Tips on Beginning Photography as a Part Time Job?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by I AM THE MAN, May 28, 2011.

  1. I AM THE MAN macrumors 6502

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    Apr 10, 2011
    #1
    Hey everyone! I am really trying to expand my knowledge in Photography, and I really want to do a part-time job in the summer as a photographer for events, etc. I am thinking of purchasing a DSLR, and I do have a little bit of experience with a T3 (but I am going to sell the T3 for a T3i), and I was wondering if anyone can offer me some tips. I do know the basics to Photoshop, etc. Some things I'd like to know are...

    -Is this a good idea? I have been taking photos for over 4 years with a Point and Shoot (I am a HighSchool student right now).

    -Should I shoot photos in RAW or JPEGs?

    -Will I need to buy an external flash (Silly question, but I've seen the internal flash on the T3i do wonders)

    -What kind of lens would I need (I will be getting the usual 18-55mm Lens).

    Thank you for all the answers in advance.
     
  2. HBOC macrumors 68020

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    Oct 14, 2008
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    SLC
    #2
    no offense, but if you have to ask these basic questions, perhaps you are not ready.

    I understand everyone starts somewhere, but there is a "bit of a difference" between a P&S and an SLR. You have to understand about exposures, aperture, shutter speed, composition (is what you are shooting interesting?), focal lengths, etc.

    "Understand Exposure" by Bryan Petersen is a superb book. A kit lens is good for starting out in photography, but for any serious work, good primes (and glass in general) are needed, especially if you want to try to make money in this profession. Zooms are good as well.
     
  3. TheDrift- macrumors 6502a

    TheDrift-

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2010
    #3
    Perhaps you could ask round local photo studios and see if you could pick up some work helping a pro photographer.

    Even if your just moving gear around and holding reflectors you'd be picking up a wealth of info to help you
     
  4. HBOC macrumors 68020

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    #4
    This is excellent advice. Put up an ad on Craigslist to see if anyone needs help. See how they do it, etc.
     
  5. I AM THE MAN thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Apr 10, 2011
    #5
    I think you might have gotten me wrong, or I might not have mentioned it. I am using a T3 at the moment, and I am figuring out how to use it, and use the manual exposures. However, I think you are right as far as "not ready."
     
  6. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #6
    Photography skills aside, and they are important of course, you also need to think about the business aspects.

    Pricing. Set your prices too high, you don't get the business. Set your prices too low, you lose money and go out of business. Once you've set your prices, it's hard to raise them. So do your research first. Photographers can be very generous with a new member of the profession, if you aren't undercutting them on price.... which devalues everyone's value.

    Are you going to invoice people? Are you going to accept deposits for future work? How are you going to handle situations where your client demands their money back because they expected an Annie Liebovitz style shot, but only had a budget for a 2 hour session?

    Copyright. Do you have at least a basic knowledge of who owns the copyright, and what you can do with images after taking them. Do you have a basic knowledge of privacy laws, and who you can photograph, and under what conditions you can or can not "publish" the images?

    Do need a business license? If so, are you going to fly under the radar for a bit? Most beginners do - but there are risks - so you know what they are?

    Are you going to collect and pay taxes? (sales and income). If not (many beginners don't) do you know what benefits you are giving up? Because there are some benefits not being in the black-market.

    Do you need insurance? For loss of your equipment, accidental or otherwise. Liability - in case you knock someone or something over while you have a camera pressed to your face. The most common photographic insurance claim is from wedding/event photographers who have knocked someone/something over while backing up.

    You don't need to be an expert in all of this stuff to get started, but the more you know, the better off you will be and the more professional you will appear. And less risk you run bad and expensive things happening to you.

    Good Luck.

    And yes, budget for an external flash. Shoot in RAW. Budget for getting Lightroom or Aperture. Get business cards made professionally. Budget for buying at least two more lenses and back up camera body in the next year or so. And lots and lots of HDD storage, plus a way to organize your client info and the images.
     
  7. I AM THE MAN thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #7
    Thank you.
     
  8. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

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    #8
    You are not remotely ready.

    Just shoot for awhile and learn what you're doing. Take a year or two doing that and then see where you are.
     
  9. peepboon macrumors 6502

    peepboon

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2008
    #9
    Good luck!

    What you should be doing now is practice as much as you can. If its going to portrait photography then you are in luck! Just ask your family/friends to participate. In the process, you will get good quality images, gain knowledge from editing and they benefit by having a new FB profile photo, lol.

    I would use an external flash for those 'just in case' moments. I use Nikon's CLS system so I do not need wireless triggers, etc etc. I can get someone (or do it myself) to hold my SB900 with a Gary Fong diffuser where I want it to create a more pleasing light.

