Consumer affairs blog The Consumerist caused a stir earlier this week by offering the following advice to people looking to earn some extra cash for the holidays:
Become a photographer. Most photographers will tell you that persistence is at least as important as skill in creating great work. If you know people who are looking to take portraits or holding a social function, offer to shoot it for free and sell them the pictures if they like them.
Needless to say, the suggestion caused quite an angry response from actual photographers, who equated the tip with telling people to buying a hammer in order to become an independent contractor. Stan Horaczek over at PopPhoto has also written up a lengthy response. It looks like people are taking Missy’s advice quite seriously.
Photographer duo Joachim Guanzon and Marden Blake (AKA aesonica) created this short behind-the-scenes video showing how they recently shot and Photoshopped an Audi A4 photo for a print advertisement. You can read a longer how-to over on the aesonica website:
The goal is to make it look as if you had 20+ lights, grids, flags and reflectors to shoot your project. There is nothing better than hearing someone ask how many lights were needed to create your shot and revealing that you used only one. The trick is by doing something that could realistically be done with enough equipment and lighting skill, with only one light.
On the other hand, if you get too carried away, there is nothing worse than someone asking if you used Photomatix to compile your HDR garbage shot followed by “My 13 year-old has that program too!”
Tamara Lackey recently sat down with Chase Jarvis to talk about how he became a successful photographer. Chase offers a lot of really good high-level advice for aspiring photographers based on his own experiences — both the successes and the failures.
Is it your dream to become a professional photographer? Magnum photographer Christopher Anderson says you should focus more on the word “photographer” than the word “professional”:
Forget about the profession of being a photographer. First be a photographer and maybe the profession will come after. Don’t be in a rush to pay your rent with your camera. Jimi Hendrix didn’t decide on the career of professional musician before he learned to play guitar. No, he loved music and created something beautiful and that THEN became a profession. Larry Towell, for instance, was not a “professional” photographer until he was already a “famous” photographer. Make the pictures you feel compelled to make and perhaps that will lead to a career. But if you try to make the career first, you will just make sh*tty pictures that you don’t care about.
IdeasTap has a great two-part series in which Magnum members offer advice for young photographers looking to get into the game. Definitely worth a read.
Photographer Michael Freeman says that although things are getting tougher for professional photographers, the “consumption of imagery in all areas is actually increasing”. Professionals therefore need to think more about marketing themselves and specializing in a particular niche.
This comment posted (and deleted) by Reddit user WonkoTheLucid shows why photographers need to make sure their websites are secured properly:
My friends wedding photos were posted with watermarks on a photo reprint site for sale. The prices were a bit outrageous. Another friend who does web design clued me into manually entering the photo address to display a full resolution photo without a watermark. I wrote a script and downloaded 500 free high res photos. Burnt many dvd copies and mailed them to a bunch of random people who were at the wedding.
If you’re a professional photographer that lets clients review proofs online, make sure the high-res, non-watermarked versions of the photos aren’t accessible by simply changing a portion of the URL.
Poke around on Craigslist, and you’ll find that it’s filled with ads selling professional services at dirt-cheap prices, including photographers offering to shoot weddings for just a few hundred dollars. Does this spell doom for the wedding photography business? Probably not.
Well yesterday [a friend] called me and I could tell he was kind of upset. I asked what was wrong and he said “Jeff, do you know what they are charging for weddings on Craigslist? How can I compete with a $300 wedding?” I told him flat out that he can’t, nor should he. It took me a few minutes to get through to him but when I did, he finally saw the light. I asked him if he thought that the people that were hiring a $300 wedding photographer would pay $2500 for the same service. Probably not. That’s means that he isn’t really competing for those customers. His customer is the one that recognizes the value of a true professional that will deliver professional results. Get that? The key word here is professional.
His point is that you shouldn’t be competing on price, but on quality. Focus on that, and you’ll be targeting a different segment of the market.
If you’re a professional photographer taking your camera into extreme environments, the cheap plastic body cap that comes with your DSLR might not cut it. That’s where LockCircle comes in — it’s a solid billett aluminum body cap designed to seal your camera from the elements while providing a special grip for removal even if you’re wearing thick gloves. They’re available for Canon EF mount cameras in silver, titanium, and black, and will soon be available for Nikon’s F mount as well.
You’ll need a thick wallet in addition to your thick gloves though: unlike the plastic caps, which sell for a couple bucks on eBay, LockCircle caps will cost you $99 each.