the new guy needs opinions

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by smallwondersphoto, Feb 9, 2009.

  1. smallwondersphoto

    smallwondersphoto TPF Noob!

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    Hi
    I've just started up a small family portrait business in NH, and I'd like some opinions from some pros that have been at it a while.
    I set up a website a couple months ago (Small Wonders Photography), and really the only thing it's gotten me is emails like "OMG, you call yourself a photographer", and "small wonder is right, small wonder someone hasn't taken your camera away for impersonating a photographer." Aside from the fact that these sound like high school kids trying to P*** me off, could I have a few professional opinions?

    Also, could you tell me what you think of the pricing? My husband said it looks like it's in yen, and I'm hoping I'm not shooting too high!
    Thanks!!
     
  2. SpeedTrap

    SpeedTrap TPF Noob!

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    I want to be upfront and make sure what I say will not be taken the wrong way.
    I think you have a lot of enthusiasm and I genuine believe you want to succeed at this, but from look at your site it would appear you lack formal instruction or technique.

    Most of what is on your site is snap shots, there is nothing I have seen on there that would set you apart from and parent with a desire to be a photographer. In most of the images you lack basic rules of composition and exposure.

    I think most of your pricing comes across as too confusing, try to limit what you are offering; it makes it easier for the customer and for you. If a customer needs something special, just do a custom quote.

    The thing to keep in mind when posting your portfolio, you want people to look at it and say “I am willing to pay for someone to take photos like that of me.” If they feel they can do it with their Point and shoot of consumer SLR, there is no reason they will pay you to do it.

    I am not sure if you have any formal training, but I would suggest starting with the basics and working from there. Go look for some photography courses offered in your area or look in to some local clubs, or even post here for C&C and see if it can help you improve.

    Enthusiasm is a great thing when learning photography, but you also need to get some level of formal training.

    This is just my opinion. Take what you want, leave what you don’t.

    Thanks
     
  3. Big Mike

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

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    Welcome to the forum.

    I'm going to have to agree with Speedtrap. Your photos aren't terrible, they actually look better than the average MWAC (mom with a camera)...but they still have that feel of being 'snap shots' and thus don't really entice people to want to pay you for your services.

    It's OK if taking 'candid' style photos of kids is your style...but I think that you would need to play that up and make it a big selling point...but improving your portfolio is still the biggest issue.

    As mentioned, taking a step back and getting some formal education would be a great idea. Adding some technical know-how to your enthusiasm can be a winning combination.
     
  4. Johnboy2978

    Johnboy2978 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I agree with the above poster. I looked through all of your galleries, and frankly, they are snapshots. Composition is poor and there is a lot of distractions in many of the pictures suggesting that there was little thought involved. The website itself looks unprofessional as well. The pricing is somewhat confusing and just seems kind of thrown together without a lot of thought involved. How did you arrive at the prices? I would guess that since you emphasize natural lighting, you either have no equipment or skill for studio type portraits? In all honesty, if I were shopping for a photographer, I wouldn't give you another thought and would move on to the next. Sorry if that sounds harsh or brutual, but I would want an honest opinion and that is what you asked for.
     
  5. CrimsonFoxPhotography

    CrimsonFoxPhotography TPF Noob!

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    Yeah, I too agree that your photos simply look like snapshots that just about anyone else could do. It's hard for someone to pay someone else to do something for them that they themselves could do, not unless they simply don't feel like doing it and/or you're a really nice guy or salesman.

    BUT...by coming on this board and asking for opinions, you are doing far more than some with "your level of skill" have (subjective), and I applaud you for that. Was it Plato that said that said that he wasn't smart because he knew everything but only because "I know that I know nothing." That's essentially the approach we have to take as photographers: no matter how good we think we are, there will ALWAYS be something more to learn.

    While the following may sound contrary to that, I do not believe that one needs "formal" training to become great. Inspiration can come in a number of different forms, it's all a matter of you finding the voices that speak to you the most. Movies, engineering, philosophy, and mythology were my influences..yours may be something different. The bottom line is that you must listen avidly, and by coming on this board..all of us have said, and will say, the things that we say to you because we trust that you have an open ear. The types of emails you're getting are another story; people could stand to be either silent or more tactful, regardless of their age.

