I get quite a few inquiries from fellow photographers – be they professional colleagues, S2S fans, or photography enthusiasts – regarding my pictures, business, and more. So, I thought I would put a small FAQ page together consisting of the major questions Mahroo and I get asked.
How do I start a photography business? I really want to start one, what do you suggest I do?
Honestly, I suggest you don’t do it – unless you know what you’re getting yourself into. A lot of people approach me thinking the work I do is easy. They want to make a quick buck, have a free lifestyle, and take pretty pictures of pretty things. The truth of the matter is, business takes time, effort, stress, humility, confidence, dedication, persistence, and consistency. The whole list. Not two or three of these attributes – it requires ALL of them. Until you get your perspective in line with what you want to do, you won’t be successful. Know yourself before you jump in because the rabbit hole is deep. Read more on this here.
I’m a professional photographer starting out. What do you think I should do to build my brand, get the word out about my business, and setup my pricing?
I’m not a marketing professional, so my advice is pretty basic here. I suggest doing research on your targeted clientele, hiring professional designers, and talking to an accountant. Everyone’s position, target market, and business outlook is different. The exact steps I’ve taken in this journey are those that reflect my personal situation. What I do might not be what you need to do. Moreover, business lessons are like life lessons – they need to be learned through experience. The process of “coming up” builds self respect – take it one step at a time and enjoy the moment for whatever it signifies.
What do you use in regards to image treatment?
There are a few major software options for processing pictures. I went with Lightroom and haven’t looked back. I believe it is the most complete editing software on the market. Couple it with Photoshop and you can’t go wrong. However, if you can’t afford these softwares, you can always use the manufacturer’s programs included with your purchase of their cameras.
What camera equipment do you use?
I honestly believe that all major systems are good enough for the work I do. I’ve used Canon and Nikon. Whatever system you choose, I would recommend going with professional grade lenses as their performance really does outshine consumer grade glass. Camera bodies, while important, are not as crucial as great glass. I would suggest building a complete lens lineup before building a collection of bodies. While zooms have been wonderful to use, I’ve constantly went back to primes. I love the look of fast aperture lenses and while they might not be as versatile in focal length as a zoom lens, they are worth their weight in gold for their light gathering capabilities.
What lighting equipment do you use?
I have used big strobes, video lights, and speedlights and have come to the conclusion that you need all of them. Each has a different purpose and moreover, a different look. However, recently I have parted with my larger strobe system as it became quite cumbersome when traveling. I also got tired of the setup and take down times it required.
What can I do to improve my photography?
I find that taking art classes helps one analyze compositional elements in images better. Some people are technical shooters that measure, formulate, and compose with precision. Other people shoot from the heart. Either way, there are somethings that work and somethings that don’t. Look at the work of your favorite photographers and see why their work is great and how they use compositional elements to impact the viewer. Also, READ. You’ll be surprised how much READING can actually help you shoot. Pick up a book and do some research on your favorite artists and learn something from them.
Can I intern with you for free or second shoot for you?
While I usually shoot with Mahroo, we do sometimes need a second shooter or fly in our favorite photographers as guest shooters. Here are some guidelines and requirements for those of you interested in second shooting:
– must have prior experience shooting weddings. I prefer that you have covered at least 10 weddings as the primary shooter.
– must use full frame cameras (can be Canon or Nikon) and shoot RAW.
– you can NOT promote your own business while shooting with us at our weddings (this is common sense and just good etiquette).
– This does not pertain to special guest photographers, but local second shooters can NOT use the images they take for any sort of public web advertising/portfolio (such as blogs and galleries). However, they are free to use the images for their print collections (such as sample albums). Here’s the thing about portfolios – they have to represent your work and your abilities. “Work and abilities”, to me, means that you are able to meet with and book certain types of clientele based on your personality and your portfolio. On top of that, you’re able to meet and exceed all of their expectations and deliver awesomeness on command. So, for someone to use these images in their advertisements as weddings they have booked would be to misrepresent themselves and mislead clients in a way.
– you have to be on time, a team player, outgoing, and attentive.
– Lastly, second shooters should realize that they are primarily there to help us, then for the development of their own portfolios (again, this is common sense and just good form).
While I don’t offer free internships, I always like to help and if there is something particular you want to get my input on, feel free to e-mail me and I will do my best to answer your questions.