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Freelance Photography Tips from the Experts

We’ve all become a world obsessed with imagery, and this couldn’t be more obvious than the simple fact that the photo heavy social network Instagram currently has 300 million monthly active users.

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Photo by Alexander Filonchik

We all see ourselves as amateur photographers, but some of us want our love for a good picture to become far more than a pipe dream.

If you’ve recently taken the leap to go solo with your photography career you’ve probably been doing as much research as possible to prepare yourself for going it alone. From completing your course to letting the tax man know, there’s a number of rigorous processes that you go through to finally become your own boss. But turning your dream into a reality takes a lot more than filling out a few forms and buying all the gadgets.

Whilst you may have an eye for the right picture and an abundance of talent, being prepared the competitive industry where you may often have to think on your toes is not something that you can buy.

The photography industry has room for everyone with its various niches and genres, ensuring that whether your talents are with creative or technical, there is a place for you somewhere.

Not all photographers started out the same way either, turning a hobby into a craft is no easy step, so we’ve taken some tips for the experts who have shared some great advice which they wish they’d been told when they were fresh into the industry.

Technical

Whether you’re self-taught or beginning your career after studying, technical tips are like gold dust as the art of a great photograph continues to be challenged. You should always be open to experimenting with new styles and taking advice from your peers.

Matthew Horwood comments that,

One of the best tips I ever had was from a Magnum photographer David Hurn who I was sent to photograph while I was working at the Western Mail newspaper in Cardiff. He told me to pay more attention to the background of a picture rather than the foreground. Probably after he spotted a plant pot coming out of his head in the picture I took of him, but it’s a bit of advice that has stuck with me ever since!.

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Photo by matthew-horwood

If you’re not lucky enough to get the chance to shadow an already established photographer, the internet is now a vast resource that can enable you to become unique in the industry. Ross Powell suggests that

It’s really important to draw inspiration from people who are already more established than yourself- the only way you can become successful in an already popular industry, is to have your own take on things. Finding your style and your preferences can only be done by going out with your camera and learning how to use your equipment and work in different environments.

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Photo by ross-andrew

Although technical ability is a must, take time to know your style and the images that you’re able to achieve. There’s no point selling something you can’t do as unfortunately your clients will soon realise and find someone else.

With so many elements now attributed to photography including the stylistic ways we can now edit and filter photos, there’s a whole host of ways that you can ensure your images stand out amongst the rest.

Business

Many photographers are creative first and business second. Managing the two is a juggling act when you’re a freelance photographer, and one that needs to be balanced if you’re to make a serious income.

Kristine Petersone from Laine Apine Photography wishes that someone would have told her that it wasn’t all about the fun shoots.

I wish someone had told me before I became a full time freelance photographer that actual on location and studio photo shooting is only roughly about 25% of what I will be doing. There are books to do (accounting), clients to chase up, emails to write, rewrite and then rewrite again.

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Photo by kristine-petersone

As Kristine clearly explains, the business aspect of being your own boss is a much heavier task than the photography itself. And it’s not just the day to day running and finance that you have to keep on top of. Marketing your services and putting together packages that will entice clients to choose you, is also a wheel in the cog.

Richard LeCount from USB4Photographers has noticed a huge shift in the need from more gifted and branded packages especially for wedding albums.

The traditional wedding album is now almost void. Not only are they expensive to add the numerous photos that the couple may request, but they aren’t as shareable for our more digital age. The number of images you can get on a USB stick out does the old fashioned paper albums, and these can be stylised with the photographers branding, and sent on to friends and family so they can have their own copies.

If you’re strong point isn’t business it’s sometimes advisable to get a business expert to go through all of the grey areas that you’re just not sure of. Getting help isn’t failing, and the more you get the better off you will be. Even the business jargon and all the paperwork can be overwhelming if you simply relish in the creativity. Manage your work load and the business requirements together and you’ll have a profitable business that you can enjoy.

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Don’t forget to start showcasing your work across social media and take part in the industry conversations that will help you become a better photographer.

There’s a whole world out there just waiting to be photographed, so don’t rush the process to get where you want to be. Enjoy the journey that photography can take you on, and embrace your peers and their guidance, as you never know when you might need their help.

From dealing with difficult clients to learning some of the more skilled editing styles, it all takes time and practice. If you’re able to shadow a photographer for the day then take up the opportunity and go along with an open mind.

David Walker

David Walker is a keen amateur photographer who currently works in marketing. A hobby that began with a Polaroid gift on his 10th birthday, he know takes every opportunity he can to capture life’s sweetest moments. http://www.usb4photographers.com/
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