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Thread: Freelance Photography- Getting started?

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    Freelance Photography- Getting started?

    I'm new to this site, as well professional photography, but I'm wanting to make a career in freelance photography.
    What's the best way to get started?
    I've been looking at doing a few TAFE courses to better my photography skills, as up until now it has just been a hobby. I've also had a look on the Cengage website, as they offer quite a few photography courses, but I've heard that Cengage aren't that great.

    Does anyone have any tips or information regarding becomming freelance photographer?

    Any information will be greatly apprecited!
    I feel like such a noob!
    Thanks!

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    what's your experience ? and what sort of photograohy are you hoping to freelance in ?
    Darren
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    Constructive Critique of my images always appreciated

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    If it was me, I would consider doing a freelance photography and journalism course. Many newspapers, travel magazines and more, prefer to get both photos and story together. Now as Kiwi says, what is your experience level? I would not consider being a freelancer till I had great photography skills first, cause if you present something that is not up to standard to a newspaper/magazine, chances are they will not give you a second look.
    "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

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    I'd like to see a few of your photos in the members section, and maybe tell us what sort of gear you have. Some idea of what type of freelance. Travel, current affairs or fashion/glamour all have different styles and different gear required. With any of these types of photography the cost of equipment could run into $10,000 + and plenty of hard work.
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    Thanks for your replies!

    I'd love to focus mainly on maternity/family/childrens photography. But am interested in journalism as well.
    I did photography as part of my HSC in 2006 but haven't had the chance to do much else but take happy snaps and fiddle around with my Nikon D80. I have two little boys aged 3 and 1 and am a stay at home mum to them, so I for now I am only looking for somewhere to start in regards to building skills/qualifications, equipment and working my way to becoming a professional. It would be a few years before I start looking to make money.
    I am very much a beginner.
    I'll post a few pictures as soon as I get the chance.

    Thanks again!

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    Baby steps...

    Your thread is all to common. Mum who wants to become a professional photographer, we see about 2-3 of these threads every month. Some thoughts:

    1. You will need good camera gear, including back-up's of camera bodies (in case one dies)
    2. You will need insurance.
    3. You will need good business accumen. Including accounting and marketing. Professionally photography is about 20% taking photos, the rest is business stuff.
    4. You need good camera/photography skills (show us some of your work).
    5. You will need LOTS of time to dedicate to marketing etc to get your name out there. Time is usually something that most mum's find they do not have enough of already.
    6. Research. Most businesses fail cause the owners did not research the business enough, didn't have the skills to undertake it, or the time to dedicate to it.

    Start at the beginning, show us some photos, learn, do a business course part-time, do a marketing course part-time, talk to the tax office and your accountant.

    People can and do build up great businesses from starting photography as a hobby, but those that succeed are more than just photographers.

    Good Luck! and there is a saying " How do you make $50,000 as a photographer...You start with $100,000"
    Last edited by ricktas; 22-08-2010 at 8:29pm.

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    That was they main thing that had me stumped- how freelancers managed the business side of their work.
    Like I said, I have a few years before I'd want to think about doing paid work anyway.

    It seems as though with most things in life you have to have money to make money. It's easy to understand why there are so many homeless.

    Thanks very much!

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    Hi there mamabear.

    Don't be disheartened by the cold hard facts of the business of professional photography.

    Yes, it is business.

    Yes, they are cold hard CORRECT facts.

    BUT...... you have mentioned that you are on the learning curve, willing to learn and feel you are years away from deriving income from your work.

    So..... that tells me that you are REALISTIC in your expectations.

    I am a close to home mum too. It is hard/impossible to get out to all those interesting meets at the best photographic times of the day.

    So.... Use what you have around you to practice - your kids/playgroup/family. Practice until you KNOW that you can reproduce the same result every time you try.

    Tell people around you that you take like taking photo's. I bet 10 bucks, within a day someone will say that they would love have to have some shots taken but can't afford the "studio sitting fees blah blah blah". Offer to take pics for free for the privilege of practice (I might be kicked off this site for suggesting it) . Don't guarantee anything.

    Be honest with people that you are new to photography- it takes the pressure off having to deliver the standard "perfect" studio shot every time.

    Take your camera everywhere you go. Use it when you can. You are, in what I consider to be a lucky "space".

    The general public is not allowed to photograph young children these days. You are (with permission from parents)

    You are a young mum, with young kids - document it all - that alone would give you a niche in a part of the freelance photography market of today's super paranoid/anti child photography scene. A scene that MUST be shown. If we are to have a record of it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ricnak View Post
    The general public is not allowed to photograph young children these days. You are (with permission from parents)
    .
    WRONG : There is NO law that specifically separates children's photography from all other photography. The law states that if the photographer is on public land and a person (adult or child) is visible from that public land then they must expect they could be photographed!

