Hello, newbie here!


TPF Noob!
Jul 27, 2013
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Hello everyone, I'm a newbie here! Well I'll make it short and sweet.. I've always loved photography and for years now many people have said I should become a photographer. Well, after serious thought through-out the few years I've finally did it, I deceided to become a photographer! I now have my own business and have been doing some photo-shoots. Not a whole lot as I'm recently just starting out, but some. So, I have some questions for those more experience, what are the do's and don'ts? What are some ways I can make a better picture? Certain "must have" props? Lighting.. I definately need some help with. As much information and advice is greatly appriciated! I'm also a student at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh (via online division) majoring in Photography as well. If anyone would like to check out my page it's https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dawn-Dalebout-Photography/112521045625390

I'm going to be very blunt. Based on the work on your facebook page, your skills are not yet at the level they should be when you are accepting paid commissions. Things that strike me about your body of work (in no particular order) are: Inconsistant processing style (almost every shoot seems to have a different look), a wide range of poor composition/cropping choices (cropped limbs, digits, too much/too little negative space, tilted horizons, etc). Many of the issues have serious white balance and exposure problems, blown skies are rampant....

That is not to say that you can't get there, and the fact that you're studying photography is a step in the right direction, but remember that the business of photography is much less about the photography than it is about the business, so while you are studying at the AI, find some business and entrepreneurship courses to take as well. There are many successful photography businesses run by people who are crap photographers and good businessmen, but VERY few that are run by great photographers who are poor businessmen!

By all means, keep shooting family, friends, Model Mayhem, etc, but NOT as a business. Yet.

The ways you can make a better picture are by learning and mastering the basics. Understand completely the science of exposure and how your camera records an image. Learn to "see" light as your camera sees it, so that you can look at a scene and know where blown highlights will appear, where an under-exposed face will be a problem, and most of how, how to deal with those issues. Two great resources are Cambridge in Colour and The Strobist Blog. YouTube has thousands of great tutorials on all aspects of photography from posing to studio lighting to the very basics of how your camera works. One I like a lot is Creative Live they offer fantastic on-line workshops by industry experts (they're free to watch live or in re-run, but if you want 'anytime' access you do have to purchase it.

Another often overlooked resource is local camera clubs; they almost always have a few retired (or currently working) pros who will give you a LOT of great free advice. And, last but not least, TPF has it's own mentorship program (link in my sig).
You definitely have some lighting, posing and composition issues but nothing that you are not going to learn at AI. A girl I worked with went to AI Pitt for photography ( on campus ). She said the teachers were great but the facilities at the school sucked. But since you are online that's not a factor.

Go back and rework your business plan. You will want to add in expenses for the right equipment. The formal written business plan will help you get a business loan from banks if you cannot afford what you need.

Another great resource is CreativeLive. Their webinars are free to watch when they are first broadcast. You can also buy them and rewatch at your leisure. They are more direct in that they assume you already know the basics. So if you choose a baby photography course they basically tell you this is what I shoot, this is what I do to get that look.

If you need to practice don't offer "free sessions" then those people will never want to buy from you. I hire people to be models. Sometimes I pay in cash, sometimes I pay in photos. That way, when they come back for more photos they don't expect anything for free.

ifyou find the business end tedious, like me, hire a business manager. If budget just doesn't allow then take additional small business courses. Actually, your local unemployment office usually has a great list of free or low cost business courses. I was surprised on how good the courses were and you don't have to be on unemployment to take advantage of them, at least not in NJ.

Good luck, and when you are rich and famous don't forget us ;)
I am not known for sugar coating my C&C, so... those "boudoir" shots are some the worst I have ever seen, and not due to the subjects. you seriously need to rethink what you are doing, study basic composition, exposure, and other basic skills before you even attempt shooting for pay.

The "Art Institutes" are not known for quality courses, just extremely high tuition prices. They are a "for Profit" franchise school that has one of highest number of Defaulted Student Loan records of any of the "for Profit" schools. Most of their graduates cannot get a job that pays well enough for them to pay back their student loans.

See threads below:

http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/welcomes-introductions/319518-hello-everyone.html Mentions the AI of Pittsburgh specifically


http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/general-shop-talk/295791-art-institute.html#post2687135 Mentions the AI of Pittsburgh specifically

US Gov Sues The Art Institutes for $11 Billion Fraud

Student Loan Default Rates by School Reference. Compare reviews & ratings.

Art Institute Of Pittsburgh Decides You Need To Buy One More Class To Graduate? After Graduation ? The Consumerist

Bad Student Debt High as Collection Efforts Surge - Graphic - NYTimes.com

Two-year default rates for student loans increase again | Inside Higher Ed

Student Loan Default Rates by School Reference. Compare reviews & ratings. (this is old data from 2008... it is much worse now after the recent "recession")

That should be enough to let you know that the Art Institutes are not something that will help!
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" many people have said I should become a photographer. "

Never, ever listen to people, especially family and friends, that say you should go into the photography biz.

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