Hi! Have the idea of becoming a photographer settled down in your mind? What should you start with to become a photographer?
Let’s try to structure the whole thinking and preparation process in a some sort of procedure.
Step 0 – Analysis of yourself (a very important step)
Try to sit and relax. Think about your current job, if any. Try to think about photography: is it your hobby or you’ve just started; do you really enjoy it or you just love to take pictures; are you ready to earn with photography or its better to stay with your current job also. Try to walk through all these point, with deep thinking.
May be it is worth to leave photography as your hobby or secondary job? Or you’ve decided that you are ready to take your own place among numbers of photographers of different levels?
What you’ve decided to do? Remain within the world of photography or continue living some other life?
If NO, then just stop here. Do not go further.
If YES – continue with the next steps.
Step 1 – Select domain / photography genre or genres
First of all you need to decide in what photography genre you’d work. In the world of photography there are dozens of different genres, starting from classical to some very specific and unique, and even weird ones.
Genres can determine or be determined by: your lifestyle, travel opportunities, equipment, personality, social skills and other factors.
In addition, it is much easier to get along with and to master single or several genres than the whole variety of different genres. Remember, it is better to be a great photographer in one genre, than to be just an ordinary photographer in a dozen of genres.
Step 2 – Select your preferred camera type
Now we have started to think about the type of camera you will use for your activity.
As you probably know there are two main types of cameras: digital and film. Are you a new generation type of photographer? Or you’d like to seclude yourself in a dark room with a bunch of undeveloped films?
The type of camera, or more precisely the type of sensing surface, will determine your photography style, techniques, equipment, expenditures, etc.
Besides film or digital photography there such terms as: cropped, full-frame, medium format or large format. It actually represents the size of the surface that will capture your stills. Obviously the larger is better. But here you should think carefully. Try to analyse do you really need this size of sensor / film / glass? Try to take into consideration the pros and cons of different sensor / film sizes.
If your choice is digital, then you need to start thinking of your digital camera. Or you even can use your smartphone. In the modern world smartphone cameras are pretty good for different applications. Especially if you are a photo blogger – your smartphone camera will probably satisfy all your needs.
If you’d rather stick to film photography, try to consider who will develop your films, who will scan or print your images? It is like that in this case you could attach a phrase “art” to your photography name. As far as pretty often film photography is considered to be some sort of niche activity.
Step 3 – Select your camera system
Finally we’ve approached to camera system selection. In nowadays the most popular systems are: Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus, Pentax, Sigma and Panasonic. Yes, there are many other brands and manufacturers, but in modern world only three of them dominate.
Why we need to make this choice? The problem is that each camera has its proprietary bayonet – a lens mount. You will need to have a set of lenses in accordance with your bayonet system.
This choice is very important as far as it is pretty complicated to switch camera systems, both in personal and financial aspects.
Some camera systems allow you to use a huge selection of old lenses, made as long ago as in 50th or 70th last century. But many old lenses they possess wonderful optical features and some interesting artistic effects.
In some specific case you can, obviously, use lens mount adapters. It means that you can attach a lens from another system to your camera.
One more point to think of on this step – do you plan to work in studio? If you answer is yes, then try to stick to top-3 systems: Nikon, Canon and Sony. The problem is that majority of studio light and studio equipment manufacturers they support only those three systems. Yes, there are some exceptions. But to consider any potential issues with your studio photography activities.
Step 4 – Camera choice
Now we’ve reached the most interesting part of this process – camera selection.
As a future photographer you obviously should avoid different “compacts” and point-and-shoots cameras. Our choice has to remain with: DSLR/SLR, rangefinder or mirrorless. They have their own specific features, but you could search the Internet to get understanding about them. We won’t touch them here in this article.
Try to pay attention to the “level” of the camera: pro, semi-pro, advanced amateur, amateur, beginner.
To be honest, all manufacturers have their “own” understanding of all those “levels”. But if to say in general notions, this level determines the number of extra features in the camera, technical features, image quality, weather sealing, availability of specific lenses, use of different equipment, etc.
Remember one unbreakable fact – it is not the camera taking images, it is a person who stands behind the camera. The top of the line camera definitely will not make a super photographer out of you.
Next fact is the quality of the lens. If to compare two main pieces of camera – camera body and camera lens – it is the last one which has a decisive effect onto image quality. Even the best camera with some low-end lens will not be able to compete with a simpler camera but with good lens.
Step 5 – Study, study and study
Now you are ready to start your photography, as a hobby or as a business.
In order to master your skills, learn new techniques and enrich your experience you have to study. Study by your self – as a self-education – YouTube, online training sites, forums, photography social networks, etc.. Study in a photography school (though I’m not a big fan of such option). Study at workshops – a good idea – you’ll have an opportunity to speak to already established photographers, you could see them in action, you could take some of their “secrets”.
Besides taking some external training, you should train with your camera. Take it everywhere you go. Try to maximize any opportunity to take pictures – just a random images of your surrounding. By doing so you will learn your camera behaviour, you will train your eye to capture some nice stills, you will test some new techniques.
Remember – the word “study” will accompany you throughout your photography life.
Step 6 – Try to “become a business”
Now you are ready to take some business orders. Before starting to find some customers be sure that you already possess a nice looking portfolio. Let it be just a few images, but they should be your best images. During your photography training process or hobbying you’ll have a lot of opportunities to fill in your portfolio.
Try to establish contacts with your potential customers taking into consideration likely future cooperation. Regular customer is a best customer, as he demonstrates his satisfaction with your activity and is more loyal to you.
In terms of the cost of your services. Try to be realistic, but withing the market trends.
Yes, lower price tag will attract more potential customers. But, at the same time, if a specific customer will apply to you in a month or several months and you will set a new price for him, definitely he will not be glad.
If you’ll set a high price for your services and people will have a look at your portfolio they probably would think that you are “insane”.
Just try to be adequate!
Try to investigate the market in your area. Pay attention to different levels of photographers, even in different genres. Analyze their portfolios, trying to compare your photography level to their.
But also, take into account that you have to keep some “good business behaviour” – if you will start to raise or drop prices you could damage the photographers environment. Try to consider the cost of your equipment also. Obviously a photographer using studio strobes during photo shootings will have a higher price for his services than a photographer who use only his camera.
And a final word – WELCOME TO THE FAMILY OF PHOTOGRAPHERS !