10 Steps to Finding a Great Wedding Photographer

10 Steps to Finding a Great Wedding Photographer

Unlike the work of your other wedding vendors (music, flower arrangements, cake), photographs aren’t things you can hear, smell, taste or even see at first—you don’t really know what you’re getting until after the fact. That means careful research and selectiveness regarding professional skills, artistic style and personal demeanor are extra-important when choosing your photographer.

Step 1: Settle on a Style

Before you begin researching photographers, you’ll need to first decide what type of photography style you prefer, as that will help determine which kind of photographer you’ll want shooting your wedding. Do any of the following appeal to you?

Documentary: Instead of a series of posed photos, these are candid or spontaneous pictures (read: not styled) of people, decor and the action. Typical shots might include the lavish raw bar before guests start digging in, your motley crew of cousins dancing, or you and your bridesmaids laughing, champagne in hand. With a purely photojournalistic photographer, you’ll very rarely see people staring at the camera—the photos capture the moments exactly as they happened, and together they tell a story.

Portraiture: If you prefer classic portraits (think: your parents’ wedding album), go with a traditional photographer who specializes in portraiture. These are posed shots of the two of you, your friends and family in front of various backdrops. That’s not to say there isn’t room for creativity in this category. While some photographers will pose subjects in more traditional spots (like at the ceremony altar or out on the lawn of the country club) and in more formal poses (standing as a group together), other photographers take portraiture further into the creative realm with a more dramatic composition (the couple sitting on a lounge chair at their hip hotel reception venue, or the couple holding hands in the middle of a nearby dirt road with the mountains in the background).

Fine Art: Though it’s similar to documentary photography, this style gives the shooter greater artistic license to infuse their particular point of view and style into your photographs. So while the shots reflect reality, it’s the photographer’s reality. The photos are dramatic and gorgeous, but are—or look as though they were—shot on film with a grainier, dreamier, more muted appearance. Usually the object (or couple) is in focus and the background appears to blur. Motion also looks very natural in this style of photography. The few wedding photographers in the world who shoot only on film tend to fall into this category, and typically they shoot in black and white, though some will do a mix of both. That said, a photographer using a digital camera can still capture this style with the right gear and camera lens. And some photographers will alternate between digital and film. Not all photographers who take a fine-art approach shoot portraits, so if it’s really important to your mom to have posed family shots, look for someone who does both, or consider hiring a second shooter for the portrait sessions.

Edgy-Bold: This style of photography, an offshoot of fine art, is marked by outside-the-box, tilted angles (called “Dutch angles”) and unconventional framing. So instead of a straight-on shot of the couple exchanging vows at the altar, the photo might look tilted, with an object like an altar arrangement or a candle in the foreground. Or the photo of the bride having her makeup done might be shot from above, with an emphasis on the eye shadow brush rather than on her face. Even a single portrait of a bridesmaid might be shot so that her face takes over only the bottom right of the photo and the rest of the space is filled with the wall or whatever’s behind her.

Many wedding photographers can do a blend of portraiture and documentary-style shots, and will do a mix of black-and-white and color images, but if there’s a special style you love, make sure to focus on photographers who specialize in it.

Step 2: Do Your Homework

Start your search by reading reviews from recent brides and browsing hundreds of local listings. Carefully review potential photographers’ websites and blogs to check out photos of other weddings they’ve shot, which will give you an idea of their style. The design of the website may also give you clues about the photographer’s personality and sensibility. Check out their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages too, if possible. Is the feedback from clients positive? How does the photographer respond?

Step 3: Set Up Interviews

This is not a decision that can be made on looks alone—you must meet your potential photographers in person. If you like what you see on their sites—and their fees are in your ballpark range—call to see if they’re available for your wedding date. If the photographer is already booked on your date, you may want to see if they have an associate or can recommend another shooter with a similar style. Set up in-person meetings with three to five potential photographers who are available on your wedding date to look at more of their work and assess whether your personalities mesh. Be prepared to talk about your venue, your wedding style and what you envision for your photos.

