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How to Become a Photographer

So something cool happened; I was approached by a fellow photographer who is doing a photo course this year. They needed to ask established photographers how they got to be where they are now, and for any tips that we could give on how to become a photographer.  I was honoured of course!  There's no need for rivalry in the photography community, and after ten very long years of learning and adapting, it's only fair that it's time that I start to give back.  Photography is such a great creative outlet, and I firmly believe that everyone is able to learn the skill, as long as they want to put in the effort behind it.


How to Become a Photographer

(Aka; how my journey started)

I started out in photography when I was fourteen.  I received my first camera that Christmas and I have a couple of those photos still floating around.  My camera was a cutie and was a Kodak of some kind. It was only 2mpx, and my memory card could only hold 17 images at one time!  It wasn't like today where you could pick up a card for under $50 and end up with over 2000 photos worth of storage.  I'm not sure if I had always wanted to become a photographer, but this certainly pointed me in the right direction.

I practiced a lot during high school and took my camera with me quite often.  I did a course where we did camping and exploring outside, and I quickly developed a love for landscape photography.  I wasn't always keen on people, but nature was pretty and normally didn't change in a split second.  It was a bit of a blessing I think when I look back onto it that I only could take those 17 images at once. It forced me to really think about what I was doing, and what images I wanted to have with me.


Taking Photography in College

(Aka - probably the most valuable time)

Fast forward to my college years. I did an intro to photography as an actual course.  The key highlight of this was the fact that we started with a 35mm Minolta camera. I loved the darkroom, and I think having that knowledge of knowing (or hoping) that you know your settings, and having everything ready in-camera before you hit that shutter down was priceless, and then knowing the exact process of how to develop your own photos - it was so good.

The next year I did pre-tertiary photography, and this was the time I started to learn Photoshop and moved into digital work.  I remember asking my Dad for a new camera, and specified it had to be a 10 megapixel one, hoping this to be my first DSLR.  Alas, no such luck and was given a very blue, unsure of brand, slidey camera (this time with more memory!)   I've still got it somewhere, it no longer works, but it was a fantastic camera.  I did my whole end of year exhibition work with it.


author holding blue camera to mirror in a selfie

Further Photography Education

(Aka that time I spent two years doing a Diploma in photography
and failed because I didn't attend the drawing unit??)

From there I did Cert IV & Diploma in Photoimaging and Applied Design.  I didn't get much out of it as I think I would have liked to.  The biggest improvements to my photography from the two years were:

  • A better understanding of photoshop
  • Learning about the different types of lighting (window and studio light primarily)
  • Guest speakers from the industry
  • Being pushed out of my comfort zone to work with models
Working with models was a bit of a game-changer.  I got in touch with Jony Berry (@jonyberryofficial)  at the very start of my shooting life, and he was the zaniest, loudest, craziest, ambitious person I had ever met, and the complete opposite from my quiet and introverted demeanor.  I think that finding someone who has just as much passion for you in the industry, or finding someone that you just click with creativity wise is key to continuing your drive.
I also was gifted my first ever DSLR for my 18th birthday (It was a choice between a car or a camera.  Still second-guessing this as I didn't end up getting my full license for another eight years after this but minor details.)   The takeaway to this though was the fact that I had done four years worth of photography on point and shoot cameras.   You don't need a fancy camera to achieve good results.
Final exhibition piece - how to become a photographer; it doesn't require fancy equipment

What Happens after Photography School?

(Aka what have I been up to after this?)

After those two years, I didn't follow any further formal education.  I felt very burnt out and overwhelmed. I had a heap of mental health issues that contributed to this as well, so this hadn't help.  It's not all doom and gloom though!  I chose to keep learning, but I did a lot of self-taught courses.  Youtube wasn't such a big thing (back in my day)  - but as the years went on, more and more free education popped up.  It was really a matter to keep shooting on a weekly basis, even if it was just pictures of flowers or food.  Heck, even teddy bears or the sky and clouds. Everything you shoot helps you learn something more about your craft.

