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Thread: Photography Career Advice

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    Photography Career Advice

    Hi guys. I really need some honest advice. My normal occupation is in the construction industry as a boiler maker/ Pressure welder, I had to leave my last job due to body aches and pains, As a result Centre Link wanted proof of why I left my full time job? So off to the doctors I go, Many tests later reviled that I had a torn tendon in each shoulder as well as rotor cuff injuries(shoulder Joint), 4 worn disks in my neck I also have a Knee injury and tennis elbow. I am only 43 and Centre Link has put me on a part disability pension and its really starting to get me down as I can't find work, I live in the Latrobe valley where jobs are scarce, Could I make photography my new career, As it is one of my favourite pass times PLEASE HELP. Regards Dave.......

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    Well, I'm sure you'll get alot of different replies to this Duane, and initially alot of questions! I'm sorry your injuries have forced this upon you.... hopefully centrelink and workcover are nice to you!

    - What gear do you have?
    - What type of photography would you want to provide services in? Keeping in mind that if you want to do things like weddings... your injuries may make this difficult
    - What experience do you have in the type of photography you're interested in?

    These are probably only a few of many questions you may be asked before we can start giving you some sound advice.

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    I think it's a very very tough industry to work FT in Duane...anything's possible but i wouldnt mortgage my house on a FT Pro career, and I have all the gear and probably enough experience to do it
    Darren
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    Constructive Critique of my images always appreciated

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Dave,

    firstly YES you can, but be prepared to work hard and possibly for little real return to start with. If you do not have any skills in accounting and marketing, see if the local tafe etc runs some courses on MYOB, learn about tax. Do a marketing course. All these things will stand you in good stead. Being a professional photographer is only about 10-20% about taking photos.
    "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
    Nikon, etc!

    RICK
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    Thanks for the feedback. At the moment jasevk I only have a canon 450d twin lens kit + 150x500 sigma, I am still in the learning stage but am willing to advance through courses and so forth to improve my skills as a photographer, Why not try to make a career of something one enjoys. ricktas I have no marketing skills But I have an ABN and worked as a taxi driver where I learnt basic accounting skills, not myob, although I have the program I never learnt to use it. Thanks for the help. Regards Dave. Ps kiwi, I have nothing to lose..

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    Maybe ring up the local pro and have a chat to him about the local market too

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    You could try, but you'll have to be really good.

    Unfortnately your gear isnt the best, however, you might have the skill to compensate. If you're going pro, I rekon you'll need to spend a bit on some decent glass first though
    NIGH -KON

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    Moderately Underexposed I @ M's Avatar
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    Seriously Duane, knowing the 'Valley's history pretty well and then the reputation of a few of the photographers down that way I would say that you are about 3 years and $30,000 short of being in business.
    Hang in there if you really want to do it but don't expect to be driving a new Ferrari this time next year, come to think of it a new Kia might be out of reach as well.

    I am not being nasty, simply realistic and honest.
    Andrew
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    Also while you are learning see if there is a niche market that hasn't been discovered. As there are only 30,000 people in your town, and a few photographers there already you may need to find a different angle.
    Cheers, Keith
    Sony A300, Tamron 70-200 2.8, Kenko 2x Teleconverter, Tamron 17-50 2.8, Sony 50 1.4, Strobes - Sony F42AM x 2, radio triggers, plus some studio gear.

    www.keithsmithphotography.com.au | flickr

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    Definitely yes. It will be hard work of a different type to what you have done previously.
    Look around for opportunities. I used to pick up work (10 years worth as a second job during the 90's ) for car magazines and from people wanting to sell (cars, houses, furniture). The world has moved since then but people will always pay for good work with a creative angle.
    You will also need to work hard on building Raw developing and PS skills.
    The other side is a business is equally important - marketing, advertising, account keeping and the part that generally brings people down.

    Good luck.

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    no reason you couldn't have some prints made up and hit the local markets, see what sells and what doesn't, it might be a way to ease in, and earn some pocket money. It might also give you an idea if its really what you want to do FT or keep it as a hobby while earning some dollars.
    Cheers David.

    Canon 40D/EF-S 17-85 mm IS/Kenko Extenson Tubes/Canon EF 50mm F/1.8 II (nifty fifty)
    Sigma 10-20mm 4-5.6 /Sigma 70-200/ Sigma 1.4 teleconverter/ some Conkin filters | Adobe Photoshop CS6



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    To be honest Duane there is no arts based occupation that is full time be it photographer, cinematographer, painter, whatever, particularly not in the beginning. Set your mind on developing a number of skills and earning from each of them. If they're related that's even better.
    All our famous people have second and third jobs, it's the nature of the business and quite unlike being a boilermaker or clerk. It took me 10 to 12 years to build self sufficiency and enough skills to set me up for life in the photographic and television trades and I'm yet to see anyone do it quicker.
    The two important ingredients are focus and perseverance with a touch of good luck and lots of help from your friends.
    Photojournalist | Filmmaker | Writer | National Geographic | Royal Geographic

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    One of the biggest problems many photogs face is the devaluation of the photographic service itself. What I mean is that almost everyone has a digital camera these days and almost everyone can take a half decent photo. This alone has reduced the need to pay any one else to take a photo for you so the market has effectively shrunk (but to different degrees depending on the quality of the work being paid for). The reason I mention this is that this also has an effect on the rates for any work that is out there. I'm not suggesting you don't give it a go but unless you have some thing truely special or different to offer then there really isn't a significant likelihood that you would earn a living from it but that doesn't mean that you can't make some extra money out of it.

