This guest post was written by Laura Charon. Laura is an avid photographer who has been taking pictures for years--first with an old brownie camera and more recently with a Canon Digital Rebel XTi. You can read more of Laura's posts at Beyond Megapixels. Contact me if you are interested in guest writing for Photodoto. -John
Congratulations! You're ready to take the next step with your digital photography, and start earning some money with it! There are two avenues you can pursue -- you can sell the photographs that you take, or you can provide your photography skills as a service to other people. Either way you go, earning money with your photography is challenging and rewarding in this highly competitive field.
In this article we're going to talk about promoting your photography skills.
Create a portfolio -- The first important step in selling your photographs is to establish a portfolio. Create a collection of the work that you are the most proud of, or that is the most applicable to the type of photography you will be performing (portraits, product photography, interiors, etc.). Click here for an an article I have written on how to develop a portfolio.
Establish rates -- Next you need to figure out how much you're going to charge people. This can be tricky -- charge too little and your work is undervalued; charge too much and you'll be passed over for a photographer who is less expensive. Conduct some research into what kind of rates the industry currently supports. Review the rates of your local competition or photographers in your type of genre, and weigh their rates against how much you need to make per hour, per project, per photo, etc.
Get business cards -- When people see you with a camera, they tend to be interested in your work. Most of my "advertisement' has come from people who have attended the events and venues that I am photographing. They ask me who I am and what I do, and I am able to produce a business card that has all of my contact information and website URL. Word of mouth is a powerful tool in the photography industry, so make sure you're prepared at a moment's notice to get your name out there!
Volunteer your services for free -- Experience and practice and vital to garnering customers for your photography business. You don't want to go in cold to your first "gig', so gather some experience by volunteering for some photography projects for free. This will allow you to gain the experience you need, bulk up your portfolio, and establish potential future paying customers. Ask friends and family members to pose for portraits. Attend events and venues similar to those whose business you'd like to receive. Offer free examples of your work on CD's or in print to showcase your talents.
Buy some basic gear -- In order to be sure that you'll be ready for whatever requirements come your way during your photo shoots, be sure that you have some basic gear to get you by. A good prime lens, a fast telephoto lens, a quality wide angle lens, and a quality macro lens are a good starting collection. Also consider a softbox for portable lighting, neutral colored drapes or drop-cloths for backgrounds, a tripod, a remote shutter release, and a remote off-camera flash.
Get the word out -- The final concern is how to get the word out about your photographs. You can't sell anything if people don't know about your work, right? Consider printing and framing some of your photos -- put them in your own home for your friends and family to see, or give them as gifts to friends and family members, so that they will be seen by their own visitors. Approach local establishments (businesses, restaurants, libraries, etc.), and ask them if they will allow you to hang your work on their walls. Often, if it's of no cost to them, a business owner will be happy to showcase quality work and decorate their store or office. Be sure you leave some method of contact – a business card tucked inside the frame, for instance – and make it clear that the photos on the walls are for sale, and that there's plenty more where they came from!
Photo credits (all): Snerkology Media, http://snerkologymedia.com/
About the author: Laura Charon. Website: http://beyondmegapixels.com/