#1 Never Stop Learning.
Learning new things and acquiring more skills are an essential key to success in this industry. We are seeing an exponential growth in technology, and things are always changing. Knowledge is power. Knowledge is a competitive edge. You can also take the tools you currently own a lot farther when you know how to use them. Sure, you can buy a ton of gear that you may or may not use and dig yourself into debt. Or you can buy gear as you grow and can justify the reason why are you are buying a piece of gear. Just remember this: know your gear. Know it’s strengths and weakness. You can shoot a ring with a kit lens and make other photographers think you used a macro lens when used right. You can shoot an Astin Martin with a $10 Home Depot light and make it look amazing. It's not the gear that makes you a better photographer. It's the knowledge, experience and creativity behind the lens that makes the difference. So don't think for a minute that simply owning a $25,000 pro body camera means your a professional photographer. There are way too many of those people in this industry. Just remember that some of the most iconic images were taken with a camera, a lens, and a light. That’s it.
#2 Clearly Define and Set Your Goals
What are you looking to get out of photography? Are you a hobbyist who simply wants to get better? Are you an aspiring pro choosing to be a contender in this giant boxing ring we call the photography industry? Be prepared to be knocked down a few times. By clearly defining your goals, create a roadmap on how to achieve those goals. Take it one step at a time. Success does not happen over night. Sometimes it takes years. If you’re not by nature, an organized person, I recommend trying Evernote to stay on top of things. The main takeaway is to map out your goals, keep them in front of you, and work on achieving them one at a time.
#3 Self Assignments
Self assignments and experimentation are key for developing you new skills, a unique vision and your own personal style. This is also going to help you land the type of work you would like to do in the future. Not sure what you like to shoot? If you’re a beginner, shoot anything and everything. Find out what it is that you really love to shoot. This may take a year or two of shooting experience to find out, depending on the amount of work you are allowing yourself to do. Once you find out what it is that you love to shoot, shoot that subject over and over and over again. By repeating the process you will eventually become an expert at it. Maybe you want to be a niche photographer. Maybe you love mountain biking. Take the insight that you have about mountain biking and apply it to creating compelling shots that nobody is shooting. Become an expert in shooting mountain bike product photography, or create unique lifestyle shots of mountain bikers in extreme situations. Whatever it is, find a niche and create the best work you can. Your ultimate goal is to create a body of work that is unique and reflective of the type of work that you do in terms of subject matter and style. You can’t be an expert shooter at everything. As the old saying goes “Jack of all trades, master of none.” Personally, I’d rather master something than be a jack of all trades...
#4 Create an Online Portfolio.
Having your own website will look way more professional than having a free Facebook page. This will also give you access to an email address with your domain name. You can also use sources like 500px.com and behance.com and ultimately lead them back to your website. Show only your very best work. I wouldn't recommend putting work in your portfolio that you don't enjoy shooting. For example, if you shoot high school senior portraits, but don't particularly enjoy shooting family portraits, don't put family portraits in your portfolio. Now you might shoot family portraits every now and then, but if you want to market yourself as a senior portrait photographer, show senior portraits, not family portraits. Your portfolio should be a reflection of what you love to shoot and what you’re great at shooting. Part of having a great online portfolio is to be a great editor of your own work. Choose only the very best shots, and don’t oversaturate your website. If you have doubts about an image, don’t show it.
#5 Networking & Resources
Get Social! Use Linkedin,Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus to help create awareness of you and your brand. (Side Note: If you are just starting out, you don’t have a brand. Don’t even worry about your brand. Just focus on the craft of photography. Know your camera. Know your lights. Create a body of work before you worry about a brand.) The key here is to use these social platforms to drive traffic back to your website. Resources. You're not going to be an expert in everything. That's why it's extremely important to have great vendor resources/relationships. Logistically speaking, knowing where to go to hire models, makeup artist’s, and where to get props makes your job much easier, and visually demonstrates to your client that you can logistically pull a job off. Know how to get things done. Get to know experts in other fields. Genuine relationships with people who are great at what they do can make you look better in the marketplace. You can refer them, and they can refer you. It’s a win win. I think, knowing people with skills outside of yours and having great vendor relationships, is just as important in your career as anything.
