A little over one year ago I launched Katie Bower Photography and took the plunge from “I-take-photos-of-my-kid-and-people-I-know’s-kids” to “I-will-take-photos-of-you-and-your-kids-for-the-coinage-you-pull-from-your-couch-cushions”. It was one of the scariest things I have ever done. Let’s be honest…it’s tearfully frightful to have someone pay you for photos. For one there are a lot of variables…weather, location, moods, momentary brain drains (when your brain completely forgets what it’s doing) and you may have taken great photos…but they just aren’t that person’s style….there are a million things that could go south. So consider me completely flattered that I have gotten the chance to perform over 75 client sessions in the short period that I’ve been doing this photog thing. And because I get emails about this every single day – I thought I would share some background info for you (and give ya a sneak peek into a session I’ve been working on because let’s be honest – a post without photos is kinda boring)…
- HOW DID I LEARN TO USE THE CAMERA?
I am truly self-taught. It must have been the homeschooler in me that told me that with a little practice and a whole lotta reading, I could learn how to use my camera without a trained professional. It took me a long time…and I still feel like I am learning. I read and reread my manual. I read lots of photography blogs and would look at their photos next to mine to see how their editing took their pictures to the next level. I would watch loads of videos on random tutorials. In the end, I found another love of my life.
Not everyone learns that way though. So it is definitely not a waste of time or money to recognize when you need help mastering the wheel of the ship…whether that boat be post-processing, picture taking or even things like posing or props. There are tons of photographers out there that run great programs to help you learn and take your skills to the next level. But dedication is really important…it takes a lot of practice and time to get even just a tiny bit improved (I should know) and in the end, you will be glad you stuck with it.
- HOW DID I GET CLIENTS?
If you are a newbie and are looking to start a photography business, I have no idea how to get clients. err….I have no idea how normal people do it. I do it through this blog and word of mouth. That’s it. No other advertising. I do know that you need a portfolio. So it might be a good idea to offer up freebie sessions to friends and family. That’s what I did. And get used to running a session – because that in of itself is a beast to handle. Treat those friends and family members as you would a normal client. Work on interacting with your target audience. Give yourself editing deadlines. Ask those friends and family what you could improve upon. Get feedback.
Already have a business going and want to expand your client base? Perhaps offer up a groupon for mini sessions…put an ad on Craigslist…offer a local blogger a free session in exchange for a shoutout on their blog…run a cutest kid contest at a local resturaunt of your clients…contact clothing boutiques to see if they need any imagery for a discounted price…ask a bunch of different successful photographers how they did it.
- WHAT GEAR DO YOU NEED TO GET STARTED?
I recommend a DSLR and a 50mm lens. Both things can run about $600 new…but definitely cheaper used. And believe me, this is the cheap cheap cheap route. You can still capture great images with a beginner-level camera body and a cheap prime lens…but you still will need to learn how to use them. After you manage to learn the controls, you can translate those skills to a more advanced camera no problem…and the images are still amazing. Some of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken were with a Canon Rebel and a 50mm ‘nifty fifty’ lens. After that – get your hands on a copy of Photoshop or Lightroom.
- WHAT DID I LEARN IN THIS FIRST YEAR?
I learned a lot. I learned my style. I like to take clean, happy and bright photos. Sure, those three things can be filtered many different ways…but in the end, if the pictures are clean, happy and bright – I feel like they are something to be proud of. Everyone has a different style – a different eye – so finding my style was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. I also learned that you can over-extend yourself. That editing time has to be scheduled. I learned to say no…which is excruciatingly hard when it comes to a paying customer. BUT I also learned that business’ need boundaries to be successful. And sometimes that means saying no. I learned the value in me. Am I the best photographer? Not in a long shot. (pun intended) But am I and the photos I produce and the product I give to customers worth what I charge? Absolutely. If I thought I wasn’t worth it – the price would go down. I learned that continued education can be invaluable. I learned that having flexible childcare is amazing. And I learned that if you put a diaperless newborn baby on seven different blankets – it will always pee or poop on the white one 🙂
Those are the basics of most of the starting a business questions. If you have other questions – put em right there in the comments and I might do a part two.
Not a photographer or a mom-who-hates-their-desk-job-and-dreams-of-being-a-shutterbug? Let’s talk about how the girl in the pictures looks like a brunette Reese Witherspoon. and how cute is her dress?! Like cuter than a bag full of kittens, right?!