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Thread: Making it on your own?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Sion's Avatar
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    Default Making it on your own?

    Let's us look at another scenario here on the various paths to earning a living from photography.

    Say someone sufficiciently motivated, mature and have some savings to buy a set of studio lightings etc. and have amassed enough gears in his amateur years and sufficient knowledge of photography and Photoshop. Basically he is a self-taught photographer.

    Could he start it all up on his own by finding a room somewhere as his studio and make it without going through spending several years as a photographer assistant in a studio as mentioned in a few threads here?

    There may be a few photographers who have done in this way in CS.

  2. #2
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Making it on your own?

    possible.

    but lots of things are not taught thru books, courses. especially studio photography.

    IMO, start work as an assistance for two years, will learn more than self taught for 5 years.

    and also, could he get enough jobs to sustain his business or his studio for the first few years??
    Shoot to Live, Live to Shoot
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Making it on your own?

    Might be possible for a few areas of photography like weddings and events, maybe even portraiture. But much less possible for fields like advertising photography.

    The best equipment and software knowledge cannot replace exposure and experience. So assisting will always put you in a better stead no matter what type of photography you wish to pursue.

    Yet, there are also people who have been assistants for years but never progressed to becoming a photographer, whether by choice or not. So a lot also depends on the individual.

    Personally I would always advise to start by assisting first if you're serious about photography. At the same time, also work on your own portfolio. You learn faster that way and get paid at the same time, what could be better?

  4. #4

    Default Re: Making it on your own?

    Assist first, see and learn how the shifus works, and from there after maybe 2 or 3 years, starts to build contacts, renting a space with low rental, be it out of town, and work slowly there.

    I advise assist afew different shifus, then u will learn more technics.

    Personally, self taugh abit tough.
    Eat breath LIVERPOOL!!!

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    Default Re: Making it on your own?

    I started from scratch, without going the way of PA'ing.

    But really, I won't advise going that path, it isn't meant for anyone/everyone.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Making it on your own?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sion View Post
    Let's us look at another scenario here on the various paths to earning a living from photography.

    Say someone sufficiciently motivated, mature and have some savings to buy a set of studio lightings etc. and have amassed enough gears in his amateur years and sufficient knowledge of photography and Photoshop. Basically he is a self-taught photographer.

    Could he start it all up on his own by finding a room somewhere as his studio and make it without going through spending several years as a photographer assistant in a studio as mentioned in a few threads here?

    There may be a few photographers who have done in this way in CS.
    The problem is very few is that talented and have the balls to open up a studio without any or little experience in Singapore. You may have the funds but sustaining is another story all together. No one is stopping for anyone to open a studio but think of the consequences which may lead to salary of your assistant, rental, electricity and so on. With at least a handful of clients that you have, opening up a studio is more feasible as they are part of your main income to sustain your monthly rentals and so on.

    Photography business is not about being talented in photography. It's all about how you run a business. You can be the most talented photographer but without proper marketing, your work is no different from the rest. That is why marketing yourself, your product, your studio and whatever you can market is more important. Portfolio is part of it only.

    Yes very few who has the funds to buy 50,000-60,000 worth of equipment and start off a business. When I start off, I only had 3 x 500W Elinchrom, 3 light stands, 1 transparent white umbrella, 1 reflected black umbrella, 1 X 45 degree reflector, 1 x 60 degree reflector, 1 set of Autopole 2, back drop bracket, 3 coloured backdrops and some other minor stuffs which cost me SGD$5,000.

    That was bought with my own hard earn money when I was in Australia working as a freelance photographer. My parents wanted to help but I told them I am still ok.

    But most important is not to give FREE SHOOTS......
    Last edited by Godzilla Invades; 9th August 2007 at 10:45 PM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Cheesecake's Avatar
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    Default Re: Making it on your own?

    Quote Originally Posted by Godzilla Invades View Post
    The problem is very few is that talented and have the balls to open up a studio without any or little experience in Singapore. You may have the funds but sustaining is another story all together. No one is stopping for anyone to open a studio but think of the consequences which may lead to salary of your assistant, rental, electricity and so on. With at least a handful of clients that you have, opening up a studio is more feasible as they are part of your main income to sustain your monthly rentals and so on.

