Becoming a Photographer

TIPS AND TRICKS ON GOING FROM HOBBYIST TO PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER

January 4th, 2021



So you want to become a photographer? With today’s technology, anybody can pick up their iPhone and snap some beautiful shots, but today I’ll be talking about a few things that will set your photos apart from the average Instagram influencer’s photos. If you want to take this path, but are unsure where to begin, keep on reading for some of my most helpful tips, tricks, and advice on how to go from Hobbyist to Professional. I'm still new at this, and learning critical information every single day, but being open to learning and growing is the biggest advantage in this field! 

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Business

In four short months, I’ve managed to create a successful brand for my photography business. Branding is SO important for your business, because it’s one of the key things that makes you recognizable as a photographer. The ultimate goal is for your clientele to recognize your artwork as soon as they see an image, but until you build your style, branding is the way to go.


• Logo - Creating a logo that will appeal to your clientele is major. I personally use my logo as my profile photo on social media, so it's one of the first things viewers see. I created mine with Adobe InDesign, but if you aren't super tech-savy, you can always outsource and hire somebody to get the job done. 

• Watermark - Similar to your logo, your watermark is crucial. While having simple text with your business name slapped on a photo works fine, that's just it... It's fine. You want to go above and beyond, so that when somebody comes across your image, they know your brand. Watermarks can be the same as your logo, or you can tweak them to your liking. 

• Website -There are tons of resources to help build a website that best represents your business. I use SmugMug, but other popular options are Pixieset and Wix. I chose SmugMug because they have an affordable yearly rate, different packages to choose from, and can hold an unlimited amount of photos with your subscription. 

• Ads - Advertising your business is a HUGE way to gain clients. I'm not a huge fan of Instagram (in my personal or professional life), so I stick to using Facebook. Targeting your area and the type of clientele you'd like to attract is super simple with Facebook Business Manager. Whether you want to curate towards engaged couples for weddings, or just shooting family sessions, there's options for all! I use Canva or Adobe InDesign to create ads. 

• WOM - Word of mouth and reviews are also extremely important for building your business, once you begin shooting sessions. When sending a client their final gallery from a session or wedding, I always make sure to mention something about leaving a review and suggesting my business to friends and family. 


Gear

A few years ago, I purchased a Canon T5i (Crop Sensor DSLR) as an impulse Black Friday buy. It collected dust in a junk drawer until just recently. My fiancé and I got engaged in June of 2020, and in looking for a photographer for our own elopement, it sparked an interest for me. I dusted it off and began practicing with the basic 18-55mm kit lens it came with. Once I knew I enjoyed the hobby, I began investing in more quality gear that would help increase my skills. With that being said, you can absolutely take some amazing photos with affordable gear, these are just what I’ve ended up with and liked the most.


50mm f/1.8 - This lens is a FANTASTIC and affordable way to practice portraits when you’re just starting out. Price estimate: $125

• 35mm f/1.4 - I upgraded to this lens after my 50, it provides a lower aperture level for a better bokeh effect and does great in low light situations. This lens hardly ever leaves my camera. Price estimate: $1,799

24-70mm f/2.8 - If you prefer a zoom lens, rather than a prime lens, this is the lens for you! It’s so versatile and produces beautiful images. Price estimate: $1,899

• 70-200 f/2.8 - This is definitely an investment piece, but worth it in every way! You can’t beat the bokeh it gives. Price estimate: $2,099

• Canon 5D Mark IV - Once you switch to a full-frame camera, you’ll never go back to a crop sensor. The settings on this bad boy are crazy - I’ve yet to learn everything on this body. There’s such a variety of options, it produces amazing colors, and does an impeccable job in low light. Price estimate: $2,499 (body only)

• Brands - As for brands on all of these lenses, I personally prefer buying from Canon directly… HOWEVER, buying from Canon comes with a hefty price tag. Other great and more affordable options would be buying from Tamron or Sigma. Between the two, I’ve had better luck with Tamron, as Sigma’s can sometimes have focusing issues.

• Rentals - RENT. BEFORE. YOU. BUY!!! You guys, camera gear is NOT cheap. I highly suggest renting any piece of equipment before you hand that credit card over. It gives you a chance to work with the gear and decide if it will truly help your business, without having to fork over thousands of dollars. Trust me on this one. A few of the most reputable sites for rentals are Borrowlenses and Lensrentals.

• Buying Used - That hefty price tag doesn’t always have to be hefty. Buying used gear is a great way to upgrade affordably. If buying from Facebook Marketplace, be sure to always test and review the gear in person before finalizing the purchase. Lenses should have no cloudiness or scratches on the glass. When buying a body, make sure to ask for the shutter count - this is equivalent to miles on a car. B&H Photo Video and Adorama are awesome websites to buy used equipment.

50mm 1.8

35mm 1.4

24-70mm 2.8

70-200mm 2.8

5D Mark IV


Community

The photography community can be both welcoming and cutthroat, you just need to find your people! Luckily, most “togs” value community over competition, and it’s an easy industry to make new friends. There are TONS of Facebook groups for photographers of all levels. Places to share your questions, tips, and really any information you can think of. Here are a few of my favorites:


UNSCRIPTED for photographers

• LEARN! A Kick*ss Photographer Community

DSLR Photography beginners

Beginners Photography Group


Circling back around to branding, making friends with other photographers is a great way to have a "swap session" for branding portraits. This is when two photographers take each other's pictures - mutually beneficial and no payment exchanged.  If you find other photographers in your area, JUST ASK! Worst case scenario, they say no. Best case, you've made a new acquaintance and have some great portraits of yourself for website content like these! 

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Photo swap with Tammy Rector Photography


Final Advice

As I come to a close on my very first blog post, I'd like you to leave with one thing in mind - PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. Even if that word is the only thing you take with you, it's the most important. Take photos of your dog, bug your significant other or sibling to be your model, bring your camera EVERYWHERE with you. You never know what shot you'll be missing out on. Believe in yourself and your art, confidence and consistency will take you far! 


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