    Maybe you have some special skills, an eye, ideas that are unique and valueable, but maybe it will take a while to find that out.

    Good luck
    JJ

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    Thank you all very much. I see how it would be such a hard field to get into. You are right JJ every man and his dog has some form of digital camera these days.I did a Google search and found that there are a few full time as well as 1 off jobs for photographers. these included real estate, automotive, Santa, school photographer and so forth. Some are actually offering a very good celery. Thanks again. Cheers Dave

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    Yeah Dave, you can become a pro photographer, it is still a career path. Just don't run head-long into it. Get your skills up (start showing us some of your work), work towards getting better gear, you will need a couple of camera bodies (what if your camera breaks down, mid shoot), a range of lenses so you can cover the various subjects that people may want to pay you for. Whilst accruing the gear and skills, do your research, check out the local photographers, see if there is a gap in what is offered by them. Get yourself a business plan. One way to go is work out how much money you want to make in your first year, and work backwards, get that down to how much you then need to make in a week to reach that target. Start investigating advertising costs, insurance costs, etc, how much you need to spend on printing for clients. Then divide those yearly totals down to weekly amounts. After all that is done you know how much you need to earn in a week, to pay the bills and make the total you wanted (from above). That gives you a point at which to work out your charges for clients.

    Go and talk to the local photo labs (if there are any), find out what they charge for all their different sized prints, look at online printing options. Find out about canvas printing prices, photo book and albums. You need to be able to provide a full service to your clients. Researching and having this knowledge up-front means you look more professional to your client. For example, you get a prospective client, during the discussions they say 'oh, what would it cost to get this photo done on a canvas -this- big"? If you already have a canvas price guide available, you can get it out, show the client and they likely to accept the offer. But if you go, "Oh canvas, I would have to find out and get back to you on that", the client straight away knows that you do not do many canvases and it puts you behind the guy up the road, who yesterday told the same person exactly the costs for canvases.

    So all up my post is about, work! Work at getting everything in place, photography skills, editing skills, gear, presentations, prices, branding, business contacts. Create a business plan! Act Professionally! Research will be your best friend as you start out.

    Those with the best plans, and right skills, to start with when setting up a small business are those most likely to succeed.

    One thing you could do before all of this is a SWOT analysis. You have to be honest with yourself here.
    * Strengths: attributes of the person or company that are helpful to achieving the objective(s).
    * Weaknesses: attributes of the person or company that are harmful to achieving the objective(s).
    * Opportunities: external conditions that are helpful to achieving the objective(s).
    * Threats: external conditions which could do damage to the objective(s).

    Using these you can see where your strengths are (seeing you were a taxi driver, verbal communication is probably a strength for you). Weaknesses (you have admitted you haven't used MYOB or similar). Opportunities, what do the local photographers not offer and why, is there a market available that is sustainable and not being targeted? Threats, Is the market already saturated with photographers. Is their a risk that a major employer in the area will downsize dramatically sometime in the near future, which would affect your market?
    Last edited by ricktas; 04-08-2010 at 8:06am.

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    Very good advice Ricktas I like what you have had to say. At the moment all I can do is improve on my photography as I can't afford new gear yet, that is a long way off, But that will give me the time needed to do the ground work. e.g. research Marketing, create a business plan, find a style that's unique to me (if that is possible).. and so forth. I will be near retirement age by the time I hit the scene Thanks once again for every bodies input. I might go to Walhalla today to see if I can find some interesting subjects, I will post some pics soon.

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    Id try in the interim to look for opportunirties working at a pixie photo or even a photo lab so you can use other people's gear and get some industry experience, if you can

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    Sorry to hear of your predicament.
    Another avenue you may wish to consider is freelance photography but you will need very good all round photographic skills and also the equipment (and I mean pro gear with backup) as well as the ability to take charge of the situation (e.g. shooting kids sporting teams).
    There are a lot of lower end photographic companies looking for contract shooters and freelance provides them with the ability to get the job done without the cost of pro gear or wages and also the ability to instantly ditch a photographer they are not happy with…. Yes it can be a cruel world and your income with be based on the results you can achieve usually under difficult circumstance.
    Some areas to consider are:

    1/. Sporting team and individual portraits… this is mostly winter work early in the morning.
    2/. School formals Years 10&12… end of year (October/November) at night using a portable studio.
    3/. Sporting events… athletics and swimming on weekends.
    4/. Real estate… premium properties, early morning and late afternoon.
    5/. Dance Eisteddfod… evenings and weekends.
    6/. School portraits… weekdays

    I made a living for five years working for seven different companies all at the same time but you have to be prepared for the weird hours, too much work one week and no work the next. When I decided to remarry I gave it all away and went back to office work as the freelance did not allow any sort of social life.

    It also took me quite a while before I started enjoying photography again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi View Post
    Id try in the interim to look for opportunirties working at a pixie photo.....
    As a male don't bother applying for jobs photographing very young children or babies as you will be wasting your time. Despite the laws relating to anti discrimination based on gender you will not be considered for these positions.

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    It all depends on what sort of remuneration you seek in response to your full time endeavor.

    Of all the thousands of professional photographers in Australia, only about 5% are taking home the current average Australian salary. That means only 1 in 20 professional photographers are even hitting an average income.

    In context, it means that 95 out of every 100 professional photographers don't make an average wage.

    The truly remarkable aspect to those somewhat scary statistics is that the quality of work produced doesn't generally equate to those who earn well and those who don't.

    It's business first and foremost.
    Last edited by Dan Cripps; 04-08-2010 at 2:50pm.

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