Inspiration for the Newbies

I just received an email yesterday from a Photographers very new to our profession, who had read my post “is passion enough” and she commented that some of post were less than inspirational to the newer members of our profession.  I appreciate her perspective and I wanted to include my email to her and then I will go through getting started in our profession.

“Thank You for your comments about my blog post, as well as my books etc. I will start by saying I will start working on an inspirational blog post for newer photographers.  I like to think most of what I write should encourage every photographer that wants to be a successful photographer.  In everything I write I try to be real and present honest ideas for every photographer.  I do once in a while write a post or article that is less than encouraging to newer photographers because as you look at our profession..many talented and responsible new photographers feel as though they don’t have a chance with so many people who buy cameras and a month later are trying to work for clients.  I want to inspire new photographers to be successful and the path to success is knowledge.  I have employed many talented young photographers that have switched their major and completely gave up on photography because they saw no future in it.   While I don’t share this bleak outlook, I feel saddened that such an incredible profession is losing the very talented young people it needs to survive.  If you go to my blog post…there are over 185 posts and the vast majority of post are on posing, lighting, business, social media marketing and everything else the new photographer needs to learn to take this profession even further and make it better tomorrow than it is today!  Again thank you for writing, Jeff”
With that being said, I think it is an amazing time to be a professional photographer.  New Photographers today have more opportunities to learn photography than ever before.  Digital photography has speed up the learning process by giving us instant images to learn from and study.  The versatility of digital cameras and the creative options available to us in Photoshop give us options that simply were not possible with film.
The questions that young photographers ask themselves today are the same questions that young photographer have always ask themselves, “do I need to attend college or a photography program or can I teach myself?”  The answer to this question will depend on your circumstances, but the reality of this question is,  what we think is easier in the beginning turns out to the be the hardest path.  Most photographers think that be self-taught is an easy way to learn photography and it is simply not true.  Having teachers and professors to help guide your education and to help overcome the problems that everyone has is invaluable when it comes to learning a profession you want to be a part of for a lifetime.
Learning photography on your own requires a self-discipline that few people can manage.  You must constantly get books, dvds and programs and once you finish them set up sample sessions to put what you have learned to work.  You have to honestly look at the images you create, see what you did right and what you did wrong and set up another sample session.  Learning photography require you shoot all the time.  The more you shoot, with clear guide of program to follow the better you will become.  The key in learning photography is be careful who you learn from.  So many times photographers follow the advice of people who know little more than they do.  Students shouldn’t be teaching other students and never try to learn photography from videos on YouTube unless you recognize the photographer as an authority, author, speaker or professional photographer who is successful and where you want to be…which is the key to education…never take advice from anyone who isn’t where you want to be.  There are way too many Out-house Lawyers that think they know much more than they do and want to share their limited wisdom with you.  You can practice to become good or practice to become bad…the choice is who you learn, what you are practicing from.
Once you get your basic education complete the next step is to take what you have learned and get some real world experience.  It used to be that student photographers would start working for established photographers to get this real world experience.  Most established photographers like the idea of cheap labor and having another creative person around, so the arrangement was perfect.  This relationship existed because of respect between the student and teacher…in today’s cut throat world this respect has been lost.  Talk to any established photographer and they will tell stories of how they tried to help a student who turned around and tried stealing their clients/accounts.  To overcome this stigma, student photographers have to ensure the established photographer they respect him or her and would do nothing to hurt their business.  Some students will sign a letter of “non-competition” stating they will not advertise or market to the clients in the two primary markets as the teaching studio.  We have used the contracts several times.  In the past when we have had employees that went on their own, I sent them a great deal of business, since we specialize in high school seniors.
The best advice I can give any new photographer is to be patient and take your time.  You are working on a career that if you plan it well, will last a lifetime!  You have to expect it to take several years to train and learn to get to a level you can expect to even start thinking of working with clients.  Don’t worry about having every gadget, lens, light and do-dad…good photography is about knowledge not equipment.  A good photographer can create a salable image with any camera while a person that lacks knowledge can not create a salable image with the most expensive camera. 
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~ by jeffsmithbooks on January 17, 2011.

2 Responses to “Inspiration for the Newbies”

  1. Hi Jeff,
    I have recently bought your ‘Head & shoulders’ Book which I am really enjoying & I have to say I enjoy your blog too… Thank you for takng the time to share with us all. Although I am not all that young, well nearer 40 than 30, I am quite a newbie to portrait photography, well all photography to be honest, but feel portraits is the way to go for me 🙂 I have spent the last year, spening all my spare time, reading book, blogs, looking at DVDs, studying images etc on all things photography related & of course taking some shots 🙂

    Thanks again & I hope to invest more in your books & DVDs soon,

    Bye for now,
    Susie (in little old Ireland)

  2. Thanks Jeff for listening! I appreciated your response. I have to be honest I didn’t think you would respond to my e-mail and write me off so to speak. 🙂

    It is hard to be accepted in the world of photography when so many pro’s are afraid of you stealing their client base or being direct competition. I have contacted several different pros who would not even return my e-mails about assisting them. At the time, I just wanted to gain more knowlege and have someone show me how to operate my camera more effectively. One particular “pro” I e-mailed about doing volunteer work for lost out on the possibility of doing my family portraits. I e-mailed another lady in many states far removed from mine and asked if she would be willing to mentor me. I loved her photography and wanted to learn from her. She offered to be my “mentor” for a $100 a month (by emails and one to two skype calls)! I wish there wasn’t such a stigma to being new but times have changed.

    I appreciate your comments and will try to be patient and learn everything I can, although I would really love a new camera! 😉

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