opinion

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by bblaine, Jun 14, 2008.

  1. bblaine

    bblaine TPF Noob!

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    Ok, I just finished reading the Craigslist thread. I feel a little guilty... here's the situation:

    I want to be a professional photographer, I know I am not. I am building my portfolio and have a website. I have been doing photography for free pretty much, but just to friends and fellow moms of my meetup group. I am currently furthuring my education through photography classes.

    My question is, how do I keep the peace? What do I do next? and when do I start charging/advertising?

    Feel free to check out my website, the pictures are in descending order (i'm getting better, right?)
     
  2. christopher walrath

    christopher walrath No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hi, Bobbi. Can't pull up you url there for some reason. But I thought I might mention a few things. If you want to be a professional photographer there a few things to be focused on, so to speak. Knowledge, equipment and demeanor/presentation.

    What you know can seperate you from the PhD shootists that flood the 'I'm-a-pro-really' rank and file out there. And I'm not only talking about being able to quote from 'The Negative' cover-to-cover, scripture and verse. Also your knowledge of how the business is run. When someone comes to you, you are the professional. You should have all the answers to the questions before you get asked the questions, such as how much for this image to be used in this ad campaign, how much if the custimer wants a CD along with the wedding album, how much extra for an 8x10 instead of a 5x7. And the only way to do this is to realize and truly KNOW what your niche in the professional photography market is your and then research the hell out of it.

    I have all older film cameras that have ALREADY withstood the tests of time and will probably still be going strong in a few decades (as long as there is film still to load on). But there is a big difference between someone walking into an office with a gadget bag full of D300 and assorted regalia and another strolling on in with his sr-T101 slung over his shoulder. I'm not saying that newer equipment precludes being a pro, but the appearance and the condition of the equipment can make a difference. Of course, anything can happen but the better conditioned your gear, the less likely. And knowing (back to that for a moment) your gear forwards and back, inside and out, will make your work seem much more effortless which shows that you know what you are doing and the work you do seems to go so smoothly.

    Presentation and demeanor. Presentation both of your work and yourself. Your work looks really good in a bound book and not so in a three ring binder full of filled plastic sheets. Your website (sorry I couldn't see yours) should not only have good appearance, but ease of navigation and simplicity. And you should always appear as a professional, whether you are in bermuda shorts and flip flops or your Sunday best. And you should always realize that the customer is ALWAYS right (until they're outta earshot). Always be polite, never be familiar until the customer is first, always be attentive to complaints and resolve them as near as you can on the spot.

    If you are truly learning and expanding your photographic vision then you are getting better. I don't have to look at jpegs to know that. But really research this one. Entering the wrong way at the wrong time can ruin anything you try to re-do down the road. And the re-do is awful hard.
     
  3. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Okay, I guess I'm the first one that's been able to get to your website (a minor miracle, considering my horrible 'net connection) so I'll pose my thoughts on that first.
    The overall appearance is nice, however I don't think your galleries are as effective as they could be; that is the customer has to do a LOT of clicking if they want to see more than a few shots. You also seem to have many images and minor variations of the same subject
    I would suggest trimming your galleries down to 10-15 images each, and selecting ones that cover a wide spectrum of poses, subjects and styles.
    Another thought is that right now your galleries only show one topic and that is children; you have one variation on that, children with parents (and whether it's Mother or Father, it's the same topic). If you're going to specialize in children's photography (a very competitive market) you need to really sell that aspect; if not, you should have other styles of work there.
    I would also work on your bio page; it's cute and friendly, but it definitely doesn't say 'pro' to me. In fact, what it says is, 'I have a camera and can afford web space'. I don't mean to be rude, but if I'm looking for a photog, I really don't care how great their spouse is (The army service is good, though, keep that), I want to know about their training, experience, equipment, etc. There's nothing wrong with it per se, but if you want to project a pro image, it doesn't work.
    I'm not sure what Christopher means as far as equipment goes, I would be a little hesitant to hire a professional in this day and age who showed up with a well-worn Minolta film SLR slung over his shoulder...
    Just my $00.02 worth - your milage may vary.
    ~John
     
  4. Emerana

    Emerana TPF Noob!

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    Ok my 2 cents...because you asked and I looked.

