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September 17, 2018

Advice for New Photographers | Kingsbridge Photography

Hey there new photographer. Does all of this stuff seem overwhelming to you? It doesn’t have to be!! Photography is such a fun and rewarding career, but it’s also an amazing hobby. Whether you want to start your own business or just see where it goes, today I’m sharing some advice for new photographers!

Advice for New Photographers

1. Research the basics of photography even before you buy your camera

One of the first articles I read on photography was the wikipedia article on Aperture because a photography friend sent it to me. I poured over that stuff!! Then I looked up what shatter speed meant. And then that led me to other articles from there. Before you even look into cameras, you need to know what you want. Most people buy a camera without even knowing what it does, and then they leave it on auto mode. If you are going to leave your camera on auto mode you might as well just shoot with your iPhone. And I’m not kidding about that. So know your stuff, and know why you want to invest in a camera!

2. Decide on your camera and basic equipment

Google is your friend. When I bought my first DSLR camera, I researched for weeks before I landed on what I wanted to buy. I read all the tech specs, I read all the discussion posts, and I read all the comparison articles. Don’t just buy the first one you see, and don’t just buy one that your friend tells you to buy. Each step of the way you will learn something new. You want to be able to articulate why you want the camera you want! Don’t invest a ton of money in something if you don’t know what it will do for you! And don’t just stick with the kit lens. The lenses you will need depend on what kind of photography you want to do! If you want to do portraits, prime lenses are your friend! Don’t know what a prime lens is? Google it!

3. Look up tutorials on your camera, equipment, and photography in general

Most people when they first start out is they immediately look for opportunities to second shoot. While second shooting is a good way to gain experience, the truth is a good photographer won’t hire you unless you know your stuff. There are PLENTY of free tutorials on youtube and articles on the internet about pretty much anything. Look them up and read, read, read!  Know the basics of photography, know how your camera works, and know how to easily change your settings. If you just bought an off-camera flash and don’t know how to use it, look it up!

4. Learn Manual Mode

I’ll say it again. If you’re leaving your expensive DSLR on auto, it’s as good as an iPhone. Learning manual mode is fun and it’s not terribly complicated! Know about the exposure triangle, know how to read your light meter, know how to read your histogram. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Google it! If you feel like it is all over your head, look into an intro to photography course near you! Or check out a class on CreativeLive or Lynda!!

5. Shoot as much as possible

This one is a no-brainer. As a new photographer, the main thing you need is experience. My advice when you’re first starting out is to shoot anything and everything. You might not know what you like until you try it! Also, the only way to get good at your craft is to practice it. Take photos of your family. Ask your friends if you can take photos of them. Take photos of your nieces and nephews at their sporting events. Bring your camera everywhere, and shoot as much as possible, in as many lighting situations as possible.

6. Invest in Good Education

Seriously. I cannot tell you how much help to me photographers like Katelyn James, Justin & Mary, or Davey & Krista have been. There are SO many great resources out there. DO NOT fall for the blanket adds that go around Facebook promising that they will revolutionize your business. Some work, but others are a waste of money. Ask other photographers you trust what has worked for them, and find workshops or classes on the specific areas that you want help in. And actually do the work!

7. Find a Community To Get Involved In

Owning a business is hard, especially one that is so personal. I’m involved in the Rising Tide Society, and I LOVE IT! I’m also in other Facebook groups for photographers that are both local and international. I meet once a month with the Grenville chapter of the Rising Tide Society and this group has helped me to find the confidence I need but also given me tools to help me grow my business!! There’s nothing like community to help lift you up and get you where you want to be. I’ve learned SO MUCH from these colleagues and I wouldn’t trade this group for anything!

8. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

One of the most common things I hear from new photographers, and one of the most common things I felt as a new photographer, was the fear of not being good enough. There are so many talented photographers everywhere! It’s easy to get lost in the Instagram scroll and feel like you’ll never be as good as them. But the reality is that everyone starts somewhere. They were just like you once. Comparison is not just a problem for new photographers, but for seasoned ones as well! Comparison is the thief of joy!! Remember that the only person worth comparing yourself to is the person you were yesterday. Instead of comparing yourself, work to better yourself and develop your own style.

9. Find your own style, don’t just copy someone else’s

That leads me to my next point! You don’t just want to be “the Katelyn James of South Carolina” or the “Justin & Mary for budget brides.” Nope, nope, nope. You want to be yourself. In this over-saturated market, what sets you apart from other photographers is YOU. No one is going to have exactly the same style as you, and you don’t want them to! Instead of copying everyone you see, find what you like and follow that! I heard a good piece of advice from Nicole Kilian once. When she was developing her style, she made a list of a lot of her favorite photographers and wrote down what she liked about each one. They were all different! Then she took those things that she liked and created her own unique style. I think that’s a great idea to find your style!

10. Only put images on your portfolio that you love

If you are only doing one shoot every four months, it’s easy to think you should put everything you shoot up on your website, facebook, or instagram. But the truth is that you should only showcase images that you are proud of and images that represent the kind of client you want to attract. If you keep getting family sessions where everyone is wearing matching overalls, but you want family sessions where everyone is dressed for a night out on the town, DO NOT put those overalls on your website. If you put that on your website, that’s the kind of sessions you will book. You will attract what you showcase. I’d rather have 4 images on my website that I LOVED than 50 images that were not my style.

11. Style a shoot of your own

So what if you don’t have the kinds of clients that you want, and you have nothing to put on your website that you like? Create your own shoot! Grab a family you know, tell them what to wear, and give them a free photo session! Get that adorable couple from your church to model for you! Ask your friend if you can do portraits of them and tell them what to wear! YOU are in control, and you can make it look however you want. You don’t want to always work for free, but it is definitely a good idea to get people to model for you so you can do what you want and have those images for your website! Styling a wedding shoot is also a great idea! Check out my friend Nichole’s article on tips for doing that here! 

12. Shadow a photographer that you love

So what if you want to be a wedding photographer but you’ve never shot a wedding? It’s probably not a good idea to charge money for a wedding if you’ve never done it before! A great way to get your foot in the door is to shadow a photographer at a wedding. Plus, you might also be able to use the images for your own portfolio to send to other photographers to get second shooting gigs! Ask the photographer you shadow if this is something you can do! You’ll be able to learn from them and watch them work, but also see first hand what it’s like to shoot a wedding to see if it’s something you want to do!

13. Second shoot as much as possible if you want to be a wedding photographer

Once you’ve learned as much as you can, you know your way around your camera, and you really want to get into booking wedding clients, second shooting is a great way to get practical experience and also get PAID! Woohoo! It will also help you prepare for your first solo weddings. If you get connected to a good main shooter you’ll be able to ask them questions you have and they might be able to give you some tips on getting your own clients as well! Some photographers will also allow you to use your images on your social media or portfolio. Make sure you ask them what their policy is about that!

14. Follow your own path

Remember, every photographer’s path is going to be different. Some people will book 30 weddings in their second year, and some people will book 3. Some people won’t want to do weddings at all, and some people will decide to keep it a hobby! There is no right or wrong path. Don’t look at someone else’s life and think that yours is somehow inferior. Everyone has their own unique personality, circumstances, and set of skills, and no one’s business will look the same. And that’s okay! Figure out what you want to do, and follow that path!

15. Be Confident

Last but definitely not least, be confident!! This is the one of the BIGGEST ways to promote your business and attract new clients. Have confidence in your product and your skills. Being a photographer is hard work, and you’ve put a lot of thought and effort into this! No one wants to hire a photographer that sounds like they don’t know what they’re doing. Even if on the inside you’re freaking out, show your confidence to your clients all the time! Keep it warm and friendly, and they’ll want to come back year after year!

You’ve got this!

Happy Shooting,


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