Trying to start up a small photography business

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by NickD, May 30, 2007.

  1. NickD macrumors 6502a

    NickD

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2007
    Location:
    Colorado
    #1
    I've posted before about the media house that I hope to start up during college, but right now, I really want to focus on just getting the photography "division" running. I've been thinking about what I'm going to need in addition to my current hardware (comps in sig and Samsung NV10 P&S) and I've come up with this list. If you have any more suggestions on stuff that I will need, or how to get the business going in general, let me know:

    The Almighty List of Doom:
    • Digital SLR (350D or 400D)
    • Aperture or Lightroom (which one?)
    • Adobe CS3
    • Monopod (Manfrotto?)
    • Extra Lenses
    • Lots of SD cards

    Anything else, or can you offer suggestions on the things listed above?

    Thanks,
    NickD
     
  2. techster85 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    Location:
    Lubbock, TX
    #2
    the only glaring thing is the sd cards, if you go with the canons you'll need a CF (unless the XTi changed that? i have no idea...). Also, i would rethink the monopod...you have one...it's called you haha, and unless you are planning on buying some honker lenses off the bat, it can probably wait a little while.

    As far as the aperture vs. lightroom can o' worms...i like aperture, i picked it and stuck with it...there are reasons to like both (kind of like canon vs nikon), but i would say, pick the one that suits you most and then learn how to use it to the fullest...also...do you really NEED the full cs3 off the bat? you might be able to get away with something cheaper (elements maybe?) just to start off and then upgrade later as you get more and more business...
     
  3. Father Jack macrumors 68020

    Father Jack

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2007
    Location:
    Ireland
    #3
    I think a good tripod would be beneficial.

    350D Canon definitely use Compact Flash cards not SD

    FJ
     
  4. greg555 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2005
    Location:
    Canada
    #4
    If you plan to shoot weddings, portraits, models, or anything like that you likely need a backup body. With portraits and models you could probably get them to come back next week when you have a working camera, but that isn't going to happen for a wedding.

    If you plan to shoot portraits in a studio setting you likely need studio strobes and umbrellas or soft boxes.

    Greg
     
  5. Father Jack macrumors 68020

    Father Jack

    Joined:
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    Ireland
    #5
    You should also add a "Flash meter"

    FJ
     
  6. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #6
    Insurance
    Backup body
    Lighting (strobes, stands, modifiers...)
    Printer for proofing
    Backgrounds (depending)
    Light tent or home-made box (depending)
    Web site
    Business Cards
    brochures
    Incorporation
     
  7. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    #7
    You really will need a more sophisticated camera than the Digital Rebel if you are intending to shoot weddings and events, etc. And, as mentioned, you will need a backup body. Lenses are even more critical than the camera body, though. I notice you just mention "extra lenses." Have you given serious consideration to just what those will need to be? To what type of shooting experiences you will have? To which lenses will be necessary for which situation? Some lenses can cost several hundred dollars and into the thousands of dollars. Are you prepared for that? What in your experience to date has given you the idea that you are in a position to start a photography business? Have you ever even used a DSLR before?

    You also will need to add a couple of external hard drives because you'll need more than the 250 GB HD your iMac offers. If your business really takes off, you actually will need a Mac Pro with at least 6 or 8 GB RAM for optimum use of Photoshop and Aperture.
     
  8. Lovesong macrumors 65816

    Lovesong

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    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    Stuck beween a rock and a hard place
    #8
    I couldn't agree with Clix Pix more. First off, if you're going to make this thing a business, you're going to need more equipment than you think. First off, forget about the Rebels- the reason Canon makes them is to have some form of a low end camera- and while they produce good images, they feel like toys, and are only slightly more complicated than a P&S. By the way- I hope that you're not planning on using that NV10 for anything serious... please.

    If you were to go the Canon way, the least expensive body I would consider is the 20D (and if have some extra cash, get the newer 30D). Then ask yourself what you're going to be shooting. If you're going to be doing weddings or portraits , then I'd get a couple of primes (35 and 50 mm (and probably something wider)), some serious lighting equipment, vertical grip, and a sturdy tripod. For sports you'll need some 300mm+ fast primes, which will run you into the thousands- don't do sports. If you're doing lanscapes, then get some wide primes- a 24mm, a nice ultra wide zoom- like a 10-22, and oh yeah- a sturdy tripod.