    Photography business is not about being talented in photography. It's all about how you run a business. You can be the most talented photographer but without proper marketing, your work is no different from the rest. That is why marketing yourself, your product, your studio and whatever you can market is more important. Portfolio is part of it only.

    Yes very few who has the funds to buy 50,000-60,000 worth of equipment and start off a business. When I start off, I only had 3 x 500W Elinchrom, 3 light stands, 1 transparent white umbrella, 1 reflected black umbrella, 1 X 45 degree reflector, 1 x 60 degree reflector, 1 set of Autopole 2, back drop bracket, 3 coloured backdrops and some other minor stuffs which cost me SGD$5,000.

    That was bought with my own hard earn money when I was in Australia working as a freelance photographer. My parents wanted to help but I told them I am still ok.

    But most important is not to give FREE SHOOTS......
    wa, u haf so many nice stuff to start off with! haha


    anyway, to really survive, u need the right contacts and plenty of it.



    ur skills or the lack of, is not that important.

    trust me. i've seen alot of crap works but they got the job instead of me becos they are beta at P.R and knows the right ppl in the company.


    it sucks but hey, that's the way things are!!
    You'll Never Walk Alone! - i have the best job in the world!

  8. #8
    Senior Member glennyong's Avatar
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    Default Re: Making it on your own?

    i have to agree with cheese...

    PR and marketting skills are important, it not critical.

    but experience in photography do play a role in "enmassing" knowledge.

    i wouldnt mind working as a apprentice to learn also too ya know...

    come to think of it. 2 years isnt a very long time... but what we all need is contacts and more contacts...

    you know people is useless. the question is.. does the people you know, knoes u...

    my 2cnts...

  9. #9

    Default Re: Making it on your own?

    Do that somebody get enough jobs to support his monthly expenses, rental, etc? If jobs are sufficient to pay the studio's bills and himself. Why not?

  10. #10
    Senior Member Sion's Avatar
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    Default Re: Making it on your own?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cheesecake View Post
    trust me. i've seen alot of crap works but they got the job instead of me becos they are beta at P.R and knows the right ppl in the company.


    it sucks but hey, that's the way things are!!
    Then you should spend more energy, time and money on networking and entertaining.

    Many photographers would hate the marketing side of it. But it's part of the business.

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    Default Re: Making it on your own?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sion View Post
    Many photographers would hate the marketing side of it. But it's part of the business.
    Yup.

    It can be nice most of the time.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Cheesecake's Avatar
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    Default Re: Making it on your own?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sion View Post
    Then you should spend more energy, time and money on networking and entertaining.

    Many photographers would hate the marketing side of it. But it's part of the business.
    i need to buck up on my 'blow-cow' skills and 'slap-horse-fart' skills.


    severely lacking in both!
    You'll Never Walk Alone! - i have the best job in the world!

  13. #13

    Default Re: Making it on your own?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cheesecake View Post
    wa, u haf so many nice stuff to start off with! haha


    anyway, to really survive, u need the right contacts and plenty of it.



    ur skills or the lack of, is not that important.

    trust me. i've seen alot of crap works but they got the job instead of me becos they are beta at P.R and knows the right ppl in the company.


    it sucks but hey, that's the way things are!!
    Wei.....don't say like that lar......all the hard earn money when I was in Australia working my heart out. This investment was the best as it really ingnited my career into photography.

    Just imagine 10 years ago, SGD$5,000 was a big amount.......

    PR is more important than skills (not saying skills and talent are not important) but if one has a good communication skills that matches well with your talent. You will go a long way.

    Again, I always stress that don't start off on the wrong foot by giving free services. You will eventually close down your studio. Sure you need a portfolio to show to your clients but that's when your power of negotiation comes in. If you can't convince your client to let your photograph their product and so on, then you better jolly well hire someone who can market your talent. This is initial investment (on hiring someone to do what you have lack in experience in) but when you see how a marketeer market your porduct so well, it will somehow boost your confidence to nego with your client better.

