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Monday, May 9, 2011

GQ's: G Style Answers to Some of Your Frequently Asked Questions :)

I was looking through my Facebook messages and emails today and was humbled. Humbled to realize that some of you think I have what it takes to provide any kind of photography advice for your businesses. The truth is I don't. I'm nowhere near qualified to provide any real value but in light of the messages I've received in the past few weeks I thought I would create a small series answering some of the most frequently asked questions I've received. Before you keep reading, beware that my answers aren't right or wrong or a blueprint of how you should conduct your business. They are simply answers to the choices I've made personally with my own business. Ok? Ok. Now brace yourself for a really long post with an extremely embarassing amount of typos... ready, set, go!

What brand of camera do you shoot with or reccomend?
I shoot with a Sony Alpha 550 so I'm a little biased towards Sony however, for years the industry stadards in professional photography have been Canon and Nikon so you can't go wrong with an SLR camera of either of those brands either. I would suggest buying the camera in a physical store so you can ask the pros alot of questions before making a purchase decision and also to get your equipment properly insured etc.

What software do you use for editing images?
First off let me say that although I do use Photoshop, I'm not a big Photoshopper. The editing I do in Photoshop is very minimal. I try at all times to get my images just how I want them inside the camera which means looking for optimum lighting locations and nailing my exposure while I'm in the field shooting. Every time. This is not always easy but it's not impossible. The key is to practice, practice, practice. That said, when I started off I purchased the CS5 creative suite  which has both of the programs I used when I first started and continue to use today, Photoshop CS5 and Bridge. It also has a whole load of other cool programs that I don't have the slightest idea how to use, so I don't. Probably a big waste of money but ehh, I use what I need. I later added Lightroom 3  to my workflow and OMG how I fell in love! Lightroom has taken my images to the next level and when I combine it with a little Photoshop love I can't help but do a little happy dance. In my office chair.

What photography classes did you take to learn photography?
Unfortunately when Mario and I first started the business investment money was scarce so we did what we had to do and well, we taught ourselves.  We knew that we had to learn to shoot in manual mode so we purchased a book called Understanding Exposure to help us through the process and that book is what did it for us. We learned practically everything we know today about shooting manually through this book and we learned the basics in about a month. That's not to say that classes aren't needed, or that we were sooo cool that we didn't need classes, we just couldn't afford the extra cost at the time. We are big proponents of learning through workshops though and we do want to take a few workshops in the near future with some awesome photographers.      

Do you develop your own pictures?
For my clients physical prints I use a proffessional online lab called SmugMug. The cost for the service is about $160 a year which is pennies in comparison to the quality you receive in their products. The cost for the photographer's prints is also very reasonable so in turn you can offer prints to your clients at very reasonable prices.

Can you tell me exactly what steps you took to finally step towards starting your business?
This question is a little more complex. There are so many things to consider when starting a photography business that I think I could write a week of posts and still not get to everything but I will try to give a shortened version here. First and foremost one must learn to use their camera. Properly! For me the most important thing when starting out was to learn to shoot in manual mode. And practice, practice, practice. Almost simultaneously I invested in other elements to build the infrastructure of my business which were a well equipped computer and editing software as well as better lenses besides the kit lens that came with my camera. And practice, practice, practice. Once I had that in place I had the tools to properly start building a portfolio. When I felt I had a solid portfolio I started my blog and facebook like page to start sharing my work and hopefully garner some business. Next comes the harder part. Deciding what type of photography you want to focus on and then start building a brand around it with a logo, website and other materials to adequately reflect your brand. This is a beast I'm still working on taming and with the help of reading a gazillion blogs on the subject and applying my own ideas I feel I'm taking the baby steps I need to get to where we want to be. One blog in particular I can't say enough about that has helped me tremendously with my own business is the blog of a photography business consultant named Lawrence Chan, his blog is Tofurious. you will find invaluable information for your photography business in it and really, I can't believe he just gives it away for free. He's awesome!

Ok I think I'll stop babbling now. I hope this was at least a little helpful to someone and as a disclaimer, these are merely MY experiences and not the right or only way to do things. So read alot and be well informed and do your business like you, not like anybody else! :)

Oh, wait there's one last question.
What do you do when your clients nail a pose you show them?
Well that ones easy, I squeal like a soccer mom on game night, that's what I do! Haha

Happy Tuesday!

And PS if this post was helpful and you have other questions you would like to see featured in future posts feel free to send them my way via facebook/email and I'll do my best to answer. :)


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