the field myself, so all of this is second-hand. Take it with a grain of salt.
     
  5. EquiDreamDesigns

    EquiDreamDesigns TPF Noob!

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    Thanks,
    I know what you mean about being more home on the computer (I am currently -though not for long- a Com Sci major). It has been a very long time since I've actually been in a darkroom to do processing.

    I think the best thing about the digital for me is that I can simply snap and try different thing without worrying about "getting the shot".

    I have a couple of family members who know a couple of professional photographers. Both of the photographers are freelancers so it really left me wondering if anyone uses staff photographers. Most of the photographers I know of who do the photography at horse shows are small businesses owned by the photographers (though I think that the larger businesses must have a couple of photographers working with them).
     
  6. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    I've considered making my photography more of a business, but a would need an accountant, business manager, secretary... a maid wouldn't hurt, either.

    I know how to do all that stuff, I just get distracted waaaay to easily and it never gets done, like actually sending the bill to the clients. It's kind of hard to get paid that way.
     
  7. danalec99

    danalec99 TPF Noob!

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  8. danalec99

    danalec99 TPF Noob!

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    Woops, that was supposed to be in quotes!! :)
     
  9. jack

    jack TPF Noob!

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    [quote="I hope to start shooting some pictures of horses and dogs this summer. If I turn out to be good enough I would love to do some horse show and dog show/agility photography eventually even if it doesn't turn into a full time gig.
    [/quote]

    'horse portraiture' :0) could be a profiable niche.
    ready money in those circles.
     
  10. modphoto

    modphoto TPF Noob!

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    hey,

    I found this chain very interesting. You see, I'm three years out of a Applied Photography course and the strugles to make a living in photography have caused me a fair amount of greif. What markc was saying about needing a second job is very true. It is very similar to an acting career. For the most part you are going to have to frelance yourself. Usually established studios only need help on occation, so finding permanent work is definitly a challange. I highly recommend looking for assisting work. If it is your passion to be a photographer as it is mine, assisting a photographer you really respect motivates you to stick out the hard times. I would suggest in the long run opening your own buisness will give you the best security and you will get the most out of this career. Unfortunatly the old you need money to make money senario seems to be causeing myself some problems. I left school with some hefty student loans and building up my equipment has been a lengthly, frusterating process.

    IF it's a passion then i say go for it.....just know what's in store for the first few years...

    Good luck!
     
  11. danalec99

    danalec99 TPF Noob!

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    Does anyone know anything about NYIP (http://www.nyip.com/)? They have a home teaching stuff. Is that a good place for starters??
     
  12. Cuervo79

    Cuervo79 Guest

    yes it is... I've learned most of what I know from that course, although I didn't complete it, (meaning sending the work to get it graded) the sound tapes, videos and literature is very good, and when you finish you have a very good base not just for amateuring...
     

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