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Author Topic: Advice please  (Read 5160 times)
mickyjordan11
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« on: May 07, 2009, 03:19:23 AM »
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HI all
 
Im new to the forum and just would like some advice if possible.
 
Im interested in becoming a photographer but I have no experiece and know nothing about the field.  Im 28 and just wondering how I can get into this career.   What are the best steps to take, contacts etc.
 
Also please can you advise me if this is a profitable career move and is there a lot of work out there for photographers.
 
Sorry if these questions sound a bit silly, Im just trying to find a new direction in my life.
 
Thanks in advance for your replies and help.
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tived
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« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2009, 03:37:01 AM »
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Hi and welcome,

Is it profitable? well, that depends on how good you are at selling? You don't have to be a good photographer to be successful, just a good business man/woman.

Henrik
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Shirley Bracken
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« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2009, 05:30:29 AM »
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Hi Micky, have you had any interest in photography before.  Where I do agree seIIing is a Iot of it, ... interest... no,... passion about taking photographs is a pIus!  

I'm new here too and totaIIy out of my Ieague but I do have a passion for taking photos.  


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« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2009, 05:55:37 AM »
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Quote from: mickyjordan11
HI all
Im new to the forum and just would like some advice if possible.
Im interested in becoming a photographer but I have no experiece and know nothing about the field.  Im 28 and just wondering how I can get into this career.   What are the best steps to take, contacts etc.
Also please can you advise me if this is a profitable career move and is there a lot of work out there for photographers.
Sorry if these questions sound a bit silly, Im just trying to find a new direction in my life.
Thanks in advance for your replies and help.

It is one of the hardest businesses in which to be profitable. If you want to do quality work (i.e. "fine art"), it will be very, very hard work.
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Jim Pascoe
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« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2009, 07:35:20 AM »
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Micky

That is a very broad question!  If you want to be a photographer, you must have sort of direction.  Are you interested in pictures?  If so, what sort of subjects?
Sport, nature, landscape, journalism, people, products?  Professional photography is an enormous field and I would think that most working photographers tend
to specialise in one area, even if they also dabble in other areas.
When you have an idea what sort of field interests you, then you might try to contact some photographers to see if you can spend some time with them, either
helping as an assistant, or just picking their brains. Do not expect to be paid though if you are unable to contribute to their workload.  Some photographers are
very willing to help, others will just see you as a potential threat!

Another route would be to do a photography course, either an evening class, or anything up to a 3-year degree course.  This will teach you many skills, but not
necessarily turn you into a  professional.

As to whether their is a lot of work out their.  I can only speak for the UK, but it is not easy.  Of course there is a lot of work, but there are also a lot of hungry
photographers, and so it is very competitive.

Is it profitable?   Well, I do make a living.  But I often work seven days a week.  Of course, I love my job, otherwise there would be far easier ways to make
a living.  Others may make a fortune.

Good luck

Jim

PS.  Not sure this topic is in the right place, perhaps someone can move it!
« Last Edit: May 07, 2009, 07:36:52 AM by Jim Pascoe » Logged
Plekto
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« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2009, 02:40:52 PM »
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As a former musician, I'd say that there are enormous similarities between the two fields.  (talking about music as a career, not as a rock star)

In music, for instance, there is studio and commercial work and there is art/live gigs and so on.  The problem is that one sucks your soul dry and the other pays next to nothing.   It's a very very hard way to make a living, as either you are a studio musician or have a permanent gig, or you are scraping around for change to keep the power on and working 60-70 hours a week in nasty smoke filled environments.  And the gear also is very pricey as well - comparable to cameras, in fact.   The DIYer can get by with less equipment, but the studio musician needs a full setup.

Now replace studio musician with studio photographer and gig with art for photography.  Maybe you are one of the lucky few who are employed by a newspaper or whatever, but many just job out the stuff or pay one of the news feeds and recycle shots.    Like music, it is an enormous field.  Always something to do.  But most of it pays very little.

