Photography is a hot career choice these days. It's a job everyone longs to have, picking up a camera and snapping some photos for money. Easy right? The truth is, it is not. There is a huge market for photography clients but the problem is there's also a huge amount of photographers needing those clients. So what do you do? You educate yourself and be the best that you can be and when you think that you have finally made it, keep learning.. there will always be something new to add to your education.
Before we get started be sure to get your business license, business insurance and LLC.
Here are 5 things you need to educate yourself on to get started.
1. What photography gear you will need. As a beginner all you need is a DSLR camera and a lens or two. The rest can come later. Now in my opinion the type of lens you choose will be based on the audience you have in front of your camera. Family? Individuals? Shooting a wedding? What you are photographing will determine the type of lens you will need.
Families - I recommend a 50mm or 85mm lens, these lenses will give you a wide angle that will get everyone into the frame.
Individuals/Couples - I recommend a 85mm or 35mm, but a 24-70mm is also a fantastic choice if you are wanting a zoom lens.
Weddings - I recommend having multiple lenses, 24-70mm is a lens that I am able to keep on my camera the entire wedding day to cover ceremony, family, details and the couple. Its versatile. However, a 85mm and 35mm are good options as well.
Remember the price tag of your camera gear will NOT make you a good photographer. Knowing how to use it properly and your creative abilities will.
2. Shooting in RAW. Knowing how to shoot in RAW format is an extremely important goal for a photographer. Why? When shooting in RAW you are able to take your post processing to the next level. There is better detail, more flexibility for editing, and more creative control. Essentially it gives you two chances to get the perfect photo, once in camera and second in post processing.
3. Shooting in manual mode. This is a total game changer when it comes to your photos. Knowing how to shoot in manual mode will take your photos to the next level. Here are the most important things you need to know about shooting in manual mode!
ISO - Iso controls your cameras sensitivity to light. You will be able to control how bright or how dark your images are by adjusting your ISO. Raising your ISO will brighten your images and lowering your ISO will darken your photos. Depending on the quality of the camera you are using you will want to leave your ISO as low as possible to avoid adding noise to your images. The higher your ISO the more noise that will show up on your images, and although this can be slightly fixed in post processing - not all images can be saved.
Aperture - Aperture controls the width of the opening in the lens. This controls the amount of light that is let in, as well as the depth of field (focus). Shooting with a f/1.4 will brighten your images while also only focusing on a tiny portion of your field. Shooting with a higher f-stop will darken your image and focus on a larger portion of your field. Another great thing about aperture is Bokeh! The lower the f-stop the better the bokeh is within your image.
Shutter Speed - The faster your shutter speed the sharper your image and the slower your shutter speed the more motion blur gets created. Along with sharpness, the faster the shutter speed, the darker your image gets and the slower the shutter speed the brighter your image gets. As a portrait photographer shutter speed really doesn't need to go higher than 1/350. When shooting faster subjects such as sports or cars, a higher shutter speed of 1/500+ is best.
4. Editing Softwares. Unless you plan on delivering your RAW (unedited) images I suggest become familiar with at the very least Lightroom and photoshop. These two editing softwares are affordable and a great place to start when editing your images.
5. Contracts and Invoicing. When starting your photography journey, you want to do it professionally but you also want to be sure to protect yourself and your business.
Contracts Setting up a solid contract will not only protect you but it will protect the client as well. You will want to include things such as retainer/payment, work product, expectations, cancellation policies, etc. LawTog is a great resource to use to get started with your contracts.
Invoicing/Taxes You will need to decide how you plan to take payments from your clients. If you are not accepting cash I recommend using an invoice system such as square or stripe. Square is a fantastic resource to have. You are able to send invoices via email/text, send reminders for payments and setup payment plans. Another great feature to consider is setting up a savings account through square to automatically pull out all of your sales tax and taxes for the end of the year. Save yourself the trouble and get on top of those taxes now!
At the end of the day, if you figure out just those five things then you are on your way to becoming a fantastic photographer! Just remember, never stop learning!