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Thread started 07 Jan 2014 (Tuesday) 21:11
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How do you get experience?

 
Kanye
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Jan 07, 2014 21:11 |  #1

How did most of you build your online gallery? By shooting free?

How did you acquire clients? Did they intuitively trust you to take their pics and you slowly started building a portfolio?

I'd like to have more experience, I will shoot for free.

Am I heading the right or wrong direction here?




  
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Christopher ­ Steven ­ b
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Jan 07, 2014 21:28 |  #2

At your stage the most important thing is building a portfolio--do it for free if you have to, but understand that many of us were able to build a portfolio while being paid. I think I shot my first event (a small office xmas party) for $20/hour. They found me via kijiji (a Canadian version of craigslist).



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Kanye
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Jan 07, 2014 21:30 |  #3

I want to figure out flash before I move on to "getting paid" should I need it and not know how to use it. Or maybe I have ridiculous standards that paid photography must be magnificent and timeless art?

I want to do it for free, but even that is hard nowadays..




  
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memoriesoftomorrow
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Jan 07, 2014 21:43 |  #4

Paid photography just needs to satisfy the requirements of those hiring you.


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Kanye
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Jan 07, 2014 22:21 as a reply to  @ memoriesoftomorrow's post |  #5

So fake it till I make it?




  
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ssim
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Jan 07, 2014 22:50 as a reply to  @ Kanye's post |  #6

I got my start way back in the days of film long before digital was related in any fashion to photography. Those days there were far less people doing photography on the side though I see no difference other than the medium is different. I started hanging out at a local camera store and ordering some of my gear through there. The owner also had a chain of studios with a total of 7 or 8 studios throughout the region. They also provided lab services and when he saw that I was obviously doing paid work he offered to take me under his wing and give me a job. I followed him for many of his assignments and even filled in at the retail store a bit. I worked part time for him for a few years and was eventually covering weddings and sittings for him by myself. All of his work was done in 6x7 or larger format and I purchased a compliment of medium format gear before going out on my own. You could really tell the difference between 35mm and the larger format. I made good money doing weddings and commercial. I was never interested in doing portrait sittings but took them if they came along. I did this for quite a few years until a work transfer and children set my priorities on a different path. Then several years ago I had the chance to leave my employer of 30 odd years which I did and started up again in the same city I had left many years previous. I found the wedding segment crowded so I worked the commercial market which I had maintained many contacts from years gone by. I did door knocking and hired a small marketing firm to help me get the word out. I managed to get my portfolio built in the film days mostly and still use many of those images today.

If you are having a hard time getting good images to use in your portfolio it can probably be for two reasons. Not enough even free clients or you are not happy with the results of the work you are doing. If you want to make this a business with long term goals of being full time then treat it like a business. Sometimes you have to invest in your future. Hire models if you have to. Many of us think nothing of plunking down thousands of dollars for gear but cringe at the thought of having to pay out a few hundred to models that will serve you in the long term. Sometimes you can get models to work in the infamous TFCD concept.

By all means learn to use a flash before you are out there charging full value. I don't know why so many people are so afraid of flash photography and if you learn how to do it right it can be the difference between a good shot and an outstanding shot. You should be able to fill in shadows without getting the "deer in headlights" look. I've invested in some excellent flash gear that is worth its weight in gold.

You can make photography anything you want it to be. To sit back and say I can't find anybody to help me build my portfolio. Do you have family, friends or co-workers. They are all a source that can be used but should not be over used as one can wear their welcome out real fast.

Good luck with your quest.


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Alveric
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Jan 08, 2014 00:48 |  #7
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You need to, if not master, at least get off-camera flash down before you start charging for shoots. You have to be able to do what the client asks you, as was said above, and in many situations the proper/creative use of flash will be unavoidable.

I don't consider anyone 'a photographer' until he's able to use flash efficiently and consistently.


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Kanye
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Jan 08, 2014 00:50 |  #8

I have 4 Vivitar 285s. Think that's a good way to start?

Just need to figure out the hot-shoe radio triggers and study flash theory more.




  
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memoriesoftomorrow
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Jan 08, 2014 00:53 |  #9

Alveric wrote in post #16587322 (external link)
You need to, if not master, at least get off-camera flash down before you start charging for shoots. You have to be able to do what the client asks you, as was said above, and in many situations the proper/creative use of flash will be unavoidable.

I don't consider anyone 'a photographer' until he's able to use flash efficiently and consistently.

I didn't play around with ocf until around my third or fourth year in business. I still barely use flash other than on camera... I guess I'm not a photographer...


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memoriesoftomorrow
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Jan 08, 2014 01:00 |  #10

Kanye wrote in post #16587114 (external link)
So fake it till I make it?

No. If you can deliver what the client requires you aren't faking anything. Just meet their expectations and all is good.


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Phil ­ V
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Jan 08, 2014 01:16 |  #11

Kanye wrote in post #16587114 (external link)
So fake it till I make it?

No!
Just take on jobs where you can satisfy the requirement of the people hiring you.

