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Thread: How I made Photography my second job.

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    How I made Photography my second job.

    Hello everyone,

    After being in Photography for around two years now and starting from no experience with dSLR's to now having it as a second job I thought I'd share my story how I went about it and perhaps others reading might find some value in it if wondering themselves how to take the next step and turn a hobby into a casual income earner.

    For ease of reading, I will do this in point form.

    1.) Obvious yet I will say it anyway. You'll need dSLR gear...that being of a body, a wide-zoom lens, speedlight flash and a bag to carry it in (I just use an ordinary backpack). I have a D7000 with a battery pack grip (I mostly got this because my hands are big so I could get a good hold on the camera, however the extra battery is very useful). I started with a 50mm prime and used for a few events however I found this very limiting in tight spaces for shots I wanted so I found myself getting the 17-55mm f/2.8. It stays on my body 99% of the time now. I say a wide-zoom rather than a tele-zoom because most work you will be after will require it. How much you choose to spend is entirely up to you...I'd say starting out around $2000 is great. Don't be afraid to get second hand either.

    2.) Learn, learn, learn. A few weeks later I did a short course (8-12 weeks) at TAFE on Photography and really got comfortable with using the Manual setting. Do a course in Photoshop. Online, wherever...read lots, then try it out! Apply what you learn...

    My favorite Photography teacher is Bryan Peterson. YouTube him and read his books also.

    This site AusPhotography is also a good tool for learning when you give critique to others.

    3.) Take photos. Very easy to just go click crazy in the beginning however do try to resist. Think of your camera as a film camera...each shot is worth $2...is your shot worth $2? Offer to take photos of friends during dinners out, take formal photos and candids at Weddings, Christenings etc. then after a few attempts or when confident enough create a photo album with the photos and give as a present when you believe you have a solid 200 photos from one event. Compile the photos from the start of the event to the end also. If candids are something you are not comfortable with, enlist on various sites to shoot as a cat walk fashion photographer for student designers. You won't be paid for it, but at least it gives you practice with technique and most importantly confidence.

    Take photos of things that interest you in your spare time also. Try to do 20 mins+ a day. Keep your photos also...don't delete old albums of what you considered good back then. It is nice to look back and see how much you have improved.

    4.) Seek work! About 5 months in I started by looking on Gumtree and searching things like 'photographer required'. The pay won't be amazing but it is a start. I begun by shooting the back of taxi's that had advertisements on it...odd job, but I got $50 cash for 6 hours of work across two days...so 3 hours a day. I kept asking my employer, who was a designer what he thought of my photos each time and if he knew of someone needing a Photographer to get them in touch with me. Sure enough, after a few weeks of persistence, I got another job with Haymarket Chamber of Commerce and I worked with them on providing photos for an app. of theirs they were making. If you own an iPhone, it can be searched under 'HHC' or 'haymarket walking tours'. It is a free app. and all the photos were done by me.

    After that, and the app. launched I asked again if there was other work for me and eventually I got asked to shoot their events and City of Sydneys collab. parties. I have been doing this since and for 3 hours work it is $99 for around 30-50 photos at a time which occurs on a fortnightly/monthly basis.

    So...

    - Treat it seriously like a business. No good spending $50 to reach a spot with fuel and parking if they pay is $60...etc. However, if you can see the work leading to bigger things, then might be worth sticking it out short-term.
    - Treat everyone like a customer and put excellent customer service into practice...learn this if not sure how.
    - You will need to be outgoing and prepared to talk to strangers with a friendly and positive approach. No one wants to be photographed by a sorrowful looking person...they will think something is wrong with themselves when getting their photo done.
    - Be efficient. 90% of my photos are taken in the first shot. Look in the background of shots, make sure everyone is in frame and not chopped off unintentionally, make sure people are not holding half eaten chicken drumsticks etc.
    - Be early to events, dress the part, be polite, ask the organiser who the important people are that need photos taken...ask how they would like the photos in size etc. and whether emailed, usb stick'd...be proactive!

    Extra work to come through includes band nights and company events. Again, don't be afraid to walk into a pub, talk to the band before they start and offer them photos...say, 20 for $50 that they can have.

    5.) Consider holding your own exhibition. I have had two exhibitions so far with a friend. Sold two small photos for $20 in my first exhibition which was a great experience. I sold 3 photos or $150 each in my second exhibition. Don't be afraid to have a go...don't just be stuck posting on the net only. Choose a topic to shoot you are passionate about, practice it...have a go at getting them printed...see how they look. The first topic I did was black and white street art...not very strong looking back however at the time I thought it was. Second topic for exhibition was street photography again in colour mixed with some drawings of mine.

    Here is a blog from my first exhibition. Last article...

    http://streetfashionsydney.blogspot....own-plump.html

    I hope these five points are of use to someone out there and in making a bit of money from the great hobby that is Photography.


    Cheers.

