Thursday, January 14, 2010

Working as a photographer

Usually I am approached by aspiring models, but sometimes I do get emails from aspiring photographers as well. I was recently asked: Is there any way to stay working one job while trying to be a pro-photographer?

My reply:
Well, just like there are different types of models there are different types of photographers. The work of photographers is seen not just in fashion magazines or playboy, but also in Time Magazine, Art magazines, trade magazines of all types, newspapers, ad campaigns, weddings, and even on film sets there is a director of photography present. So make sure you are aware that photography and being a photographer could consist of pursuing any of these areas. I think it is possible to keep your job but grow a photography portfolio and experience and credibility and contacts. I would focus on what your focus and goals are for photography. And research, spend time learning as much as you can about that area. I would use your weekends and spare time wisely. If you already have a portfolio you could strive to get some of your work published. Locally there might be a newspaper's art department you could get in touch with, submit some images that would have fit with a few of their current stories, and suggest working together but stress you are only available for select photography jobs, offer your weekend availability or whatever it might be. Also depending on the type of photography you want to pursue you could reach out to other companies, brands, organizations that might like your services. For fashion, get in touch with well known aspiring designers and boutique owners in your town. A college might have a newspaper or website for their fashion department and you might want to reach out about the schools events and being a photographer for them. Approach any charities in your area that might want a photographer for their events. Contact the city events departments and offer to attend events and take photos. Now, with a different full time job, and without professional photography experience, you can not expect to make a ton of money off of photography, you could shoot weddings, headshots, some products and get some local work, but expect the process to be a build, and a process for sure. If you do not have experience at all working with a professional brand or established company or publication I would offer your service even for a lower rate to just get the experience, make the contacts and grow your portfolio at the start. Your experience and published work does matter to get bigger things, your own marketing mindset, and ambitious effort will pay off, your professionalism, and how fast you can work and bring quality work will matter as well. I would strive to be as professional as possible and remember that most online photography profile sites are amatuer so it is best to NOT join them if you want to work professionally. It is better to get a website, even with a cheaper service like www.siterightnow.com and market yourself. you could present your self through an email, but show images through a PDF, it is more professional, or a TIFF file. You could send a letter or a postcard that shows your work in the mail, but building contacts locally is important. And for the sake of your current full time job I would be very careful, selective and professional about the photography you do and put out there, so that you do not ever offend those who help pay your bills currently. Only show professional work that has an advertising, editorial, or professional appeal that does not limit you or your goals. Like being a model, the marketing you put in, knowing your assets -your skills, what you can offer is key!
I hope this helps,
Isobella

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