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Thread: Yet another professional tog wannabe!

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    Yet another professional tog wannabe!

    G'day fellow AP'ers!

    I know that there are many who will frown and shake their heads at this non-sensible career choice, but I need advice so I'll brave it and say... I'm going into full-time photography!

    That said, I know it is a really really difficult industry to get started in. What advice do you have for me in regards to how to get established?

    I'm mostly into people photography. I think that somewhere down the track I'd like to do commercial people photography, but I think it is well nigh impossible to get into that right away (even if a door opened, unless there is some good mentoring happening I'm going going to be able to get up to speed quickly enough). So before that, I'd like to get into wedding photography, events and portraiture (and maybe pet photography, but that's another story). However, it takes quite a while to build up a reputation to live off word-of-mouth referrals and I can't get my website onto the first page of a google search for 'sydney wedding photography,' so in the meantime... I've started in real estate photography.

    The RE photography is picking up slowly, and my skills are improving quickly! (You may have seen my RE photos for CC, which I now realise were pretty poor! I'll post some new ones up soon for CC). I've been canvassing all the RE agents within 20 min drive, and I'm getting some work. If anyone has any tips on getting RE work, I'm listening! RE photography is enjoyable, but I see it as something to keep me (get me) floating while I figure out how to get into shooting people. Actually, at this stage I'd be happy for a part-time job shooting black rats in a dark room if it kept me shooting and helped me make a bit of money from photography while I get more established.

    So back to people photography... How do I get started? I've recently been thinking that maybe trying to work for someone else, in a studio or school photos or even the mall-portrait-stand-photos-with-santa kinda thing as notorious as they might be, could give me a good start, and might be a better way to go than going freelance straight off the bat. Personally, I'd love to work in a photography studio part time and get some good experience and mentoring while I work on freelance photography part time, but... I think it's going to be tough trying to get studio work. Actually, for the experience, I've started asking around the studios if anyone wants a volunteer P/T photographer.

    Quick bio, if it is relevant: I'm 28yr old, married, wife makes enough money to keep us going, studied Mechanical and Mechatronics engineering and worked as an engineer and as the manager of a small college. Wanted to do something more artsy - creative than engineering and more flexible / challenging than a regular 9-5. I've been shooting for fun for a long time and in earnest for a few months. I've done a stage 2 community college 8-session photography course (although that doesn't count for much). I've shot 4 weddings, first two as a I-have-no-idea-what-I'm-doing-so-why-did-you-ask-me friend and second two as an approved 2nd shooter. For more on my photography you could have a look at my site - www.gindyphotography.com

    Wow, that's a lot of rambling! Anyway, if have have any advice on any aspect of the above let me know!

    Andy
    Last edited by achee; 18-11-2010 at 3:37pm. Reason: Silly me forgot the address of my website.

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    Moderately Underexposed I @ M's Avatar
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    You aren't off to a real flash start.

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    Andrew
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    [QUOTE=I @ M;725074]You aren't off to a real flash start.

    OOPS!!

    It's www.gindyphotography.com. Too many things going on right now, I can't even remember my URL.

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    my advice. Don't! Current statistics show the professional photography industry is decreasing in Australia by around 4% per annum. This means all the existing pro photographers are going to be working damn hard to keep their existing businesses afloat. many of the avenues of income for professional photographers have already dried up. Some used to get great work, doing catalogue photography etc, but now the brands supply high res images for free, taken overseas, that are just placed in the catalogues.

    Weddings. There are heaps of weekend togs happy to work during the week at their regular jobs and then get some extra income on the side.

