1. Don’t Assume You Can Do The Job Without Experience
It’s a long and dedicated journey to cultivate a personal style and aesthetic in this saturated market! I look back at some of my images and think “Oh my gosh, did I think that was…good?” Working many jobs for free, assisting numerous professionals, asking questions, going to seminars, joining forums, interning hours on end for $0.00/hour and trusting it is all worth it was such a valuable part of the process.
2. Separate your Finances…..ASAP!
The last thing you want to do is finally make some money from following your passion and find yourself with nothing left after taxes! Put 20% of the income far away from day to day spending, and get a business checking and credit card (even if you don’t feel like “you are there yet”)
3. Cultivate Lasting Relationships
Your clients are everything. Knowing them, communicating with them and making an effort to truly understand what they are looking for is how you can best do your job. Understanding the technical aspects of the camera and Lightroom are a great start, but understanding the person in front of it is even more important! Ask questions, keep in touch, look beyond the photography session to learn about what they love, send thank you cards and extra’s when delivering files. You’ll find it enriches each experience and inspires your work.
4. Know Your Worth
After gaining a certain amount of experience, feeling ready to start applying for gigs…remember your time and energy are valuable! When you reply to a craigslist ad and someone 30 miles away say that they have a $100.00 budget session, do the math. Your Time: At least 2 hours of communication to book the job and create a contract, one and 1.5of driving, 2 hours of shooting, 4.5 hours of post-production and another hour creating an online website after taxes is equivalent to $7.19 per hour. Say yes to jobs that will benefit your portfolio and that you will enjoy, say no to ones that will not serve you!
5. Ask for Help
In the beginning nothing held me back. I wanted to learn how to “do it all.” Website, marketing, social media and youtube tutorials were the foundation from which this business grew. However, there comes a time when hiring other creative professionals is absolutely necessary! Especially when it comes to your website. As an artist, you do not need to master every element of your business platform. Find local professionals to hire, treat it like an investment and watch the magic happen. Is post-production taking over your life? Hire and intern, and eventually an employee. Outsource your editing if you find a company that you trust. After a few bumps in the road, you’ll never go back to trying to do it all. I promise!
6. Find Your Inspiration and roll with it….
Part of photojournalism is tapping into what inspires you, rather than focusing entirely on what is technically correct or what a shoot “should” look like. If the sun is blasting in your eyes with haze for days…go for it. Have fun, play, get creative. You have nothing to loose (film days are over). Moments, angles and obscure composition that spark something within you will most likely spark something in people that see your work. There is no “right” or “wrong” when creating art.
7. Join Creative Support Groups and Professional Photographer Forums
In our technological day in age, there are so many resources it can often be overwhelming. Joining various photographer forums has been a life saver! Having a place to ask questions, get advice, share new locations/venues etc. is a wonderful way to feel less isolated when you’re feeling inundated with work. Bay Area Photographer Forum on Facebook is a great place to start. From there you can narrow your online communities down, to people and genres that are aligned with your business.
8. Find an Activity That Nourishes You (and does not involve technology)
What makes you feel alive and grounded? Whether it is running, cooking, sewing, yoga, journaling, teatime or just reading a great book; we all need to find our equilibrium. After long days at a computer, my absolute favorite thing to do is Yoga. Using my body and mind in different ways allows me to move forward feeling a sense of balance. Find your calm place and go there often!
9. INVEST: Separate Work + Home | Your Equipment Matters | Pay for Advertising
YOU'RE EQUIPMENT MATTERS: Some may say: Invest with what? Even if you are still waiting tables to make ends meet, having your income separated will allow you to create a budget, to save accordingly and to own the equipment necessary to thrive in this industry. Take baby steps, but still take the steps. If your first L-Series lens is the only one you have -- rent the ones you need for various assignments. It works!
PAY FOR ADVERTISING | THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS: Word of mouth and referrals have been the driving force of Kreate Photography. Coming from such a close-knit community is the reason for this (again, create lasting relationships). However, I have found it incredibly important to expand my clientele and begin professional relationships without circumstantial context. It is a nice way to keep your work diverse and continue to grow your network. It can also be a healthy challenge to start from scratch with new people and new communities.
SEPARATE HOME & WORK: Working from home only works until it doesn't. There is an expiration date because if busy enough, you will have no physical way to differentiate your business from the rest of your life and well-being. Over time it can be a creativity drain, which is the last thing any artist wants! Start small. There are creative work hubs all over the bay area that are free, and with time and a strict budget - there are numerous artists communities with studio's that range from a desk space for $100/month to a small 350 ft. space for $300/month. Anything is possible! Home should remain a sacred space to relax and recharge. When I moved into my studio almost 2 years ago, everything began to shift. With a set schedule and more attention to life balance, I was more productive, more inspired and more successful.
10. Take a Vacation
Taking a step back to truly relax will only benefit you! Whether it is a long weekend in the sunshine or a month abroad - it is worth it. Vacations mean a change of pace, a gentleness with ourselves, a time of rest and renewal, and a time to stretch ourselves and encounter new people, new lands, new ways, and new-found inspiration.
And to top it all off...