Most of you know that I started this business just over a year ago. Well, it wasn’t very long after I launched that people started asking me for advice on how to start their own photography businesses. I have to admit, I felt a little under-qualified to answer them at first! Even though I’m only a year it, there are a few things I’ve learned that I tell every person who asks this question. Today I’m sharing them with you!
I cannot emphasize this enough! When I first had the idea to start a business, I had no idea what I was getting myself into! Not only did I have a lot to learn technically – there was also all of the business practices to think about! I needed some guidance. Desperately!
Enter my good friend, Emily! Emily already owned a successful wedding photography business that she started herself when she was just in high school! We spent hours talking over gear, shooting techniques, wedding contracts, you name it! It was great to have someone to bounce ideas off of and someone who could answer my many questions. Emily was so encouraging and her friendship is a large part of why this business is where it is today!
If you don’t know any photographers, don’t be afraid to ask! Many professional photographers hire interns to help with behind the scenes work or will allow an extra assistant on wedding days. There are also many photography meet-up groups, the most common of which is the Rising Tide Society which has chapters in most major cities. This is a great way to network with creatives in a wide scope of industries, including photography!
Cameras these days are insanely smart. There’s no denying that. But YOU are still smarter! You are the only person who knows what effect you’re going for in an image. Did you want motion blur to capture water in a stream, or an extremely blurry background so your subject pops off the page? Your camera doesn’t know what you want – you have to tell it! And to do that you need to be in manual mode!
There are so many great resources out there on how to shoot in manual mode. Everything from blog posts (like this series that I wrote about aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and the exposure triangle) to video courses. Once you understand the components that make up exposure, you’ll be able to create any effect you’d like and will have control over your images! (Pssst! There are so many free resources out there for learning this, so make sure you do your research before paying money for any classes!)
If you’re just starting out, work with what you have. I shot my first sessions with a point and shoot camera! Now, while I do recommend that you invest in a DSLR (a camera where you can swap lenses), you don’t have to start with the top model! Both Nikon and Canon make starter DSLRs that will work great until you can afford to upgrade.
This brings me to an important point. Don’t go into debt over your business! It is so tempting to want the latest gear or that dream lens. Gear envy is real, guys. But resist! If you want to create a successful business, you need to start with sound business practices. Sure, you might choose to invest a bit of your personal money into buying your first camera, and that’s fine. What’s not fine is opening up credit card after credit card to buy gear you 1) don’t need and 2) don’t know how to use! Start slow. Focus on perfecting your technique with the gear you have so that you can book more clients and then afford to purchase the gear you want.
Finally, once you have a camera, read the manual. The entire thing. The better you know your gear, the better it will work for you and the better your results will be. So many people make the mistake of thinking that the camera determines the quality of the image. In reality, it’s the photographer behind the camera that makes the difference!