It’s time for another addition of our monthly series “Ask a CMpro” in which we give our CMpros one question and they dish. Their answers alone are always inspiring and this week we asked them, “We’ve asked before what tips you would offer to a new photographer but this time we’re wondering what the best advice you received was when you first got started in photography?”
*image by Caroline Jensen
Courtney Keim, New Jersey
Don’t sell myself short. I was priced way too low and was undercutting the other photographers in the area. A local photographer and friend told me to raise my prices because I was worth it. Too often we price ourselves too low because we’re “just starting out” but once you have a set portfolio, know your worth!
Stacie Turner, Connecticut
Set your prices where you want them to be and then say you are discounting by 75% while you portfolio build. That way people see the real value they are getting, appreciate you more, and won’t be too terribly shocked when the prices go up. That and “No one appreciates free. Don’t expect them too.”
Caroline Jensen, Minnesota
Shoot every. single. day….even if it is your iPhone. Finding yourself only comes with practice and the thousands upon thousands of frames you put into the process. It sounds hokey, but you become one with your camera (yes, I’m giggling) and your personal, creative style can find its way to the surface. I’m not sure I would still be a photographer today had I not done this years ago.
Jen Dunham, California
I remember someone telling me to “fake it ’til you make it”. This was actually really helpful during those early portfolio building stages when I was pretty much sick to my stomach with every shoot. The more I acted like I knew what I was doing and was confident in myself, even if I was shaking on the inside, the more respect these clients had for me. With a lot of practice, it wasn’t really too long before I believed in myself which really helped me to grow as a photographer.
Megan Dill, New York
Seek out and embrace critique to improve your photography prowess and remedy complacency in your work. Choose someone whose work you admire. The Clickin Moms forums and workshops offer wonderful opportunities for both peer and instructor critique.
Pam Korman, Pennsylvania
“Shoot what you love.” I remember hearing this repeatedly as I was starting my photography journey and it is really true. Whether you are in business or a hobbyist, your work will be stronger if you truly love what you are shooting. I know this is easier if you are a hobbyist but, if you are in business, you can shoot what you love in your personal work. There is an off shoot of this: “Post what you love”. If you only put on your website (or facebook page) the images that represent the style you love to shoot that will be the kind of client you draw in. Even if it happens slowly, the best way to attract the type of clients you want is by showcasing only the images you love.
Beth Orey, Texas
The best advice I received is to follow my own heart and dreams. I only shoot the kind of pictures that I want and the clients who love those pictures find me. Not every single image is something that I fall deeply in love with, but I do love what I do, I love the families I work with, and I love giving them the pictures I take.
Sarah Wilkerson, Colorado
Light is everything in photography. Look for the light first and subject/ scene/ moment second.
Melissa Koehler, California
Value yourself and your work. Pricing was a hard thing for me when I first started out and finding value in my work and what I was providing people really made me a better business person.
Elena Blair, Washington
Somebody told me this: “You should not be having to save your images in post processing, you should be getting it right in camera and only using editing to tweak color and make minor adjustments. Unless you are truly a creative processor, get it right in camera!” Light bulb moment for me was when I realized that the best photographers out there didn’t have fantastic images because they knew how to use Lightroom or Photoshop (however knowing how to use those programs is important), they had fantastic images because they knew how to nail it in camera! So learn how to rock it SOOC and you will be well on your way to beautiful images!
Amber Scruggs, Virginia
When I first started out and my prices were too low a kind friend in the industry told me to raise my prices, drastically. First I was a little embarrassed but quickly realized how much work goes into these sessions I needed to value my time & energy put into them. The “fun” of having a photography business quickly fizzles out and you learn to realize that it’s 80% business and only 20% photography.
Mandy Haber, Alabama
I have received lots of great advice – most coming from Clickin Moms. The best advice I received was to shoot what you love and show that to potential clients. Then, you will attract clients that love what you do!
Leah Cook, Texas
To never settle…always continue to grow and learn. Strive to leave every session with a new experience…whether it was how to interact with your clients better, the type of light you love the most or what not to do for next time. Trust that your clients will love your images, but vow to never stop improving!
Jessica Holden, California
Mine was to be really careful about comparing yourself to others. With the internet being so pervasive and blogging so popular, it is really hard not to look at “everyone else’s” work and then feel sub-par. We all have our own journey to take, at our own speed and to our own destination. Some things will come easier to you than others, and you will learn in fits and starts, but try to enjoy the ride. You will get frustrated, and seeing the glorious work that other photographers are producing can be discouraging. Try instead to find it inspiring–analyze exactly what you love about each image, but don’t allow it to discourage you. Believe me, they all have early work that looks just like yours! If you truly love it and follow your heart, you will get there.
Celeste Jones, Delaware
Continue to challenge yourself. Be daring, don’t hold back, or be afraid of not being good enough.
Jennifer Dell, Texas
For photography I think the best advice I received is to look for the light. If you are uncomfortable with a particular lighting situation, shoot it anyway. Learn how to use it and why. On the business side, since pricing has already been mentioned, I think the next best set of advice I received was to network. Networking has been a great way to build my business over the last few years whether it was social networking on sites like facebook, joining the local chamber of commerce or even just meeting local photographers that I admire – all have been great for my career.
Marissa Gifford, Washington
I wish someone had told me how important it is to get your image right in-camera. Practice, practice, practice nailing your exposure and focus. Editing programs should be used to enhance your image instead of fix your mistakes. Setting a custom white balance was a major factor in this for me. Editing takes me much less time than it used to when I was just starting out.