Advice, Tips and Help?

  • What drives you to become a Photographer?
  • When are you a “Professional” Photographer?
  • When do you have the confidence to charge?
  • Is your work of a high standard?

A little about me?

Being a working photographer for such a long time – this being my 15th year! I have worked so hard to build a reputable business and I understand the fundamentals required to run a successful photography business. I work around 12 hours a day – that is shooting, editing, emailing, driving,phoning and printing. Working with around 15 families a week, I run a very active boutique studio in Mornington.

I have 4 children and a wonderful supportive man.

The bottom line is – I express myself through my photography – I see so much good in this world – that is littered with so much negative. I believe in LOVE and I see this in people – I want to capture that to always remind people of their capabilities and beauty. I paint ( not much time these days!), I sing, adore Music and I am an Artist with my camera. I LOVE and LIVE what I do every day and wouldn’t have it any other way.

I get asked a couple of times a week for advice, tips and help. This is fine with me and I am glad to share and try to help.

Usually I am being asked by Mums, School Students and even people from across the globe who stumble upon my blog and Love what they see.

I am going to be brutally honest and I am writing this in a positive light.

Mainly to those who are hanging a shingle and calling themselves professionals. Honestly – this scares the heck out of me – why?  For the unsuspecting client. They are TRUSTING their precious photographic moments with an amateur? You cannot get moments, or time, or babies first smiles back.

Everyone starts somewhere and we should embrace that – photography is for everyone and anyone.

Making Active Steps

Since DSLR’s dropped in price – many people have access to a decent camera at a low price and there are many ” people who are good at taking pictures “, who have a light bulb moment and think/say “I could turn this into a business”, completely, yes you can.

But in saying that – photographers (usually with reputation) are then holding workshops – why are Great photographers having workshops? Because there are SO many, absolutely SO many “new” and aspiring photographers trying their hand at photography. Workshop rates have SKY rocketed since the digital camera movement has evolved.

1: The newbie charges nothing or at a severely discounted price. (The professional loses business).

SO that photographer needs to generate money they normally would through clients they have lost – so they figure – why not –  I will hold a workshop. Why else would they sell their secrets? If you can’t beat them – join them philosophy and that is a true business person. I’ve contemplated holding workshops – but I am actually too busy to do so. Workshops are beneficial – don’t get me wrong and the need for education is definitely positive – as this new generation starting in a digital age and having never shot Film are entering this industry substantially undernourished technically.

2: The step from not charging to charging – is a huge step. When are you professional? The minute you charge a person for a service – friend or not – they have an expectation of what their results will be.

A friend will take anything for free and tell you it is good if they don’t have to pay or fork out for their own DSLR.

Chances are your image is better than their point and shoot $200 samsung with a flash. It is by no means any way to measure your talent and use that as reasoning to become professional.

I have clients whose weddings I shot 10 years ago – who have come to me for newborn photos of their 3 children and now family photos. Happy and satisfied customers mean the world to me and this makes me smile knowing I have such happy, loyal and dedicated clients and new friends.

The step from amateur to pro is a big one – and you the new photographer in a busy digital age are a small fish amount squillions of photographers or faux-tographers ( a new term for newbies who point and shoot and never step off Auto?) – stepping into a bigger pond – treading water with the millions of not so small fish.. the tank grows and grows..
You need to step above – there are levels of skill, levels of client business and levels of putting yourself out there.

You just need to be prepared to learn, workshops are handy, online workshops are fantastic – BUT you learn most on the job, behind the camera, UNDERSTANDING your camera, looking at your results and asking for honest feedback and also the main thing, your client being happy looking at their childs’ face staring back at them for example.

Being a part of the AIPP – The Australian Institute of Professional – a long standing institution that represents and adheres to a strict code of conduct for all members. Photographers must pass a judging of a number of images – judged on quality/aesthetic and technique. All Accredited photographers must have a working with children check, years of experience in the field as a professional and also Public Liability Insurance. This is a fabulous safeguard for clients to be assured that the AIPP has endorsed the photographer. The AIPP is a mecca of education and learning – photographers are there for one another with support, ideas and advice and you feel part of a photographic family.

You cannot bottle “successful photographer” – while I am successful – there are those I look up to each for various reasons.

You do not want to be a dime a dozen -there needs to be:

  •  point of difference to your work
  •  a market for your work
  •  finding on going – on paying work
  • knowing your client and who your business attracts
  • being able to  keep up with todays fast growing and ever evolving technology
  • financially maintaining your business, there is a lot of output before you get income

Costs incurred by a photographer annually:

Equipment/ Maintainance/Programs

Insurances on Equipment/ Public Liability Insurance/Membership fees to Clubs & Organisations

Rental cost on Studios (or building a swish in home studio)/ Fitting out your studio/ Lights/Props/Furniture

Among the many more I could list but I know you get the drift!

If you feel good taking photos – do it!

If it feels right to take the leap into photography do it – if you are ready to be judged, if you are ready to be criticised (this happens from all avenues) and you can hold your head high and say;

This is my artistic contribution to people/ to life/ to customers – if you want to engage a viewer and take them away from their everyday life for 5 seconds and sometimes a lot longer – then you too are a photographer.

When you put the word Professional at the start – this opens a whole new door and you have a lot of important factors you will need to consider.

#Food for Thought by Amber Gardener – Naturalight Photography


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