Q + A For Photographers {Teresa’s PhotoWorks | Billings, MO Photographer}

Helllllo from my new blog. Isn’t it pretty? (I might be biased, but I love it!) So… I decided to put together a blog post especially for other photographers. I get several emails from photogs each week and it gets REALLY hard to answer them all individually. Because of that, this post was born.


Q: What advice would you give to beginner photographers just breaking into this crazy business? (I am going to break this down into several answers. The good and the bad. Here it is)

A: First and foremost: Learn your craft! To be in any business, you have to know what you are doing. A person cannot fly a plane without learning to become a pilot first. For a photographer, you need to know your camera. If you can NOT shoot in Manual Mode, you need to take a step back and learn. You need to understand ISO, shutter speed, f-stops/ aperture, white balance etc. and how they affect each other. There are many books, online resources and workshops out there that can help you with this.

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. You might know how to use your camera, but if you can’t figure out how to catch a child to take their picture, it might be a moot point. In any type of photography, you need to learn what works for you and your subjects. You need to play with the good, the bad and the ugly. Then you’ll know. If I do this __, it works. If I do this __, it doesn’t. No one can teach you that. You just need to get out there and play!

Become a legal business. If you are charging money and not paying taxes to the government, you are working illegally. If you were to get caught, there is a $10,000 fine. You read that right, $10k!!!! A Facebook page doesn’t make you a legal. A tax ID number does. In Missouri, you can follow this link to more info on getting your tax ID number: http://www.dor.mo.gov/faq/business/register.php Also, you will need to choose your entity (sole proprietor, LLC, corporation). More info here: http://elgincpa.com/choosing-your-entity%E2%80%94sole-proprietorship-vs-llc-vs-s-corp/

Get Insured! You need insurance. Picture this: You are on location for a session. Little Sally falls down and breaks her arm while at the shoot. Who’s liable? It doesn’t matter because you’re going to end up being sued. Get insurance. It’s imperative. Don’t take chances, get insurance.

Find your style. Who are you? How would someone describe you? Your business style should be an extension of yourself. Sit and think about that for a minute. Get on pinterest and see what appeals to you. Does your business style reflect that? If not, you might want to make some changes. If you want to make a go of this, you need to be true to yourself. Figure out who you are, figure out who you are as a business and go with it. For example: I follow many photogs and they are all different from each other. One photographer uses minimal props, has a neutral color palette for her branding and photos and is just overall, a minimalist. I would imagine her house having tan or cream walls, with maybe some understated warm toned decor. Her business style reflects her own personal tastes. Are you introverted or extroverted? Do you like props or no? What color palette appeals to you? Neutrals, pastels, primary? These decisions are what will set you apart for the rest. You want to be different, everyone does. And that’s ok. Because if you find yourself, you will find your style for your business. Like the quote: “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”

Safely First. No matter what you’re photographing, please take care with them. Especially babies and children. They need spotters. You do not want anyone getting hurt under your watch. I post several images on newborns in buckets, on props etc. They are always spotted with someone on one or both sides. Safely first. Every.Single.Time. Some images are even a composite of two or more images. When you do a composite, the parent’s hands can be in the images and you can photoshop them out. I cannot preach this enough. Keep everyone safe!

Price accordingly. Pricing is always the hardest thing to do. But please, do you research. Learn your costs- what is your time worth?? Clients won’t take you seriously if you are working for pennies. And do you want to work for pennies? Ummmm NO! You are a person, you have a family, you work your butt off, price yourself accordingly so you don’t have to work 3 jobs to pay rent. Don’t undercut your competitors. Raise your standards and charge what your worth. **I think it goes without saying, but as you do your research and decide on your pricing…. do not copy someone else’s. It’s not only illegal (copyright) but also disrespectful.**


Q: Where do you get your props?

A: Anywhere. But especially locally. I like to support my community so I shop at yard sales, flea markets and sometimes places like Marshalls or Target.


Q: What program do you use to edit images?

A: I use Lightroom and Photoshop. There is definitely a learning curve if you weren’t taught these in school. I am self taught but I definitely recommend taking a class or workshop if you are new to them. They are daunting when you know nothing about them.


Q: What equipment do you use?

A: I shoot with a Nikon D700 and grip (I’d like to make a shout out to us Nikon users! We are the minority) and a 50mm prime lens.


Q: What camera bag do you use?

A: There are MANY pretty ones out there. But I love my Kelly Moore Bag. It’s not only super cute, but it holds a lot too!


I hope this post has been helpful to you in your quest in photography. This industry is ever changing (I learned on film just 10 years ago!) and in order to be successful, you have to evolve with the trends. If you want to make it bad enough you can. Work hard, be true to yourself and enjoy life.

♥  Teresa

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