Step 4: See a Few Full Wedding Albums

Don’t base your decision solely on what you see in a photographer’s highlights gallery or album. For good reason, photographers show prospective clients a portfolio of their best pictures, all from different weddings, so you’re seeing the best of the best. The problem with that is you won’t get a well-rounded idea of their work. Ask to see two or three full galleries from real weddings they’ve shot (not someone else at their company) so you can get a better idea of what your complete collection of photos might look like after the wedding. If you see that the full gallery photos are just about as good as the ones chosen in the highlight gallery (that is, they’re all so good it’s impossible to choose!), you’re on the right track. And ask to see at least one or two complete albums of weddings that are in similar settings to yours. For example, if you’re planning an indoor affair with dark lighting, don’t just look at weddings shot outdoors in natural sunlight. And if you’re planning to say “I do” on a beach at sunset, you’ll want to see examples of that.

Step 5: Review Albums With a Critical Eye

When reviewing a photographer’s album, look for the key moments you want captured: Did they get photos of both the bride and the groom when they locked eyes for the first time? Also look for crispness of images, thoughtful compositions (does a shot look good the way it was framed, or is there too much clutter in the frame?) and good lighting (beware of washed-out pictures where small details are blurred—unless that’s the style you’re after). It’s also very important that you detect sensitivity in capturing people’s emotions; make sure the photographer’s subjects look relaxed, not like deer caught in headlights. While you two are, of course, important, you want to see smiling shots of your friends too.

Step 6: Make Sure Your Personalities Mesh

Don’t underestimate the importance of liking and bonding with your photographer. Is the photographer excited by your vision when you describe it? When they make suggestions, do they present them in a clear and respectful way, or are they timid? Are their mannerisms off-putting? In order to get the best photos, go with a pro who has a firm grasp of social graces but is bold enough to go out hunting for great images and who, above all, puts you at ease and doesn’t irritate you in any way. Remember: They’ll be shadowing your every move, and the more comfortable both of you are with the photographer, the better the photos will turn out. Likewise, you don’t want the photographer to offend or annoy any guests, but to shoot them in their best light in an unobtrusive way. To get the best photos, your photographer needs to be assertive enough to seek out great moments, cajoling enough to coax relaxed smiles and natural stances from guests, and calm enough to be a positive force. They should ask lots of questions and be a good listener.

Step 7: Confirm Your Shooter(s)

Many larger photo studios have more than one photographer on staff, and unless you specify it in your contract, the lead photographer may not be the one shooting your day. Since every professional has a different style, technique and personality, you need to make sure that the one you interview and “click” with will be the same one who works your wedding. Also, include specific stipulations in the contract about who will cover for the photographer should something happen on the actual day. Check whether the photographer will bring any assistants to your wedding, and if so, how many? If you have room in your budget, consider hiring a second shooter. Many top-notch photographers include a second shooter in the contract, but if this isn’t a part of the deal, you may want to ask about the possibility. The main benefit to having two shooters is that you, of course, get twice as much coverage. For example, during your formal photo session, one photographer can capture the formal photos, while the second one can get behind-the-scenes, photojournalistic photos, like your guests mingling. If you’re having a larger wedding (250 guests or more), you might even want to ask about having three shooters so your photography team can be sure to capture the event from all angles.

Step 8: Compare Packages

You won’t be able to nail down an exact dollar amount until you’re sure of what you want, how many albums you need and where your photographer is based, and packages range from $2,500 all the way up to $15,000-plus on the higher end of the spectrum. When interviewing candidates, ask for a general range based on the photographer’s standard “shooting fee” and package, plus their standard rates for the type of album you think you’ll want and the amount of coverage you’re hoping to book them for (day of, full weekend). It’s important to find out what’s included in the standard package, plus the basic range for any extras you may want, like an engagement shoot, special effects or additional coverage, so you can compare rates. In particular, find out exactly how many hours of coverage are included. Ideally, you want your photographer to be there for your full wedding day—from when you start getting ready until after you make your grand exit from the reception. While packages vary, most include about 6 to 12 hours to cover everything from preceremony events (getting ready with your bridesmaids or first-look photos) to the end of the reception. It’s usually better to pay for more coverage if there’s a chance you’ll run over and you definitely want your photographer there until the end (overtime is usually charged at a higher hourly rate). Also consider whether you’ll want to do an engagement shoot or have your photographer shoot other events during your wedding weekend (the guys’ golf outing, the bridesmaid lunch).

