Let’s face it, sometimes people do want to leave their existing boring role in life and do something they like for a living. I was one of those. Each day just became worse in the job I was doing. Hey…but I needed the money and there was no other way back then (at least, that’s what I thought). I later learned how ridiculous that way of thinking is, and I wished I’d listened or more importantly, READ more on what to do. More on that later…
Right now I’m going to give you some tips on getting started and not the normal ‘getting started tips’ where it’s assumed you’ve got thousands of dollars to spend, but real world tips for those on a tight budget but are really keen to do photography for a living and who already know they like photography or even better, have a passion for it.
If you want to start and work at home, you must be committed …
1. Stay in your current job if you haven’t lost it or been fired. If you don’t have a job for what ever reason, I’ll cover that too. I want you to look at this as part-time preparation. Consider what times of the week can be yours to focus on building and learning to start a photography business. You may have to invest in a tin of coffee ($5.00) if you’re tired after work etc. If you’re unemployed, you can do it quicker!
2. You WILL need a camera. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is if you want to be a photographer. Ebay.com is your salvation if you don’t already have one. You can get a good camera dirt cheap to start with here. Don’t get hung-up on brands and technical ability at this stage.
3. Read! Get some photography books from the library. It’s free! Often they are old but there’s some good fundamental advice in their pages. The internet is my favorite. It’s fast, you can download immediately, it’s often interactive, and these days, it’s safer than using your credit card in a retail outlet. Don’t dismiss this as something to do later. commit to reading each day or at least every other day. Observe other photographers work and comments. Finally, get something dedicated to the business of starting your own photography business. You can get my guide at starting your own profitable photography business.
4. Make sure you understand your own camera. I mean that! Don’t think you will learn to use it at the last moment. Take night shots in the street, day shots in the park in doors. See what changes them by doing the same shots again with different settings. I’m preparing you here to do a job. It will be crucial your first job is a success when you’re on a low budget.
5. Once you’ve read a bit (two weeks to start with) don’t stop learning though. Even the best of the best continue to learn (trade secret there). Practice with your camera over that two weeks as well…you’re ready. Hard to believe but most often taking action is what counts here. You will make mistakes – live with it!
6. You’re now ready to volunteer to do a shoot for someone for free. Yes, for free!
7. Don’t attempt a wedding to start with. Why? Because you only get one shot at doing it right at a wedding and you need a bit of experience ‘under your belt’.
8. Start with portraits of your neighbors, friends but not relations. Why? No one takes any notice of testimonials from relations. They will take notice of other distant acquaintances. Take a few shots. Really try your best. Read that again…YOUR BEST! Put into play everything you have learned. Do this for three different neighbors or groups of people.
9. Choose the best shots for presenting to your chosen subjects. Let them choose what they believe to be the best from those you’ve presented and then give their chosen shots to them for free. Keep a copy of the pictures THEY chose. Ask for a testimonial. Let them use their own paper. The testimonials will have more credibility if they all look different.
10. With the copies you kept, make a portfolio of your work. A decent portfolio folder is around $20.00 at the time of writing. Spend some time on this. Get other people’s input on it’s appearance. Use only the best shots in the portfolio – no emotional favorites. Good shots ONLY. People will tell you what they are, don’t worry!
11. Now you’re ready to present your credentials by way of your NEW portfolio which is real and should also include some testimonials in the back. Don’t forget to collect those testimonials from your earlier three customers. They will be good word of mouth for you.
12. Final steps – get some inexpensive business cards made up. Don’t get encouraged into buying fancy stuff just yet. Your customers will not care at this early stage. Distribute these cards to local shop owners who might have exposure to people needing photography services i.e. bridal shops, baby clothes shops etc.
13. You can possibly achieve this without the coffee but you’ll ‘do your best’ with a camera and my guide on starting your own profitable photography business.
No excuses. Start planning! You can in ‘real terms’ start selling photographs this month.
Reminder: Coffee($5), eBay ($50), read (my guide $38), portfolio($20) and business cards ($15). That’s low budget and supplies ALL the fundamentals you need to get off the ground. You should be able to do ALL that for less than $130.00 (including my guide). If you’re really keen and you are not with much money at this point, you should be able to get up and running reasonably soon following these tips. If you don’t even try, then forget about it! You can of course view and print your first bunch of shots from a retail digital photo outlet at 5 – 10 cents a photo. Be selective and you’ll probably get away with $10.00 cost here. Hmmm… that could blow the budget… Just joking!
Go on, make a stand. Be positive about this. You’ll be surprised at what you can do with the tips above… if you are only worried about getting customers then I provide great tutoring on getting this underway almost immediately.
I always include my course at the bottom of these articles via this link so you can get underway with your own photography customers when you’re ready.
Stay focused, work hard and stay well.