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Getting Started In The Photography Business

photogs on a tfp shoot
It's not unusual for several photographers to work a TFP shoot together

The question I get more than any other is, “How do I get started in photography?” There are a lot of ways to get started in the business, but step one is being able to take amazing pictures. Not merely good, but so good they wow people.

Everyone with a high end digital camera thinks they can be a photographer. In the business we call them “Uncle Bob”. Uncle Bob usually comes up in price negotiations for a wedding photographer. Why should we pay your cost when my Uncle Bob can do it for free? It’s a bluff. If Uncle Bob was that good, he’d be doing it for a living.

The central issue remains how you set yourself apart from the Uncle Bobs of the world and gain the experience you’ll need to set yourself apart as worth the money.

Team Up With Other Photographers

One of the best way to gain in the field is partnering up with other photographers who are also learning. There are lots of ways to do that. You can go on sponsored photo walks, and team up with other photographers for TFP shoots. TFP stands for Time For Prints and it’s how poor photographers team up with poor models who need prints for their portfolio and need practice in front of the camera as much as you need practice behind it.

Take Classes

Community colleges and local colleges frequently offer photography courses at night. A class structure will give you the book knowledge and assignments for practical application of that knowledge.

You can also take online courses. Those are less expensive, instructor lead like a regular class, and are available on your schedule.

Rent Studio Space

If you shop around you can usually find an established photographer who will rent you studio time. Some of the big shops are quite expensive, but if you shop around you can sometimes fine workable space with backgrounds and lights for $40-$50 dollars an hour.

Renting is better than buying because you can rent more than one studio that might have a different lighting set up and radio triggers. You can try lots of different lights to find those you like best.

Partnering up with other photographers to rent communal space is another way to stretch your money in the early days. Two or three of you might be able to afford a big space and lights where it would take years to save up enough money on your own. It can be a little difficult to work scheduling and respect for each other’s clients, but if you can work it out, you’ll save a lot of money in rent.

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