Step 9: Ask About Your Rights

Most contracts stipulate that the photographer owns the rights to all photos taken at the wedding, even the ones of you. In other words, the photographer can use them promotionally (on their website or blog, submit them for publication and even use them in ads). That also means that you can’t just post the digital proofs they send you—most photographers have a policy that you can only share watermarked images or images with their credit on them. Also, unless you negotiate otherwise, if you want to print the images yourselves or order an album from another source, you’ll have to buy the rights to the images.

Step 10: Get the Postproduction Details

It usually takes at least a month to get all those photo proofs back from your photographer. Why? Your photographer is shooting enormous raw files far bigger than your typical JPG. Shooting raw files gives your photographer greater ability to correct the photo, but it also takes a longer time to upload, process and edit all those files (in order to correct color levels and so on). It varies, but many photographers say that they spend an additional 40 hours editing images from a single wedding, so it can take up to six to eight weeks (or longer, depending on the photographer and how busy they are) to get proofs back. Here’s what to ask: How many images should I expect? Will they be high resolution or low resolution? Will I be able to get prints made myself, or does the photographer retain the rights to the images? Will the proofs I see be the retouched versions, or does that happen after I select the photos I want? Speaking of retouching, ask about retouching options and special effects (which can range from simple white balancing to beauty retouching and stylized art effects like super-saturated colors) and the additional cost for both.

The 10 Most Difficult Things About Being A Wedding Photographer

The 10 Most Difficult Things About Being A Wedding Photographer

So last time we looked at the 10 best things about being a wedding photographer, and they were certainly very rad. It’s an amazing day to get to photograph, and being invited into such an important part of your clients’ lives is a great honour!

But, like any profession, there are pros and cons involved. It’s a difficult job, and not everyone is cut out for it. Today we’re going to reveal our 10 most difficult things about being a wedding photographer, so let’s get right down to it!

1. Getting Started

When you try to become a wedding photographer, you’ll find yourself faced with a bit of a conundrum. You need experience shooting weddings to get hired, but you can’t get experience until you get hired. This is incredibly challenging, and tough for any photographer to get around. Some will do second shooting for an established photographer to get that experience, and others will luck out with a friend or family member willing to take a chance on them. Either way, it takes hard work and perseverance to get that much needed experience under your belt.

And not only is it tough just to get a job, but it’s an incredible investment of money to get all the gear needed to do that wedding justice. These events require multiple lenses, flashes, backup gear, and oodles of batteries and memory cards, not to mention enough hard drives to back up the images properly! That’s a lot of cash to fork out before you’ve even really got the business running. Now, you can rent gear to make those first few weddings a little less costly, but if you’re serious about getting into the business, you’ll eventually have to make a serious investment.

2. Business

This one could pretty much be numbers 2 – 5, because there are so many aspects of the business of wedding photography that can be really difficult. First off is just figuring out how to get it up and running. Then, as the owner, you quickly realize that you are responsible for all the working parts of your company. You are now the bookkeeper, the accountant, the marketing department, the graphic designer, the customer service department, the secretary, and pretty much any other title you can think of. It’s you. That’s not only a lot of responsibility, but a lot of learning that has to go on to figure out how to make it all run smoothly!

Then there’s pricing. Oh pricing — one of the most challenging and scary parts of being any sort of photographer. Are you doing it right? Are you choosing prices that are going to make your business fail? It can get easier, and luckily there are resources out there to try and help you sort it out, but it’s still scary and overwhelming, and the cause of many ulcers.

3. Mega Amounts of Work

Once you realize just how many pieces go into running a business, it’s no surprise that wedding photography is a LOT of work. If you don’t believe me, check out our 50 step wedding photography workflow. Then add on all the actual business stuff, like marketing, branding, paperwork, pricing, bookkeeping, and you’ll start to see why wedding photographers don’t get a ton of sleep. There’s a dangerous myth that floats around suggesting that they only have to work one day of the week and they make tons of cash. But actually they generally work a normal 5 day week, have meetings and engagement shoots in the evenings, and then shoot weddings on Saturdays. Yeah, mega amounts of work.

