It is okay to not be where you want to be
I think the misconception in the photography industry especially for beginners is “this will be easy”, photographers make their job look very easy, especially to clients because they are only with them for a fraction of the time. Personally, when I started my business, I saw the style I thought I wanted my work to look like, and I assumed I would be able to achieve it after only a few weeks, I was very wrong. Not only did my style preference change as my knowledge grew, but I also realized that it takes a lot of time, patience and education to get where you want to be, in fact I’m still not where I know I can be on the artistic of my photography and business side. It takes time to get your work where you want it to be and I don’t ever think you stop trying to grow in this industry, there’s so much change and development which is one of the things I love the most.
Explore every genre of photography
When I first started my business, I was convinced I wanted to do boudoir and boudoir only. I focused most of my energy on Boudoir for a couple months before realizing my passion was couples, weddings and maternity, more of the lifestyle work. I do still love Boudoir work, but I only do about one boudoir session a month and I’m content with that. My advice for anyone just starting out is give everything a try, this is where mentoring under different style photographers is key.
Presets are not magic
It’s 2020 everyone uses presets whether they’re mobile or desktop, I use presets but when I first started out I thought a preset would magically make my photos look professional and of quality, THEY DONT. To get a preset to be applied to your image and not tweak it much you have to first either start from scratch or adjust the presets that you’ve purchased to match how you shoot in your camera. Your camera settings are not going to be the same as somebody else’s settings therefore when you bring your image to post processing that preset you bought may not look the same as it would for the person who made it. For example I currently use three presents that I have customized and tweaked to the point where they are almost unrecognizable, The base is still a purchased preset but I have tweaked them to where they work 90% the time with my images without making major adjustments. I think learning how to edit your images from scratch is the best advice I could give anyone because I didn’t do that in the beginning of my journey, and I wish I would have. It took me a really long time to figure out that presets are not magic and I was spending hundreds of dollars on presets thinking I would achieve a certain look when in fact I just had to learn how to use my Photoshop/Lightroom slides and curves properly and of course learn my equipment and how I like to shoot sessions.
* I wanted to provide an example of what a preset with no tweaks looks like on one of my images VS the same base preset with all my tweaks on the same image *
Once you’ve reached a level in your education and your skill and you are producing quality work each time please start to value yourself as a business owner and an artist and charge accordingly. Up until recently I was charging what those around me were charging because I live in such an over saturated area that I felt like I had to compete pricing wise with the other 100 photographers in my area. Until a friend (The very talented Lindsey Biza) helped me open my eyes and realize that my work is good and I deserve to make a livable wage for all the time, effort and money I put into this. I’m now only competing with myself and I am still priced on the lower end only because I am still new to this business compared to those who have been doing it for years, but I am priced to where I am at least making profit as my business grows and as my craft grows I will up my pricing as every other photographer that is legally running a business should. If I could give any other advice that I should have done earlier in my career is be legal and pay your taxes if you are charging people, because those who do not is what’s devaluing this business and making a stereotype that anybody that buys the camera can go out and be a photographer the next day when that’s just not the case.
Ask for help
This is so important, and something you won’t see a lot of in this industry (where I am located anyway). When you reach out to someone for help/advise make sure they are a legitimate business before taking what they say to heart. My biggest mistake early on was taking the wrong advice on how to run a business and it bit me in the a** later. Also I think a lot of photographers are happy to help someone who is new to the business because believe it or not they want people to do things the right way weather its business related or art related, there are so many fantastic photographers that dedicate their time to educating, take advantage of it! I didn’t for a long time, and I regret all the knowledge I skipped out on because I was feeling cheap, well trust me this life isn’t cheap but so so worth it. To end things I want to say I am in no position to be mentoring or giving much advise on anything, I am still relatively new and learning everyday but if I can help anyone who has a passion for photography out by explaining what I wish I did differently than I call it a win.
Shelby Daise is a lifestyle photographer based out of North Carolina, currently in Washington State until Mid May.
Daise Photography, wedding photographer, destination weddings, elopement photographer, North Carolina wedding photographer, Seattle wedding photographer, Arizona wedding photographer.