    So that is why, never never start off opening a studio without gaining experience from working photographers. I did mentioned in the other thread about working with working photographers. You don't have to work with a top photographer i to gain experience. Work with someone who is willing to share knowledge with you.

    How to look for one who is willing to share that? Well, basically we are all human. Meaning there are some rules which assistants should not do when you are assisting your boss. One of the most comment things that happend in the industry is poaching your boss customer while you are still working for him. If you do want to poach, please do it after you quit your job. So when this happens, I do not think your boss is willing to impart his/her knowledge to you if he finds out. So be responsible for your action. When you work with some, work and learn.

    I have had my fair share of experience with assistants. That is another story all together

    http://forums.clubsnap.org/showthread.php?t=300258

  14. #14
    Moderator ortega's Avatar
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    Default Re: Making it on your own?

    a good technical photographer does not a sucessful business make

    there are lots of good technical photographers out there
    you need to be special and the perspective clients need to know just how special you are.

    if not then you need contacts and lots of ass kissing

  15. #15

    Default Re: Making it on your own?

    I've been in business operating as a solo photographer for a few years now without ever having been apprenticed. I will have to reaffirm that it has been a very hard few years, not just technically, but also in the marketing side and the most boring side of all the business administration.

    The first couple of years were the worst, with what felt like bad business deals and nightmare shoots due to the lack of experience in handling certain client temperament. During that time I spent more time doing test shoots than chasing for businesses whenever a new type of commission came in. That was really learning the very hard way.

    So I started aiming lower and did mostly editorial works instead. Lower income, higher volume, more creative freedom which allowed me to really learn from experiments (by experiments here I mean that editorials do not have as much technical constraints as commercial jobs).

    One day my single Profoto monolight became two, and later on accompanied by powerpacks, and even more light modifiers.

    Then another day my business turned into a proper private limited- but I only discovered that, despite having more credibility, it only meant more paperwork and taxes, and does not gurantee that clients, especially the commercial ones, will be retained. A change of committee in the client's side and chances are the account is lost.

    Even till today, the most common activity of mine seems to be chasing after cheques and sitting through job pitches. Or sit in front of the computer and do nothing. Or sleep. One week could be packed full of shoots, then for the next 2 weeks, nothing, not even meetings.
    As you can probably guess, aye, I am still doing all these tasks mostly alone (when I am really busy my old man helps with the deliveries and paperwork).

    The only advantage that I've probably gotten from learning the trade almost blindly, if only I know how to market it, is that I've managed to produce a set of aesthetics that are different from my peers who have gone through the big studios system (I am from KL and most commercial and fashion photographers seem to have graduated from the same 3 or 4 big studios).

    Last year, my works suddenly started winning awards in both editorial and commercial sectors- but they seem to mean nothing at all for the business!

    I've mostly been a location photographer, and if the job ever needs to be done indoors I'll do it in my home studio or rent a space- but finally, after the last few years, I'll be rewarding myself with even more headache in the next few years with a business expansion. I'll finally be moving into a properly designed studio space, with a whole new set of equipments too, all to be paid for.

    (and yes, not only does skill makes a difference- equipment makes more- lots of high end clients in KL are gear snobs!)

  16. #16

    Default Re: Making it on your own?

    Quote Originally Posted by choen View Post
    I've been in business operating as a solo photographer for a few years now without ever having been apprenticed. I will have to reaffirm that it has been a very hard few years, not just technically, but also in the marketing side and the most boring side of all the business administration.

    The first couple of years were the worst, with what felt like bad business deals and nightmare shoots due to the lack of experience in handling certain client temperament. During that time I spent more time doing test shoots than chasing for businesses whenever a new type of commission came in. That was really learning the very hard way.

    So I started aiming lower and did mostly editorial works instead. Lower income, higher volume, more creative freedom which allowed me to really learn from experiments (by experiments here I mean that editorials do not have as much technical constraints as commercial jobs).

    One day my single Profoto monolight became two, and later on accompanied by powerpacks, and even more light modifiers.