It might sound harsh, but if you're not ready, you're not ready. There are too many people who enter the industry without being ready, they generally last less than a year, whereas the people who put thousands of hours into learning and ensuring they understand all they need to know build a more solid business.

If you shoot for free for experience, people are taking a small gamble on a free photographer that might pay off. If you advertise cheap because you're still learning, you're dragging down the 'value' of professional photography and the 'standard' too.


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memoriesoftomorrow
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Jan 08, 2014 01:26 |  #12

You don't drag anything down. The standard varies from hired shutter button presser to high end togs. The market stretches all the way from top to bottom. The are opportunities all along the way. You are ready when you can deliver what the client paid you to deliver... period.

Ignore the you must have thousands of hours behind you. You just need to deliver what you advertise irrespective of what you charge.


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Phil ­ V
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Jan 08, 2014 07:18 |  #13

memoriesoftomorrow wrote in post #16587398 (external link)
You don't drag anything down. The standard varies from hired shutter button presser to high end togs. The market stretches all the way from top to bottom. The are opportunities all along the way. You are ready when you can deliver what the client paid you to deliver... period.

Ignore the you must have thousands of hours behind you. You just need to deliver what you advertise irrespective of what you charge.

Spoken like someone who isn't surrounded by hundreds of inexperienced photographers selling inferior products and dragging down the whole perception of the industry.

I used to keep saying 'but they're not professional photographers, so there's no comparison' but how would a potential customer know? The tide turned and now they're the rule rather than the exception.

So now we're constantly told that 'professional photographers' produce pictures that anyone could do, and it's a discussion we didn't need to have when there was just a handful of crap wannabes. Numbers drag down averages, that's how averages work. The only upside is that I'm now so much better than average:oops:

So, you'll forgive me for asking that people show a little due diligence before advertising their services. We don't disagree, I'm just looking at the same issue from a slightly different place. Within a mile of my suburban home there's now a handful of 'wedding photographers' 3 years ago there were none. Within 10 miles there are hundreds where only a dozen are what I'd describe as 'competent'


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sarahashleyphotos
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Jan 08, 2014 07:56 |  #14

To gain experience I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with a high end wedding photographer. Many photographers look for second shooters or assistance for weddings or events so you may want to try that first. After I graduated I got experience by shooting prom for my high school at a very very low price (I am still doing that and the price has gone up). After a couple years of that I decided to open up my business for real to wedding and portrait clients. My first wedding was lucky as well. The bride was looking for someone at a very cheap price because her photographer had gotten sick. Now I have a studio in a shopping center and I have grown very much in the past four years since officially starting my business.


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memoriesoftomorrow
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Jan 08, 2014 08:02 |  #15

Phil V wrote in post #16587750 (external link)
Spoken like someone who isn't surrounded by hundreds of inexperienced photographers selling inferior products and dragging down the whole perception of the industry.

Actually you couldn't be more wrong. Photographers are a dime a dozen here and breeding like rabbits.

The perception of the Industry is irrelevant in my book. The only perception I care or worry about is the perception clients and potential clients have of me. What they think about Bob down the road makes no difference.

Phil V wrote in post #16587750 (external link)
I used to keep saying 'but they're not professional photographers, so there's no comparison' but how would a potential customer know? The tide turned and now they're the rule rather than the exception.

The word professional is meaningless in our game. There is no clear definition of it within the Industry so no wonder there is no clear definition of it outside of the Industry. A bit like "digital negatives", "high resolution", "full day coverage" no one can decide on what these are either. We are an Industry with no definition of pretty much anything. So why hang yourself by trying to conform to the many definitions the Industry has and why no just blaze your own trail and concentrate on creating a distinct version of yourself which is clear and easy for clients and potential clients to understand. Let them define what and who you are. I never use the word professional to describe myself these days. I let the clients do that. I don't use the word artist either. The perception you create is the one the clients and potential clients will label you with.

Phil V wrote in post #16587750 (external link)
So now we're constantly told that 'professional photographers' produce pictures that anyone could do, and it's a discussion we didn't need to have when there was just a handful of crap wannabes. Numbers drag down averages, that's how averages work. The only upside is that I'm now so much better than average:oops:

It is easier to stand out that it ever has been before. You just have to be bold enough to do so. I don't worry about the averages I worry about what I'm producing. The more crap out there the higher the premium for distinct quality.

Phil V wrote in post #16587750 (external link)
Within a mile of my suburban home there's now a handful of 'wedding photographers' 3 years ago there were none. Within 10 miles there are hundreds where only a dozen are what I'd describe as 'competent'

That is what I call an opportunity. Whilst everyone else advertises specials, discounts and freebies I don't believe in offering any of those.

The reason why so many are struggling is because they are simply not unique enough to stand apart. Workshops everywhere are teaching everyone to be the same. Facebook groups and forums are spreading the same sales techniques and pricing structures etc like a virus.

People who struggle do so because they are unremarkable on one or several levels.


Peter

  
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