Results 1 to 12 of 12

Thread: How Do You All Start Out?

  1. #1

    Default How Do You All Start Out?

    Hello,

    I am actually pretty new to photography and learning as I go.

    I am just thinking of learning how to shoot in events and studios. However, given that I only have basic knowledge, I am not thinking of charging anything, or to charge just a nominal fee. I have seen many talk about the degradation of photographers due to the low charges, and I would not wish to do that.

    I am basically thinking of trying out as a 2nd photographer, or just somebody at the sidelines helping to take photos and learning in the meantime. Perhaps, I could pick up some things from the main photographer/s and improve myself in the meantime. Learning and improving will be more crucial, while charges can be nominal or none.

    Is there anyway I can go about doing this right? The last thing I would want to do is to spoil a person's memory or to spoil the market.

    Thank you in advance for the inputs.
    Last edited by aloysiusang; 9th December 2011 at 03:25 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: How Do You All Start Out?

    I started out as a junior photographer in a commercial studio. No formal education in photography, unlike these days you got schools teaching and 'cert-ing' photography nowadays, even preparing students for interns to help them start off. Photography always had been easy for me, I could understand concepts and how light works, easily, simply by watching I could do it myself through trial and error. Plus a lot of money and time poured in as investment, was already technically strong before I started working.

    My boss and mentor then, paid me a normal pay for a junior photog, which is not high. He sent me on assignments. And he charged the client several times more for a job than he paid me for a month. He was not sneaky about it and made me invoice the client, do client management, sourcing and sales too. So it was easy to see how to make a business viable, afford a studio, staffing, feed the family and have enough for retirement. Importantly, it provides mental and emotional nourishment - knowing that your talent is worth a lot of money makes you a happy and confident man. Very soon I left and freelanced.

    Problem with many newbie freelancers are that they cannot see all this. Most these photogrs either have no brains, no backbone, or no balls. To put bluntly and I know its provoking, its meant to be.

    No brains meaning they don't earn enough to make it a worthy career, most of the time not even a worthy part time job. Part time waiter or security guard or relief taxi drivers might earn more than those kind of photographers. Obviously either they donno how to count and do the math, or they are just plain stupid. We see many D3 owners with array of expensive lens, but the prices they charge will take them many many years even to pay for those equipment. By the time, equipment already depreciated and suffered wear and tear and outdatedness.

    No backbone meaning they don't respect themselves, and don't respect photography itself. If they see photography as a cheap thing, photography will not reward them, its just karma. There are two ways to get a job, do it cheaper, or do it better. Photography calls out to many, but selects only a few. If there is ever a photography deity, the deity will not select those who desecrate his temple.

    Take a look at some of the threads in Services Wanted section of this forum. There are people asking photographers to shoot for free, yet there are hobbyists begging to do it saying "I can do this or that, for free, I hope you will give me a chance" People are asking for free, and these photographers still hope they will be given a chance to do it for free. This is an insult to photography, and to themselves.

    And of these people asking for free, some even wants to vet portfolio and choose photogs. For those who responded but not selected, it means that even if they do for free, people still don't even want. They are cheaper than free. Like dirt. This is what I mean by no backbone. Shame on these wannabes. Please, be a soldier, can die for honor, but cannot be humiliated. Simply by putting a decent price, retains your pride and honor. There are always clients who will pay you fairly for your services.

    No balls meaning don't dare to charge decently, don't dare to take risk, don't dare to take responsibility. Everything don't dare. Hope to be spoonfed, hope to hide behind chief photographer forever. There is a recent thread on backup plan for photographers, nobody replied to that thread so far. The fear of 'what if I fail' what 'backup plan I have'? etc. If these are genuine concern based on age and family dependents, then maybe photography career is not for these people. At the minimum, have the balls to charge accordingly for your services and talent. Fear keeps you away from greatness. In business, you take risk. If you cannot take risk, find a normal job.

    BTW I had never referred any gigs to these type of people. If I got a lead or job I cannot do, guess what? I referred it to my strongest and most direct competitor. Yes my competitor. Because I never want my client to suffer lousy photographers, and my very competitors will protect the industry by charging as much as I do and producing as good work and experience for the client as I will do. If they can do it better and at higher price, I am also happy for them, because they are going to raise the bar and prices for the market and everyone progress together.

    The silly kind of photographers, first thing on their mind is how they can undercut a competitor till price go rock bottom and all die together. They can afford to die because they don't love themselves and they don't love photography. They just love their cameras. Not photography.

    You can charge another photographer low or even help another photogr for free and learn along the way, its ok, as long as the photographer leading you is charging the client high. It builds your confidence and self worth while you learn. But if you start by charging your client low prices, you probably will be stuck there. Re-read the thread about Raising Prices on this forum, you can find some insights there.