Advice 1:(production)
I'd take a class first or at least just get a simple camera.  It takes years to get good shots and skills down, and you need a simple and direct tool, IMO, to get started on.  I'd personally recommend something simple and film, and start with the class until you decide to get started.  There are tons of nearly new film cameras for sale from people who took photography classes and gave up on it as well - so your total starting money shouldn't be more than a couple of hundred dollars.  If you gravitate towards sports and action, an old Canon AE1 or similar would be an ideal starting point(shutter priority).  Me - I was more into scenery, so an aperture priority model was ideal.(Minolta in my case)

You can get these for next to nothing as well, used or new old stock.

http://www.pbase.com/image/68430093
Film works fine, really.  This is not my photo, but is shot on a 20+ year old SLR with film.

Advice 2:(art)
Me?  I like medium format black and white film.  If you're serious, this is a very good place to start as well - just get an old camera (I have an old purely manual Rollei) and a light meter.  Develop the film yourself.  This gives you quick and easy (and cheap) results as well as skills to really understand optics, light, exposure, and so on - and how to correct for them as well.  Black and white is simpler but it's also extremely "honest" in how it deals with subject matter and lighting, so it forces what I think are good skills upon you.  

http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGal...er=6&camID=
Again, not my photo, but a great example of what black and white does for impact and subject matter.

Oh - yes, I also have a DSLR(Sigma SD14 now - having fun with it!) and a pocket camera and a range finder.  But the pocket digicam gets 80% of the use for family and trip photos.  The rest/actual real "work" is almost entirely the Rollei and black and white film.

P.S. This is the type I have - these can be found fairly inexpensively as well(well, under $1000 if you shop around - not "dirt cheap" but not silly money, either.)
http://www.sl66.com/

The Hasselblad 500C is also a good choice.  

And then there are the various range finders and so on - those are even less money.   My first camera, in fact, was an old ~1970 or so Rolleicord TLR.  It took gorgeous pictures despite fairly average optics.  I didn't even pay $100 for it, IIRC.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2009, 03:06:03 PM by Plekto » Logged
jameshudson45
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« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2009, 08:08:24 AM »
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This is one of those 'how long is a piece of string' questions I'm afraid.

There are many ways to establish yourself as a photographer, and everyone does it slightly differently. But without a doubt one of the best ways into photography as a career is the old fashioned way - by working as an assistant (which is what much of this site is about - have you read the articles?). Studying photography at a college or somewhere certainly helps too, but isn't crucial. Some of the very best photographers are self taught, or have learned while working with someone else.

Photography is hugely competitive, and becoming increasingly more so. Without a doubt, the rewards are there for you to reap them, but you need to make sure you can keep your head above water. You'll know I keep banging on about this if you've read many of the other posts or articles, but I can't emphasise enough how important it is to have good business and marketing nous. In my view, if you want to have a successful photography career (rather than necessarily creating photos that will go down in history), you'd be better off studying something like business first, or at least getting some real life experience of working in a business environment before you launch yourself into the photography world.... And while you're starting out it certainly doesn't harm to have a sideline in something else to keep the cash coming in as it can be a slow old business building up your client base.

Having said that, photography is the best job in the world, so if you think you have even a chance of making it, you should give it a try or you might spend the rest of you're life wondering what you'd missed out on.

Hope this helps
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bill t.
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« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2009, 12:35:58 PM »
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Quote from: jameshudson45
In my view, if you want to have a successful photography career (rather than necessarily creating photos that will go down in history), you'd be better off studying something like business first, or at least getting some real life experience of working in a business environment before you launch yourself into the photography world...
Which is why business-savvy photographers are so rare, in their business studies acolytes of photography soon realize that the kinds of photography that can generate a living are not the kinds of photography they want to do, and that they need to be a businessman more than a photographer.

If you really want to do a particular kind of photography, you've got to stay in there first and foremost as an act of faith, since mere business logic will usually tell you to stop.  For many people, working as an employee of a photographic business may be a better choice since it frees them from business-mongering...at the expense of lesser income.

