My first piece of advice to new photographers is to create a habit and love of learning. This will not only help you gain momentum in your business but will sustain you in the long run.
How well you can use your gear and run your business is far more valuable that the gear that you own.
Did you get that?!
I hope you just let out sigh of relief.
Fancy gear can do nothing for you if you don’t really know how to use it. It can’t help keep your business alive if you are floundering because you have no idea how to run it.
My advice is to invest in your mind first and your gear second.
Here are 5 ways you can be learning:
1. Free Education
Yes. There is SO much free education out there in the form of blog posts, Facebook lives, Instagram captions, and podcast episodes. There is so much of it that it is seriously overwhelming! My advice is to choose a handful of business and photographic educators to follow and ignore the rest.
Here are my handful of educators:
Here are other educators that have great stuff but I don’t follow as closely:
2. Go read some books!
Reading is the easiest way to gain some amazing in depth knowledge without the giant price of a class or course.
Here are some of the best books I’ve read lately:
Here are books that are on my list:
3. Interning, Assisting, and Second Shooting
The more experience you have shooting and watching other photographers do what they do best, the better you will become. This experience is PRICELESS. Learning from more mature photographers can give you a leg up and prevent you from making simple mistakes.
Here is how to go about contact another photographer:
Step 1: Choose a handful of professionals that you admire as people and as photographers. Do some research to see if they have internships or assistants, what their qualifications for second shooters are, and what that program is like. You want to find someone who doesn’t just want free work and will invest in you as well.
Step 2: Now that you’ve found your photographers, follow and engage with them on social media and read their blog posts. Do this for 2-3 weeks before reaching out to them. This will put you on their radar and give you insight knowlege into what matters to them.
Step 3: Email them about the opportunity you are interested in and be genuine. Express what you admire about their work and what benefit you have to offer.
Professional photographers are insanely busy. If they don’t have time to get coffee with their spouse or play with their children they definitely don’t have time to get coffee with you so that you can “pick their brain”. This might sound harsh but it is the truth.
Some photographers who are also educators offer mentorships as a service. However this might be out of your budget when you are just starting out.
What do you do if you want to be mentored but the photographer you admire doesn’t have an internship program, or you can’t afford to pay for their mentorship??
Offer to assist or even third shoot for free (Or find some creative way to offer value to them). You can learn so much just from just being around them and asking questions on the drive to and from shoots!
The last thing I will say about this is that you will probably get a lot of no’s and even just no responses. Don’t be discouraged by this! Keep asking and pursuing.
Here are some other articles I’ve read recently that I think would be really helpful when looking for a mentor:
This is the final and most expensive way to learn. However, any time I have invested in a course it has been SO worth it! There is just so much to learn and online courses offer the opportunity to get the inside scoop and be able to do it at your own pace.
Here are some courses I have taken that were super helpful:
Here some courses I would love to take in the future:
And there are many many more…. haha (I LOVE learning!)
Implement what you learn and take time to work ON your business not just in your business.
Do you see that difference?
You can read all the books and take all the courses but if you never apply any of it you won’t go anywhere.
It is SO important to cultivate this heart for learning and attitude of humility because you will never fully “arrive”. No matter how long you are a photographer, you can always be better and serve your clients better.
I hope this information is helpful for you and gets you on the right track to start making momentum in the right direction!