4. Balance

With all that work comes the challenge of balance. Weddings can very easily take over your whole life. Finding time to just be a person, and not a wedding photographer, is really tough. Your relationships with friends and family also tend to suffer, since you’re usually not free on Fridays or Saturdays during wedding season. It can be isolating, and downright exhausting to be so consumed by one thing. Burnout isn’t far behind. Without balance, it’s easy to lose the passion and love for the job that is necessary to produce high quality work.

5. Seasonal

In almost all parts of the world weddings are seasonal. It either becomes too cold in the winter, or too hot in the summer, so during those months you’ll find yourself with hardly any work. No surprise that that makes it difficult to pay the bills! You can either try to make enough in the wedding season to get yourself through the rest of the year, or find ways to keep bringing in money when the weddings stop. It’s a big challenge.

6. Making A Good Living

Straight up, no sugar coating, it is difficult to make a good living as a wedding photographer. You need to be great at photography and great at business. You need to adapt to an ever-changing marketplace, and figure out how to stand out from the crowd. You need to solve the problem of seasonality, and set prices smartly to turn a profit. You need to keep your costs low, but your customer experience world class. It’s easy enough to make money at wedding photography; there’s always someone willing to pay $1,000 for the shoot and files. But making a good living is an entirely different story.

7. Handling The Responsibility

Weddings don’t come with do-overs or reshoots. You get only one chance to capture the walk down the aisle, the first kiss, or the bouquet toss. You not only need to be technically skilled enough to be sure you can nail those critical shots, but you also need to be able to handle that kind of pressure, and still think creatively! This certainly gets easier the more you shoot, along with lots of preparation, but you should never lose that understanding that you’re shooting a once-in-a-lifetime event. It’s a lot of responsibility.

8. Mentally & Physically Exhausting Shoots

Weddings are usually at least 8 hours of shooting, commonly jump up to 14, and can get crazy at 21 hours (which was our longest day ever). That time requires pretty much continual mental and physical effort, as you are following the bride and groom around, documenting their experiences. Scarfing granola bars and chugging energy drinks helps you get through the day, but then there is the much discussed “wedding hangover” afterwards. Sunday is necessary for just recovering! The long hours also do a number on your back and shoulders from carrying so much gear around, and if you aren’t careful you can easily get dehydrated. You get to handle all of this while having to remain positive and cheery at every moment!

9. Pleasing A Wide Range of People

Your close proximity to the bride and groom during the whole day brings you into contact with all the important people (bridal party, parents, planners, officiants, etc.). Many of these are folks you actually have to take photos of, so you also have to direct them as well. Many of them have a vested interest in both how the day goes, and how the photos turn out. So you get the challenge of pleasing them all! It’s definitely possible, but requires a lot of effort, understanding, flexibility and most of all, patience. The bonus is that the better you c
an do this, the more likely you are to get referrals from a wide range of people, not just the bride and groom!

10. Finding Your Unique Style

We’ve already listed nine difficult things, and haven’t even really touched on actually shooting a wedding! While it’s a very diverse event, and requires a lot of different photographic skills, what can be most challenging of all is finding your own unique style. The wedding industry can seem to become obsessed with a different trend every year, and half the photographers and three quarters of the blogs follow suit. Brides are influenced by all these sources, and look to get that trend for their own images. It seems easier to just jump on board and ride the trend to success rather than pave your own way. But trends are fickle creatures, and in another year it will be something totally different. My prediction is that vintage gives way to ninjas. You heard it here first.

20 Myths About Becoming a Pro Photographer (And their solutions!)

20 Myths About Becoming a Pro Photographer (And their solutions!)

Starting out as a pro photographer is very exciting.  It’s fun to realize that a photography hobby can also be a great way to earn a little extra money on the side.  Unfortunately, I have seen dozens and dozens of photographers start out with all the excitement in the world, but eventually fail as a pro photographer.  Oh, and I’d hardly exclude myself from this group.  The reason I’m writing these myths is because I’ve made nearly every mistake on this page.

Sometimes the failure means they simply don’t find enough clients, sometimes that failure means getting sued, sometimes that failure means losing more than you gain, but most often…. that failure occurs when–one year into running the side business–the photographer realizes that it just isn’t bringing in enough money to be worth her time.

It is my hope that this list will not discourage anyone from becoming a professional photographer, but I do hope that it will make you aware of the unbelievably common misconceptions that many photographers have about earning money with photography.