    Perhaps start off small before the summer by offering people free photoshoots, portrait, passport photos, etc etc. You can charge a little to cover petrol/gas/battery costs. It might seem like a lot of effort for little pay at the start but it will be worth it! :)
     
  10. Cole JM macrumors regular

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    Mar 13, 2011
    #11
    I checked your youtube channel out, you have alot to learn my friend. Like I said there go to POTN which is a Canon specific photography forum. it will teach you TONS of things and set you straight on some things that you were wrong on in the video on the t3, which I must say, do you have the T3 or the T3i? because they are 2 different camera's.
     
  11. I AM THE MAN thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #12
    t3.
     
  12. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    #13
    +1. From the questions you have asked here, and given the recent threads you have created, making the jump to being a freelance photographer is just way too much.

    I agree with Drift- if you're really interested in learning the industry, look for a part time job or internship with a local photographer. This will teach you a lot about taking photos and also about the photography business.

    I don't get it. Something's not adding up. Here you claim you have a T3 and want to sell it for a T3i, but in this other thread you also created today which I have quoted above, you say you use a Nikon P&S and are looking to get a DSLR. :confused: So, which is it?

    Ruahrc
     
  13. xMClass macrumors 6502

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    Mar 26, 2011
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    California
    #14
    You say you're selling your T3 for a T3i, already a big mistake. First off, equipment doesn't make the photographer, the photographer does. Anybody who has money can buy the best cameras and lenses on the market but having the best equipment does NOT mean better pictures. It's like giving a new driver a Ferrari, yeah they have a really nice car but does it make them any better at driving? No, it doesn't. If you're just getting into photography for the money, I'm telling you now, you won't make it. Now if taking pictures is something you want to do because you enjoy it, I suggest you learn how to use what you've got right now, learn all the different settings, READ forums and practice, practice, practice. I've been a "photographer" if that's what you want to call it, for 3 years now and I'm still not happy with my own work. It's going to take a lot of practice, patience and REAL passion for photography if you want to make any real money out of it. Trust me, it's not as easy as it looks, far from it. One last thing, don't rely on Photoshop to edit crappy pictures, crappy pictures will be crappy pictures no matter what you do in photoshop. I think way too many people these days rely on photoshop to fix their lack of photographic skills which is a real shame. Learn how to use your camera, worry about the rest later.
     
  14. I AM THE MAN thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #15
    Both. I have a Nikon Coolpix L110 and T3, and I returned the T3.
     
  15. I AM THE MAN thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #16
    I think that was well said. So, would you suggest I should take some Photography classes? Additionally, would you recommend purchasing a SLR, or stick with my Coolpix L110?
     
  16. johnnj macrumors 6502a

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    #17
    Dude.. seriously. I've been at it for almost 15 years and have about $30k retail in gear at this point and I would never consider it as anything more than a thoroughly enjoyable hobby. The most I've ever sold a print for is $0, including materials, and I'm fine with that.

    Like everyone else, my advice to the OP is learn what the f you're doing before thinking about making money off of it. Although, if what you want to do is party pictures or something like that, success probably has more to do with personality than technical and artistic achievement.

    My practical knowledge of the Zone System wouldn't rescue me in that situation from my general dislike of people. :)
     
  17. xMClass macrumors 6502

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    #18
    Thought you had a T3? I'd recommend an entry level DSLR with a kit lens and learn with that. Canon and Nikon both have entry level cameras for around $400-$600 new and used. Maybe even less.

    About classes, that's entirely up to you. BUT every payed photographer I've talked to said classes are a waste of time and money. If you ever get to the level of photography where money is involved, agencies will be more interested in your photo portfolio rather than what degrees you may or may not have.
     
  18. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

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    Arizona
    #19
    BUT every payed photographer I've talked to said classes are a waste of time and money.

    That depends on what your goals are. I am looking to be an art photographer, which has a completely different focus from a technical-minded class. There isn't much discussion of technical material in art photo classes, except when it serves the goal of artistic expression
     
  19. blueroom macrumors 603

    blueroom

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    #20
    In skilled hands the Coolpix L110 can produce excellent photos. As pointed out in this and your other thread the skill needs to be in you first. Having a good eye for composition isn't something easy to teach.
     
  20. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #21
    Admittedly I'm biased. I teach a class at commercial photography school, and I teach privately. Two different beasts, entirely.

    I also know many professional photographers, some of whom took classes - and were happy too - and teach as well.

    I've observed a few things.

    A) For some people, it doesn't matter whether they take a year's workth of classes, or self-learn, they're never going to become a pro photographer. It's not just whether they can take a picture or not, it's also a mindset.
    B) Some people start the classes, and it's obvious they don't need them. They were born to be photographers. In 20 years of teaching (only part-time) I've had two. One dropped out of school rather quickly. Made it in NY. It was the correct decision for him.

