Tips For New Photographers + Things Clients Should Know!
**This post may be missing photos while I get my website switched over. If there are links, they may not work either.... Please pardon the mess!
First of all, welcome to the wonderful world of photography! When I say I love what I do, I'm not lying. My daughter sits in my “woman cave” with me while I edit sometimes and she can vouch. Just the other day while I was editing a gallery, she pointed out that I said "awe, I love that smile" a few too many times for her taste haha. But I do. I love the smiles, the giggles, the family time and so much more. It's a blessing to be a part of it all. :)
I had written a blog post about becoming a photographer back in 2014 and it's still relevant, but it's been 7 years and I think it's time to add to it. In that post, I wrote about my camera and lens progression, my annoying and inconsistent watermark, how I HATE black and white with color pop and a few more technical things. Since then, I've learned that aside from the technical, there's so much more that I think should be mentioned.
*This post is completely my opinion!
If you're not a photographer, it's still relevant to read this, especially if you're shopping around for a photographer -whether you use me or not! There are things you may not even know you want to consider, like knowing your photographer will be able to edit out most of the glare in your glasses, to littering at a location, to long term file storage and more. See also, my FAQ page.
1. Have insurance and a business license. If you don't have either of these things and you're operating as a business, are you really operating as a business?
2. Have a website that isn’t Facebook. Unpopular opinion, I know. If you're running a business, there are many reasons to have a website, including professionalism, but I have a big reason to throw at you: My cousin had his Facebook page stolen from him. Someone has been using his page with all of his wedding pictures, other personal pictures and personal posts for YEARS now and he hasn't been able to do anything about it. Imagine if that happened to you, then imagine your business page being attached to your personal page. Now the said person would not only have control of your personal stuff, but they would also have control of your business page, including chats with your clients! They could even reply to said chats with your clients and pose as you! I typically move any fb messages to email, which avoids all of this.
3. Use good editing software. This is just my strong opinion, but use Photoshop over anything else lol. I'm just kidding, you can use Lightroom if you want, it just seems like an extra step before Photoshop to me. You can organize and cull using the Bridge plugin, you can batch edit if you want and you can simply do WAY MORE in Photoshop than in any other editing program. While you should get it right in camera, I'm a Photoshop/Adobe Camera RAW girl and editing with with those programs have saved just about any in-camera settings mistake I’ve made, I'm not going to lie.
4. Have a good backup system for your files. I can't stress this enough! Have you ever had a computer fail? I have! When I brought my computer into the repair shop, they said they had to wipe it and install a new motherboard. They asked me over and over if I was sure they could wipe it and I knew it would be fine because my computer makes a copy of everything onto an external hard drive every single day that it's left on. When I started my computer back up after the repair, I plugged my external hd, clicked "restore from backup" and everything was there! Everything from my organized folders to the crap all over my desktop was there haha! My contract states that I will keep all edited files for one year, but unless everything I have fails, I try to keep all edited images from all sessions forever. *The original/raw files are deleted within a week after my clients receive their galleries, so they take up lots of space.
When my 3 terabyte external hard drive is full, I compress old folders, or I buy another. In January of every year, I use a few discs to make copies of all edited sessions from the year prior and compress that folder on my desktop. In short, everything is saved somewhere at least twice. Whether you use a cloud based system, or external hard drives, back up everything for you and for your clients! P.S. I love Shiny Computers as a mac, or iPhone repair shop!
5. Have a backup camera! And lenses. And batteries. And camera cards. I've had to use my backup camera before... recently actually. You just never know and you don't want to meet your clients, just to say you can't shoot! Clients take a lot of time to get ready, get their kids ready and so on. Trust me on this one!
6. Ask permission to use outdoor locations. I cannot stress this enough! Just ask the landowner, or park service, or whoever needs to be asked, but ask. If you need a permit and it's a location that's worth it, get the permit! I pay to use a few of the locations I use because I think it's worth it.
7. Stay away from confetti, or smoke bombs. I follow Windsor Castle Park on Facebook and they have posted photos showing remnants leftover from a photo session quite a few times. Leaving trash behind is disrespectful, bad for the environment and it would make landowners second guess letting photographers use their land! Instead of using plastic confetti, consider using a hole punch to punch confetti out of leaves, or something else biodegradable. If you're going to use plastic confetti, take the time to pick up all of it. Instead of using smoke bombs, or fake snow, push yourself to create it in Photoshop. Don't know Photoshop, take a class because it'll be worth it!
8. Don't copy another photographer, or another artist's ideas. This should be a no brainer, but sadly it's not. Artists come up with creative ideas for their business and for personal, but never for others to use the ideas as their own! I've spent years developing a brand and a style. My loyal clients, along with friends have recently sent me screenshots of a local photographer with various similarities as one of my mini sessions I've been doing for years. The same location is being used and the same name as what I call this set of minis was even used on local Facebook groups. Don't do this. It's tacky, it's wrong and I don't consider it flattery. Be yourself and then be proud of what you've accomplished from using your own ideas!
9. Don't just edit another photographer's work. I tell people that I'm fluent in Photoshop lol. I can do things like "take off a few pounds", fix hair, soften blemishes, etc. and I've been asked to do that on other photographer's images, but I WILL NOT unless I have permission from the photographer! Not only is it a copyright violation to do this without permission, but it's also unethical. My clients know I can usually do these things for them if they think they need it and I don't like sounding arrogant in the slightest, but I'm going to type this: it *could* be a reason some of them pick me as their photographer. 😉
I 100% welcome new photographers to use my contact form to ask me questions. I know I say I don’t like when solicitors use my form to contact me, but that’s only because it’s a huge influx of them and I have it written everywhere that I like to edit my own stuff, vs. pay someone to do it. I wouldn’t count another photographer asking questions as a solicitor!
Thanks for looking!!
This blog post was written in 2018. It was updated when it was copied to the current HBP website. I apologize if there's a link that isn't working.