Before I begin the list, I have to point out that OBVIOUSLY these “myths” are not false in every circumstance.  Without any doubt, there are people who can pull off just about anything, but I think most competent pros would agree with 99% of what is on the list.  (Updated: Apparently some people skipped over this paragraph and decided to come out swinging in the comments.  Relax, people.  I like to keep things friendly on the site.  If you disagree, do so politely).

Myth #1: Being a pro photographer will allow me to work my own hours.

Yikes.  No way.   No chance.  Unless “your own hours” means you would like to work almost every weekend and evening, then you’re setting yourself up for failure.  I used to shoot weddings, but when I realized that it meant missing every Saturday with my wife and kids, I decided it was time to make a change.

Once you realize that most wedding and portrait photography clients will want to do shoots on weekends and evenings, you may decide that this type of photography isn’t for you.

Solution to problem #1: Many photographers recognize that shooting baby and kids photography is a great way to work better hours.  It is usually easier for children and baby photographers to schedule shoots during regular business hours since many parents are at home taking care of the kids during the day.

Myth #2: If I charge $75 for a 1-hour shoot, I’ll be making $75 per hour!!!

You would be doing VERY well if you had enough clients to spend half of your work week actually shooting 1-hour sessions.  So, that means you’re only earning $35 per hour now.  But wait!  You have to post-process your photos, which takes about 30 minutes for every 1-hour of shooting.  Now you’re making $30 per hour.  Then, you realize that you have to spend time driving to and from the shoot location, which is another 30 minutes.  Now you’re making only $25 per hour.  Oh, and you have to set up the shoot with the client, send proofs, and work on prints.  Oh, and remember that advertising thing?  It takes time, too.  You get the idea.

Quite honestly, it is the rare photographer that can charge $75 for a 1-hour shoot and make it work financially, unless you’re getting the client to pay for individual prints or some other premium.  In my experience, photographers who only get $75 for a one-hour shoot will not end up surviving unless they have low overhead and are extremely efficient in completing other necessary tasks.

Solution to problem #2:  I always get asked how much to charge for portrait photography.  It is impossible to answer generally.  Sit down and figure out how much it costs you to be in business, and then how much you can add to that price without charging a price that is outside the ballpark.

Myth #3: Getting tons of compliments about your photography means you’re ready to shoot professionally.

When your family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors see your photos, they will almost always give positive feedback.  Why?  Because they are amazed that your photos look so much better than their snapshots.  Also, they like you and consequently like what you produce.

Working with clients–my least favorite part of photography

Unfortunately, clients don’t compare your photos to their snapshots.  Clients compare your work to what they see in magazines and on television.  The know what professional-quality photos look like, and they know if you’re not as good as the magazine photographers.

Solution to problem #3: Recognize that you aren’t ready to go pro until people start offering to buy your work.  If people like your stuff so much that they want to pay for it, then you’re probably ready good enough to make the leap.

Myth #4: Clients will love your photos if you take creative shots.

Nope.  Sorry.   Allow me to illustrate with a personal experience.  I got home from a shoot one day and I was ecstatic.  The shoot was phenomenal and I had captured some of the best portraits of my life.  I was totally proud when I submitted the proofs to the client.

Shocker.  What did the client think about the photos?  When she saw my favorite shot, she said, “Oh, my smile doesn’t look good in that one.”  Upon seeing another fantastic shot, she said, “My hair is falling into my eye a bit.”  WHAT?!?!?  I couldn’t believe it.  To me, it re-enforced something I’ve seen with many clients–they care what they look like a whole lot more than they care what the photo looks like.

Don’t get me wrong.  The photo better be creative.  It better look “in style” and fashionable.  However, all of that will mean nothing to the client if she doesn’t like the way she looks in the photo.  Get used to it.  That’s why you let the client choose her own shots, rather than you choosing for her.

Solution to problem #4: (1) Allow the client to choose which pictures she wants to buy, (2) ask the client to send you four or five examples of the type of photo they are looking for before the shoot, (3) ask the client if they want any part of them Photoshopped, and (4) look at the client and decide what parts of her body she would want highlighted, and what she might be embarrassed about and want hidden from the photo.

Myth #5: Second shooters are optional for weddings–even high budget weddings.

