Being a photographer for 3 1/2 years…I know, I know, it’s not as long as many people out there, but there are still some things I have learned. Some things I have learned the hard way and some that have just kind of came to me and were really easy. None the less, I have learned quite a bit. They are things that have changed me and molded me into the person who is writing this very post. Things that have changed me for the better. Things that have made me bawl my eyes out for days, literally. Things that have made me want to quit and sell all of my equipment, literally. Things that have driven me to want to better myself and my career. Things that inspire me and move me to tears. The list goes on and on and on. I am still learning and will continue to do so for the rest of my career, and for the rest of my life. Even the most successful and talented of photographers continue to learn all the time. The moment you think you’ve “arrived”, you will become complacent and will begin to digress. This is something I pray I will NEVER let enter this head of mine. I do not want to stop learning, ever. There is so much I’ve not even scratched the surface of, and I cannot wait to do so.
I encourage you to get out there and LEARN. If you are deeply, truly and honestly passionate about photography, get out there and get your hands on anything you can. I am not saying it will be easy, it will probably be hard. That’s ok. Anything worth having is going to take a ton of hard work, blood, sweat and tears. I know, I’ve been there…and still very much am and will be for a very long time. Trust me though, it’s so worth it. You’ll look back at how far you’ve come and see the mountains and valleys you walked up and over and through, and you will have so much more respect for yourself, and what you have accomplished so far. It’s worth it. Even when you want to throw your hands up and break down into tears. It’s worth it. And honestly, if you want to break down into tears, please do. There is nothing wrong with it and you just might feel better afterward. 😉
Here are some things I have learned along the way so far. Take what you want, leave what you don’t.
Don’t shoot what you don’t love. Now, this is just my opinion, but, if you shoot what you don’t love, you’re lying to yourself and cheating your clients. Although, if you are just beginning and know deep down that you have an honest and sincere passion for photography, but aren’t sure what you love to shoot…then shoot everything…in the beginning. Once you find your niche(s), stick to it/them and don’t shoot other things. There are some out there that say to choose 1 area of photography and stick to it so that you become an expert in that area, and I agree with that. Well, most of it anyway. For me, personally, since the very beginning, I have always had a passion and deep love for weddings, boudoir, maternity and dance…which is what I still shoot today, and now, it’s all I shoot. I did, however shoot any and everything under the sun when I was just beginning. It has only been recently (in the last year) that I have started referring other types of sessions to photographers in that area of expertise. I will say though, again, this is just me, but if it is family or a very close friend, I will do other types of sessions for them…that it is the only exception though and I don’t blog those sessions. I only blog what I want to shoot.
If you have a bad feeling about a client or an event, don’t work with the client and don’t shoot the event. Chances are, your feelings are correct. Trust your instincts, they’re there for a reason.
If you are just starting out and are eager to ask a seasoned photographer ,whom your admire, a question about something business related (prices, equipment, editing software etc.), just ask them. Don’t be sheisty and sneaky about it (I may or may not have done this in the very beginning of my career, and I totally regret it!). I know it’s intimidating, and they may not write you back, but you’re not losing anything by trying. At least you gave it a shot and were honest.
If you are talking with a potential client and they are asking if you would be able to edit their session in a different style other than your own, they are not the client for you. I can’t stress enough how important it is to make sure the client likes YOUR work and YOUR style. It is also so important that you and your client(s) “mesh” well. SO important! You will be spending a good amount of time with your client(s), especially if you’re a wedding photographer. In that case, you will be spending a considerable amount of time with them. So, like I said, it is very important to get along with and love your clients. <3
Educate educate educate! Educate your clients about time of day, lighting, what to wear, location, turn around time on images, (for wedding day) amount of time for bridal portraits. Basically, any and everything to do with their session and/or wedding day.
Have every client sign a contract…even if it’s a portrait session. Sign a contract. This one took me a while to get into the habit of doing, and now I do it for every.single.session. Contracts are SO important, I can’t stress that enough.
The intent of this blog post isn’t, by any means, to tell you what to do, but to give you advise. These are things I have learned the hard way, and honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing. I can’t say I thought that at the time I was going through them, but looking back now, God put me in certain situations and threw me curve balls for a very particular reason…to make me stronger, and a teeny tiny bit wiser. As I said before, I have SO much more to learn and I know there will be more situations and curve balls thrown my way, and in those moments, I hope I can again, put all my trust in Him and know one day that when I look back at those mountains and valleys I traveled up, over and through it all worked out and was worth it.