This a continuation of phototips for professional photographer wanabes
Get your basic business affairs taken care at the beginning. If you are running a business out of your home find out what the zoning laws are in your area. If you get busy, traffic can be a problem and neighbors may complain. Does your city require a business license? Apply for a state sales tax permit. Our county has a business property tax. Check with the country treasurer as to whether you need to file forms for this tax. Buy an accounting program such as quickbooks http://quickbooks.intuit.com/ and use it from the very beginning. Many community colleges will offer courses in quickbooks. I’d hire an accountant to do your taxes. A good accountant will call your attention to all possible expense write offs as well as any changes in the tax law and if you ever get audited you need an accountant to stand in for you at the audit. Make a point to show a profit within 3 years or the IRS will be checking you. Make equipment purchases based on your ability to turn a profit with them rather than just buying something because its the latest model with all the new bells and whistles. Business insurance is a must. If someone gets hurt on your property while picking up an order or during a photo session your home insurance will not cover the claim. I was in business for 25 years and had 2 claims from people falling on my property. Business coverage on your car is extremely important. If you have an accident while transporting equipment to a wedding your regular car insurance will not cover the accident. You must have a business policy for your car. If you have assets I would also suggest a business umbrella policy which will extend your liability to at least two million dollars. A spouse doing a part time photography business puts the whole family at a big liability risk without the proper insurance. Join PPA http://www.ppa.com/ because of their program that covers you if you screw up a wedding or have other legal issues. Over a 25 year period I dealt with PPA and their legal department twice on issues with senior pictures getting into the school yearbook. Have a lawyer write up a wedding contract for you if you do weddings. You can get samples of other photographers wedding contracts but it is a very good idea to have a lawyer look over any contract you are using. Better safe than sorry! Many studios also have portrait contracts which their clients sign. Model releases should be built into these contracts. Model releases would be required for any images going on your business website since they are being used in a commercial way. Taking care of business early in the game will prevent many headaches later. An example of a model release can be found at this link https://contribute.gettyimages.com/producer/documents/Model_Release_English_Dec_2008.pdf
Develop a business plan. You can find an example of a business plan at this link: http://www.bplans.com/photography_studio_business_plan/executive_summary_fc.php#.UW12arWsh8F Define where you are wanting to go with your business and how you are going to get there. Recently, I was mentoring a young lady from the San Diego area via the internet. I asked her how much she wanted to make the first year she was in business. She answered $35,000. I had her break that down by the week to see how many sessions she might have to do to clear that amount of income. Her work at that point was mediocre at best and she had no plan at all how she would reach such a goal. After several months it became very obvious that she wasn’t doing what she needed to because she made no progress at all. For many, a business in photography is a pipe dream. It takes a huge amount of effort and there will be many frustrating moments developing a business even if it is part time.
Street photography can be fun and interesting. Many people overlook the possibilities in their own community. Street photography normally involves photographing people in public places. It can be a little intimidating photographing strangers without there permission. While there’s nothing wrong with asking their permission, you will often miss THE SHOT if you ask first. Walking around with a long telephoto and trying to sneak pictures from a distance isn’t the answer either since a long lens catches attention quicker than anything. What works well for me is a smaller camera which is less intimidating and less likely to catch attention. I use a Fuji x100 which has a fixed lens with a 23 mm focal length. This is equivalent to 35mm on a 35mm film camera.
This focal length is ideal for street photography. You can actually walk around with this camera hanging around your neck and take photos from waist level, just pointing in the general direction and you wil get photos without anyone even realizing it. You can turn the shutter noise off completely if you wish.
B&w Street shot South Omaha
Man in red South Omaha
Street photo South Omaha in B&W
If you are after colorful shots head to South Omaha.
Restaurant wall South Omaha
24 St South Omaha Mexican pottery
Colorful street display South Omaha
South Omaha Photo
Drive the residential area in South Omaha and you’ll find some interesting artwork.
Mexican garage door art
Side of garage with Mexican artwork taken in Omaha
1. Educate yourself on a continuous basis. There are some free programs on sites like Youtube. Check them out by searching photography, lighting, photoshop, etc. Sites like http://www.lynda.com/ and http://kelbytraining.com/ have good information on improving your photography. Http://wwwShootsmarter.com and http://www.discovermirrorless.com are excellent sites. Most of these sites require a subscription fee but you should expect to pay for good information. Several forums can be helpful. Check out the forum page on my site. http://pro4um.com/ is an excellent forum if you want to keep up with the latest fads in professional photography. This forum has many talented photographers on it and is not cheap to join. The fee is over $200 a year but well worth it if you are serious about photography as a business. If you are purchasing new equipment check out http://www.dpreview.com/ This website has very comprehensive reviews of newly released cameras and equipment.
