We had a big request to do a video on a ton of stuff for up and coming photographers while we are in Mexico. We have a jammed pack week while we are there so just in case we don’t have time, I thought I would put together a little blog post before we leave. Here is a handful of tips I wish someone had told me when I started out. Although, ya know…people can give you all the advice in the world. Taking it is the hardest part.
Learn Your Equipment
I started out with a Canon Rebel XSI. This was the most amazing gift that has ever been given to me. At the time I thought it was the perfect camera with so many capabilities. Little did I know it wasn’t full frame, it was terrible in low light and had so many things missing. But, everyone starts somewhere and this little Canon Rebel got my feet wet and was the best thing to ever happen to me. I cannot stress enough to learn your gear. Yes great lenses can improve the photos you are taking but if you don’t know how to use your camera you are no better than the next Joe Shmo. So before anything else, before purchasing all that fancy stuff, learn the camera you have inside and out. Learn its focal points. Learn its low light capabilities and learn how to shoot manual. Even if you don’t stick with shooting manual (I know a ton of great photographers that shoot in AV mode) learn it. Learning manual teaches you the ins and outs of how the settings work together to get the look you are going for. Learn the F-stops. Know how much to change them in order to make small adjustments and big ones. Learn your camera, and then get fancy. Also…random tip. The better you know your camera the better you will shoot and the easier post production will be in the end and THAT should be your ultimate goal.
I started out with the kit lens that came with my camera. Within months I upgraded to the 24-70 2.8 and this was my go to lens for absolutely everything. I loved that it gave a decent amount of depth of field and that it had a good focal range. Even though I don’t use this lens anymore, I still recommend it for a go to lens that is easier on the budget and can do a lot for you. To see what’s in my kit…head over here. Don’t get side tracked by that little red ring. Yes, all of my lenses are L series lenses but that is my preference. Again, I know amazing photographers that don’t use L series lenses. It is all about knowing what works for you and how that particular glass will work with your camera. Choose lenses that will work for you and your shooting style. When I first switched over to prime lenses I was so frustrated. I didn’t understand it. But now, I mainly shoot everything with my 50mm 1.2 and I love it. Prime lenses force you to move around more and find your angle. It makes you be more creative and think outside the box, rather than standing in one spot and zooming in and out. Don’t get me wrong, I love my 70-200 2.8 that is a zoom but there is something to be said about how sharp and strong a prime lens is.
Your business face
You would be surprised how many people call me NC. Not Nicole but NC. They know me as the business I run. Once you make the decision to be a business, or to finally call yourself a photographer. This is your face. This is your brand. I have changed my branding, my logo, and my look so many times in the past 4 years that it is ridiculous. Why did I do this? My photography changed. My style changed. I changed. Even now, I just branded about a year ago and I already want to make small tweaks to go better with my current style. Photography styles are always evolving and growing. Just make sure that when you are making these changes your clients can still recognize your work and know that when they see a photo pop up, it is yours. Remember, even huge businesses need a face lift every now and then. Just make sure to know who you are, who you want to attract, and how they can recognize you.
Check this out…I believe this is all the branding I have had. I changed literally once a year. The mistake I made was that they look nothing alike. I clearly was a bit lost and didn’t know what direction I wanted to go.
Seriously shoot every single day. I started photography in April of 2009. Before August of that year I had shot 60 sessions that got me 15 booked weddings for the next year. The only way you will learn is to practice. And I don’t mean go to the same spot, at the same time of day and do the same thing. Challenge yourself. Try sticky lighting situations. Come up with random concepts and make them work. Try a location that you might not think would work but make it work. Frame things differently. Move around. Try new things. Look at the back of your camera and say YUCK and try something else. Shoot your little heart out.
Well this one sums up 20/20 is hindsight for sure. I was a huge random editor when I started. Nothing flowed. I edited photos the way I felt like that day and went with it. I seriously cringe thinking back at it. I can’t imagine those photos printed and hung on walls. What was I thinking? Well, I had no idea that the way you process your photos is your stamp on it. That says NC Photography took and edited this photo. You need to own this and be proud of each and every photo you put out there. The more consistent your processing is, the more known you will be.
Why would you want to network with people who are possibly your competition? I know it’s a crazy thought right. And believe me, I have been burned more than a handful of times from this. But, those experiences taught me who to trust and who not to. And, it taught me how many amazing people there are in this industry. Far more amazing people then the bad ones.Whether it is a hairstylist, makeup artist, or planners. Or it could just be your fellow photographer. These people are going through the same things you are. They are probably the only people in the world that actually get what you are going through. Sleepless nights. Endless hours of editing. Creative random sparks at 2am. Your regular 9-5 best friend won’t get it. But these people you network with will. They will be there to support you and help you. They are also full of a ton of information. You know everything yourself though right? Nope. You sure don’t. You would be surprised how helpful someone with the same interest as you can be. So reach out. Join networking groups. Have coffee and talk photography talk . But with that being said, don’t look at these people as competition. Once those relationships are built, they will be your biggest advocate and your most strong support system. Look to them for inspiration, motivation and simply a shoulder to lean on. Do not compare yourself. Here is what I mean by this. I am always completely happy with the photos I’ve taken…until I slip up and look at phenomenal photographers that I look up to. Then I start criticizing my work that I was just so madly in love with. Then all of a sudden it is no longer good enough. My husband has lectured me so many times on this. You know those pro photographers you look up to? Ask them who they look up to. It won’t be the local photographer down the street; it will be someone huge in the world. Look up to them. Don’t look up to someone just around the corner from you. This will only hinder you. But then you wouldn’t be reading this post right? I know, hypocritical. I appreciate all of the support and following that I have but I will always say, make a name for yourself and aspiring to be like someone else won’t get you that.
Always keep learning and never give up
If you saw all the bad days those photographers that you look up to have, you would probably feel great about your own struggles. The fact is you don’t. With Facebook and other networking tools being so commonly used now, things can be very fabricated. No one is going to update their status saying “Oh man I totally dropped the ball on that session.” Instead it will say, “What an amazing session today.” See what I mean. Don’t get caught up in things around you. Focus on you. Focus on failing and learning from it. Struggle and learn from it. Do great and learn from it. I don’t know how many sessions I have actually shot but I know that I still learn something from every single one.
I am always here if you have questions at all. Send em on over!