    The mum's n dad's of Australia are just paranoid, and that has lead to the current situation, where they don't want their children photographed. STUPID. Most children who are sexually molested know their attacker, be it a family member or family friend. This anti children photography beat-up is perpetuated by comments like yours above.

    Funnily those who believe it is illegal to photograph their children without their permission would be the first to be asking if the security and closed circuit tv systems in our streets managed to capture photos of their children's attacker, if it unfortunately occurred. You cannot have it both ways. Demanding the right to stop a photographer in public from taking photos of your children without your permission, but at the same time, wanting the security cameras to take photos of your children in public without your permission.
    Last edited by ricktas; 23-08-2010 at 4:22pm.

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    Thanks ricnak,
    I admit I have been a little disheartened over the past few days, which is silly. There is a business side to everything profitable obviously. If you want to make money off it, it can't always be fun and games.

    My sister works at a childcare centre, so I was thinking of getting permission to go there and see what I come up with. Maybe give the parents a copy of a photo of their children and give them a feedback survey sheet to see how satisfied they are, if they'd be willing to pay money (not charging, them just to get an idea of where I'm at in regards to other peoples critiques) and hopefully start a portfolio.

    I agree, ricktas, with parents being paranoid. But I can't blame them. If I saw someone taking candid shots of my children I have to admit I'd probably get suspicious and defensive.
    When I took my eldest to the pool for his first swim I packed the camera, and when I pulled it out and started shooting I was immediately told by staff to put it away, as cameras weren't allowed.
    I was so disappointed. All I managed to get was a blurred shot.

    It's really sad that it's come to this, but in seeing tv shows like Bondi Rescue, where a man was caught taking photos of girls in bikinis, then putting his hand down his pants, it does plant a seed- 'How many other people are out there doing sinister things such as this?'.

    I, however, don't refrain from taking pictures of children in public. That's when you really capture them in all their innocence and really in their element.

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    See, going into a daycare centre to take photo's is a classic example of a situation where you should have insurance... things can go wrong when you work with kids... and you'd want to be covered should anything happen. and this is not public property so you'll need permission to do this, and the day care centre would presumably need permission from the parents. This is probably a good approach to take, but just make sure you have all your ducks in a row.
    Living the dream...

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    Quote Originally Posted by mamabear View Post

    My sister works at a childcare centre, so I was thinking of getting permission to go there and see what I come up with. Maybe give the parents a copy of a photo of their children and give them a feedback survey sheet to see how satisfied they are, if they'd be willing to pay money (not charging, them just to get an idea of where I'm at in regards to other peoples critiques) and hopefully start a portfolio.

    I agree, ricktas, with parents being paranoid. But I can't blame them. If I saw someone taking candid shots of my children I have to admit I'd probably get suspicious and defensive.
    When I took my eldest to the pool for his first swim I packed the camera, and when I pulled it out and started shooting I was immediately told by staff to put it away, as cameras weren't allowed.
    I was so disappointed. All I managed to get was a blurred shot.
    Different issue. Both of these facilities are classed as private, not public, locations, therefore they can apply a 'no photography' rule as a condition of entry. However, if you kids were at a local public park, people can photograph them! Yes, approach them and ask why, but we see all to often the paranoid parent going off their head, when a polite and cordial question would resolve it easily and just maybe the parent might get some great shots of their kids, for their efforts.

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    G'day Mamabear,
    Some good and some odd advice above. From experience picking up a gig as a freelance photographer won't happen until you have regular photographic work under your belt. You rarely become a freelance until your good at the photographic side AND have extensive business experience because no one else is going to manage your workload.
    Two skills you must have include a broad knowledge of business and as Rick suggests a strong flare for writing. Magazines and newspapers won't look at you without these skills and they also need a portfolio of past work (not just photography).
    Finally, you need to have other skills/activities to survive on between gigs especially for the first five or six years. If you refuse a job for personal reasons it's very unlikely you will get asked again by that organisation. Supply and demand.
    Most artistic/creative endeavours demand focus and priorities so make sure that at times you can put your work above your children (not always but sometimes). If you feel you can't do this then making a living from photojournalism will not eventuate. Them are the facts from thirty years in the industry and a stack of positive people power.
    Oh! one side effect to being a photojournalist is isolation, the nature of the work if you want to earn money.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Redgum View Post
    ...a strong flare for writing....
    Oh the irony

    On the topic, I think that you are going the right way about it. You recognise that it's a long path and are asking all the right questions. Don't be disheartened!

    For what it's worth, my advice is simply practice and discipline. Do a 365 project. Undertake to learn a new technique per week.