    Whilst a creative photographer could enter this market climate and do very well. What do you offer that isnt already available. Due to the mass availability of DSLR, rather than reliance on film, the industry is undergoing major upheaval. So, what can you bring to the industry that would make you stand out from all the other Pro's? Tell us that, with a good argument and you might just be ready.
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    Quote Originally Posted by achee View Post
    studied Mechanical and Mechatronics engineering and worked as an engineer and as the manager of a small college. Wanted to do something more artsy - creative than engineering and more flexible / challenging than a regular 9-5. I've been shooting for fun for a long time and in earnest for a few months. I've done a stage 2 community college 8-session photography course (although that doesn't count for much). I've shot 4 weddings, first two as a I-have-no-idea-what-I'm-doing-so-why-did-you-ask-me friend and second two as an approved 2nd shooter. For more on my photography you could have a look at my site - www.gindyphotography.com

    Andy

    Why not I say! you have a well established background in engineering to fall back on, your webbie is not too shabby, needs a bit more content (varied content) but I have seen worse, you don't have any pressure to bring in huge amounts of cash due to the wife - win win situation, Give it a go - whats the worst that can happen?

    At the end of the day if you go FT as a photographer and it all turns to the crap, its only the time out of your life and a year or so out of the engineering game, this is not gonna make you completely unemployable from a engo POV. I have seen quite a few engos move out of the industry (in more specilised fields then mech too) then back in after a year or so doing completely unrelated work.
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    Seriously - my advice is exactly the same. Dont do it.

    RE photography has become a game that most will lose on I'm afraid. And if someone is out there making a good living from it, thats good, but watch your back, because its getting more and more competitive. I thought a few years ago, pricing was becoming ridiculous. But now I know of photographers spending more time, and more money on the equipment required, and they're charging less than cleaners would who clean a house for a couple of hours.

    In fact I've just had a look at your pricing and was quite amazed at your elevated pole photography prices. Now I dont normally comment on pricing because pricing is always going to vary depending on each persons needs. But as you gave a short bio, then I know you're not planning to live out of a cardboard box. And thats what will happen if you seriously are going to charge $40 for an external elevated view shot.

    Outside photos – elevated pole and/or twilight – stand alone without a photo package: $40
    So no package, no other fee, no charge for delivery of the file ? Just $40 ? So you take a booking, travel to the location, set up, shoot various angles, and even include the cost of waiting or being there for twilight (everyone please note that you can generally only do one RE twilight shot per day - unless you are lucky enough to have buildings next door to each other) . I'm hoping that you might even mean $40 per shot - but heh most RE agents are pretty tight so they will of course only buy the one that they need. And then, you'll also have checked a safety risk assessment of each location because of - hmmmm things like power lines ? And you will of course have both public liablity insurance and insurance that covers both you and your gear ? Sorry if I sound a bit stunned here, but at $40 for an outside shot - good or bad is a great way to lose money hand over fist. You may as well set light to your money at those figures. I wont be at all surprised if you tell me you have a lot of bookings. But at that price, the more work you do, I can almost guarantee you that it will equate with the more money you will lose.

    Many budding photographers survive simply because their partners have a stable income that can support the family. So its no great surprise to read that's your plan as well.

    Please dont anyone think that I'm protective, or dont want to give someone a go. I'd just rather give you a frank assessment and answer to your question.

    Yes I know there will be many who say go on, give it a go, dont stamp on your enthusiasm. But if you've asked for opinions - and in the present climate, even if you were seriously good at your craft, I'd again I'd stress, dont do it.

    A basic blog like yours isnt really going to install confidence in your prospective clients. There are way too many good photographers out there, so shots which arent anything past good wont convince a client to part with money for your photography. And the Crazy Hats topic ?- I'd seriously get rid of #3 shot in that series. And red eye issues in your wedding shots are something that is so easily fixed, that its not really acceptable to see people look like ghouls. If I was being extremely honest, I'd suggest that after reviewing your blog, you appear to be struggling with the control of your craft of photography to plan to make a full time living out of it.