    Also join Hart's classes and workshops, if you had not done so.

    Quote Originally Posted by aloysiusang View Post
    Hello,

    I am actually pretty new to photography and learning as I go.

    I am just thinking of learning how to shoot in events and studios. However, given that I only have basic knowledge, I am not thinking of charging anything, or to charge just a nominal fee. I have seen many talk about the degradation of photographers due to the low charges, and I would not wish to do that.

    I am basically thinking of trying out as a 2nd photographer, or just somebody at the sidelines helping to take photos and learning in the meantime. Perhaps, I could pick up some things from the main photographer/s and improve myself in the meantime. Learning and improving will be more crucial, while charges can be nominal or none.

    Is there anyway I can go about doing this right? The last thing I would want to do is to spoil a person's memory or to spoil the market.

    Thank you in advance for the inputs.
    Last edited by JasonB; 9th December 2011 at 05:34 AM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: How Do You All Start Out?

    Here is my 2cents.

    JasonB has put things in a simple and clear perspective and I know people my get offended by it, but hopefully those who is wise enough can learn from his post. It is easier to sugar coat things but the hard truth though hurt, means more for those who learn from it.

    If you still not confidence with your technique and skill in producing what you have in mind to the final image, then it is not time to even consider doing photography as a business.

    A vision or style is something that you need to build up while shoot as a personal project. These projects will help you in the long run as it sharpen your inner voice.

    Having a voice doesn't mean that you need to shoot same type of images to get enough portfolio... It is about creating a voice that so consistent that you can call it your own.

    A good photographer can use a totally unrelated images to get the job that they hope to get. This is hope I got my gigs when I first started.

    Let's put it this way, when you have a basic technical skill such as getting the exposure and composition right, you are on your right path to better yourself by doing personal project to increase your level of competency. You just need to increase this high enough to know for sure that you can get whatever images that you see in your mind's eye with the gear in your hand.

    If you want a job from a photographer, you will need to show him something that he/she might see the value to even read your email as most chance then not, the establish photographer are extremely busy with their work, even if they are not, they would prefer sitting around enjoying themselves or learning or relearning things that we can't do during busy time of the year.

    During these 4 years in Singapore, I see a lot of behavior of photographer who really do themselves harm or disservice by thinking short term.

    Short term gain generally is money driven and although money is probably the best and measurable return of your work, you can get clouded by it from seeing the bigger picture.

    Always have this in mind if you want to be successful (I am not talking making the most money) is have honesty within yourself in providing your service, always have greater community interest at heart as if the community grow, you grow with them, and opposite is true and stay truth to your principle.

    Success is not measure by money.... But money is a good indicative of the success. Success is a journey and not a destination and it should be a balance between commercial and personal growth.

    I hope the above make sense.

    Regards,

    Hart

  4. #4

    Default Re: How Do You All Start Out?

    Hmmm... How do you start out as a junior photographer in a commercial studio?

    I actually just want to learn and practice shooting in events and all. Perhaps learn with a mentor and slowly be better.

    Relax guys, I am not planning to start freelance alone and charge rock bottom prices to degrade photography and all. I just kind of want to know what are the steps you all took, and how did you all take it, so that I have an idea how I can start off like you guys.

  5. #5

    Default Re: How Do You All Start Out?

    There is no doing it right or wrong as everyone has their own perception of photography. Some do it for the money, some do it for the glamour while others do it to change the world and so on. What i can say is take out a piece of paper and write down milestones for your photography. After that, all you need is a lot of effort and namecards.

    Oh yes, when you reach service provider level...you will definitely need people skills as well as be good in presentations. If you are a student, get involved in any school or youth activity that requires photographers. From there, observe how the old birds work and the images they pick. There is like a "1001" more things but step by step.

    If you are a Canon user, i believe Canon has a Youth Photography Program.

    How i started out? I charged in like an angry rhino.

    and one last thing, just because they charge low doesnt mean their skill are sub par. It can also be that they do not need the money. Might want to think on that.

    Quote Originally Posted by aloysiusang View Post
    Hello,

    I am actually pretty new to photography and learning as I go.

    I am just thinking of learning how to shoot in events and studios. However, given that I only have basic knowledge, I am not thinking of charging anything, or to charge just a nominal fee. I have seen many talk about the degradation of photographers due to the low charges, and I would not wish to do that.

    I am basically thinking of trying out as a 2nd photographer, or just somebody at the sidelines helping to take photos and learning in the meantime. Perhaps, I could pick up some things from the main photographer/s and improve myself in the meantime. Learning and improving will be more crucial, while charges can be nominal or none.