What if you get sick and can’t shoot the event?  What if your equipment breaks?  What if your memory card fails?  So many things can go wrong, and the unexpected mishaps could mean getting sued by an angry Bridezilla.

Solution to problem #5: Either explain the risks of only having one shooter to the client and charge a lesser rate, or quit being cheap and pay for a second shooter.  Personally, I have no problem with a photographer charging a reduced rate to only get one shooter; however, if you’re going to be the only shooter at a wedding, you need to make it absolutely clear to the client that there is risk in equipment failure, sickness, and “missing the shot.”  If they are willing to take those risks in order to save a buck, then you’re set.  Otherwise, pay to do it right.

Myth #6: Paying for a nice website will bring in clients.

As a former web designer, I can unequivocally promise that this is a myth.  In fact, if you put up a good gallery of images on a website and do nothing more, it is unlikely that even one person will find your website when searching for  a photographer.  Why? Because you haven’t optimized your website for search engines.

When someone searches “Boise Idaho Photographer” in Google, they will receive search results that match those keywords.  What I see over and over again with non-tech-savvy photographers is that they have a website full of images with only a tiny bit of text.  Surprise,  Google will not be able to tell that you’re a photographer in Boise Idaho from the fact that you have pictures on your site.

Solution to problem #6: If you are not tech savvy, it really is worth the money to hire someone to teach you how to optimize your website for search engines.  If you’re a do-it-yourself type, then I highly recommend the SEO 101 podcast, which teaches how to improve your search engine optimization.  I have learned a TON from listening to it over the last few months.

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Myth #7: You can earn as much by selling a CD of the images as you can by selling individual prints.

Ever notice the prices of a studio session at Walmart or J.C. Penney?  The sitting fee is often less than $10.  So how do these stores make a profit?  They sell the prints for an insane amount of money, and most customers don’t realize that they will probably end up paying $100 or more to get all the prints they want.

I am NOT saying that it is bad business practice to give the CD.  All I am saying is that there are a lot of clients who don’t realize that a $150 session with a CD is a lot cheaper than a $75 session with no CD.  Obviously, there are some clients that understand this already, but it seems that they are more of the exception than the rule.

Solution to problem #7: You simply need to spell things out for the client.  Explain on your pricing page how valuable the CD is if you’re going to give it out.  Otherwise, the clients will not understand why your price has to be higher than the “other guy.”  Again, I don’t have any problem with photographers giving digital copies of the photos to clients, but you need to recognize that clients may not understand how valuable the CD is unless you explain it to them clearly.

Myth #8: A second body is optional.

I thought backup gear was unnecessary until my 70-200mm lens suddenly started giving my camera error messages right in the middle of shooting a fancy black-tie event for a bunch of millionaires at a country club (not kidding).  When I looked down and saw ERR-99, blood poured out of every orifice on my body.

Solution to problem #8: If you absolutely cannot afford a backup body and lens, at least make some good photo buddies that could rush you some extra gear in an emergency.

Myth #9: Working on a handshake is good for business.

Since I am going to graduate law school soon, I am keenly aware of how uninformed some people are when it comes to the legal aspects of professional photography.  I refuse to take pictures of anyone for profit without getting a contract signed first.  All it takes is one lawsuit and your portrait photography business is sunk.  Whether you win the lawsuit or not, the legal bills will be so expensive that your business will be gonzo.

Solution to problem #9: Resolve today to never again take a picture of anyone for profit without getting a contract signed previously.  You simply cannot make exceptions.

Myth #10: You’re perfectly capable of writing your own contract.

A while back, I saw a photo blog (which I shall leave unnamed to save the author the embarrassment), where the author included a link to his “sample photography contract.”  My jaw dropped as I read it.  I can see how he thought he had covered all the bases with the contract, but it was so full of holes that it more closely resembled swiss cheese than a legally binding instrument.

Solution to problem #10: If you need legal help to write a contract, consult an attorney (barrister for you folks in the U.K.) who is licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.  Can’t afford an attorney?  This is a great reason to join a professional photography association, such as WPPI.  Most trade associations provide standard forms to members for no additional cost.  That is an incredible resource!

Myth #11: You can avoid learning lighting and buying flash gear by calling yourself a “natural light photographer.”

