How can I be a successful as a photographer is a question that I am frequently asked. Typically aspiring photographers want to know what brand of camera they need, or what cool Photoshop tools to use to make their photos look amazing. The answer which I give very often surprises them.
Obviously the first thing you to learn is how to take a good photograph. The take read some art books or bettr yet take an art class and learn about composition and color. Notice how I say art class and not photography as the rules in art apply to photography. A camera is just a tool for acting upon these ideas.
Then get a basic understanding of how to control light. Control of light is what give photographs “the look” the photographers always seem to want to do in photoshop. Proper light is where it all starts.
Finally learn how to use your camera in manual mode, apeture mode (Av) and shutter mode (Tv). Now you can take photographs, but this will not make you successful, merely qualified to be a photographer.
If you want to be a successful photographer you must learn how to work with your clients. You must be able to read what their needs and desires for a photography session actually are. If you simply meet their needs (a photograph), they won’t leave happy. You want your customers to be happy, as they come back and they also send you referrals.
Being successful is not about being to sell your client huge portraits to hang on their wall. Sure you make a profit, but you don’t build confidence. Sell a client what they really want, not necessarily what they initally ask for, and they will be very happy and they will be back. How many times do you hear “I want a family portrait to hanging in the family room.”
For example when a client comes for a portrait session I will ask what they plan to do with the photograph. Are they going to want to have prints for their family and friends? Where in the home will they be displaying their portrait, how large is the space. This allows me to suggest the proper size for the space, typically this will be larger than they thought, but on occasion smaller. Clients sometimes don’t consider that matting and framing can often make the final product much larger than they thought.
For the prints for friends and family I discuss with them the option of acquiring digital files to print themselves, or if they prefer the convenence, I can do the prints and quality control. Most clients will want to get the “important” prints done by my studio and use the digital files for email and secondary prints they will create as needed.
Providing the client with what they want is only a very small part of becoming a successful photographer. Next week I will continue with part II on this topic.