    Did I mention you should get a sturdy tripod... oh good.

    Fact is that photography is an expensive hobby and very few are really good enough to make money off of it. If you're going to start a business, then prepare to invest a nice a chunck of change into equipment, and not see much of that money back for a while. If you do decide to go for it, then get some decent equipment. If you were shooting my wedding, and showed up with a 400D with the kit lens and a monopod in one hand, and the NV10 in the other, I'd probably ask you to leave... but that's just me- I live with a chip on my shoulder.
     
  9. Turkish macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2007
    #9
    I think you guys are putting the cart before the horse.

    I started out in the digital realm with a Canon Digital Rebel--after many years with Canon film SLRs, and I've sold hundreds of images taken with that camera - including a few magazine covers.

    I won't argue the fact that weddings and event shooting require good, quick gear, but it really turns me off when people take the "you have to start with the best, because that's what I have."

    You're certainly not doing anyone trying to get into the field a favor...

    Complete rubbish. I used to process 1,000 images a day with extensive batch actions and color correction on a machine with more meager specs - using both Aperture and Photoshop.

    To the OP - dont' let comments like this discourage you. You don't have to have $10,000 worth of gear to get started--far from it.
     
  10. Crawn2003 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2005
    Location:
    Santa Rosa, California
    #10
    Just my 2 cents... And remember, these are only my opinions... (Have to cover my behind because I don't want 30 Private Messages telling me off)

    I'm going to reiterate some things, but also add some things too.

    1. Don't know about Canon's sorry!
    2. Aperture, just because I think it's a lot better than lightroom.
    3. Definitely CS3, love it!
    4. Monfrotto is okay, have you looked into Induro? http://www.indurogear.com/ I have one of their larger tripods and a monopod and I can't praise their construction enough and they accept pretty much any tripod head.
    5. About lenses, what type of photography are you wanting to start? Portrait is different from Commercial. Sports is different than still life. And all of these have certain lenses that might be better suited for what you want to do.
    6. Why get TONS of Cards? All this does is clutter your camera bag and not to mention that with smaller cards you have to change the cards more often and risk losing that money making shot. Get large cards 4GB+ and keep 3 with you. That's 12GB worth of storage.
    7. Like Clix Pix says, get external drives. If you shoot RAW, imagine 12MB+ file sizes PER SHOT! And you'd want to shoot RAW, it gives you many more options and (in my opinion) better quality since it isn't compressed like JPEGs.
    8. Consider getting that Mac Pro that was mentioned with lots of memory and lots of HD space. I suggest a 23" screen to start with, two 23" or 30" and 23" later on. You can never have enough real estate when it comes to photos.
    9. Mentioning screens, don't forget to get a color calibrator for your screen. Why have a great and awesome photo or a photo for a client that's paying cash and not have the photo color corrected?? A lot of people, even "photographers" think that they can get away with not color correcting 100% but trust me, a good majority of people can tell when there is a color off or a color cast on the photo.
    10. Also mention was a light meter. Get one. Enough said. ;)
    (these are from compwar but I'm just expanding on them)
    11. Insurance. I probably have nearly $30,000 dollars worth of equipment between my digital 35mm cameras, medium format, large format, and lighting equipment not to mention the computers and accessories that go with all those. Insurance will save your behind if that lens accidentally falls or if someone breaks into your car and steals everything you have in it.
    12. If you're doing portraits, you more than likely need strobe lights. Not everyone wants their photo outside and a person looks better in a portrait indoors if there are strobe lights on them. I prefer Profoto but those are one of the most expensive strobe lights out there. Maybe White Lightning strobe lights? Relatively cheap and decent lighting (IMHO).
    13. Printers. That's where you can make a lot of your money! As a Pro Photographer myself, I don't make my money by going and taking the shot. I make it in the prints! Offer packages, 2 8x10, 5 5x7, etc. for $$.$$ then that adds an extra amount to you coming out and taking that photo.
    14. Business- Cards, Website, Brochure, Ad in the paper, etc. will get you out there.
    (Back to my 2 cents)
    15. Get a portfolio together! I would never get a photograph done without first seeing what the photographer is able to do. I would never have a photograph taken of me or a product if I didn't know if the person could actually take a shot, i.e. composition (not everything should be in the center of the frame), lighting, etc. because that would cost me money and the person time because I would make them go back and redo it without pay.
    16. Do you know lighting? Like light styles in portrait photography? Loop, butterfly, 45? Look at places like motophoto, etc. that do portraits. Get dramatic, those sell! Who really wants flat lighting on themselves? With no light direction, the person looks dead and unattractive. And don't forget the catch lights in the eyes (the white dot you see in portraits of people). Those help make the person look alive and inviting and not just dark, black holes into nowhere.
    17. Focus! Make sure everything you take is in focus. I'm not saying you don't or can't but some of the photos I've seen taken by professionals, even places like Click and Motophoto sometimes has things out of focus and drives me nuts!
    18. Now like clix pix is saying, what have you done before? Where are you at in photography? Do you have aP&S or a DSLR? What experience do you have that can make you stand out above the rest of the pro photographers out there that can get you that job instead of the pro? (And not talking price, even pros will undercut someone else to get the job)