It always makes me smile and shake my head when I see a photographer’s portfolio and they proudly advertise being a “natural light photographer.”  Whenever I read this phrase, it immediately gets processed in my brain to mean, “I’m either too cheap to buy lighting gear, or I haven’t yet figured out how to do off-camera flash.

Let me be clear, there are some absolutely incredible natural light photographers in the world.  But honestly, that kind of photographer is one in a million.  I love shooting natural light portraits, but there is no way that I would go to a portrait photography session without some type of flash gear. Natural light photography can be beautiful, but don’t let this be an excuse for not having the tools to get the shot.

Solution to problem #11: Start learning!  Make the leap!

Myth#12: If you don’t have enough clients, you can do a giveaway on your Facebook page to get things rolling again.

Ugh!  I studied advertising in college, so poor advertising makes me cringe.  I have probably seen a dozen or more giveaways on Facebook pages for beginning pro photographers.  Not always, but most of the time, it ends up that your Uncle Mortimer, your neighbor Susan, and 10 of your friends are the only people who enter the contest.  Then, you’re stuck doing portraits for your buddies and you never attract any new clients.

Giveaways and social media can be great tools, but don’t think you’ll get people pounding down your door just by tossing out a freebie.  Marketing photography takes skill, perseverance, and creativity.

Solution to problem #12: Use your brain!  Be creative and think of ways to get people talking about your business.  If you need some inspiration, then you ABSOLUTELY MUST read this book on inexpensive and creative marketing strategies.

Myth #13: You can become a destination wedding photographer by writing, “Available for travel” on your bio page.

The truth is that most clients choose a photographer at the location rather than paying for one to fly across the country or across the world to shoot their wedding.  Getting jobs like this does not come by simply wanting it.

Solution to problem #13: Most of the destination wedding photographers I know (I am NOT one of them…) get the job when they have been around for a while.  Once you have shot the client’s family picture, senior pictures, and engagement photos, you’re in the running for getting a destination gig if you do truly fantastic work.

The other way to get the destination wedding gigs is to cater to higher-end clients.  Ritzy clients are often willing to pay the premium for a photographer they know and trust to travel to the location.

So, either work your way into the high-end market, or take the time to cultivate relationships with families so they wouldn’t dare let anyone else shoot their wedding.

Myth #14: Networking is optional.

Aside from the importance of networking to get photo buddies to help you in a pinch, networking with other people in the industry is vital to get jobs.

Solution to problem #14: One great tip for pro photographers is to take a few photos of the wedding location and send it to the owner, or take professional pictures of the wedding cake and send it to the cake decorator, etc.  Making friends with these people by giving them professional pictures of their work will make them like you.  When a bride goes to the flower shop or the cake decorator or the reception hall, they will often send referrals your way.

Myth #15: Nobody will notice that your portfolio consists of the same 5 people in every shot.

Yes, they will.  They definitely notice, and they will definitely not choose to pay the “new guy” the same as the photographer across town who has 20 years worth of photos in his portfolio.  You aren’t going to pull the wool over their eyes.

Solution to problem #15:  Get out there and shoot!  It’s obvious, but if you only have 5 shoots worth of photos to put in your portfolio, then I still need to explain this obvious point to you again.

Myth #16: Your portfolio will look great even if the models look average.

Let’s face the facts.  Clients want to look good in their pictures and they simply can’t see past your “average looking” models to tell that the pictures are great.  Having pictures of beautiful models in your portfolio can make a huge difference in how clients view you as a photographer.

Solution to problem #16: If your current portfolio could use some more beautiful people, then head on over to Model Mayhem and work with a few local models.  Generally, you can get a great local model to do a shoot for free if you offer them copies of the pictures.  Do a few of these shoots and your portfolio will look ten times better.

Myth #17: People are dying to read your blog.

False.  Ugh.  If all of your blog posts could be re-titled to say,  “Here are 10 pictures from my most recent shoot” then you seriously need some blogging help.  Only your mom wants to see your pictures of the random clients you shoot.  Nobody else cares.  Are you blogging for your mom, or for your clients?  Your clients have already seen your portfolio, so this type of post is useless to them.

Solution to problem #17: How about posts that are actually useful to your clients?  For example, “What not to wear to a portrait photography shoot”, or “How to get a totally boring senior portrait” or “The best places in Salt Lake City, Utah to hold a wedding reception.”  This type of post is much more likely to garner a readership, and will make you look like you know what you’re doing.  Oh, and it’s great for search engine optimization, too!

