This might be a mistake but taking the plunge of going (semi) professional

NGH

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Having been an amateur photographer for errr 30-40 years I have finally taken the next step or leap or dive into trying to get people to pay me for my skills.
I have previously sold a few pictures via stock sites but this is the first attempt at venturing into actually trying to get other people to commission me to take pictures for them.
The genre is children, babies and perhaps dogs which I realize might be a flooded market but I am eye's wide open and aware this is never going to be something big; I don't expect to give up my day job.
Historically I haven't done a lot of portrait work but did work in both TV and theatrical environments for a while and learned about lighting etc so that aspect doesn't worry me too much as long as I get the practice in.
What took me down this road was my second wife and I having a baby and us doing a little bit more than general baby snaps and actually setting up shoots with a specific theme in mind. It was a steep learning curve and the first few (when I look back) aren't impressive at all but we have got better and better as we have done different ideas.
A few months ago a friend commissioned us to shoot their baby's first birthday and although I did it for free I enjoyed doing it and they loved the shots we got.
So together we decided to put our toe in the water and see what happens.
Right now I don't have enough of a portfolio to tempt anybody in so I will be seeking out other friends and get their permission to take pictures for free so that I have more than just our own baby to display.
I fully expect no interest for the first year and then perhaps we might get a bite; even then I don't see myself charging full fees.
We have a simple website (a few pictures and contact info) plus a Facebook page and Instagram to get what images we have out there and allow people to find us.

Apologies for the long-winded post. I guess my main concern at the moment is that I abandoned my dSLR a few years ago (switching to MFT) and I have no intention of going back. I'm not really concerned that I can't get good results with it, only that potential customers may see the equipment as a sign I am not a Pro and be put off.

Any tips you battle hardened pros out there can offer to this new startup? And don't say "Don't Bother" :D

If you are interested in looking check out Instagram at Login • Instagram
 

Designer

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I fully expect no interest for the first year and then perhaps we might get a bite; even then I don't see myself charging full fees.
My attitude about this is evolving, but I cringe when a new professional talks about free and reduced rates. I think you should charge what you're worth. I presume your photographic skills are worthy of charging, so why not charge the full rate?

ps; good luck!
 

Derrel

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For even simple jobs have some type of contract. for big jobs a complete and legal contract is of the utmost importance.

If you work without a contract you are setting yourself up for all types of heartbreak.

And as designer said, charge the full going rate in your area.
 
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NGH

NGH

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Well Yes I agree but as of right now I am still honing my portrait skills and currently I am wanting clients more for my own benefit of building a portfolio hence talking to friends and family first. After that it really depends on what comes up and their expectations.
I know and understand that under-charging is the same as under-valuing and that also effects one's perceived level of professionalism. Having said that I am British and so have that built in self deprecating modesty which always makes one understate one's skills.
Getting to a point where I even have a potential customer (that I don't know) is so far off in my head I am not even sure it will happen. I am expecting a slow steady growth rather than all go go go and so I am willing to take each situation as it comes.
Putting together my contract first so that at least I have that ready to go when needed.
Thanks for you thoughts and well wishing
 
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NGH

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For even simple jobs have some type of contract. for big jobs a complete and legal contract is of the utmost importance.

If you work without a contract you are setting yourself up for all types of heartbreak.

And as designer said, charge the full going rate in your area.

Yes, contract is in progress borrowed from another photographer. My wife and I are business savvy and thet was something we both want at an early stage.
 

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Congratulations on making the leap, and good luck in this as well.

Not intending to make a pun about this, but it's a dog eat dog world in the pro photo business. A couple of suggestions:

Never, ever work for free. MANY will ask, but don't do it and regardless of "It will get you published" promises. If they don't value your work enough to pay you for it, they don't value you as a photographer or a person who has to pay bills. Never work for free.

Get a lawyer to write you a legitimate contract that has standing in your state. You'll find all kinds of free ones online, but many are generic and may not hold up in court within your state should you need to go that route.

Register Copyright your work. This is a simple process and you can put thousands of image onto a disk or other media for literally fractions of a penny each. If someone steals your work (and, they will...) you have legal standing in all American courts and many international courts as well, including here where I live in China (Surprisingly). Protecting your copyrights is a vital part of doing business.

Get a good attorney.

Get a good accountant who can help you with the in's and out's of corporate taxes. "The mean woman" (my ex) and I had businesses and earned a few hundred thousand dollars in profit each year, but on our taxes, it ended up being about $2,500 a year in income. Make sure you keep ALL receipts. Keep a fairly current P&L (Profit and Loss) statement from your accountant, too. A funny story about this... I decided to buy the mean woman a Mercedes and wanted to finance it through Mercedes Benz Financial. The dealership asked for that $2,500 tax return and we gave it to them and they didn't even want to send it to the MBF people, but they did at my insistence. Our accountant also send them a P&L (unbeknownst to the dealership) and we were easily approved and they were astounded. Hahaha! Bet they are still talking about that.

Networking is everything to a small, startup business. Network, network, network! Join the Chamber, civic clubs and other professional organizations in your area. Be a speaker at photo functions and become "the go-to expert" in your area. I gained more business by networking than I ever did in advertising. Network!

These are basics, and again, I wish you the very best in your goal for professional status in photography!

Cordially,

Mark Lent
 
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NGH

NGH

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Congratulations on making the leap, and good luck in this as well.

Not intending to make a pun about this, but it's a dog eat dog world in the pro photo business. A couple of suggestions:

Never, ever work for free. MANY will ask, but don't do it and regardless of "It will get you published" promises. If they don't value your work enough to pay you for it, they don't value you as a photographer or a person who has to pay bills. Never work for free.

Get a lawyer to write you a legitimate contract that has standing in your state. You'll find all kinds of free ones online, but many are generic and may not hold up in court within your state should you need to go that route.

Register Copyright your work. This is a simple process and you can put thousands of image onto a disk or other media for literally fractions of a penny each. If someone steals your work (and, they will...) you have legal standing in all American courts and many international courts as well, including here where I live in China (Surprisingly). Protecting your copyrights is a vital part of doing business.

Get a good attorney.

Get a good accountant who can help you with the in's and out's of corporate taxes. "The mean woman" (my ex) and I had businesses and earned a few hundred thousand dollars in profit each year, but on our taxes, it ended up being about $2,500 a year in income. Make sure you keep ALL receipts. Keep a fairly current P&L (Profit and Loss) statement from your accountant, too. A funny story about this... I decided to buy the mean woman a Mercedes and wanted to finance it through Mercedes Benz Financial. The dealership asked for that $2,500 tax return and we gave it to them and they didn't even want to send it to the MBF people, but they did at my insistence. Our accountant also send them a P&L (unbeknownst to the dealership) and we were easily approved and they were astounded. Hahaha! Bet they are still talking about that.

Networking is everything to a small, startup business. Network, network, network! Join the Chamber, civic clubs and other professional organizations in your area. Be a speaker at photo functions and become "the go-to expert" in your area. I gained more business by networking than I ever did in advertising. Network!

These are basics, and again, I wish you the very best in your goal for professional status in photography!

Cordially,

Mark Lent

Hi Mark
Thanks for the advice; yes on the not working for "Exposure" thing I have read many a ridiculous posts on that subject and I'm only thinking of doing free work for my friends to get me a good range of portfolio images (so I am being paid with getting more images in my archive); beyond that we'll see how it goes.
Lawyer and Accountant are thing we hadn't thought far enough ahead for yet; until we get some interest it seemed unnecessary but noted. The contract I have is the one our Wedding photographer gave us; my wife has some legal experience and we are going over it right now.
registering my copyright is an interesting one and again with it being early days it wasn't on the radar. I have read a lot about that; it does seem like a good idea.
Networking is something I need to pursue.
Thanks again for your thoughts
 

Derrel

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Mark's advice about never working for free is particularly appropriate as you are starting out. There are many people who will try to finagle a free shoot from you and those people will make all kinds of promises. do not be swayed by their arguments.
 