    Well there you go, I know it's long but that's my two cents along with more details from what others are saying that I had things to say about also. Good luck!

    ~Crawn
     
  11. Lovesong macrumors 65816

    Lovesong

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    Stuck beween a rock and a hard place
    #11
    I think that you're missing the point that Clix Pix and I are trying to make. Yes the Rebel, as I said will get you some nice images, and it serves well for what it is- and entry level camera. I didn't go and tell the OP to get all L glass and a 5D, because that is likely more than he needs. I just wanted to make the point that if he is trying to make a living off this hobby, he is not going to make it with just the kit lens- and anything else, will end up costing him more than he is anicipating. I'm not trying to be discouraging, I'm simply being honest with him before he goes out there, tries to get a job, and is truly disappointed.
     
  12. Crawn2003 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2005
    Location:
    Santa Rosa, California
    #12
    Just to give you an idea of everything I do....

    This is the most recent example of what I'm doing as a photographer....

    The original files on the left has a lot of things wrong with it. The color is off, there is more on the left side of the frame than I wanted, some blemishes on his face that I need to take care of, and most importantly, look at his wrist on the left side. See how it's cut off at the joint area. That's a big no, no in photography. It makes it seem (even if it isn't true) that they don't have that body part. So I cropped down a little more to correct that and make it out of frame.

    Now the color... I have to color correct in multiple areas. His shirt was way too blue for me. I went back and had to color correct and change the color to what I wanted as a photographer. His pants, those were turning magenta! So on a separate layer, I had to color correct those and add a little blue in to make it actually a pair of blue jeans. His hair, went completely black when everything else was corrected. I had to take his hair to a separate layer and correct the color there and keep it from going black so there would still be detail in it.

    His eyes are blue, yes, but they just didn't POP! I had to go back and do a Photoshop trick on those to get the desired effect I wanted. His face was just a matter of clone stamping till I got rid of the blemishes.

    Now the over all exposure was too high but I liked this pose. It was the best one that I thought would make the "money shot". So I had to add a black layer and with a layer mask and opacity changes I got it to where I liked it.

    The text and logo I added myself from looking at an arrow add. I created the Arrow logo from scratch using the pen tool objects in PS. The text, studied the font type and matched in PS.

    All in all, the final had 19 layers to it from start to finish! (Well, almost finished, still a few things left that I need to do on it - i.e. Tractor and a little bit of body halo)

    I'm doing this to give you an example of what to expect in different ways.

    ~Crawn

    P.S. The light used in this is Commercial Photography lighting, mostly fashion lighting. Not portrait lighting.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. NickD thread starter macrumors 6502a

    NickD

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2007
    Location:
    Colorado
    #13
    Though I wish :)

    Anyway, to see some examples of my photography, go to my Flickr. I've just been "Dabbling", mainly in macro and landscape photography, but check it out!