    But yes, why not ? I think you need some honest people around you to give you a professional assessment of what is possible and what's probable.
    Last edited by Longshots; 18-11-2010 at 6:28pm.
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    Don't completely discount the desire to succeed. If you want to have a go at it, do. Just don't expect the earth, moon and stars immediately. Then again, I ain't no pro, just another enthusiastic wannabe making plans. There are lots of us apparently. Listen to the pros, take it on board then do it anyway and see how you go.
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    I must find the article, but one thing to think of doing tat I read is start your business, ad William said do all the right things with registration, insurance, back up gear, accounting advice, tax advice and all those prerequisites, do a business plan etc and heres the kicker, and just work weekends.....the trigger to next step is when you simply can't fit any more work in during the weekend and you have also banked $1000 at the same time (after tax and direct expenses).....then go to three days a week, set another goal.

    But as an engineer, in Australia, man, that's where the goldmine is, not photography
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    Hi Andy

    There's many a rich person out there that followed their passion - that said there's lots of poor people as well !!!

    So istead of the "don't do it's" that frequent the forum - this is what i'm doing - work parttime build a rep and some clients - a good portfolio - develop your systems and your sales and marketing techniques - work bloody hard and long hours - follow the passion - dream and set yourself goals to achieve -

    Professional / full time photography is more about the business behind - than the actual pressing of the shutter. It doesn't matter if you take the best photo in the world, if people don't know about it - want it or know how to buy it then your not going to sell it...

    I've posted portraits on here that got canned but people have paid me $500-$1000 for the shots as "there the best photo they've ever had taken of themselves - its irrelevant that their not the best shots ever taken - hence why i don't post much anymore - ( i was worrying about what others thought not the clients) working to many hours to really bother... sorry Rick...

    Put up you prices - $40 per shot . You won't cover expenses let alone make any money. - An old marketing maxim is if you drop your proces by 10% you need 15% more business to be in the same position - so put up your prices 20% and you need less clients. - and make sure you do make money - what if you wife gets ill has an accident gets made redundant - plan to make money, make a profit and pay tax - if you dont make money you'll go broke- very quick...

    Try and forge a niche - what isn't happening in your area - that others do successfully elsewhere - what can you do different - not neccessarily better but different---

    We 're developing niches in Orange that others can't cover (helps my wife is a hairdresser by trade and qualified in make up as well)

    I wish you good luck

    Cheers
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    While thats good advice Jeff,

    I'd take exception to your disparaging and dismissive comment of "So istead of the "don't do it's" that frequent the forum".

    I wasnt alone in that response - Rick was another, and I havent previously thought of either of us being labelled as a "dont do it".

    My comment was actually based on spending a fair amount of my time checking various aspects of the OP's site, their work, and carefully analysing and responding to their question. While I respect your view, perhaps its a good idea to respect others ?

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    Jeff, if you read the posts by those of us that frequent this forum and said don't do it, you will see we clarified our posts with reasons and even asked questions of the OP, and said if he wants to after considering our posts. then to go for it. We provided factual information about the industry. Any one starting out in a business in any industry should be informed of all aspects of that industry, good and bad. Even you tell him to put up his prices. Surely all our posts are valuable to him.

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    I think photography is really a difficult career to swap into. I met this pro photographer today who is working at the camera shop to support herself between gigs. I think what Rick and the others say must hold some truth. So i think you have to seriously consider going into photography full time so quickly. Just wondering, do you not enjoy engineering anymore? Perhaps, gradually ease yourself into the business? Don't throw your day job away too soon!
    I remember somebody telling me, 'it's one thing to be a starving artist but, quite another to be a homeless one too!' hahaha... i will always remember that sound advice...

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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post
    Jeff, if you read the posts by those of us that frequent this forum and said don't do it, you will see we clarified our posts with reasons and even asked questions of the OP, and said if he wants to after considering our posts. then to go for it. We provided factual information about the industry. Any one starting out in a business in any industry should be informed of all aspects of that industry, good and bad. Even you tell him to put up his prices. Surely all our posts are valuable to him.
    Rick your first words were "my advice. Don't! " then you clarified...
    Inewpaper the most valuable part of any article is the headline. - the headline in your post is negative - doesn't really mnatter that you clarify later... and tell him to go fo it....