    Is there anyway I can go about doing this right? The last thing I would want to do is to spoil a person's memory or to spoil the market.

    Thank you in advance for the inputs.
    Last edited by Reportage; 11th December 2011 at 09:57 AM.
    You wont see me much less remember me but i am the guy who makes you look good.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Singapore
    Posts
    4,123

    Default Re: How Do You All Start Out?

    I'd never quite trained under anyone and pretty much learnt all I knew when I first started professionally, by practicing day in day out on the streets alone. Shooting anything under the sun and making em look good. I look at images from more advanced photographers and try to imitate and improve on what they had done. It's not easy this way, and it took me a while, but eventually I got there. One fine day, almost 5 years after I bought my first camera, I decided that my Full time job back then ain't cutting it for me both monetarily and in terms of career advancement, thus decided to quit and become a photographer. I was pragmatic, and treated it like a business, instead of a hobby that could earn me money. Setup a blog, and posted my works online (forums etc) and gave out namecards and all sorta marketing that I could think of that was low on cost, as I was pretty poor after shelling out thousands on a proper set of equipments. I was approachable, confident and professional with the way I conducted myself to my clients and before long gained a decent flow of jobs and pretty much never looked back since. There's of course alot more to the story, but the above is a pretty good summary.

  7. #7

    Default Re: How Do You All Start Out?

    Hi TS, the advices from the seniors above are pretty good for your reference.

    In addition, not to discourage you, but you may ask yourself a few questions below and let your inner voice do the talking:

    1) Wedding photography is 20% photography(might be lesser, say 10%) and 80% business. Do you like business? If no, you may not need to see the questions below further. Speaking from my own experience, I also started because of my passion in photography, however, along the way I've realized that photography is only 10-20% and I'm required to be more competent in the business aspects in order to stay in the line. You are needed to spend more time on handling the business parts rather than clicking your DSLR shutter.

    2) Considering that there are already hundreds to thousands of "photographer-wanna-be" in Singapore who are selling their services as "TFCD", "providing affordable photography service", "reasonable rates" and "free service" in Clubsnap, Wedding Forum, etc, how are you going to breakthrough this extreme competition? Talent? Hard-work? or undercutting other photographers by offering lower prices?

    3) You may have a bachelor degree or a diploma and should not be difficult to find a full-time job that pay you steady monthly income in Singapore. Your employer may also pay you yearly bonus(many months for some companies), yearly increment, AWS, CPF, medical benefits, insurance, car allowance, etc. How are you going to decide & plan your rates in wedding photography in order to earn at least as much as your full-time job? You may charge low for the first 1-5 portfolios, but if you continue to do so, will you be able to ensure you can earn as much as your full-time job in near future?

    4) A wedding photographer's life span is short. Every year there will be many young talents emerging in Singapore and Malaysia(yeah, there are many Malaysian photographers cross the border to Singapore for business now). How are you going to learn and upgrade yourself in order to keep up with them, especially when you are in your 30s/40s and have a lot of life commitments, like family, kids, mortgage, debts, etc? How are you going to change your business model to accomodate this?

    5) If you are failed, are you able to get back to the corporate world, especially when you are 30s or 40s? Do you have enough experience/skill to get the corporate job you wish for? Is the salary of that corporate job enough to pay your daily expenses?

    6) If you feel that it's too stressful to become full-time photographer, you may consider doing it part-time. Now the question is, besides working a 5-day full time job, would you still want to sacrifice your precious weekends, which might be better spent with your wife, gf, family, relatives, friends and your other hobbies as well. Besides shooting over the weekends, you also need to spend time doing the editings, blogging, update portfolios on facebook/website, meeting clients, meeting vendors, marketing and attending workshops/self-learning for upgrading in weekdays. Do you have sufficient time to do all these in order to maintain your business while earning enough income and enough time to spend with your love ones and your other hobbies?

    It's no surprise that many people who own a DSLR and a few lenses have intention to earn some money out of their camera gear. I think it's better to get a clear picture of the current market situation, the road map of your photography business and the goals you want to achieve in your life before diving in. Without seeing the clear picture and proper planning, you are just sacrificing your precious time, energy and money(depreciation of your camera gears) while offering cheap service to the people.
    Last edited by kentwong81; 27th December 2011 at 03:56 PM.
    Kent Wong Photography |Leica Q & Leica M-P 240 | 75 & 28mm Summilux

  8. #8
    Senior Member sinned79's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Singapore
    Posts
    10,849

    Default Re: How Do You All Start Out?

    I cannot give you much advise as I haven really start out cos I am still treating this photography as my sideline income (I can't quit my FT job yet as I have bills/loans to repay).

