It's always amazing to me that people follow my blog and know of my photography from all over the country. It's so much fun and I love that people trust me with their questions. Here's a few from a friend in California. I have a few "photography questions" I was hoping to get your advice on! I got my first DSLR for Christmas and have been into photography for years. I love, love, love capturing those moments you want to keep with you - as a mother, friend, sister, wife. Photography is a passion of mine and I yearn to grow in this and hope to make a career out of it someday (something that will allow me to continue to stay home with my 3 year old and baby on the way). But most importantly, I want to continue to LOVE this creative outlet and hope to be able to give to others those precious gifts that photography can offer.
If you have a moment to answer I would SO appreciate it!
1. What is the best way to build a portfolio? Shoot a ton of pictures. It's really that's simple. I tell my assistants that if they want to grow they need to be taking pictures every day. Getting to know your camera and how to work with your subject is so key...and that takes lots pf practice! Then I suggest picking the best 2 pictures from every shoot (put them in your portfolio) and figure out why they are the best so you can do it again later. Do you offer photos at no cost, simply to build the portfolio? YES! I did this for a long time. And even more than that I didn't charge very much in the beginning. My first wedding I charged $250 - just to cover my cost of film and development. At what point do you start charging for your time and the outcome? I started charging and increasing my costs gradually because I really felt I needed the experience to be able to charge. People around me kept saying "You're not charging enough!" but I knew I needed to build confidence and skills over time. How do you go about the portfolio? Your portfolio should reflect the kinds of pictures you want to be shooting. If you love shooting kids don't put landscapes and wedding pictures as the bulk of your portfolio. People will hire you based on what they see so show them what you love to shoot! Asking friends and family? YES and NO. Family and friends are wonderful but honestly, they are biased and I remember everyone telling me every picture was beautiful...and that's true! If you do ask family, tell them to only pick their 3 fav's! Plus, I'm a firm believer that you need another photographers opinion. Sending out emails, letters? I would suggest sitting down with another photographer, show them your choice work and tell them to be honest...it works.
2. I realize that in starting a business you must put money out there. I'm curious what you would say would be the most important items to purchase first? Lense(s) and if so, which types? Software (currently have plain old photoshop - but have heard a lot about Lightroom)? Portable flash? I'm trying to make a "plan" and want to have everything down to a 'T', including my wish list of equipment. I have a constant wish list on B & H Photo! I read books, magazines and talk to other photographers a lot...I'm constantly editing my "needs" for equipment. (My husband keeps me grounded so I don't over spend cause it's so easy to do!) I'll tell you what I told my assistants for this year...Buy a good camera (like the Canon 30D), and a mid range multi-functional lens (I like the 17-55mm by tamron) and a good flash (Canon 580) and start shooting everything (Totaling: approx. $1600). You need to learn what you like and don't like about the equipment before you start investing the big bucks!
3. I am a stay at home mom, so money is somewhat tight. I'm curious how you suggest going about starting the business, financially, so to speak. Would you suggest purchasing items here and there as I'm able, or taking out a small business loan? I don't know what to give you financial advice but, I can tell you want I did. I lined up a bunch of jobs with my basic equipment. Once they were booked (and I knew my income for the year), I opened a one-year interest free credit card, bought the new equipment, started using it for the shoots I had already booked, got better pictures to book more clients for the next year, and paid it all off by the end of the year. I've never taken out a loan from the bank but I guess that's exactly what I did with VISA! To each his own. Please hear me...I'm not telling anyone to go out and put thousands of dollars on a credit card. YIKES!
4. This may seem like a silly question, but I am definitely very "green" so I have to ask :) You speak of this catch light that is important to get in a subjects eyes. What is this and how do you go about achieving it? I love that you asked this question cause it's really important! When taking a portrait one of things that makes people come alive is having light (natural or studio lighting) caught in their eyes. It gives them sparkle! Here's an example:
That is about all I can think of now, however I'm sure once I hit send I'll think of more. Thanks so much for your time, may God bless you and your precious family.
Angie Warren N. California
I'm happy to help! Thanks for being a faithful fan! I can't wait to see your future website and portfolio...make sure you let me know when it's up and running :)