Other Things to Consider
When looking for a job, what skills can you bring to the table outside of your photography skills? Are you a great retoucher? Are you also a great designer? Are you super organized? Do you have great ideas? Can you come up with awesome concepts? These are all things to consider when looking to be hired by a company either as a freelancer, or potential employee. Another thing to consider is this: People want to work with people that they like. You could be the best photographer in the world, but if you’re an asshole, nobody will want to work with you. Period. Respect peoples time, be honest, be genuine, be yourself.
There is no one way track to success in photography. Going to college does not guarantee success. Being the best photographer in the world doesn’t guarantee success. Sometimes it comes down to luck, and being at the right place at the right time. But I can say this, taking these tips and putting them to practice will give you a much better chance at success. You can’t just sit around and expect things to happen. I think these ideas are great starting points for someone looking to start or grow their career in photography, or any creative profession for that matter. It takes time and a lot of hard work. You may work a retail job for 10 years before you find success in a creative profession. "There is a 100% chance that you will be rejected” as Joel Grimes would say. And it’s absolutely true. You may hear the word “no” a thousand times before you hear a “yes." You just have to keep that drive, make contacts, and work toward your goals and essentially figure out what “success” really means to you.
If this information helps you, please leave a comment below and share this link with your friends. I wish you the best of luck on your adventure
I highly recommend trying Evernote! It's the one app I can't live without. Evernote makes it easy to remember things big and small from your everyday life using your computer, phone, tablet and the web.
Digital Art that Rocks™ featured on Kelby Media's Photography Tips & Tricks! | South Bend Commercial Photographyt
I was just told this week that I was featured on Photography Tips & Tricks by Kelby Media! My website www.digitalartthatrocks.com was featured as the "website to watch." Truly honored to say least. I'd like to give a quick shout out to my buddy Pete Collins and RC Concepcion for featuring my work on the show. You guys rock! My website can be seen on this episode at (18:58).
The episode I'm featured on is called "Setting Banks in Your Camera | Photography Tips & Tricks". You can view the episode here on my website on the youtube video posted above or the the Kelbytv website: http://kelbytv.com/photographytnt/2013/12/13/setting-banks-in-your-camera/
You can see some of Pete Collins' work at http://petecollins.com or follow him on twitter @PeteCphoto
You can see some of RC's work at http://www.aboutrc.com or follow him on twitter at @aboutrc
Thanks again guys!!!
Ahhh, animated Gifs. Gotta love them right? Usually funny animations or clips from movies first come to mind. But as a commercial photographer and retoucher, I think it's a valuable way to illustrate to colleagues and clients alike, the steps that are involved in creating an impactful image. I recently found great article on how to create animated gifs and decided to give it a try. I highly recommend checking out Brian Dalessandro's Blog:
Also keep in mind, that if you are a seasoned Photoshop user, you can also make this into an action. And if you are a Creative Cloud member using Photoshop CC, you can create a conditional action for any variables you may encounter in your own workflow. You can find more information on conditional actions at http://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/using/conditional-actions-creative-cloud.html
Also note: This image was created for Firevine Advertising and Design
Have a great weekend :)
This is the beginning of a new Google Series that I will be writing about. This series of articles will talk about how I use Google services as a commercial photographer based in South Bend, Indiana. Please note, that I am not being paid by Google to sell services, these articles will be derived from an informational standpoint stemmed from my own thoughts and opinions on how I use these services in my own personal workflow as a commercial photographer. Lastly, in order to use these services, you will need to sign up for a free google account, if you already have a gmail account, then you have a google account.
Google Drive for Commercial Photographers
Let's start off by talking about what Google Drive is. Simply put, Google Drive a free cloud storage service that lets you store and access your files anywhere, on the web, on your computers hard drive, or on your mobile device, by downloading Google Drive app and using your Google Account. You can also go to https://support.google.com/drive/answer/2424384?hl=en to find out more about Google Drive in full detail.
With Google Drive, you get a generous 15GB of free storage for any types of file(s) you'd like to access. In addition, creating and using Google Docs, do not count against your 15GB limit. Now lets say, you start using Google Drive a lot, and you need more space. No problem, they offer additional cloud storage tiers for very reasonable prices; the best I've seen on the web actually. As of today's date, you can get 100GB for $4.99 a month up to 16TB for $800 a month, now that's going way overboard for cloud storage for about 99.9% of the population, but you get the point.