    I agree with tirediron. Your bio should be mostly about your experience, your theory/outlook/interest in photography. How long have you been doing photography? Why do you love it? What do you hope to accomplish each time you set out to do a photo shoot? What is your photographic style? What do you offer to your clients (patience, a great sense of humor that puts them at ease, an eye for detail)? Put in a photo of yourself also. Right now it seems very myspace.

    Your photos are another issue. Do not put up anything but your very very best. Even if it is your best at the time. It should represent what you are doing and your skill level. We shouldn't see you getting better in a professional gallery. A personal gallery, thats fine.

    I am far from a professional or expert photographer. But I could offer some tips from what I have seen with your photos.
    1) watch your light. The bright sun is causing you alot of high contrast, ugly shadows, and blown out areas.
    2) Watch your crop. Youa re cropping in tight most of the time and it feels cramped.
    3) Watch your angle. Alot of your photos are higher then eye level.
    4) watch your focus. most photos look oof to me. It could be the posting on the web, but very few of your photos appear to have a good focus.

    Practice practice practice. :) It isnt a problem if you love it.

    Charging, advertising. Well I am very opinionated about that. I really expect that if I go to a professional photographer that I will come away with some great photos of my kids for my trouble. If you can not provide that consistently, then you arent ready, imo. I also believe it takes alot of training and practice to get to that, or at least where I would want to be. I am a perfectionist though, so I dont really go for ok is good enough. Do not feel guilty about practicing on friends and their kids. Honestly, its a silly argument. Its a "we dont want to share the market with all these moms with cameras" argument. By these "rules", we would have to put down our camera and get our butts back in the kitchen.
     
  5. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    Taking classes is step in the right direction. Keep at it. I would also suggest assisting other photographers. Even if it is not a photographer in your field. You will learn everything from lighting to marketing to running the business. Also try and join some organizations like WPA or PPA.

    Love & Bass
     
  6. christopher walrath

    christopher walrath No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    That was actually exactly my point. Good follow up.
     
  7. Jedo_03

    Jedo_03 TPF Noob!

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    I think that owning a camera doesn't make anyone a professional photographer
    Much like - owning a Ferrari doesn't qualify anyone to compete in the Grand Prix...
    And being able to read doesn't make anyone a professional editor...
    And being a mother doesn't give anyone the professional qualifications to be a child care worker...
    You have to ask yourself - What can I deliver to my clients that is above what others offer..?
    Why are my images better / different / superior..?
    That is your real challenge...
    Jedo
     
  8. kellylindseyphotography

    kellylindseyphotography TPF Noob!

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    Very nicely said. Being totally frank, I think you need a lot more practice judging by your gallery.

    If you look at my site, you will see that I *plan* to have a sitting fee one day but I am honest that it is waived while I portfolio build and master the art of commanding a photo session and coming home wiht 95% of my SOOC pictures being technically perfect. TECHNICALLY PERFECT. That means I can throw away 50% of those that are blinking, bad expressions, not what I wanted etc but NOT BECAUSE of a bad exposure.

    Right now, I am around 75%, it's not good enough. I need to assure any client I get that I can walk into a lighting situation and know how not to blow out the white dress their kid wore that day. How to address bad lighting and since I don't work in a studio, know how to think on my feet and change my settings appropriatly. Being completely comfortable with manual 100% of the time.

    So thats my advice as someone that is trying to break into the field also.
     
  9. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Excellent summary Kelly.
     
  10. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    The problem is that the mom with website has become a cliché, which means that your site needs to rise above the mass of mediocrity out there to get a really serious look by potential customers.

    Be careful with black and white. Many consider it old and out-of-date irrespective of the interests in that area by some photographers. When it comes to pro work, you need to balance your interests with that of your market.

    Demonstrate that you can shoot more than kids and families on your website. Put in some flower shots, macros, a dragon fly or bee, a sunset, a few great tourist shots, a child with a pet,...anything to show the breadth of your photo knowledge and skill.

    Another approach would be to try and get shots that are different from the norm. I have got some of my best kid shots crawling around on the floor of a kindergarten classroom. Shoot kids engaged in some activity.

    When you are outside, you need to watch out for shadows around the eyes, framing, and backgrounds. Postprocessing needs to be learned and done on web site photos as well.

    The move from film to digital also needs to be made to be taken seriously by customers in many markets. I have 3 digital cameras and rent others as I need them.

    skieur
     

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