    In answer to some of the questions, I'm looking at the 350-400D simply because I won't be able to afford anything else in the near future, but I really want to get going with some higher level photography, so rather than wait a year or so longer to get a higher end machine, I'm simply sticking with the basics until I can afford some thing better. Also, I already have 500GB of external storage. I'm also planning to upgrade to a new 24" iMac when they are released, assuming that they offer extra RAM options (4GB).

    NickD
     
  14. greg555 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2005
    Location:
    Canada
    #14
    This would be a lot easier if NickD told us what kind of photography he was going to persue :)

    [edit: note Nick's above answer wasn't there when I started to write this post]

    Greg
     
  15. Lovesong macrumors 65816

    Lovesong

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    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    Stuck beween a rock and a hard place
    #15
    Given this, I'd look at some of the macro lenses that Canon makes. The 100mm f/2.8 macro is excellent, though it is a 160mm on a crop sensor. You might also check out the 50mm short macro (cheap but optically excellent). For landscape, I'd look into the previously mentioned 10-22- it's a good piece of glass and it's in the range where you'd be doing most of your shooting.
     
  16. CptnJustc macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2007
    #16
    There's an endless number of useful things to get. How about we start with a rough budget? Then we can work on identifying good baskets of equipment....

    Aperture vs. Lightroom: They're both great, and it depends on which appeals to you. They both have free trials, so try running a couple shoots through each one.
     
  17. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    #17
    I think that it would be fine to get the Digital Rebel, the kit lens and another lens or two, but I strongly suggest that you not jump headlong into trying to set up your own photography business at this point. Get the entry-level DSLR, play with it a while, get the hang of using a camera with interchangeable lenses, experiment with different types of photography and different types of images.....buy or borrow various other lenses, see what they do....and don't focus so much on how you can earn money with this thing. Enjoy photography for its own sake first and learn as much as you can before deciding if you really want to make it into a business venture.
     
  18. failsafe1 macrumors 6502a

    failsafe1

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2003
    #18
    Some thoughts on what is needed. One camera body is not enough. If it goes down you can't make money. I would recommend a higher end EOS body for the wide angle lens capability and ruggedness. The 5D is a nice cheaper body. I n a perfect world the 1D MIII series is my first choice. I have both on order at the moment. Location lighting would be nice even if you aren't doing portraits. Something portable and battery powered is good. Alien Bees are a good example but there are others. The battery packs are all mostly the same. If you go with Adobe Photoshop you might get away with just using Bridge instead of Aperture or Lightroom. I bought Aperture and then got PS CS3 and like Bridge. If I had that first I would have been content with that.
     
  19. nutmac macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2004
    #19
    Although EOS 20D/30D/5D are definitely better built, with better size and ergonomics, 350D/400D are not built like toys. 350D/400D are certainly far better made than EF 50mm f/1.8II and the kit lenses anyway. Many pros shoot with Digital Rebels, and if you are under tight budget, you will get far more out of good lens than higher-end body with cheap lens.

    The only real reasons not to go with 350D/400D are (1) you have large hands or other ergonomic concerns, (2) viewfinder (the difference between 350D/400D's small viewfinder and 20D/30D/5D's larger viewfinder is substantial), (3) you need faster shooting speed (not that 400D is significantly slower), (4) need center weighted metering, and (5) you will be shooting under harsh climate/environment conditions.

    So I would start with 350D/400D with a good pair of lenses. In time, your skills and knowledge will expand and you can always use 350D/400D as a backup camera then. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM is a fantastic macro lens and EF 70-200mm f/4L USM with tripod another viable choice (although not a true macro lens).

    For landscape, Tamron SP AF17-50mm F/2.8 offers one of the best bang for the money.
     
  20. epicwelshman macrumors 6502a

    epicwelshman

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2006
    Location:
    Nassau, Bahamas
    #20
    I'm not trying to challenge, I promise, but how much experience do you have?

    Do you have a large enough range of photos for a portfolio, and frankly, are you good enough to carry a business? I'd hate to see you spend $10,000+ on gear and get no business.