    The other one decided to stick it out in school, but on his own terms.... didn't care about the marks, but recognized he had access to equipment he wouldn't have otherwise, and access to an amazing wealth of experience in the faculty. I was fortunate, in that I teach a creative left-right brain type course (rather than straight technical skills). We wanted to be challenged, and I gave him challenges to meet. He would bring me the most amazing PJ images you have ever seen. I would bring a several decades worth of experience looking at and taking photos. We both knew the marks were perfunctory and that he was going to pass. What he wanted to do was to pick my brain. I think the entire faculty did this too. We knew we couldn't "teach" him the same was as the others, so we let him pick our brains.

    C) These are the competent photographers. The unheralded blue collar shooters that don't write popular blogs, or get written up in magazines. They just slog along, making living at doing something they love. Two bills away from needing to find regular employment. These students, I believe, benefit from classes. It gets them up the learning curve very quickly so that they can start earning much sooner, and helps them to avoid the most common mistakes. As someone mentioned earlier, a photographer is their brand. If you screw up early, it's hard to re-establish that brand.


    I think the other thing a photo school can teach people is the business of photography. It's tough enough trying to get the shot right. At least with some classes under your belt you're not being distracted trying to figure out the invoicing/bill-paying/tax-collecting/tax-remitting/insurance/pricing/client-info-management/etc side as well. A small-business course, tailored for photographers, is probably the most important courses a photo school can teach.

    imho, of course, and ymmv....
     
  21. MattSepeta macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

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    #22
    Oh my...

    Don't even bother trying to find paid work. There are more than enough trained and already competent photographers (I know too many who went the "art school" route and now wait tables trying to pay off their $50,000 photo degrees) out there who can't find work.

    Best advice: Get out there and shoot. Don't worry about classes, don't worry about getting a part time job assisting, all that can come later.

    Heck, I did not work a single photo related job under someones direction before I started taking on my own clients. I just used my camera for personal work a ridiculous amount for 6 years straight. I DID go to school for two semesters with the intention of getting a photo degree. After the 2nd semester I realized that personally, school was a waste of time and more importantly money.

    IMO, time spent with a camera in hand is infinitely more valuable than time spent reading a book or memorizing ratios or fumbling about wasting money on paper and chemicals in the antiquated darkroom.

    In fairness though, "Light: Science and Magic" is a GREAT read if you have some spare time.

    SO TRUE.

    If I could change one thing about my past career path it would have been taking two semesters worth of "Continuing Education" a la carte style classes on small business, accounting, tax law, etc rather than essentially wasting a year taking Photo 101, 102, and a slew of other useless social studies and science classes that "Higher Education" insists you take.
     
  22. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

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    #23
    I'm well aware that I'm probably not going to make a living doing art photography. One of the primary goals of learning art photography is how to see artistically, how to tell stories, how to think about work, rather than just seeing and shooting. I've become a different photographer since going down that path, and I've got a long way to go. I hope to continue changing along the way.

    You get out of it what you put into it. There was no textbook for my Photo II class, though I did read photo-related material on my own time. My instructor was (and is) a walking encyclopedia of various photographers, both alive and not. I have access to a darkroom, and using one has helped me become a better photographer, including my digital work. Dodging and burning in Lightroom becomes more immediate when you've done it for real.

    I'm fortunate enough to be attending classes at one of the best photo programs in the country, though I am not officially a member of the program yet (that will come in time, hopefully). The staff there and in programs elsewhere has a tremendous wealth of experience to share. There is also a great deal of experience and knowledge amongst the more advanced students. I've already used many of my fellow students' work as both a guide and inspiration.

    If you're there to learn how to make art, you're in a good place. If you just want to make money, school is probably not the best place for you.
     
  23. btbrossard macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 25, 2008
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    Chicagoland
    #24
    What part of the country are you in?

    Given you're in High School (and as such, I'm assuming you don't need a full time, bill paying job right now), doing the grip or assistant thing would probably help you.

    These types of jobs would not only let you get the basics of photography down, but also build contacts in the industry.

    If you go in, show a good work ethic and a willingness to learn, good things will happen for you.

    Good luck.
     
  24. Pikemann Urge macrumors 6502

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    melbourne.au
    #25
    A lot of the advice above is pretty good. I don't have much to add. But if you're going to spend time and money studying something, forget studying photography. Studying business - as others have said - is more valuable. You don't even need to do that, but it won't hurt.

    As for the photography: have you considered volunteering? Perhaps for a local theatre company or charity or whatever. Get a decent portfolio under your belt of course, but while shooting for free you'll be building up valuable, real-world experience. That beats taking classes any day. YMMV. :)
     

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