Photography is a saturated field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, photography jobs will grow from 139,500 to 157,000 for 2010-2020 and that number only reflects the amount of “professional” photographers, or those who earn their living mainly from their photography services. It does not take into account all of the freelancers, side jobs, and hobbyists who occasionally see paid work. The photography world is a competitive one. Word of mouth, great reviews, and referrals are usually the photographer’s advertising avenues and the amount you work directly correlates to the amount you make. So are the odds stacked against you as a newbie? Not at all. There are, however, some professional potholes to avoid on your road to success. Read on for 5 mistakes new photographers make.
1. Going “pro” too soon
You have a new camera and have quickly gone from someone who posts their personal work on Facebook, to someone friends and family call when they want family photos taken. You might be thinking, “I can take this to the next step.” Well, you can, but not without first doing some homework. Okay, a lot of homework. Professional photography isn’t all taking pretty pictures. It’s a whole lot of business know-how, too. There is a lot of marketing, advertising, networking, bookkeeping, and budgeting that goes hand in hand with this business. Look into small business loan options, business and equipment insurance, and consider hiring an assistant. Also, make sure to take the necessary time to get to know other photographers in your area – they can be a real lifesaver if you suddenly get the flu the night before a big wedding. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you will need to know your camera equipment inside and out. That camera needs to be your bff. You don’t want to get into a situation where you are not confident in your abilities. This applies to your lighting equipment, accessories, and any post processing software. Your clients will assume you know the ins and outs of photography. Don’t disappoint them. You may think of yourself as a photographer, but first and foremost, you are a small business owners. This comes with unique needs and benefits. Take the time to get started the right away and you’ll stay on track.
Photo credit: Susan Dean Phtotography
2. Thinking you need fancy equipment
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need only top-of-the-line equipment now. Your equipment shouldn’t define you in any way. Expensive equipment won’t make you a better photographer. Yeah, image quality, number of pixels, and ability to shoot on low light are all great features that tend to improve with more expensive equipment, but if you don’t know the basics of things like exposure, composition, and posing, you won’t be able to rely on your camera to save you. Get to a point where you know your camera well and naturally get to a point where you’ve outgrown it. It will take a lot longer than you think.
Photo credit: Cameraegg
Photo credit: Pham Photography
3. Trying to emulate someone else’s style
Like we said, photography is a saturated field. We, as humans, are very visual creatures and we are inundated with thousands, if not millions, of images per day. Its inevitable that you will compare yourself to someone else. Someone who is more talented, more creative, more successful. What good is it going to do though? Stay true to yourself and the individual goals you want to meet. Fall in love with your own work and you will keep evolving. This is where fun photo projects come in handy. They keep your mind on your own work, which can help you stay focused during those dry spells and slow seasons. Here are some of our favorite ideas to keep your shooting fresh. If you work on improving your technique and staying true to you, you will find inspiration you didn’t know was there. You could end up being the envy of someone else out there.
Photo credit: Louis Vorster Photography
4. Not taking chances
What’s worse than giving up? Never trying at all. We could sit here and throw a thousand motivation quotes at you but if you’ve heard one, you’ve heard them all. The truth is, you won’t know unless you try. If nothing more, take chances so you never have to look back and say, “I wish I had done that.” Get out of those dark places in your head where the words, “you cant” echo. You absolutely can. Face your fears head on and don’t let them intimidate you into giving up on your dreams. Ok, so that was still pretty motivational, right? Life is too short. There.
5. Not sharing your work
Put yourself out there. Start a photography blog or website and update it regularly. Post the work you are most proud of – the kind of work you love to do and would love to make money form. Reply back to each and every single comment someone leaves you. Even if its from your mom. Be gracious. If its a bit of a dry spell, start a photo project, or a personal project unrelated to photography that you can document and share images of. Promote your own work on image sites like Pinterest. People will stumble on your work and it will get shared. No. 5 kind of goes with no. 4 in that it is important to get yourself and your work out there. Some of the biggest success stories are of people who started by sharing their work on Flickr, or through their personal blogs. Readers and viewers are always searching for something new and authentic. Be true to yourself; stick with it; show the kind of work you want to shoot, and those clients will come knocking.
Photo credit: Ozzy Garcia