by Dana Lunden, FSA, FED
It’s that time of the year again. We all look forward to the holidays, some of us with great anticipation, others with great trepidation. What if my only camera breaks at this shoot coming up and I don’t have a back-up available? What if my computer crashes and I lose files? What if? What if??
How we deal with the “what if’s” depends a lot upon our way of thinking, our training, our business practices, who we associate with (yes, seriously!) and how prepared we are, among other things. First, how do you look at that glass- half full or half empty? If we always doubt ourselves, doubt that we will do a good job at those family portraits we have scheduled tomorrow, doubt our abilities, whatever, then we have some realigning to do in our thinking. Remember, positive attracts positive, negative attracts negative. Stay with me here, as the things I have mentioned all interact with each other.
If you are first starting out in photography and have the passion and the drive to make it your life’s work, then there’s a good chance you can succeed. You have to get educated in the science and the art of photography. You must have a working knowledge of such things as lighting, the relationship between ISO, aperture and shutter speed and how to adjust them to get the specific effect you want or else you’ll just put the camera’s settings on “P for Professional” and hope for the best. There is a time and a place for “P” and when you are first learning, that is not the time to set the camera on “P.” You need to have a general knowledge of the ISO, aperture and shutter speed, as well as some of the accepted “rules” before you can go out and successfully break those rules.
Once you have that knowledge, when a potential job comes your way, you will have the confidence that you can fulfill the requirements of the job and get paid. So where do you acquire this knowledge? Lots of places. Many community colleges have non credit courses that teach the nuts and bolts of photography. Do a search on your computer for such courses. Go to your local camera store and talk to the people who work there. Speaking of your local camera store, that is a great place to start building relationships with those people who can help you. They are only too willing to help you in your quest for knowledge. Since many of them if not most are photographers themselves, they will be a great resource since they were once in your shoes. So take courses, go to seminars, hang with other photographers, volunteer to take sports photos at your local high school, join professional photography organizations, like the Professional Photographers of Middle Tennessee (www.ppmtonline.com), the Tennessee Professional Photographers Association and PPA, the Professional Photographers of America. They are all great resources.
PPA conducts seminars on business practices; this is important: you might be the most gifted photographer in the world but if you don’t get the word out, market yourself and your business and discipline yourself to work on a schedule, you won’t stay in business very long. Also, who you hang out with affects you more than you may think.
Eagles soar with other eagles, they don’t hang with turkeys. Hang around with and learn from other photographers. If you can, do an internship with a pro, learn all you can except for the bad or unproductive habits then move on.
Finally, preparation is paramount. No matter what it is, if you are not prepared, it will show. So, how much of a burning desire do you have to be a professional photographer? It is not an easy job. It is not all glamorous. But, if that is what you want, the only thing stopping you is you. No one can beat us up as well as we can. So decide what it is that you want; if that is to be a professional photographer, then go get it. One of the professional organizations locally you can go to for help is the Professional Photographers of Middle Tennessee, www.ppmtonline.com.
Remember, what you become is up to you, no one else.