When I look at the last few years (read: 2010 through to now)  there's been heaps of things that have happened that have helped shape who I am as a photographer.
For example:


  • Gone through four business name changes, finally settling on Claire & O Photography
  • Have been threatened with physical violence over the deliverance of photos (That was probably the lowest point of my photography life and can no longer pick up unknown numbers)
  • Won multiple awards for Miss Photogenic competitions
  • Had people refuse payment after service to the tune of thousands of dollars
  • Helped judge a modeling competition (three times!)
  • Went into debt to pay for camera equipment
  • Met a number of Miss Australia contestants
  • Had a hard drive crash resulting in the loss of two years worth of photos
  • Have done a few different shoot types, including weddings, newborns, family shoots, and also started a food photography business!



So How Exactly do you Become a Photographer?

The Answer:  Lots and LOTS of practice!

So as you can see, there's been ups and downs. Some have been some of the best experiences I've ever been through, and others have been some of the worst.  Photography is like any job out there, you've got to be prepared to put yourself on the line, and sometimes it doesn't work out.  I often joke that photography is an expensive hobby because sometimes there will be months if not years where you won't see a profit for what you're doing.  It's frustrating but true.  But if photography is a career path that you want to pursue, and you want to be able to do it well, it's very rewarding.

My top tips on how to become a photographer:


  • Shoot every day if you can
  • Keep a diary
  • Back up your photos
  • Your first 50,000 photos are probably going to be your worst
  • - But that doesn't mean there weren't be some good ones in there
  • Critically look at your work
  • Ask for help!
  • Do photography challenges
  • Liaison with other photographers and models
  • Do courses and watch videos on tips & tricks
  • Keep practicing
  • Realise it doesn't happen overnight
Look at that needy inside fluffball.

- Wrap Up -

Hopefully, you found my journey (so far!) interesting to read! This will be an ongoing series about photography tips and tricks, as well as some tutorials on how to use DSLR's and Photoshop & Adobe Camera Raw.  If you want to know when the next feature is out, don't forget to subscribe to my newsletter below!  What would you like me to cover in the next post?  Let me know in the comments below!

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For the bees!

Somewhere in the last few months, I turned a page and decided that I should really be doing more for the environment.

I went on a crusade - bought metallic straws (that I lost after 24 hours, who even does that?)  - lovingly purchased the most gorgeous ceramic keep cup (which my cat delightfully batted off the bench and I didn't know for about three weeks.)  I bought re-usable containers for my food (which I keep losing the lids for. Seriously, where the fudge do they go?)  and I've always been an adamant person who doesn't believe in turning heaters on when there's blankets to be had.  (Because who doesn't want more blankets in their life?)

But the one thing that has really stuck out to me over the last few months, apart from my apparent addiction to coffee, is bees.



"Bees, Claire? Really? Why?"

Maybe I should clarify it's actually quite the distinct lack of  bees.
See, growing up - there was so many freaking bees everywhereeee. And those mofo's sting like hell if you peeve one off!  10/10 don't recommend this at all. However, it occured to me that there hasn't been any bees around lately to even slightly worry about this.  So here's a pretty pure hearted story for you.


So I was running late for work a few mornings ago, and let me tell you, I'm suuuuuper bad at trying to get up and doing things at the best of times,  and that 10000% includes getting ready in the mornings.  This wasn't even one of my classic "okay, yeah, maybe I'm only behind like five minutes-"

Of course not.

This was a very much "Shiiiit I'm fifteen minutes behind. I'm in trouble."  sort of late.
So here I am absolutely racing to my car and just as I'm about to jump in - here's a bee.

On my car.

Just chilling.

And I'm just looking at it going,  you little buddy are not going to make it if I start driving.
Do you think I could have one less bee in the world on my conscience?  Hell nah.   Even if it meant being ridiculously late - I was saving this little buddies stinger.  Being the Queen of Procastination I am, I had a heap of kids books hiding in my boot that was meant to go to the local charity drop off the weekend prior.  I had to scoop this little buddy onto such a flat piece of paper and I don't know if bees can give you death stares- but if they could, pretty sure I got one.

So happy endings, I put them on the flower bush in our garden and saved it from a very uncomfy death by car.

I hope the little thing is okay, I'm really rooting for our bees.


What are you doing to help the environment?  Have a cute story about saving a wombat or helping a cute family of ducks cross the road? Let me know in the comments below!