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7 Tips and Advice for New Photographers
I have been in the business for about 4 years now, and sometimes I look back and realize just how naïve I was with a lot of things, the excitement of taking and delivering beautiful pictures became an obsession and everything else just sort of fell on the bottom of my list, things got messy and quickly, you can find yourself being frustrated, tired and just flat out defeated, being a photographer is not easy, as hard as this might sound, it is one of those careers where being good at it…it’s not enough.
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1- BE PATIENT
“Waiting is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.”
I get it, believe me, when you are starting out it’s just so hard…you put a lot into choosing your props, location and everything else that will help your pictures stand out, but sometimes, those final pictures may be far from what you ambitioned, and that is ok, in fact, it might be a while before you “actually think” you are where you want to be (and honestly, I don’t think we ever reach that point) but you still need to care for your work, and don’t feel defeated, instead, keep working at it and be happy while you are at it, treat those first pictures like nothing else and be proud of it.
2- BE READY TO BE DISCOURAGED – FROM ALL SIDES
“Don’t let the noise of other people’s opinions drown out your inner voice” Steve Jobs
I remember when I first started thinking about photography seriously, I was seriously considering getting into it and I shared my ambitions with some friends, some were really excited for me and even volunteered to be one of the first lucky families for me to practice with, others were not as supporting, instead, they would talk about how hard being a photographer would be and all that time spend dealing with unsatisfied clients, all that time editing and all the paperwork involved for the business… yikes…how crazy I was to be even thinking about this… silly me! Luckily, I am one of those people that I would rather failed at doing it than be wondering from the side what could had been… if I am being honest, even my better half was somewhat against this new “hobby” of mine, we were talking cameras, flashes, etc. and that stuff was expensive!
It was not easy convincing my hubby to trust me with this, in fact, it took him about 2 years before we were actually both in the same page when it was time to open a studio for my newborns, it was a long road to go thru by myself, working hard at every session, but somehow, I like to think that it was the voices of those who did not believe, that helped me get farther and farther. Hang in there, do not let them decide for you, go thru your own mistakes and own them, use them and learn from them.
3-GET ADVICE FROM AN EXPERT
Let’s be honest, your aunt Mary is just going to LOVE and cheer you up for every picture you take, no matter if that picture is out of focus or overexposed.. People that love us and have no clue about anything related to photography are just going to do that, while that is a good thing, it really does not help you as a photographer. Find somebody that you respect that can give you good CC (constructive criticism), sometimes this can be tough to hear but it is a great tool for you, listen to their words… sometimes they may not be pretty but they allow you to look at your work from a different prospective.
4- DON’T COMPLAIN ABOUT YOUR CLIENTS …EVER!
“Before you speak, Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?”
This is wrong, very wrong; it is one thing to ask for advice about what to do in a situation and another to just complain about a high maintenance client or mad client, ultimately, they are the ones paying you for a service and in my opinion, it is not very professional, if you have a problem, be kind, shake hands and move on, you can always chose to say no to future sessions with them.
5- THE BEST CAMERA IS THE ONE THAT YOU HAVE RIGHT NOW
Forget about all the craziness about what the newest gear can bring you, I have seen work of photographers using cheap kit cameras that are just amazing, this concept was hard for me a few years ago when I was starting out, whenever I saw an image, I quickly asked what gear was used, and convinced myself that if, and only when I had this kind of professional expensive equipment I would be able to deliver amazing results, I wish I could go back and slap myself for thinking this, but seriously, if you have a camera then you rock! Learn how to use it and abuse it (in a good way that is), and when you have come to a point where you need more out of your equipment, then be ready to let go of a good amount of money for better gear, but right now, trust in what you have and create with it.
6- SHOOT FOR YOUR CLIENTS, NOT FOR OTHER PHOTOGRAPHERS
To me, a message from a mom telling me how amazing their experience was with me, and how much they will cherish their final edits means SO much more than a comment from a photographer telling me how great my work is, but sometimes… I do forget this, and I tend to think as I am shooting if so and so will like my composition, I fantasize about other photogs seeing my work and just falling in love in the amazingness of it…but in reality, this does not matter, or at least, it does not matter to me anymore, so what if the image is somewhat technically incorrect, if the client loves it…I call that success.
7- DON’T FORGET ABOUT YOUR LOVED ONES
“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have” Frederick Keonig
It was right around year 2 or so, when one afternoon in late summer my husband pulled me to the side and had a talk with me, I was finally getting some clients that were not my friend or related to me in anyway, things were starting to take shape with my business, but, I was missing out on my family… it was not an easy conversation either, recognizing that your full attention has sent your loved ones to the bottom of the “to-do” list is never pretty, I knew things HAD to change. I remember how exhausted I was from having 2 little ones so close in age, editing at night, trying to keep the house somewhat decent and having to order pizza for way too often was just not working out for me, I changed a lot in the way I did business, allowing myself to have days off and having hours that I actually followed, not answering to emails the second I received them, were some of the things I did in order to function better, nobody said this was going to be easy, and sometimes you just have to fail miserably in some things in order to fix them.
Remember your priorities, have a life… enjoy your loved ones and let them enjoy you too, as a mother of 2 little ones, I see time go way too fast… I blink and they are walking, I blink again and they are riding the bus to school… no photo is worth missing the times between those, not to me anyways.
Roxana Snedeker is a family and wedding photographer in central Indiana and surrounding areas.