Towards the end of 2012, Insurers PolicyBee ran a competition for their photographer customers.
They asked them what advice they’d give someone starting out in photography. To tempt them into sharing their wisdom, they dangled a £100 London Camera Exchange voucher in their viewfinders …
And it worked too. They got loads of insightful comments, of interest to photographers of all kinds, not just startups. Some chose to (pardon the pun) focus on the business side of photography; some on the business of taking photos.
We thought you’d be interested in hearing their suggestions too, so we grouped the comments together under these general headings: basics, style, equipment, technique, business and inspiration.
Unfortunately, we got far too many to list in one place so we’ve put together a quick, random selection instead.
Hope you find it useful.
Always carry spares – spare batteries, spare memory cards, spare lens cleaning materials. Don’t miss a picture for the lack of a simple, and often inexpensive, item.
Work out a system for editing and retouching your work and make sure you follow this process each time for each shoot. This allows you to get faster and keep organised.
Always make back up of your work as it is so easy to press delete.
Make sure you back up your work as SOON AS POSSIBLE!! If the worst happens, don’t panic. It’s possible that it can be found with a little patience and perseverance.
Find a style that suits you and makes you stand out as a photographer. This will help give your work a strong look and make your work recognisable and memorable.
Be the best that you can be – ignore the competition & don’t compare yourself to them.
Understand what sets you apart from the competition and, more importantly, understand the difference between the photographs you take and what every man on the street with an iPhone is doing.
Stick to shooting what you love and don’t let others put you off or try to change your style.
Forget about the camera model or manufacturer. The only thing that really matters is the glass in front and the eye behind.
Invest in great lenses not other tech e.g. camera bodies.
Better equipment doesn’t make you a better photographer.
Get a tripod.
Photography is about taking chances and being a risk taker. If you expect the photographs to come to you then you’re mistaken. You need to get your hiking boots on and trail blaze to get the shot!
It’s about subjects. It’s also often about context. Think about the environment you place your subject in.
Surround yourself with fellow photographers see them not as competition but as a support network. You can help inspire each other or help each other with problems or even referrals.
Don’t get bogged down in the technicalities of your camera. Get shooting.
Always carry a camera.
Light is king. Learn how to use it. Try searching for ‘TPE’ – it’s an app that tells you how the light falls on any given day in any given location.
You can get brilliant results – without frying your head – if you learn how AF and AE lock work.
Zoom with your feet. Stand up. Kneel down. Don’t go for the conventional point of view.
Look for regular commercial work, like magazines and catalogues, rather than just private individuals who may only commission you every 2 or 3 years.
Make sure that you have a contract in place detailing exactly what the customer is expecting from you.
Represent yourself well online. Don’t let bad grammar/spelling mistakes etc make you look anything less than professional.
Don’t reduce your prices just to get business. How’s anybody going to value what you do if you don’t?
PolicyBee is an independent professional insurance broker with a knack for covering photographers.