    All posts are valuable but Rick as you even posted recently there seems to be alot of negativity in relation to professionals.
    Even the OP was prepared for the "negative comments" and pre-empted them - Quote - I know that there are many who will frown and shake their heads at this non-sensible career choice, but I need advice so I'll brave it and say... I'm going into full-time photography!

    If i had have asked the same question 2 years ago then i wouldn't be doing what i am doing - and thats my point negative comments usually overide positive comments by about 2-1.

    I didn't say that you points weren't valid - what i did was put a positive slant and encourage - hopefully some usefull information to make him think - hopefully what the OP was after-

    At the end of the day he will hopefully do what he believes in - and if he has the passion and the skill then he'll succeed.

    Yes its a difficult industry - but so is fast food - so is being a motor mehanic- its just on here were all focued on photogrpahy...

    my 2 cents worth...

    Longshots - Your headline Quote - "Seriously - my advice is exactly the same. Dont do it." Pretty negative headline to me.....

    The bulk your reply was very informative and useful - and i didn't say it wasn't -

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    Andy, the absolute best advice I can give is to find one or two local professionals who (in your mind) are where you want to be, take them out for coffee/lunch and ask them for some honest feedback.

    Asking for advice regarding the business of full time professional photography here is akin to asking for whale shark breeding information on a fly fishing forum. You may stumble across some good info, but the vast majority of users are simply not in that mind space.

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    Who give a rats how negative or positive something is Jeff ?

    What should be the primary response ? In my humble and considered opinion, the best opinion is Honest, Informed, and Constructive.

    The important part is that the OP asked - asked - for opinions. And they're getting just that. But hopefully the opinions offered will be more than just a throw away line - yeah go for it; instead, one would hope that at best a review of the OP's work, what their current situation is, and why it may or may not be a good move; would all be factors considered before offering an opinion.

    Even in something like fast food, you need to know what you're doing. And thats the point here, is that my opinion is that its agreed that its hard to start up in any business these days, and its even harder in photography to consider a jump into full time professional photography. But, this is the big but, you need to be able to do photography at a level which is equal or better then a good part timer or enthusiast to seriously aim at a full time living. At this point in time, I think it would be a diservice to the OP to suggest that after an 8 session course, that the work that they're putting out there is something that people will pay enough for to support a family, because at the risk of being honest to the Simon Cowell point, I'm afraid it wont. That in my view is just my opinion.

    I dont doubt that if you hadnt taken a step of faith, you wouldnt have been where you are today. Surely though you had some degree of capability that gave you that desire ?

    And my opinion was never meant to be negative or positive. So perhaps reserve any admonishments you may have for your interpretation of my views, because others may actually see what Rick and I said as a positive.


    It would be a posititve for the OP not to go out and get a big bank loan and buy all of the right gear, only to see their business fail because they dont have enough grasp of their craft to see it succeed.

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    Member jasevk's Avatar
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    My advice (as someone who is trying to build a business) if you are already doing 'some' work in a professional capacity, join the AIPP as an emerging member and enter their mentoring program.... From this I expect to gain knowledge from established professionals on how to build and grow my business. Why not learn from people who have once been in the position you are in right now?
    Living the dream...

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    Jasevk - good advice, that you know I would agree and support

    Can you please add a little more to your opinion based on what the OP has stated, that they intend to go full time, and they have also listed their website, so one assumes that want an opinion based on that.

    I'm aware that I may appear negative, but its perhaps because I'm a little jaded from the large number of really enthusiastic, and sometimes extremely talented photographers, that I've encountered (and mentored at times), turn something that they enjoy into something that they need to earn a living from to support themselves and their family; and then see their enthusiasm wane, and their lives changed immeasurably in the worst possible way. My approach these days is to at the very least try and prepare people for what they are likely to encounter in the next year or so. At the very least, I would say that the very best advice is to stick with your present job if you have one and build up your part time photography business. Treat it like a business from the start with all the right things in place, and then once you have your skills, both photographically, and business skills at a stage where you can support yourself, then thats the time to make the transition to a full time arrangement.

