I’m not sure how it happened that I started becoming the one people wrote with photography questions. Me? I’m still new at this too! But it was pointed out to me that because I’m still new, I’m closer to where even newer photographers are at – and I can relate with them better than the photographer who has been around for years. So I really am more than happy to share and help…after all, that’s how I got to where I am today, by others who shared with me. And so, like I said when I posted about this FAQ on Facebook, I don’t know it all. But I’ll do what I can!
How did you get your foot in the door and start second shooting? How did you know you were ready to make the jump?
My first second shooting gig came from the guy who sold me my camera! Duncan at Lens and Shutter sold me my Canon 5d Mark II and then invited me along to ‘third shoot’ a wedding with him and another. That opened my eyes to the reality of wedding photography and I loved it…yet I still did just family portraits for quite a while, as I built my portfolio and learned the ins and outs of my camera. I made the jump into full time wedding photography over a year later, January 2011. Which makes this my first full wedding season and I’m loving it! To bridge the distance between that first wedding and jumping in full time, I shot a lot and invested in learning. I had taken an online course in 2009 which taught me some technical stuff, but I found the most value from taking pictures and plugging into a photography community. Discussion boards, photography blogs, etc. The best investment in learning I made was attending Jasmine Star’s Workshop in Orange County last June. I know for some it can seem like workshops are expensive, but when you’re thinking of making photography your career, it’s a small price to pay. And plus, it was SO much fun!
When I began booking weddings for 2011, I set a number, a goal. When I reached that number, I knew I had to leave my ‘day job’ because if I wanted my business to grow, I would have to give it my all. And it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made. It took months, lots of prayer, many late nights and weekends of work, and much encouragement and support…but that’s how I knew it was time.
What equipment do you use? What do you suggest for someone starting out?
In my bag: Canon 5d Mark II, Canon 5d, 35 mm 1.4L, 50 mm 1.2L, 85 mm 1.8, 100 mm 2.8, 70-200 mm 2.8L, Canon Speedlites 580EXII and 430EXI. For someone starting out…I began with the Mark II but a good, used Canon 5d would make an excellent start. My all time favourite lens was my 50mm 1.4 until I upgraded to the 1.2L. For shooting weddings, something with more a zoom will be really helpful, like the 85 mm 1.8. I have a preference for prime lenses!
What do you think has increased your business the most since you became a professional photographer? Your website, blog, Facebook, word of mouth?
All of the above?! Most definitely, my blog has helped. Yes, Facebook initially allowed others to see my photos and book a few family sessions which got things going. But with my blog, it legitimized my photography. Does that make sense? It also allowed me to build my brand and share more about myself. My website is still fairly new but I love it because I have a more professional platform to display my work. Again, it legitimizes my business. Back to Facebook though – I should mention it still helps in directing traffic to my sites! Two other things that happened last year that I believe helped push my business were two styled photo shoots. This allowed me to show others what I was capable of…they didn’t have reason to trust me without much under my belt, so I took it upon myself to make it happen, with the help of some really wonderful people. You can see those here, and here.
I’m sure you’re tired of reading by now, so I’ll save the rest of the questions for a future post! Maybe this could this become a weekly thing, who knows. In the meantime, I would absolutely love it if the Discussion Board on my Facebook page got put to use! Those were a big part of my learning and I just so appreciate how the photography community comes together and helps one another along. Otherwise, feel free to send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.