    Best Wishes!, and I hope to see you around...



     
  6. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are TPF Noob!

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    I looked at every photo on your site and didn't see a single shot that looks like any care was taken by the photographer to create a quality image. They look like the very definition of 'point-and-shoot'. They are not good.

    Here's the good news: you obviously enjoy what you are doing. Knowing this, you should have no problem learning, practicing, adjusting, and improving.

    Learn about photography. Practice photography.

    Post single images on this site for critique.

    You will amaze yourself at how much better you will get.

    Best of luck,

    Jon
     
  7. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    A couple of hints/thoughts:

    If you are going to enter the world of the professionals, you are going to be compared to your competition, therefore, you need to be as good as, if not better than, your competition. As it stands now, you are not at that level.

    Over and above the missing ingredient of quality shots, I sincerely think you put the horse before the cart in terms of starting a business.

    1 - Learn the basics of photography. If you do not understand the differences in ISO, aperture and shutter speed and KNOW how to expolit them for best results, as easily as taking a breath, you are not ready to become a professional.

    1a - Learn lighting. Off camera lighting for portraiture is important. All your competitors are doing this.

    2 - A website doesn't make you a professional, unfortunately, it merely makes you into a person with a website. Your website represents you... if you looked at your local competition, how do you stack up compared to their website? Likely not favorably.

    3 - Ability and desire to learn, constant practice and TIME is all it takes to become a competant photographer. Being in a state of constant learning speeds up the process. Being around other professionals as a 2nd shooter or assistant gives you insight to many aspects of the business.

    4 - The business of photography has very little to do with pressing the shutter button. Marketing, customer service skills, sales skills, interpersonal ability to mesh with the clients are PARAMOUNT.

    4a - Laws. Know the law as it pertains to your business. In your area, do you need a license or permit to shoot? Are you a registered business? Are you charging and collecting taxes?

    5 - Before the first picture went on the website, did you make a business plan? Oh... no, huh? How do you know where you want to go? Where will your business be in 3 months? 6 months? 5 years? All of the most successful businesses HAVE a business plan. If you are clueless as to where you want to be, how do you plan or find out how to get there?

    6 - Equipment. Yes, yes, yes, they say that the equipment doesn't make the photographer, but a good photographer with a point and shoot is NOT going to be anywhere near as that same good photographer with a mid to high end dSLR. The bad news is that all your fellow professional competitors all use higher end cameras and that the ones you are going to be compared to all have that level of equipment. To play at that level, you will have to have adequat equipment to be competitive.

    7 - "Never give up, never surrender"... lol A line from a comedy movie, perhaps, but it should be the battle cry of all that want a successful business.

    Welcome to "oh crap, I may have bitten off more than I can chew...", but do not let it overwhelm you. Be methodical, DO NOT rush. Learn in stages, plan the business in stages, buy equipment as you need it in stages.

    For the last 2 years, I've been learning and improving my photography. This morning, I made a decision. I decided to turn professional... but not immediately.

    Between now and 10 months from now, I will slowly execute a game plan that I am sure will assure me success. My business skills are exceptional becuase all my past businesses relied in this, hence they are well honed.

    I already know when I will go professional, what my niche clients will be and even already know how to approach them. I have 8-10 months to build up the entire business infrastructure and also improve my photography skills and when I "open my doors", I will already not only be ready, but appear as an established professional, ready to "do battle" with my fellow colleagues. I could easily open tomorrow, but without a solid foundation, all houses will sink in the mud and sand and I do not put myself in any other position but to be successful.

    I would strongly suggest that you take a step back and re-evaluate all the holes in your business and fill them before continuing further. Simultaneously work on your photography skills (look at your local competitors, and see what it would take to be BETTER than them!), and business skills and document the process as to where you are now, where you want to be and how to get there. This, as a bare minimum.

    Good luck!
     
  8. roadkill

    roadkill TPF Noob!

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    Well said Jerry.
     

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