    Once again, not challenging, just asking :)
     
  21. jordygreen macrumors 6502

    jordygreen

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2006
    Location:
    London, UK
    #21
    I had the same idea as you a while ago but i backed down from it just plainy because i felt i needed more experience and try to build some sort very small client base like doing family photographs at partys and stuff like that. I have a 350D at the moment and its fine for me. But i would want to upgrade later on to something like the 20D or most likely the 30D.

    I think you at looking at your flickr you would do possibly portaiture and landscape photographs.
     
  22. euclidjr macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 31, 2007
    #22
    Get a tripod - a good one with a good head - forget the monopod. You seem to shoot a fair number of stills and landscapes - you'll need the tripod.

    Invest in your lenses first, bodies second. If you stay within a system like Canon's, you will likely have the lenses for a very long time - after you've moved on to another body. You simply can't get some shots with crappy glass.

    Have a second body if not more. First, you always want a backup. Second, if you are shooting with primes, you will find yourself reframing the shot or finding a different shot for which you need a different lens.

    With respect to bodies - higher end bodies offer you more control and more options to get the shot. I do believe it is true, as others have mentioned, that it can be hard to get the business when you don't have the equipment that gives the appearance that you know what you are doing and are serious as opposed to a hobbyist turned "pro."

    You mention extra memory cards - but don't forget extra batteries and a charging method. You'll want to look at filters too.

    As others have mentioned, you need to think about lighting - and if you are shooting weddings and their ilk, you need to think about moveable lighting (a good flash and perhaps multi-flash setup) and the power to handle a lot of shots and rapid recharges.

    Most importantly, read a few books. I'd recommend just about anything by John Shaw - but in particular he has a great book about landscape photography - which really applies a lot of concepts to portraiture as well. Shaw also has a book on running a photography business - I haven't read it (I'm just a hobbyist and have been for longer than I'd care to admit), so I can't say whether it would be the right book for you about the business side of things - but you really should dig into something of that nature.

    Develop a business plan.
     
  23. Plymouthbreezer macrumors 601

    Plymouthbreezer

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2005
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    #23
    I think having a drive is great. I would love to do what you're doing, but quite simply, I'm not skilled enough to do it now. But hey, I have college before me, and I do aspire to make something of my passion for taking pictures at some point.

    Oddly enough, I do make some good extra change as of now with my modest equipment and 4 year old computer. I have no professional training of any sort with a SLR camera, but I do think I have a good eye and that helps.

    I desperately need a new computer to edit on, but I don't just have $2,500 laying around, and my mother thinks buying a new one when a 1GHz processor suits her just fine. I desperately need a good flash, but extra $100's usually go in my gas tank. I desperately need a fast fixed lens, but even those cost money too. On days like today, when Photoshop decides to not launch on me, I freak out, because it makes my work that much more a hassle. To make it profitable, you need an excess amount of capital.

    Photography is expensive, but so is everything else.

    Good luck!
     
  24. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #24
    Oops, I forgot the most important one:

    A business plan.

    Without a plan, and the associated market research, you won't have any idea what your budget should be, how much you should make, what your pricing should be, what you should shoot, how many customers you should have....
     
  25. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #25
    Glad you see you changed your mind. The photos that come out of any DSLR nowadays is around the same, and that includes the "consumer-level" cameras, which are just labels designated by marketing folks so that consumers have a clearer idea of where to start looking for a DSLR. In fact, members of forums like this one sometimes label cameras like this, and not the manufacturer. :eek: The 400D feels cheap, but he's selling photo quality, not ergonomics or camera build quality.


    Anyway, my biggest suggestion is to NOT start a photography business. It seems like everyone thinks they have photography skills and are good enough to charge money because DSLRs are quite cheap and they took a good photo of their cousin once or twice. How good do you think you are at photography AND Photoshop, because you'll likely need to be quite proficient at both to really warrant charging money. If you're good, then that's fantastic, but get the equipment first, play around, then see if you're worth the price you ask for.

    PS: I wouldn't pay for the photos you posted on your Flickr account, landscape, macro, or otherwise. That's why I made my suggestion.
     

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