2. Learn to use photoshop. Photoshop is an expensive program but most true professionals use the program on a daily basis. Lightroom is also a must, especially for wedding photographers who need to deal with a large number of images at a time. Software Cinema http://www.software-cinema.com/ puts out some excellent cds on how to use photoshop. I’d recommend getting the most recent version CS6. Photoshop cs6 must be purchased on line and downloaded . http://www.adobe.com/downloads/?promoid=JZEFW Versions come out every 2 years or so and you need be aware of the latest features. Plus if you buy a new camera photoshop cs6 will have updates that allow you to use the newest raw files in Adobe Bridge. If you have an earlier version of photoshop but a new camera and your raw files cannot be converted to jpgs in adobe bridge you can download DNG converter from the same sight. It will convert all raw files to a DNG format which older versions of photograph can open and convert to jpg
Other image editing programs are out there that can be used if you can’t afford Adobe’s products. Corel makes a good editing program Paintshop Pro X5. You can download a trial version at this site http://www.corel.com/corel/category.jsp?cat=cat4130083&rootCat=cat3610091 The cost of the software $69.95. Its not a bad program but there definitely is a learning curve just as there is with photoshop. Gimp is also a photoshop- like imaging program. It is free. You need to understand how imaging programs work in order to use it. Again most imaging programs have a learning curve.
Kodak used to make ektachrome infrared film. Going through my archives I found several images shot on this film. My understanding there is only one place to get such film today and it is available only in 120 size and its expensive. Check out http://www.tarquinius.de/
Infrared film with yellow filter
Infrared film with a red filter
E-6 slide infrared film taken with red filter
E-6 slide infrared film taken with red filter
You can take infrared photos with a digital camera but you will not get these results. Its too bad this film has been discontinued. Black and white infrared is still made by a number of companies. Freestyle out of California http://www.freestylephoto.biz sells Efke ,Rollei, and Ilford B&W infrared in 35 mm and 120 size film. Most of these films require a dark red filter for dramatic effect. The example below is Efke b&w infrared film. The effect from this filom is not as dramatic. The image was taken with a red filter.
b&w infrared film Efke with red filter
Of course you can shoot infrared with some digital cameras but most have to have some modifications done to them. The images below were done with the Fuji x-100 and an r72 filter which is a very deep red.
Fuji x100 infrared shot done with r72 filter
Fuji x100 infrared shot done with r72 filter
Preface: Most of us start from the same place when we get involved in photography. We pick up a camera, fall in love with the process, become avid amateurs, buy more equipment, and sell photographs to pay for it. One thing leads to another and you find yourself doing more photography and getting some compensation for it. This is the fun phase.
Then for whatever reason we get it in our heads we can become professionals. In simple term a professional is some who makes money at what he or she does. Once you cross over the line from a fun-loving amateur to professional photography, a big change needs to occur.
For many professionals it will be a part time career and that’s alright. In fact if you are considering a full time photography career your odds are poor at best. Unless you have lots of capital, unique creative skills, and well honed business skills you are likely to fail. Anyway ,everything you do as a professional should revolve around improving your skills on a day to day basis as well as making a profit at what you do. Now for some tips!
1. Quality always trumps quantity. Most people over shoot when they use digital cameras. Turning over 200 digital proofs to a portrait client for there perusal makes no sense if many have poor lighting and little variety in poses and backgrounds. Photographing a wedding and delivering 3000 images is crazy. (in my opinion) What is the wedding client going to do with all the images. Chances are 2/3 of them are redundant, unnecessary, contain poor expressions, or substandard lighting or exposures. Shoot for good lighting, good expression, and good composition. Meticulously cull your work and show only your best. Photographers who shoot excessive images usually lack self confidence. You will never get paid what your worth unless you provide excellent quality.
2. Start charging for your work from the very beginning. Family and friends can be the worst about expecting your work from nothing. If you give your work away at the beginning you have set the pace for the rest of your career. Believe me, if people see you as a sucker handing out freebies you will be doing it forever. Offer a trade out if nothing else. Maybe your not to handy around the house but your brother-in-law is and you could use his help. Establish a value for your work and make the trade. As long as you don’t take advantage of your friends or families skills they will understand why you want compensation.
I will be posting tips for aspiring professional photographers who want to try the professional route on an ongoing basis, one or more tips per day. These tips will reside on another page of my site as they are completed. Of course all my tips are opinions but I believe they have merit.