Myth #18: If you love photography, you’ll love being a pro photographer.

Photography is incredibly fun when you are in charge of all things creative and you can shoot what you want when you want to shoot it.  Unfortunately, all of that changes when you’re shooting for someone else.  Suddenly, you aren’t trying to create something you like, you’re trying to please the mother-of-the-bride.  Also, you’ll have to deal with business stuff, selling your photos to clients, and paperwork.

Solution to problem #18: Before becoming a professional photographer, be sure to understand how it will change your hobby and make sure it is in fact what you want.  A great way to get your feet wet is to offer to be a second shooter for a local pro.  Doing this a few times and doing a job shadow in the studio may help you decide whether you love photography, or if you love professional photography.

Myth #19: Photography is a growing industry.

Yep, you’re right.  Photography is certainly growing, but not in demand.  It’s the supply of photographers that is growing.  Everyone with a camera (like you) thinks about making money with photography.

Solution to problem #19: You must differentiate yourself from the pack.  If you can’t clearly answer what makes you better than any other photographer in town, then you have not yet established a brand.  Decide what your advantages are and spell it out to clients.  Why not create a “Top 10 Reasons to Choose Jim Harmer” page on your photography website?

Myth #20: You don’t want to share this post on Facebook/Twitter/Google+.

I hope you gained value from reading this post.  Would you please pay it forward by clicking the Facebook/Twitter buttons at the top-right of this page to share this post of tips with your friends?  Thanks, and enjoy the daily photography tips at Improve Photography.  Oh, and I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below, but we have a 100% positive and uplifiting policy around here, so if you choose to disagree, please do so politely.

10 Top Tips To Consider When Purchasing A Digital Camera

10 Top Tips To Consider When Purchasing A Digital Camera

A digital camera is an electronic device to transform images into electronic information. New digital cameras are typically multifunctional and the same device can take pictures, video and audio.

Many digital cameras can connect directly to a computer to transfer data. Early cameras used the PC serial port. USB is the most commonly used method, though some have a Firewire port or use Bluetooth. Some cameras are able to attach to computer networks wirelessly via Wi-Fi.

Here are 10 top things to consider when looking to purchase a digital camera: –

1. Price: This can vary from around $100 to upto $10,000 for a high end professional camera. You can buy one with good resolution and options for under $600. Ones with more manual control settings can be found for around $600-2000 dollars, usually suited to serious amateurs.

2. Resolution: To print good quality color photos at the standard film sizes 4″x6″ or 5″x7″ you’ll need a 1-2 megapixel camera. If you are printing as large as 8″x10″ then you’re going to need a higher resolution around 2-3 megapixels.

3. Viewfinder: Low-end digital cameras provide an optical viewfinder while more expensive ones replace the viewfinder with a LCD (Liquid Crystal Display). Look towards purchasing one with an LCD display. Kodak make digital cameras with superb displays so have a look at those.

4. Focus: Most cameras are either fixed-focus or autofocus which is suitable for the average digital camera user. With a fixed-focus lens everything from a few feet to infinity is in focus. The only problem with this is when shooting pictures up close. Autofocus will automatically bring whatever is in the centre of the viewfinder into focus.

5. Storage: Many cameras come with a small memory card, but if you want to take lots of pictures or footage, it is a good idea to check whether what is supplied is enough. Chances are it won’t be, so look at how much a new ‘decent’ capacity memory card etc is going to cost for that particular model.

6. Compression: If you want the highest possible image quality, look for a camera that will let you save pictures in “CCD raw mode” which means with no compression at all.

7. Batteries: It is important to get a camera that will accept rechargeable batteries. There are three varieties of batteries available Nickel Cadmium (NiCad), Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) and Lithium-ion (Li-ion or LiOn). A camera may accept only one or two kinds of batteries so be sure to find out what kind.

8. Power Saving: To save battery power, use a camera that accepts an AC adaptor.

9. Interface: If you are interested in maximum speed you should keep your eyes open for cameras and card readers that support FireWire

10. Video Output: This can be invaluable for presentations. If you would like to do this, look for a camera with a video-output terminal. It allows you to display your pictures on a TV or projector.