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    Andy, most of the advice you have here is from wanabee photographers, enthusiasts and those who one day, if they had enough courage, would do exactly as you propose but for the time being prefer to be just a little negative in case you succeed.
    In reality what you propose to do has very little to do with photography and a lot to do with starting a business and selling a product. If you started a business selling green wool you would expect to find it difficult (general knowledge). However, if you sold a range of colours plus cotton and needles and other product that supported the wool industry things would be much easier. Two essentials that you need are product knowledge (broad to begin with) and an intimate knowledge of the people who will buy that product. You need to acquire certain skills or find others that can provide those skills and profit from their lack of ability to manage a business. In this trade that would be about 95% of those who take it on and is fairly evident from many on this forum.
    I moved from being a bank manager to a filmmaker and within seven years was able to retire. Even so I still work as a filmmaker/photographer simply because I can and I love it.
    Despite the soothsayers photography is little different to any other industry if you approach it from a business perspective. Just embrace enough product so that when one avenue is quiet the other is booming. Have a look at my website or do a google just to see the tentacles I have developed over time and the secret to earning good money from your chosen profession/s will come good. Go for it!
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    If you post here for advice you are not ready. My best adverts are wannabes who do not realise they are deficient in many areas of providing a professional service.
    Last edited by Tony B; 21-11-2010 at 9:07am.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Redgum View Post
    Andy, most of the advice you have here is from wanabee photographers, enthusiasts and those who one day, if they had enough courage, would do exactly as you propose but for the time being prefer to be just a little negative in case you succeed.
    Firstly, I find this line offensive! Some of the replies here are from people with good professional photographic backgrounds, to call them 'wannabee's' shows you have zero respect for others who have a lot of experience, knowledge and solid advice to give. Just cause they have differing views to your own, to belittle them by calling them 'wannabees' tells me a lot about you.

    All I, and some others, have done is present factual information regarding this industry. Yes it is fine to present a positive, up-beat view of the industry and I don't deny that people starting out as professional photographers, today, tomorrow or next year will succeed. And all the very best to them for doing so. But how about a balanced view with some facts? Thus anyone, not just the OP, who is reading this thread, understands where the industry as a whole is at, not where one individual might be. Anyone starting out needs to have a realistic view of their business, skills, market, etc. What has been presented above is that. It isn't about 'wannabees' or anything else, it is about giving the OP facts relating to the professional photography industry.

    So here are some more:

    * The photography industry is worth about $800M per annum (2009 figure)in Australia (so plenty of money out there for the up and coming Pro to grab some of)
    * However this is decreasing. Since 2004 the value of the photographic industry in Australia has decreased by an average of 5.6% each year and it is estimated to continue to do so.
    * 95% of Professional Photography in Aus is done by small businesses (ie not pixiphoto etc)
    * Wedding photography is big. However the number of weddings annually has dropped by over 10% since 2001.
    * The number of wedding photographers has increased over this same time

    So as has been said, by your 'wannabees', don't go into this industry, unless you do your homework, business analysis, and know you are capable of meeting your clients needs and have a niche that is able to allow you to meet your business goals and objectives, or you might just become another of the failed businesses. This is not about being a 'wannabee' or anything else, rather it is about giving the OP factual information about the industry.

    Going into business with a blinkered view is not the best way to achieve a positive outcome. Dreams are great, and some work and achieve them, but those that do, are the ones that have the knowledge of their chosen industry and use that to their advantage. Sorry, if providing some factual information about the industry deems us 'wannabees' in your eyes.

    * Source: IBISWorld Industry Report Q9523 (Professional Photography in Australia)

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