The old entrance door used to be working in a darkroom, a guy with excellent darkroom skills was highly valued because so few people wanted to do it, and the few people who could do it well had higher ambitions.  Ted Orland and I used to run two separate darkrooms at the same design studio, which opened unexpected and interesting doors for both of us.

Wonder if today there is a demand for killer post-processing and inkjet-jockey skills?  Could be a place to start.  A person with such a skill set must be of great interest to a busy photographer.  And it is possible to develop those skills to a high level right at home.  Photo businesses are mostly very small where the chances of promotion are high.  The trick is to get your foot in the door with needed skills nobody else wants (or has the time) to do.
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alainbriot
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« Reply #8 on: May 17, 2009, 06:02:45 PM »
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If you want to make money at this you need to study business and marketing in addition to photography and art.  In fact, the first two are more likely to bring you financial rewards than the last two, although when you start to operate at a high level of competition everything is important.

If you have not already, I recommend you read my free essays on this site on being an artist in business, how to sell your work, and more. They are all available at this link:

Briot's View essays page
« Last Edit: May 17, 2009, 06:06:13 PM by alainbriot » Logged

Alain Briot
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Chris_T
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« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2009, 08:35:21 AM »
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Quote from: mickyjordan11
HI all
 
Im new to the forum and just would like some advice if possible.
 
Im interested in becoming a photographer but I have no experiece and know nothing about the field.  Im 28 and just wondering how I can get into this career.   What are the best steps to take, contacts etc.
 
Also please can you advise me if this is a profitable career move and is there a lot of work out there for photographers.
 
Sorry if these questions sound a bit silly, Im just trying to find a new direction in my life.
 
Thanks in advance for your replies and help.

It would help us help you better if you start out by telling us:

- What are your previous and current professions?

- Do you have interests or experiences in other arts or crafts?

- Why do you choose photography as a possible career over other options?

Responses without answers to these can be confusing and misleading.
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alainbriot
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« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2009, 10:50:24 AM »
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Quote from: Chris_T
It would help us help you better if you start out by telling us:

- What are your previous and current professions?

- Do you have interests or experiences in other arts or crafts?

- Why do you choose photography as a possible career over other options?

Responses without answers to these can be confusing and misleading.



Chris,

I assumed Micky has littlle or no experience doing this otherwise he would not ask "can you advise me if this is a profitable career move and is there a lot of work out there for photographers."       He also says "I have no experience and know nothing about the field".

Your questions are valid and important though.  The problem many who want to make a living at photography have is believing that because they'll be doing something they love they'll automatically make money.  Those are two entirely different issues that are unrelated.  One can do what they love and make money, or not, and one can make money, or not, and not do what they love.  The challenge is being successful at doing both together and that cannot be improvised.

Alain
« Last Edit: May 18, 2009, 10:51:52 AM by alainbriot » Logged

Alain Briot
Author of Mastering Landscape Photography, Mastering Composition, Creativity and Personal Style., Marketing Fine Art Photography and How Photographs are Sold.
http://www.beautiful-landscape.com
Chris_T
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« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2009, 11:09:04 AM »
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Quote from: alainbriot
Your questions are valid and important though.  The problem many who want to make a living at photography have is believing that because they'll be doing something they love they'll automatically make money.  Those are two entirely different issues that are unrelated.  One can do what they love and make money, or not, and one can make money, or not, and not do what they love.  The challenge is being successful at doing both together and that cannot be improvised.

Alain

But that's true about any profession, not just photography.

If the OP had provided some context to his question, we can answer it with references that he would be familiar with.

Some examples.

"I'm a successful MD, but I can no longer stand the long hours."

Or,

"I'm a banker who just got laid off, and need to feed my family now."

Or,

"I'm a truck driver making good money. But after seeing Anne Leibowitz' show, I want to become a photographer just like her."

Any of these would allow us to tell him more about the market, the learning curve and the money, relative to what he already knows.

I don't mean to pick on OP. But questions and answers without any context are not meaningful.
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