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Thread: How'd you get started?

  1. #1
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    How'd you get started?

    Ok! I don't know how people are going to take this... but if you are a professional how did you get started? I don't have any current ambitions to quit my job and become a professional photographer it is just that I am curious. People are always posting questions about how to get into photography as a full time job and they are given advice from members and sometimes quick criticism about even wanting to in the first place. So to turn it around a little it would be great to hear from experienced and professional members about how they did it. Did they do courses, work at it for years before charging or just fall into it.

    It would be great to hear

    Cheers
    Danny

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    Member jasevk's Avatar
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    Well I'm only at the beginning of establishing a business... but basically I'm self taught over the past 5 years... I started out just shooting landscapes, and shooting portraits of friends and family for a few years. Wasn't until last year that I started shooting people other than family!
    Living the dream...

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    Quote Originally Posted by jasevk View Post
    Well I'm only at the beginning of establishing a business... but basically I'm self taught over the past 5 years... I started out just shooting landscapes, and shooting portraits of friends and family for a few years. Wasn't until last year that I started shooting people other than family!


    thats pretty much exactly my thoughts and hope to be ready to shoot ( for money ) in that time frame.

    i do alot of family stuff now and am learning all the time. so hopefully by then ill be ready to set up a website and a small online business to get my name out there.

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    Member jasevk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rowdy23 View Post
    thats pretty much exactly my thoughts and hope to be ready to shoot ( for money ) in that time frame.

    i do alot of family stuff now and am learning all the time. so hopefully by then ill be ready to set up a website and a small online business to get my name out there.
    Yeah totally.... It's alot of work and I found that there was a time where I completely thought I was ready.... But I soon realized I was wrong! Strangely enough though, when I started getting alot of interest from other people... that's was when I doubted myself the most....

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    My About Me page tells my story:

    http://www.bycampo.com/Other/About/4701534_BeFqZ/

    In regards to education etc, I'm predominantly self taught using various resources including books, magazines, web, education materials, dvd/videos. I've also attended various workshops along the way and actively participate in activities with other photographers. I also find Ausphotography to be a great little resource too

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    There are a thousand stories out there. Often people get to where they are by accident or opportunity. Sometimes there is an element of try it before you buy it. Some are encouraged by friends and others are deterred. My two key elements were/are focus and opportunity, together they create luck.
    I started out in business when I was 22 and joined the Navy Reserve. I loved movie cameras so they bought me one and made me official filmmaker. Told them I loved photography as well and they bought me a Pentax. Made the Navy four half hour docos which the ABC bought. My real employer, the Commonwealth Bank, thought that was great so they put me in Marketing and made me editor/photographer for their internal magazine. I also wrote for magazines and newspapers whilst working in the bank. I repaid them by resigning when a wealthy bank client suggested I should build a TV studio and run it with his money. I did just that and Redgum Television Productions was created. I made lots of docos and lots of money and travelled the world.
    I did a doco in central Australia and National Geographic asked me to take a pro-tog on the expedition but he didn't turn up. So I did the photographic work myself (and the filmwork) and have worked for National Geographic (contract) ever since. They introduced me to Discovery Channel and I made a lot more docos and took more photos. Other magazines saw my photographic work and asked me to do magazine work (Photojournalist). The magazines saw my photojournalist work and asked me to do product shots which got me more writing gigs and so it goes on.
    Over 43 years of professional work (part and full time) I now pick and choose what I want to do. Academically I have a Commerce degree (mid-60's) Sales & Marketing Diploma, CertIV in Training & Assessment and Advanced Diploma of Screen and Media. I've been to 209 countries (some briefly), got a huge business network (most valuable asset) and I'm determined to die on the job. Absolutely love what I'm doing and just finished a series of five travel docos called Robert Lovett, Traveller and Artist which netted $3.2 million (3.5 years work for five of us). Might get another series in before kicking the bucket. Oh! I'm starting a new doco shortly called Beyond the Bridge - Hornibrook - The Demolition (History) which is absolutely fascinating. Should be on the 7 Network.
    Photojournalist | Filmmaker | Writer | National Geographic | Royal Geographic

    D3x and other gear.


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    Regum thank you for telling your story. That is exactly the type of thing I was interested ni hearing about. For me it is truly fascinating to hear the wonderful experiences that others have had.


    Cheers
    Danny

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    http://steveaxford.smugmug.com/ Steve Axford's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Redgum View Post
    I've been to 209 countries (some briefly),
    Now that's pretty good going since there are only 195 countries currently listed. Still, some have gone belly up, so it is possible. Did you include Hut River?

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    I have been to 54 countries..so far!

    Not a Pro, but I do sell some stuff and take photos on a 'professional' basis if asked to do so.