The interface is pretty self explanatory if you're familiar with web technology in general. It's easy to navigate, clean and functions just like any file folder on the hard drive of your computer. Speaking of file folders on your computer, by installing Google Drive on your Mac or PC it creates a folder called Google Drive. Anything you put inside that folder will be uploaded/synced to your Google Drive automatically and vice versa. This means that when you log into your Google Drive account via the web, you will see a mirror image of what you have stored in your Google Drive Folder on your computer. This is really convenient! It's similar to having an iMap email account; it's mirrored. So if you delete and email, it's reflected on all devices you have that email set up on. Google Drive works the same way.
Now that we know what Google Drive is, let's talk about it in a more practical application. Google Drive allows me to sync files that I'd like to access from anywhere. Being a commercial photographer and retoucher, I like to use my drive for that specific purpose. As a retoucher, I do a lot of compositing. I take products shots such as vehicles and create backgrounds from multiple elements. Sometimes, I need pavement, skies, trees and other objects to create a believable scene in Photoshop. This is where Google Drive can be your best friend. It allows me to take my library of images and elements that I've shot and collected over time, and gives me the ability to access them from anywhere. So this means, that I can be out shooting evening sunsets, download them at home, put them in my Google Drive folder, and access them at the office the very next day. So when I'm working on a composite at work, I have access to those sky images when I log in to my Google account. No need to copy them onto an external hard drive, spend time emailing images, or using FTP. They are right inside of Google Drive, with previews. All I have to do is download the images I need. Pretty awesome! (Important to Note: When viewing an image that you want to download, it's best to click the download button rather than clicking and dragging the preview onto your desktop. By clicking the download button, you will download the actual file you uploaded; not the lower res web preview)
How else could a commercial photographer use Google Drive?
I'm glad you asked! You can also use it to create documents; Google Docs to be exact. You can create word docs, presentations, spreadsheets, forms and even drawings. I personally enjoy the fact, that I can create a word document and store it in the cloud so I can access it anywhere. Lets say that I need to come up with a rental gear list for an upcoming shoot. I can start a new Word Doc inside Google Drive, while at the office, and call it "Gear Rental List for Upcoming Shoot," save it in the desired folder, and continue working on it from home later that night if I need to add anything else. Maybe you're putting a bid in on a job and you need to specifically outline the cost of shooting that job. You can simply create a new word doc, and start typing away, no need to own a copy of Microsoft Office. You get it for free with Google Drive! You can also track expenses, mileage etc by creating a spreadsheet. The possibilities are limitless.
Another great thing about using Google Docs, is the ability to convert these files to industry standard formats. For example, lets say I need to email the "Gear Rental List for Upcoming Shoot" to another person, but they use Microsoft Office. Simply go to File > Download As > Microsoft Word. It's that easy! Now you have a word document that you can send someone else to add or make changes to. You can also create a PDF if need be. This also works with Spreadsheets. You can export a file to work directly with Mircrosoft Excel.
Prior to using Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud), I would keep my Photoshop and Lightroom settings in Google Drive. That way, when I would be at home creating an action, or creating any kind of presets, I could keep a copy in Google Drive not only for backup, but to add to my computer at the office. (I will continue to use this process for Adobe Lightroom 5 at this time). Plus it's always great to have a backup copy of all of your develop module presets….just incase.
Now lets talk about file delivery. Lets say you want to deliver final files to a client, or colleague. (You may already have your own methods i.e. FTP, You Send It etc. No problem, this is just my suggestion.) You can do this by simply right clicking on a file and either emailing as an attachment, or if it's a large file, selecting "Share" and typing their email address. You can also specify what kind of permissions you would like to give them; Edit, Comment, or View. When you give them permission to "Edit" this will display a download button. If you are trying to deliver downloadable files to a client or colleague, this is what you want to select.
Some other quick ideas on ways to use Google Drive:
• Store purchased fonts
• Store educational video content that you can stream to your TV using Chromecast (I watch a lot of photoshop/photography tutorials)
• Any content or projects related to work that you need to update on the go
• PDF Product Manuals for gear that you own (always know where your manuals are)
• Share files with Clients or Colleagues (they can be found in your shared folder)
These are just some of the ways that I use Google Drive for my Commercial Photography needs. I'm sure this service will evolve over time and become an even better tool for storing files, as well as sharing and collaborating with others. I hope this helps inspire you to embrace and use technology in a way that you may not have thought possible. I'm sure you too will come up with your own unique ways of using Google Drive.
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