Pixeldawg1

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Also... if you are going to use your friends as "models" to add to your portfolio, make sure you get a model release, and again my advice is to go to an attorney in your area that can make it rock solid. Really, for EVERY shoot you should have a release built into the general contract that allows you to use the images in any manner without further compensation to the individual or animal photographed.

I made this shot of a friend of mine, a black and white image that I really liked and so made a few extra prints to give him (we were both poor college students, and I used it as one of my portrait assignments... so to say thanks, a couple of prints). Anyway, I had them on my coffee table at my apartment and at the time was living one exit away from Disney World in Florida. ANOTHER friend was visiting me from New York City and he happened to work for a very large advertising agency in New York, so of course, he wanted to stay with me because it was free, and one exit from Disney, right? I was looking for the photos because I noticed they had disappeared and about two weeks later, I get a note from New York friend saying thanks and a check for $5,000. I called him immediately and was like, "thanks, but $5,000 seems a bit excessive..." and he explained that he had taken the image on the table because he liked them so well and they had a very large account for a men's cologne and they were using it in an advertisement. I was kinda shocked that he did this and told him I did not have a release for the image. So, I went to the guy in the photo and explained the situation and offered to split the money with him 50-50 and he was more than happy to do this, but I required him to sign a release as well, which he did. At that time, $2,500 could buy a Toyota Corolla, so it was big money for both of us. Bottom line is get a release BEFORE you shoot, so in the event someone takes one of your images, well meaning or not, you are covered. I still get chills thinking about this because it could have been much worse.
 
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NGH

NGH

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Mark's advice about never working for free is particularly appropriate as you are starting out. There are many people who will try to finagle a free shoot from you and those people will make all kinds of promises. do not be swayed by their arguments.

Yep, noted. My ego isn't one that will crave exposure or anything like that. Once I have something properly up and running I will be looking for paid work.
 
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NGH

NGH

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Also... if you are going to use your friends as "models" to add to your portfolio, make sure you get a model release, and again my advice is to go to an attorney in your area that can make it rock solid. Really, for EVERY shoot you should have a release built into the general contract that allows you to use the images in any manner without further compensation to the individual or animal photographed.

I made this shot of a friend of mine, a black and white image that I really liked and so made a few extra prints to give him (we were both poor college students, and I used it as one of my portrait assignments... so to say thanks, a couple of prints). Anyway, I had them on my coffee table at my apartment and at the time was living one exit away from Disney World in Florida. ANOTHER friend was visiting me from New York City and he happened to work for a very large advertising agency in New York, so of course, he wanted to stay with me because it was free, and one exit from Disney, right? I was looking for the photos because I noticed they had disappeared and about two weeks later, I get a note from New York friend saying thanks and a check for $5,000. I called him immediately and was like, "thanks, but $5,000 seems a bit excessive..." and he explained that he had taken the image on the table because he liked them so well and they had a very large account for a men's cologne and they were using it in an advertisement. I was kinda shocked that he did this and told him I did not have a release for the image. So, I went to the guy in the photo and explained the situation and offered to split the money with him 50-50 and he was more than happy to do this, but I required him to sign a release as well, which he did. At that time, $2,500 could buy a Toyota Corolla, so it was big money for both of us. Bottom line is get a release BEFORE you shoot, so in the event someone takes one of your images, well meaning or not, you are covered. I still get chills thinking about this because it could have been much worse.

Wow! Interesting story that had a happy ending and worked out well for all.
 
OP
NGH

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Good Luck NGH. This are very trying times for photographers and other gig workers. I hope you find success in your dream. :1219:

Thanks, taking it super slow and just seeing what happens... only as a side thing.. no expectation to take it full time.
 

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