When I first picked up my camera, never in my wildest dreams could I imagine what it means to me today. My camera often feels like an extension of my limbs. Photography isn’t just what I do, it’s who I am. Anyone who enjoys the craft will often tell you the same thing, it becomes part of our DNA.
However, getting into professional photography is tough. What I mean by profession is charging for your work, getting paid by clients, etc., and it seems that every day I log online, someone new has started a photography business – and that’s awesome! It’s a difficult journey though. No one wants to teach you. As a newbie, you scavenge around the internet for any morsel of advice or tip you can soak up to help you succeed. You ask anyone and everyone. Most of whom will either ask you to pay for their “expertise” or tell you they are too busy, don’t share their secrets, whatever. When you’re a beginner, you’ll pretty much take any of this advice to heart. If someone else looks successful and they give you this advice, surely it’s worth taking?! Wrong.
When I first started out, I kept hearing the same piece of advice over and over again:
“You should really focus on one type of photography”
And when I first started out, it seemed logical enough… stick to what you know. Practice makes perfect, so just practice that one thing until you nail it. So that’s what I did. I shot weddings and family pictures almost exclusively for the first three years.
But you see, that’s actually the biggest lie there is in this industry.
If you follow me on Instagram (I rarely post on my business Facebook anymore) – you’ll notice that I don’t just shoot weddings and portraits. I’m shooting food, the milky way, concerts, cocktails, portraits, landscapes, boudoir, etc. What I learned shooting weddings has helped me better shoot with food, shooting the stars at night helps me ace my concert coverage. Every “type” of photography has something to teach you and how can you ever learn if you aren’t out there trying it all?
I know what you’re thinking – “I’m just not good at _____” – but you see, you don’t think you’re good now. I look back at my first concert photos and quickly hit the delete button so no one can see them today, but as Miley Cyrus sings “It’s not about how fast you get there, it’s not about what’s waiting on the other side, it’s the climb”
On the other hand, you may be thinking “I’m pretty good at shooting weddings, why bother doing the other types?” and that’s fine! But again, shooting so many vastly different subjects can teach you so much! For example: I learned how to light my food photography based on the principles I learned shooting portraits at weddings.
So whether you’re a seasoned vet or just starting out on your journey, here’s MY advice:
1. Photograph everything. – You don’t have to shoot everything for money or offer services to your clients, but you should take some creative time to yourself and just spend time with your camera. I promise it will make you better in the long run.
2. Be careful who you learn from – paying for workshops, mentorships, and classes are all the rage right now. Does your instructor have enough experience to be charging for classes?
3. It’s okay to suck – we all do/did at some point. Photography is entirely subjective. What some people consider gorgeous and perfect are other peoples’ deleted files. Cut yourself some slack.