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.
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
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.
- 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
- PRINT YOUR PHOTOS
- 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
- 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!