    But I can share my photography journey though. I only picked up my first DSLR (450D) in 2009 and start learning everything myself through trial and error. Initially my main interest is in landscape but then I learnt landscape photographers don't earn as much to survive in Singapore. Hence I move into portraits, did some TFCD model shoots to build up my confidence in shooting people and subsequently did a few free Pre Wedding shoots (no hidding about this free service I did in the past) and got paid jobs as 2nd photographer for wedding shoots. But now knowing my skills and confidence level, I only take up paid jobs. I quote my clients the amount I am comfortable with for the time I put in to do the shoot and if they feel that I charge too high, I just let them walk away to find other photographers. For my own friends wise, I don't expect them to pay me the same rates I charge my clients, hence I leave it to them to give me any angbao amount that they deem fit.

    I do have plans to step in to do FT photography and quit my FT job but that will be at least 4 years from now.
    Last edited by sinned79; 27th December 2011 at 03:42 PM.

  9. #9

    Default Re: How Do You All Start Out?

    I also kept photography as a part time job nia, paying for my cameras so I don't need to tap into my FT pay for cameras.

    I was once nearly a FT wedding photographer, getting 8 weddings a month, on all 8 days of my weekends on top of my FT job. I nearly burned out then.
    After that, I more than doubled my fees so I don't have to work so hard. In other words, I was choosing my clients.

    I started out by backing up the main photographer in my relative's weddings, then I went with the images to bridal studios and asked for some jobs.
    From there I started. It was really low paying but it was good experience. I'm not cutting anyone's gut because the 'market rate' for job gotton from bridal studios are all the same: ridiculously low.

    From there, I realized an event/wedding photographer, is only 50% photos. The other 50% is your attitude at the event. Do you just shoot quietly in 1 corner? or do you interact with people, help with the flow of events, bring up the crowd? Only your client will see your images, but all other guests will see your attitude.

    From there and then, I only accepted jobs through word of mouth, when people knew me and knew what they are going to get when they hire me.

    Oh to seperate yourself from the rest of GWCs, you need to have optional and novel offerings along with photography. That is entirely up to your creativity.

  10. #10

    Default

    I must say that Jason n Hart, no doubt blunt, has probably brought up a few good points. As a business student, it is how you run a business. Undercutting is for things like chicken rice, bubble tea that cannot compete with The famous brands. In recent years, hair dressing. But these business they either do not last long, or they sell by volume. The uncle can sell 3000 packets of chicken rice a day, but how many assignments can you take on a day, taking into account your editing time and costs.

    I am in no position to say what is right because I also just started but I just made some comments as a business student. I did my math and decided on a "promotional rate" for the first few assignments but it will not stagnate. Hopefully people will like what I do. I guess I was lucky that my employers are not stopping me from doing freelance but warned me that there should not be conflict of interest with my job and I should not use office hours to do outside work. In fact, they gave me my first paid job. I was offered to shoot the company's event (not dnd) during office hours and on top of my regular pay, they offered a token sum which may not be a lot to many, but it meant something to me and i was grateful. Not because I was hard-up but because they recognize that I need to use my off-office time and effort for it. from what I understand, companies have been exploiting their staff to be free photographers.

    I won't disclose the amount but it could be more than what we are seeing in the Services Wanted section recently.
    Last edited by Prince Photogenic; 4th January 2012 at 11:24 PM.
    Alpha
    Want to get back to photography

  11. #11

    Default Re: How Do You All Start Out?

    hai, aloysiusang, did you find out ?? may i know how you find out?? i also trying out as a 2nd photographer.

  12. #12

    Default Re: How Do You All Start Out?

    If you say your knowledge is basic, I doubt u shd go into it as a job. Are u confident enough to ask for what u deserve? It takes confidence to justify things and confidence come from either talent or experience, not grasping of basics.

    I believe it's better to brush up your skills. Dep on what genre u want to enter, there are always opportunities to practice. U can try at a friend's wedding, not being the photographer but just bring ur camera and practice covering it. Think about what are the challenges and how to overcome them.

    I think the main take away is that many people think they enjoy photography hence doing it for a living, they will be happy, after all ppl say that a job is enjoyable if u do something u enjoy as a job. But in truth, if u want to go into it, u must not just enjoy photography as a hobby, u need to enjoy it as a job as well.

    As much as I enjoy it, I only cover events for my company out of pure interest (which pleases my boss!). I don't get paid, neither do I intend to earn a living or even moonlight from photography. I want to enjoy photography as it is. If you want to earn money from photography just to cover your gear cost, then I suggest u get a 1100D and kit lens to shoot instead.
    I'm a PCW in newbie section. Hi. Welcome! :)

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •