I am hoping to start adding “Photography Friday” to my new goal of some consistency on this blog. What would you like to see happen on Photography Friday? I think a poll is in order. Let me hear your voice!
For this week, I have decided to do a post about starting up your own photography business. This was prompted by an email from a loyal reader (Hi, Amy!) and her good questions. I hope this will answer those, as well as some YOU may have!
When I started as a pro, I had a Canon Rebel XTi. It wasn’t considered “pro” quality by “pros” but I’m of the opinion of “let the work speak for itself”. I think I did some great work with that camera and some great lenses. If you know the basics of how a DSLR works, you can work magic with a so-called “entry-level” cameras. Now I have a Canon 5D, which does have benefits, but really – it’s the photographer who take great photos, not the camera.
I also believe that if you only have a certain budget- spend it on the glass (lenses) because it’s the LENS that makes the biggest difference. I used (and still use) a 50mm 1.4 lens which is a great all-around lens. This lens works both indoors AND outdoors for a variety of shots, though once you start photographing larger groups, the 50mm gets a little harder to use. I also use an 85mm 1.8 lens, which is phenomenal for portraits. It is considered a “telephoto” lens which tends to compress the image and makes for high cheek-bones, smaller noses, and just gorgeous people pictures! You will also need a wide-angle lens for group shots. Something around 14mm-30mm – somewhere in there. If you can afford it, get a fish-eye lens for some REALLY fun wide-angle shots. But, hey, I’m still working on affording one!
Depending on what type of photography you will do, you will also want to get a decent flash and learn how to use it. It’s important for indoor shots in low-light as well as using it as a fill-flash when outside.This is what I use:
Other must-have equipment would be some memory cards – at least 16 GB of space total (or more). You would be surprised at how many pics you can go through in just one session. If you have read my post on opening JPEGs in Camera RAW, you may be able to fit more pics on a smaller card, but sometimes cards go wonky (that’s the official term) so having extras is important.
You will need a bag that is handy to get at your stuff during a shoot, as well.If you can’t afford a fancy shmancy bag, just do like me and buy a stylin’ diaper bag. HEY, don’t laugh – they have the little padded compartments, sling over the shoulder and hold everything I need.
As far as the business side, I learned a LOT by reading posts online in photography forums and by reading some books. You can learn a lot by reading and searching through the photography forum at twopeasinabucket.com as well as Ilovephotography. I drew up my own contract which I have each client sign. I bought my own domain name, then purchased a website template from bludomain to create my website.
I then designed my own business cards with my phone# and website on it, and had them printed at Wal-Mart. CHEAP! I then advertised on a free site called “UsedRegina” where basically people from this city go to buy and sell goods and services. It was free and I got a lot of business through it. I’m sure you could find something similar in your area.
I have never paid a cent for advertising.
I’m sure I could build my business much larger if I spent money on advertising, but just through word of mouth I’ve had steady work.
I think the key, in the beginning, would be to build a portfolio. You will want to showcase your style with several different people. Offer friends and family a super cheap deal to do their photos for your portfolio. Then you can build a website or blog to showcase your work – some place to send your potential clients to see your work and to get in touch with you. You will also get the word out through those friends and family members to new clients. Nice! Start slowly, decide what you want to charge, how long your sessions will be, whether you will offer prints or a CD or both? How many images will be on the CD? Will you accept a deposit before the session (you should) and how much? How many sessions can you take on in a week? how much time can you commit? Ask yourself some of these questions to gain a realistic idea of how you want to progress.
I hope this helped. If you have any questions, feel free to email!
I’m not a business expert by any means, but… it works for me!