Making the leap from being an amateur photographer to a professional is a tricky transition to achieve but can be done with some careful planning. The biggest mistake I see is people shooting for free. That one I’m going to tackle in another post. Today I’m going to talk about the different mindset that is required when working for a client.
When your an amateur photographer and your shooting whatever gets in front of your camera it really is a lot of fun. The key is just that you have to find interesting subjects and bring them into Lightroom, hit the auto button and presto, work of Art. Not that easy but it’s not much harder than that with today’s camera and software.
When a client comes into the picture it takes a different mindset. It’s no longer about pleasing yourself. The image now has to tell a story. A portrait has to bring out the subjects personality. Product photography has to tell a specific story. Documentary work has to tell a story from a particular point of view. When I work with photographers wanting to break into a field this is the hardest part for most. The business side is what I have always said is the most important part. But you can just grunt through that part and as long as you respect the importance of it, it is a beast that can be handled.
But if you don’t have something to say and have the skills to say it your business is doomed to fail. Not knowing how to say something with a camera is like being a writer who strings sentences together with no plot. Making pretty pictures is not enough. Anyone can take pretty pictures nowadays. You must now the history of what your shooting. What are the iconic images of the past. What styles are popular today. What is the clients history with the subject. You don’t want to repeat what has been recently done for them. Why are they looking for imagery. How does your style fit into the project.
If you want to do this kind of work give yourself a self assigned project. Say your a environmental portrait photographer. Write out a proposal for a photography shoot. Do a budget, find a model, find a location. Do you need props or extra lights or a makeup stylist. And don’t just snap a photo. Image why you have been hired for the job. Is she an up and coming musician? That would set you on a path. Is the image for a magazine article ( your not going to get the cover for awhile) or is for a press release. Now think about the image that the client might want to project. Also keep in mind what the subject might want the image to say.
There is no American Idol that will discover photographers. You have to do the work. You have to know why your doing the work that your doing and why you are doing it the way that you are doing it. Anyone can whip out a credit card and take good photos. Create Art. This time. Every time.