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    I should also excuse any vagueness in my above post...if anyone needs anything elaborated on please let me know.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    thanks for all this great information coming from experience.
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

    Constructive Critique of my photographs is always appreciated
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    It's really great to hear a good news story and a fabulous lot of great advice to go with it!
    Cheers, Peter

    Canon 50D | EF-S18-200 | Sunpac Auto 383 Super | Manfrotto 190/141RC + monopod | ND8 & CPL filters | Seagull rightangle viewer | Kenko extension tubes
    Wish list: Sigma 50 1.4, EF100 2.8L, EF70-200 2.8IIL, EF2xIII and something at the ultra-wide end this year. Oh yeah, I'll need a bigger bag also!!

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    Thanks for your post, it was a useful and intersting read.

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    Member dcurry's Avatar
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    Just the prod I needed to have a go.

    Dave
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    Nice read AVALANCHE

    I am only new to photography too, but have been getting lots of positive comments. I used to search photos from areas I wanted to shot and would find amazing photos by other people and now after taking great shots I find mine are as good or better than the ones I was amazed at. I see photography as possibly something I could earn money from at some stage down the track.

    Like you I learned from Bryan Peterson and others from youtube. There is so much to learn on the web, I think if we didn't have it it would probably take many years instead of months.

    I am still yet to decide what area I will follow. I love taking seascapes and landscapes, but also would like to do sports. I have done a 21st and made a book which was pleasing to get positive comments from people I don't know about the photos. I have also been asked to be an assistant for a wedding later in the year which would be good experience. I see any opportunity to take photos as more experience.

    Good luck with your adventures
    D810, D7100 & D3200, Tamron 24-70mm 2.8 VC, Tamron 70-200mm 2.8 VC, Nikkor 45mm PC-E 2.8, Tokina 11-16mm 2.8 II, Tokina 100m 2.8 macro & Tokina 300mm 2.8 Pro

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    Ausphotography Addict geoffsta's Avatar
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    Great read, and sounds good in theory. Just a couple of quick questions.
    1. What is your first job? What hours do you do in it? Is it far from home?
    2. Do you think a person living outside a big city would have the same opportunities as you have had?

    Obviously you seem to been one of those 0.01% who have everything to fall in place all at the right time, and a person that seems to have the gift of the gab. Not to forget to mention the determination to achieve your goal.

    Please don't read this as a negative. As it is not intentional. It's more to add another dimension to your circumstances. Your first job may leave you with plenty of energy at end of your day, or be of hours or location that give you freedom to explore your surroundings.
    Your family obviously give you plenty of support as well.

    Good luck with future endeavours. See you in the CC section of the forum...

    Geoff.
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    Thanks everyone.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by geoffsta View Post
    Great read, and sounds good in theory. Just a couple of quick questions.
    1. What is your first job? What hours do you do in it? Is it far from home?
    2. Do you think a person living outside a big city would have the same opportunities as you have had?

    Obviously you seem to been one of those 0.01% who have everything to fall in place all at the right time, and a person that seems to have the gift of the gab. Not to forget to mention the determination to achieve your goal.

    Please don't read this as a negative. As it is not intentional. It's more to add another dimension to your circumstances. Your first job may leave you with plenty of energy at end of your day, or be of hours or location that give you freedom to explore your surroundings.
    Your family obviously give you plenty of support as well.

    Good luck with future endeavours. See you in the CC section of the forum...

    Geoff.
    Hey Geoff,

    Thanks!

    1.) My first job is operating a fine wine store. This ranges around 60+ hours a week so I usually feel shagged most days. I have been doing this for ten years and as of the 1st of Feb I will be resigning from Management to pursue studying in Digital Media. I figure to chase the dream while still relatively young (I am 28) rather then look back and regret not having a go...work isn't far from home. About 15 minutes bike ride.

    2.) I use to live near the Blue Mountains with my parents and grew up there for most of my life. The opportunities are different in both areas (I live a few km's away from the CBD now). Further out West people are much more grounded with their jobs and prefer the security and comfort of expectation whereas closer to the city it is more dymanic. So, the answer is no...having photography as a second job is dynamic. If however, someone living in such an area is near a train line then they can travel into a CBD for work...tickets are fairly inexpensive, the main cost is time.

    Ah I don't think I am that 0.01%. If I were I would be adding a few extra 0's to the end of my paychecks.

    Back then, before even getting the job for shooting taxi's...I must have sent close to 90 resumes and personalised cover letters out to employers over a period of time. It is very disheartening to not hear back from anyone for such an effort however I really wanted to do it so I stuck it out and kept trying until I could get anything that involved me shooting and earning something for it, which is when the taxi job came up. I then stuck it out for a few weeks persistently asking my employer if there were any further work to come from it.

