How to become a photographer I get lots of emails from people who want to become my assistant or intern. So, here are some tips for getting started in photography:
- The main thing you will need to do to become a photographer is to get a good portfolio together. You will need to work for free to begin with. Local magazines may take on budding photographers, and it can be a great experience as you will meet interesting people and photograph things that you would not have done otherwise. Events like festivals, concerts and street parades are also a good source of interesting photo opportunities. Another good way to build up your portfolio is to do test shoots. You can find models and stylist on www.modelmayhem,com who all want to build up there portfolios too and some will shoot in return for the images.
- Try and be as creative and as unique as you can be. It will be this that will set you apart from the rest in a very competitive industry.
- Keep yourself inspired. Bookmark your favourite photography websites, trawl through Flickr, buy some photography magazines. Have an inspiration wall, where you can put up work that inspires you.
- Learn the technical stuff. Some of this can be done by reading through books, but most of it should be done by just playing around and trial and error. If possible do a short course. Your local studio, community centre or college may offer courses.
- Get the right kit. If you want to be a Fine Art Photographer, maybe you should shoot film. If you want to shoot events you will need to be digital. If you want to do fashion, you will need some lights. Just start off with the right camera. Remember it’s not just about how many megapixels you get. Megapixels just dictate how big you can blow up an image. Better to get a camera with a good sensor, which can produce bright, sharp images with good colours. You can search Flickr by camera model to see the different kind of shots people get from their cameras. Also, check out reviews on sites like www.dpreview.com. I wouldn’t recommend buying a used digital camera body, although I have bought used lenses and they have been good and about a third cheaper than new. Having decent lenses is essential. A good lens to start with is something like 24-70mm, then when you can afford it, just build up your arsenal.
- Assist other photographers. There’s no better way to learn about being a photographer than being on an actual professional shoot. Start off doing it for free. You will just be carrying, fetching, holding and making tea, but you can learn a lot and possibly lead to opportunities of work in the future.
- Get your work out there. Upload your images to Flickr, Tumblr, Pinterest, tag them and send the links out to people. Get a blog. Go on forums. Exhibit.
- Get a good website and do some good, targeted SEO. It’s pretty easy to get a good website these days. You can build your own, using online software such as www.electrofolio.com . Try and get your website up the search engines by having a presence on social media sites such as facebook and twitter. You don’t need to pay an SEO company as you can do a lot of it yourself, you will just need to research it a little.
- Network with as many other photographers as you can. We are always passing each other work and opportunities. Go to private views, local freelancers groups, or just email local photographers to say hi!
- Try and specialise as much as you can. Architectural photography is very different to Sports Photography. You can’t be a master of all trades, so try and find your niche.
- Shoot in manual mode at all times.
- Shoot in RAW format. Your images won’t be compressed by the camera, like jpegs, so when it comes to editing you can get much better results.
- Always backup your work regularly and in separate places, eg. On your computer and also on a removable hard drive. Imagine how you would feel losing your favourite shots forever!
- Pick a good editing software. I use lightroom for RAW editing. It’s brilliant, I love it.
I hope these tips have been helpful, now go and have fun!