This week, two of my favorite bloggers (one writer, one photographer) posted 25 things posts. Mary Marantz of Justin&Mary posted a 25 things every dreamer should know, and Hannah Brencher posted 25 Things every woman should know. Both posts were amazing, and you can check them out here and here. No really, if you are a woman, have a dream, and especially if you are a woman with a dream, go read them. And then come back here because I have a 25 things post also.
25 Things Every Aspiring Photographer Should Know:
1. Go constantly to the place where you find inspiration. Let it fill up your soul, and remember why you love this. Then photograph it, shoot for you. Seek inspiration in light, in those you love, in music, and the life you’re living in between the sessions you’re paid for.
2. Selective coloring. Don’t do it, you’ll regret it later. Enough said.
3. Make friends with other aspiring photographers who will lift you up and encourage you. This industry is becoming one where support an encouragement are offered more freely. I truly believe if we help each other, we all benefit because we become happier people. Happy photographers=happy clients. And this thing that we love is about THEM just as much, if not more than it is about the act of doing this thing that we love.
4. When you are first getting started, you are going to give more away than you will bring money in. Instead of looking at it as, “I’m not making any money,” or “What can I get out of giving away a session,” look at it as “What can I do that will bless someone else.” Having a giving spirit will make you feel so much lighter than baring the burden of constantly seeking what you can get out of it.
5. RENT BEFORE YOU BUY. I’ll say it one more time, RENT. BEFORE. YOU. BUY. Photographer xyz may looovvveee their primary portrait lens, but once you get it onto your camera body and get behind it, it might not work for your shooting style. Learn that before you make such a big equipment investment.
6. Stop what you’re doing, learn to shoot manually if you haven’t already done so. LEARN. TO. SHOOT. MANUALLY. Do it now, and never look back. You will stop looking at your images and wondering why they don’t look the way you envisioned. Then write me a thank you note. And if you include a Target gift card, I won’t be mad at it.
7. Shooting down to 1.8, 1.4, 1.2 just because your aperture allows doesn’t mean that’s always the right way to shoot. Know your camera inside out. Again, refer to # 6.
8. There will be people who will doubt your work. And one day, you might even come home to a hateful email from someone whom you thought was a friend saying how you aren’t a professional and your work isn’t worth anything. Let me tell you what, my friend. That person is no friend of yours. No one has the right to label your worth but YOU (Thanks, Amanda, for helping me to realize that!).
9. Handwrite notes to your clients, make every part of the experience as personal as possible. Even if when you first start they aren’t “paying” clients, make them feel appreciated.
10. If you attend a friend’s wedding, please please please don’t bring your DSLR and shoot over the paid photographers shoulder. And especially, don’t blog the images later. Even though you aren’t doing anything malicious, you might be stepping on toes and not even realize it.
11. Don’t complain on social media. If you have an interesting experience working with someone, be that a client, photographer, or vendor, really consider what you have to say about it on the internet. The internet never forgets.
12. Take days off, especially if you have a full time job and do photography on the side (I AM SO HORRIBLE ABOUT THIS). Set aside time to work on your photography, but make sure you give yourself personal time also. You will start to resent it, especially if you put all your free time into it and only see slow growth at the beginning.
13. No one will ever ever ever believe in you if you don’t first believe in yourself. That fear of rejection? It’s never going to go away unless you command it out of your soul. There’s no room for it when you’ve got a faithful heart. If you don’t believe in your work, potential clients aren’t going to believe in you either. So own your art! Again, see number 8.
14. VOLUNTEER! Ask if you can assist another photographer for free, see if a local florist would like some free shots of their work for their advertising. Volunteering=more experience=more opportunities to do this thing you love! Again, refer to #4.
Example: My friend Erica from Black Creek Flowers and Sweets asked me to shoot these gorgeous bouts for her (full post to come later).
15. Practice shooting in every light scenario possible. Don’t wait until you show up to second shoot an indoor reception to figure out how your external flash works.
16. Be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Jasmine Star didn’t become who she is today over night. Neither will you. The best things come to those who wait. This is your time of due diligence. Don’t give up. Know that the path you are paving now will carry you to the place you are meant to be later on down the road.
17. So you booked one wedding this year. CONGRATULATIONS! Don’t look at it as “I only booked one wedding this year, and So And So Photography has 25.” Look at it as, “OH MY GOSH! I HAVE THIS AMAZING COUPLE THAT WANTS ME TO PHOTOGRAPHY THEM! HOW LUCKY AM I?!?” Spoil them, love them, they are trusting you so give them the experience they deserve.
18. Actions do not make a great photo. Try to achieve the look you want in camera instead of trying to save it with fancy actions. I learned this the hard way. I would take a good picture, make it all kinds of bright and contrasty, and essentially ruin it. Do as I say, not as I did.
19. What’s in a name? EVERYTHING! Choose wisely when you decide how you want to be represented. Once Upon A Time Wedding Photography might sound great at the beginning, but your style might evolve from “Fairytale” wedding coverage to exclusively children’s portraiture. You are BEST represented by your own name, so consider that before choosing a “cute,” but potentially generic business name.
20. If you find yourself reading other photographer’s blogs just to compare their work to yours, it’s time to cut ties and stop reading them. You bring something original to this industry, YOU! So again, own it.
21. If you don’t invest in yourself, no one else will either. If you think you want to pursue photography as a business venture, take a workshop or attend a mentoring session first. I mentored with Katelyn James and it was one of the best things I could have done for my business. I’ve had people ask me if it’s worth the investment. My answer? Yes! Do it, do it now!
22. Speaking of investment, let’s talk branding. When you are ready to take that step, wait until you can afford a professional. Yes, it will cost more up front, but having a professional online presence will be a game changer (I know what you’re thinking. Who am I to be talking about online presence with the state my blog is in? Well, in a few weeks, you’ll be whistling a different tune. My new blog is going to be baller thanks to my designer, Krista. I invested in a professional, and am so thankful for it! The new site has all the bells and whistles: Jesus, watercolor feathers, Prosecco, and 80’s music. Need I say more? If this doesn’t appeal to you , then again, it doesn’t have to! I am being me, and you, you got that right. ROCK. YOU. OUT!). Why do you think Kate Spade can charge $300 for a bag? Because their clients are LOYAL to their brand (like this girl, right here). Brand loyalty comes from an investment on the business’ end first. Think Kate Spade started with a Wix page designed by her friend? Naw, girl! 🙂
23. If you’re serious about pursuing a business, educate yourself about tax laws and the actual business aspect of running a business sooner rather than later. Things like insurance, receipts, and tracking mileage isn’t nearly as exciting as creating beautiful, sun-flared, bokeh filled images, but for your business it’s just as important.
24. Figure out why you want to do this, write it down, frame it, and never lose sight of it.
25. Practice, practice, practice. Take your camera with you everywhere, shoot for you, and you’ll continue to be inspired by what you do and fall in love with your art over and over again!