    Then another day my business turned into a proper private limited- but I only discovered that, despite having more credibility, it only meant more paperwork and taxes, and does not gurantee that clients, especially the commercial ones, will be retained. A change of committee in the client's side and chances are the account is lost.

    Even till today, the most common activity of mine seems to be chasing after cheques and sitting through job pitches. Or sit in front of the computer and do nothing. Or sleep. One week could be packed full of shoots, then for the next 2 weeks, nothing, not even meetings.
    As you can probably guess, aye, I am still doing all these tasks mostly alone (when I am really busy my old man helps with the deliveries and paperwork).

    The only advantage that I've probably gotten from learning the trade almost blindly, if only I know how to market it, is that I've managed to produce a set of aesthetics that are different from my peers who have gone through the big studios system (I am from KL and most commercial and fashion photographers seem to have graduated from the same 3 or 4 big studios).

    Last year, my works suddenly started winning awards in both editorial and commercial sectors- but they seem to mean nothing at all for the business!

    I've mostly been a location photographer, and if the job ever needs to be done indoors I'll do it in my home studio or rent a space- but finally, after the last few years, I'll be rewarding myself with even more headache in the next few years with a business expansion. I'll finally be moving into a properly designed studio space, with a whole new set of equipments too, all to be paid for.

    (and yes, not only does skill makes a difference- equipment makes more- lots of high end clients in KL are gear snobs!)
    Thanks for sharing. Wishing you the best!

  17. #17

    Default Re: Making it on your own?

    Quote Originally Posted by choen View Post
    I've been in business operating as a solo photographer for a few years now without ever having been apprenticed. I will have to reaffirm that it has been a very hard few years, not just technically, but also in the marketing side and the most boring side of all the business administration.

    The first couple of years were the worst, with what felt like bad business deals and nightmare shoots due to the lack of experience in handling certain client temperament. During that time I spent more time doing test shoots than chasing for businesses whenever a new type of commission came in. That was really learning the very hard way.

    So I started aiming lower and did mostly editorial works instead. Lower income, higher volume, more creative freedom which allowed me to really learn from experiments (by experiments here I mean that editorials do not have as much technical constraints as commercial jobs).

    One day my single Profoto monolight became two, and later on accompanied by powerpacks, and even more light modifiers.

    Then another day my business turned into a proper private limited- but I only discovered that, despite having more credibility, it only meant more paperwork and taxes, and does not gurantee that clients, especially the commercial ones, will be retained. A change of committee in the client's side and chances are the account is lost.

    Even till today, the most common activity of mine seems to be chasing after cheques and sitting through job pitches. Or sit in front of the computer and do nothing. Or sleep. One week could be packed full of shoots, then for the next 2 weeks, nothing, not even meetings.
    As you can probably guess, aye, I am still doing all these tasks mostly alone (when I am really busy my old man helps with the deliveries and paperwork).

    The only advantage that I've probably gotten from learning the trade almost blindly, if only I know how to market it, is that I've managed to produce a set of aesthetics that are different from my peers who have gone through the big studios system (I am from KL and most commercial and fashion photographers seem to have graduated from the same 3 or 4 big studios).

    Last year, my works suddenly started winning awards in both editorial and commercial sectors- but they seem to mean nothing at all for the business!

    I've mostly been a location photographer, and if the job ever needs to be done indoors I'll do it in my home studio or rent a space- but finally, after the last few years, I'll be rewarding myself with even more headache in the next few years with a business expansion. I'll finally be moving into a properly designed studio space, with a whole new set of equipments too, all to be paid for.

    (and yes, not only does skill makes a difference- equipment makes more- lots of high end clients in KL are gear snobs!)
    I know how it feels. I use to work for a studio in KL too and it's more difficult to get clients. persuading them is like swallowing rat poison.

    I wish you the best of luck. Please PM me your address or your mobile. I am from KL too. Maybe can meet up for coffee!

  18. #18

    Default Re: Making it on your own?

    Hi invading giant lizard,

    will do. Currently busy getting new studio fully functioning (on the leisure side).

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