    At some stage too, and I forgot to mention it in my first post...you will get ripped off eventually. Purely out my eagerness to work, and perhaps naive, I accepted a Wedding Photographer assistant job with the promise of paid work after doing a real Wedding as a 'trial'. It was a 16 hour day, I refused to take any breaks while the other assistant did and about 1200-1500 photos later and uploaded, he demanded I surrender the memory cards to him, hesitantly I gave them over and he pontificated how great they were. I mainly shot candids and some small group photos of the Bride and Grooms friends and relo's. I never heard from him again. So yeah, just a warning...

    As for everything falling in place, there is a certain element of luck to it for sure...however there is the saying, "The harder I work, the luckier I get". People are so desperate to believe there are short-cuts for stuff like this, unfortunately for me there hasn't been...I wish there was though! Gift of the gab comes from work and always dealing with people I think...I use to be a very shy person. I still get quiet when around with friends however I guess I just click in whenever I really feel strongly about something.

    My Mum did a lot of Photography when I was younger, just family snaps but she always took superb photos with the Ricoh KR-5. They have been very supportive of me, which I am always grateful for.

    Cheers.

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    Ausphotography Addict geoffsta's Avatar
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    Thanks AVALANCHE.
    Your answers really give a different perspective to your original post.
    Here I was thinking that you had an easy job, walked to work, looked out your office window planning all your next move, and coming home just as refreshed as when you left that morning.

    Although your age does play a small part in your decision. The fact that you feel that your job will get you now-where fast, would also give me the incentive to get off my arse and have a go.

    Just wish I was 28 again , and had a family that would support me as yours does. Although I grew up in a large family, both parents worked 2 jobs, and there was not much love between siblings. Everything I have done in life has been pretty much on my own, all my abilities are self taught. I did some pregnancy photos last year, and my wife of 25 years implied I was a pervert... So that's the support I get.

    In all that.. Good luck. And again, thanks for the clarification of your circumstances. I'm sure many more members will read this in a different light..

    Geoff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by geoffsta View Post
    Thanks AVALANCHE.
    Your answers really give a different perspective to your original post.
    Here I was thinking that you had an easy job, walked to work, looked out your office window planning all your next move, and coming home just as refreshed as when you left that morning.

    Although your age does play a small part in your decision. The fact that you feel that your job will get you now-where fast, would also give me the incentive to get off my arse and have a go.

    Just wish I was 28 again , and had a family that would support me as yours does. Although I grew up in a large family, both parents worked 2 jobs, and there was not much love between siblings. Everything I have done in life has been pretty much on my own, all my abilities are self taught. I did some pregnancy photos last year, and my wife of 25 years implied I was a pervert... So that's the support I get.

    In all that.. Good luck. And again, thanks for the clarification of your circumstances. I'm sure many more members will read this in a different light..

    Geoff.
    I'm really sorry to hear that photographing that subject provoked such a thought from your partner...have a read of this.

    http://www.smh.com.au/executive-styl...121-2xy9p.html

    Photographing most people non-work related is something I avoid mostly out of fear of being seen as 'perverted'. I shouldn't feel that way yet I cannot help it.

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    Ausphotography Addict geoffsta's Avatar
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    Photographing most people non-work related is something I avoid mostly out of fear of being seen as 'perverted'. I shouldn't feel that way yet I cannot help it.
    How true a story. Good read.
    I have been doing a lot of equestrian events lately. And I feel that I have to watch were I point the camera. Just out of fear of being pigeon holed. Although I'm starting to get known at these events, and the tension is not as bad. And have had a few ask me to take shots of their kids. But it's still there in the back of the mind.
    I have taken some candids, but always walked up to the parents, showed them the image, then later emailing it. (Low Res)

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    Kids sport is a bit of a touchy subject but really you'll get more bouquets than brickbats - but there's always some that are shall i say crazily paranoid - but I understand that they may have been badly advised or previously affected

    Getting known is a good start with all things
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    Ausphotography Regular Allie's Avatar
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    Thank you for the very frank and open sharing of your progress in achieving your second job - I think some of the steps taken could apply to many fields of interest if the conditions and employers names were changed. It has been interesting reading and kudos to you for what you have achieved and also being so willing to share your experiences to help others. While I have no interest in running any type of business again (let alone photography) I would have been grateful to have had some of the steps, insights and attitudes needed, as you have indicated here, prior to starting some of my own ventures.

    I wish you all possible success in the future.

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    Nice write up. A good dose of get-up-and-go goes a long way! Congrats!

    I'm of the opinion that photography is almost the perfect second job. You can generally get enough work outside of normal business hours to sustain it as an entity. Photography as a first job is an entirely different beast, though, so I would urge any readers to not mistakenly assume that the relative ease in which a part-time photography business is established automatically translates to full time. It doesn't.

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    Thanks for sharing.

    Between a young family, a demanding job and too many hobby's I've got no misconceptions I could be a paid photographer with my current set-up and time constrictions.

    I have pursued jobs very much like you in the past, and can agree persistence pays off.

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