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    Thanks guys! Keep it coming!
    I'm actually getting inspired, rather than disheartened which is surprising.

    maccaroneski, I started a 365 project what must have been nearly a year ago, but I only made it through 4 or 5 days which is shame! I could have nearly finished it by now! I'd just had my youngest son though, so I had my hands full at the time.

    I'm definitely going to do few business courses. This way I'll not only be more prepared, but if it doesn't work out I'll atleast have something else under my belt for me to fall back on.

    My starting a portfolio would be more for myself, so I can see how I'm progressing, but also to provide examples to potential clients and to try and gain some interest.
    I have a parenting forum that I frequent, on which there is a research forum. I'm tossing up the idea of seeing if there are any local families that would sit a free photoshoot, if in return they let me use some of the photos in a portfolio or for promoting, and give me some feedback in regards to service, quality of photos, what they would like to get out of a photoshoot if they were paying, etc. Maybe throwing in a complimentary 8x10 of their favorite image, and if they want copies of the rest they can pay for the cost of printing if they want them printed, or simply allowing them to access them online.

    Are there any precautions I would need to take in this case? I would make it clear that I am only an amateur looking for experience and feedback. I have volunteered my boys previously with the same understanding but the photographer wasn't able to use any of her shots. It didn't bother me, because I know how difficult it can be as an amateur working with children, particularly kids that aren't yours. I just hope if I do do this that I get the same patience and understanding!

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    my only suggestion for a 'precaution' in the above would be to get a contract. Stipulate exactly what you want the photos for, how you can use them, and what the subjects and their parents get from the deal. Get it signed by yourself and the parents before taking any photos. A written and signed contract can go a long way to ensuring there are no disputes over what was agreed to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Redgum View Post
    G'day Mamabear,
    Some good and some odd advice above. From experience picking up a gig as a freelance photographer won't happen until you have regular photographic work under your belt. You rarely become a freelance until your good at the photographic side AND have extensive business experience because no one else is going to manage your workload.
    Two skills you must have include a broad knowledge of business and as Rick suggests a strong flare for writing. Magazines and newspapers won't look at you without these skills and they also need a portfolio of past work (not just photography).
    Finally, you need to have other skills/activities to survive on between gigs especially for the first five or six years. If you refuse a job for personal reasons it's very unlikely you will get asked again by that organisation. Supply and demand.
    Most artistic/creative endeavours demand focus and priorities so make sure that at times you can put your work above your children (not always but sometimes). If you feel you can't do this then making a living from photojournalism will not eventuate. Them are the facts from thirty years in the industry and a stack of positive people power.
    Oh! one side effect to being a photojournalist is isolation, the nature of the work if you want to earn money.
    damn straight about the isolation and loneliness of being a photographer/journalist

    I am writing this from Mongolia, and will be spending the next 6 days living in a ger with a horse tribe documenting them all by myself.......lol

    photography mixed with traveling for clients or free-lance work is really really hard on your life if you have children and other prior commitments already......something to seriously consider

    in 2010 entering into photography for business is very much like someone trying to enter the IT industry long after the dot com and internet boom, meaning its hard to establish yourself from the early starters and having to compete with a much higher percentage of competitors possessing same level of experience or greater.

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    I done the Freelance photography course through Cengage and my personal opinion was I was not happy with it, maybe because it is not what I was looking for. Some people were happy with the course and others weren't.
    Personally I find going to tafe and learning that is more inspiring.

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    Thanks jodster.
    I don't think I'll be going through Cengage then. They're quite expensive considering the average-bad reviews I've heard.
    I'll stick with TAFE

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    Time management and the ability to prioritise Mamabear! You'll need it. I've just picked up a story brief for a national magazine today (freelance job). 2 days on-site shooting for an event with access via 4WD, plus my own editing and writing time in the following days. I have a six day deadline to submit the article and photos. A story body-copy plus three to four sidebars with pics and interviews.

    It's a rush to your system to do these sorts of jobs but a challenge that I enjoy. Like you I have two young children who occupy a lot of my time which is why I'm often still pacing around here well into the night.

    Your original intention of freelance photographer and journalist seems to have mellowed a little into more a photography venture if I'm reading correctly but if you stick to your original plan you will need good family support, be prepared to travel for work and have the necessary backup gear to shoot offsite.

    Being able to work with people of all ages, personality types, demeanour etc is a must when you have to get answers for your questions for the article in question.

    I would possibly suggest TAFE for your photography courses and if you are serious about journalism you really can't go past a Uni degree although a lot more magazines especially, will hire people who have a general flair for writing and know the subject matter well.

    Industry contacts are important so build up a collection of names, numbers and emails (in your chosen areas) from the start and when things start taking off for you you will have a great database to draw from!

    Hope this helps and adds to what others have said!
    Attitude is everything!

    Cheers, Paul

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