I've been a photographer at heart since 1997. I was 9, cameras had film and people still used pagers. And even though I've been a professional photographer for 10 years now, in the grand scheme of things I'm still a "New Dog" to the industry.
What I I want to do is share some "Old Tricks" that helped me find my way into a successful wedding photographer career. So I'm going to go through 5 tricks of the photography trade to keep you ahead of the game
1. No dog is too old to learn new tricks
It's very easy to fall behind the curve in an industry where the technology is constantly being upgraded. I'm not saying that you should become an "all the gear no idea" person at all but it is a good idea to know what lenses, bodies, lightings will work best for the industry you want to work in, be it weddings, fashion or property. Camera equipment is expensive so only invest in what you actually need.
A lot of American businesses use something called "funnels" where they provide a small course for free then try to sell you their full course to you after they have your email address. I have subscribed to so many different free courses on social media tricks, photography hints and tips, pretty much everything. Once I have the free course I unsubscribe to avoid all spam to come afterwards. It's a bit of a cheap and sneaky way to get free courses but it works. Photography is such a competitive business that you do need to do your best to stay ahead of the game. There are also:
Forums. There is a plethora of online forums and blogs you can find which will give you helpful hints and tips on pretty much anything to do with photography
Books. Call me old fashioned but I still love reading books and there are all sorts of great reads you can get. I recently bought The busy girls guide to photography & A beautiful mess photo idea book which are full of great hints and tips!
Invest in a class. For me personally this is the best way to learn, with someone physically there to bother with loads of questions.
2. Confidence really is the key
And I don't mean just in yourself. When it comes to your outward confidence it's easy to "fake it 'til you make it" but when you're not confident in your work that's where things can start to take a downward turn.
Gemma Varney runs a great one to one workshop for people starting up their own photography businesses.
There is so much competition out there it's easy to get disheartened but if you're not confident in your work, don't let it get you down. Use the suggestions in the first tip to really hone your skills, enter contests and post on websites that let people comment on your images. You'll soon see all the great feedback come in which will help you realise that you really are a great photographer.
3. Don't become stale
Photography is a fashion; it has ever changing styles and you will find that colour pops go out as quickly as subdued blacks come in and people wont buy you if you're sporting last summer's Lightroom Presets.
Once you've settled into your photography and found your "style" it's easy to stick to what you know and then before you know it your style is now outdated.
So get on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook follow other photographers and see what people are doing and not doing. Stay in line with the trends and update your creative style so clients will be dying to use you next Summer.
4. It's not what you know.
My first wedding came about when someone I knew from work came up to me and said "you like photography don't you?" and BOOM that's how I started.
Paying for marketing can be great and get you a long way but it can get expensive whereas word of mouth is free and will hold more weight than your business card or leaflet
Tell anyone and everyone you're a photographer, they can't recommend you as a photographer if they don't know you are one
Join a photography club. Photographers who do landscapes may not like to do portraits and visa versa. For example someone asked a fellow photographer if he would do their wedding but as he only shoots editorial, he put my name forward instead.
Agree to the odd free shoot for someone who you know will spread the word on how great you are to work with. It will also help you build a portfolio
Create a Facebook page and post post post let everyone know what you're doing and who you are. You could even run like and share competitions
5. Never Undersell yourself
It's an easy idea to simply offer your services cheap to get the work in - however there are two downsides to this method.
Firstly, you're outpricing all the professionals who do this full time and need to charge what they do to make sure they can pay the bills - not everyone can offer a full day for £250 and in my opinion it's un-sportsman like to steal business by undercutting the competition.
Second, people want good quality when it comes to professional work - if you have a pair of socks, you split them up and sell one for £1 and the other for £3 the majority of people will by the sock for £3 because they think it must be better quality, even though the 2 socks are exactly the same.
Instead of offering cheap services, get involved with Styled Shoots where you can meet and work with other people who work in the same industry, it's a great way to get your foot in the door with other suppliers and simultaneously build up your portfolio. You can add yourself to Facebook networks and organise a shoot yourself or find an event planner who wants to do something similar and the ball rolling from there. It's hard work for free but once you've built up your contacts and have some gorgeous work you can show off, you'll be able to charge more for your paid work and it will more than make up the difference.
Turning your self into a business is hard and I don't want to lie to you it will be pretty stressful with a high risk of people losing the passion. So remember that you got into photography because in one way or another; be it telling a story, or capturing a once in a lifetime moment, you want to express yourself. Let that passion, that love for what you do be what drives you and never forget to always mix business with pleasure.