    I have an advanced diploma of business which really has been very useful from the business viewpoint. Not the diploma itself, but the knowledge acquired from doing it. It gave me a greater understanding of record keeping, marketing, customer relations etc, which is really the key to a successful business.

    So whilst learning your gear and improving your photography, look at doing some courses that will benefit you in the years to come. Start small (unless you have lots of money) with friends, family, and get your portfolio together. Only present your very best work! Get a business branding, logo, motto etc, get some business cards printed, and give them to family and friends. Marketing is really the keystone. No one will know you exist unless you get your name to them.

    I started taking photos in the 1970's. During the early 80's I sold a few prints (film), but never really considered photography as a job. It was my hobby! As the years have progressed, I find I am getting asked more and more to take photos for people, all of this is by word of mouth (your best advertisement..and it is free). So always act professionally, cause people will talk about you, if you present in a good manner.

    How people get there will differ for every story. But behind their story is generally a drive to succeed, quality product and good business knowledge and ethics.
    "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
    My Photography

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    Hey Rick, "word of mouth" is only "free" in Tasmania. Everywhere else you have to pay, coffee, lunch, whatever.
    Great one Steve, actually there are currently 245 countries of which 192 belong to the UN. My son, who's a Customs officer, counted the stamps in my passports. So, okay, perhaps I went to a couple of countries twice over thirty years. I travelled east/west across the old soviet union and went through one country on the way out (Urbackistan? I think it was) and when I came back three weeks later it had gone. Maybe there's a business opportunity there?

  11. #11
    http://steveaxford.smugmug.com/ Steve Axford's Avatar
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    Anyone want to buy Urbackistan? I can't even find that one on Google (does that mean it never existed or just not in "the world according to Google"?)

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    Redgum, you always have something inspiring to say. Good onya!!! And congratulations on your success. Need an assistant??
    Always willing to sacrifice my artistic integrity for cash

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    Member doastler's Avatar
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    I offered free session and my business grew from there and now it just works with word of mouth.
    David

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    word of mouth is so important, especially when you are starting out without a big marketing budget. Recently, a photographer did a free portrait shoot for a family who had a terminally ill family member. They were so impressed with his professionalism and quality of work that that family booked him for 2 weddings in the following 12 months, and he has been booked for atleast 2 more from people who have seen those shots, all from doing a few hours of voluntary work
    Part time Real Estate and Product photographer | CANON

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    Wow guys
    Some of the stories are amazing great to read them all, and redgum i think you would be unbelievable person to have yarn with, i dont think there would a quiet moment there would ?'s coming from everywhere thanks again guys
    Brad
    NikonD80, NikonD700, Nikon18-70, Nikon70-200 2.8, NikonSB-900,Nikon af-s 50mm f1.4g

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    Member achee's Avatar
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    Hi Redgum!

    Quote Originally Posted by Redgum View Post
    Made the Navy four half hour docos which the ABC bought.


    It sounds like this was at about the start of your video career - What level of skills and/or experience did you have? I guess you must have come up with broadcast-quality work, how'd you do that with (I'm assuming) little experience? Did you do courses, read a lot, have a really close working relationship with an established professional...?

    I guess what I'm wondering is how long did it take you to begin confidently producing high quality work, and how did you do it?

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    Thanks Achee.
    It was a long time ago, before video in fact. These docos were shot on 16mmm film and edited with a razor blade and glue so the skill has to be in the shooting. There was no post production photoshop type work in those days. I'd been an amateur filmmaker for a number of years before doing that.
    Apart from the amateur/enthusiast background everything was learned from practice. The advantage I had was I could lay my hands on film stock (through the Navy) and so the cost was reduced.
    Those four docos led almost immediately to me getting part time work filming the Harold Park trots for Channel 9 and telecine work at Channel 7 a little later.
    Reading books was just about the only way to learn in those days (no Internet) and filmmakers were far and few between. There were no TAFE courses. Pioneering I guess, but that still is what filmmakers and photographers should try to achieve now. Copying others only makes you the same, not better and if you copy the wrong person you get nowhere.

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    Member tauer's Avatar
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    Great thread, It has been very enlightening. Especially as I am contemplating my options for the new year out of school myself. To do a bachelor degree, or to do a diploma? I understand it is much about the opportunities that arise during the education phase, especially with the people you meet and the new found confidence you receive in your medium, but I am still not sure on it all. It is quite a big step, 2-3 years is a lot of money and time lost at a critical stage of life.

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    My personal opinion having done both. A diploma is more practical and the opportunity to work at the same time is greater.

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    While I'd agree with RG, and you could work during the process, as you said its an expensive exercise, and my = main concern is that not all educational courses keep pace with the changing photographic industry.
    William

    www.longshots.com.au

    I am the PhotoWatchDog

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