1. Quality always trumps quantity. Most people over shoot when they use digital cameras. Turning over 200 digital proofs to a portrait client for there perusal makes no sense if many have poor lighting and little variety in poses and backgrounds. Photographing a wedding and delivering 3000 images is crazy. (in my opinion) What is the wedding client going to do with all the images. Chances are 2/3 of them are redundant, unnecessary, contain poor expressions, or have substandard lighting or exposures. Shoot for good lighting, good expression, and good composition. Meticulously cull your work and show only your best. Photographers who shoot excessive images usually lack self confidence. You will never get paid what your worth unless you provide excellent quality.
From a business standpoint, overshooting costs you time and money. Editing is always required when working with a group of photos. Some image correction may be necessary also. If you only do one session a week or one wedding a month this may not be a big problem but if your volume increases you will find yourself in front of a computer for hours. You can always hire someone to do the computer work but most new photographers do not have that luxury.
2. Start charging for your work from the very beginning. Family and friends can be the worst about expecting your work for nothing. If you give your work away at the beginning you have set the pace for the rest of your career. Believe me, if people see you as a sucker handing out freebies you will be doing it forever. Offer a trade out if nothing else. Maybe your not to handy around the house but your brother-in-law is and you could use his help. Establish a value for your work and make the trade. As long as you don’t take advantage of your friends or families skills they will understand why you want compensation.
One of the best subjects for photography are clowns. They are by nature, photogenic. Most larger cities have clown clubs. You can probably locate a club through the internet yellow pages. Offer to do studio shots at a meeting or a special photo day. You will get great shots. Chances are you can sell some of them since many clowns use business cards. You can always offer a group discount if a certain number of clowns order. If you’re not out to make any money just offer them images in exchange for model releases. Here’s just a few samples from one session.
ONE FOR THE PIE HOLE
Not all digital cameras can shoot infrared unless they have modifications since most have various levels of infrared filtering. Fuji’s x100 is capable of capturing infrared with an R72 filter. First you need to do a custom color balance photographing green grass or other green foilage. For good depth of field it is recommended that you shoot at f/11 and try 3 too 4 second exposures. Obviously you will need a tripod and a cable release. You will be able to view the image area easily with the digital viewfinder or LCD on the back of the camera. (live view) The original image will appear very red, Here’s an example. The image below was exposed at f 2.8 at 1/20th of a second. I feel somewhat better results can be had with a smaller aperture which necessitates longer exposures.
Unprocessed infrared image taken with Fuji x100
When you convert the file to B&W it will appear real muddy. Adjust the levels to get proper contrast. You may also want to go into channels and make adjustments in the red channel.
Color Infrared shot converted to B&W with no adjustments
Infrared b&W for Fuji x100
The following images were exposed 4 secs at f/11.
Omaha Nebraska Infrared taken with Fuji x100
Omaha Nebraska Infrared taken with Fuji x100
If you want truly good pet portraits they need to be done in the studio for several reasons. The controlled lighting will bring out the detail in the pets fur much better than outdoor lighting. Too large a light source eliminates the specularity needed to show fur at its best. Secondly control of an animal in the studio is much greater. You have to work fast because they have a short attention span. An unexpected squeak from your own voice or toy will get a dogs ears up but don’t expect that to last for long. Often the best shot in a session with a dog is in the first several shots. I used to continue shooting for the clients sake but I knew I had the shot early on. I’m not a big fan of a lot of props. With hunting dogs I have several pheasants prepared by a taxidermist. They are hanging mounts made to look like they have just been harvested in the field. Studio shots of dogs are much better because the dog is not bothered by sounds and surroundings that may occur in an outdoor portrait session. I have photographed many a hunting dog with this set and their owners have been thrilled with the results.The photo below is a shot of my Springer Spaniel named Cosmo. The studio setting is made up of old barnwood and the pheasants had been harvested earlier in the day.
Springer Spaniel with pheasants
I found about 20 rolls of Tmax 400 CN film. This film is a monochromatic film that is processed in C41 chemistry. Since the film was 120 the number of places that process the film have decreased considerably in recent years. Rather than deal with the expense and hassle of finding a processor I started doing a little research and found that some people got results processing the film in d76. So I tried processing several rolls in d76 for 14 minutes at 70 degrees F. The processed film has a brownish mask but scans surprisingly well. I wouldn’t suggest you use this combination for important photos but it works well enough if you’re just having fun. I tried processing one roll in HC110 and got a denser negative that was not as sharp and much grainier. All images were photographed with a twin lens Rolliflex. The samples below were all scanned with an Epson v500. The last image of the woman was processed in HC110.
Council Bluffs Cemetery
tmax 400cn film developed in d76
Council Bluffs cemetery photographed with tmax 400CN film
Old Pontiac photographed with Tmax400 CN processed in d7
Fort Atkinson re-inactor photographed with Tmax 400CN