One of the biggest mistakes that up and coming professional photographers make is not looking like a true professional. Most times, it’s an honest mistake. You see, many professional photographers start out as amateurs and then simply find themselves being able to make money taking pictures. Since this is so much cooler than their real jobs they sort of morph into professional photography over time.
However, just because you morphed, doesn’t mean you don’t have to act like a real live grownup who is in business for him or herself. Of course, those college buddies and family members gave you your real start. They might even support you by giving you work when they can. They don’t care about your portfolio per se’.
The rest of the world, however, is not as kind. They want to see a great looking portfolio and they want to be given a business card so that they know how to contact you. Writing your phone number on a cocktail napkin won’t cut it anymore. Although writing your email address on a cocktail napkin might! The real question here is what are you doing hanging out where cocktail napkins are found when you can be growing your skill in your studio and in front of your computer doing post production work?
People in the real world also want to see a website filled with beautiful examples of pictures you’ve taken. They also want to see information there about how to contact you. They want to know your specialties and how you work with your subjects. They also want to see you looking like a professional when you show up to do their shoot. What is a professional? I suppose technically it is one who is paid to do something when compared to others that would do it free. None the less, a pro needs to very good at what they do. Are you? If not, get out of the bar and into your studio and get good! It’s necessary.
You see, you need these people out in the real world in order to stay in business. So, as much as it might cut into your time for actually taking their pictures, creating a professional business image has to be one of your top priorities. The good news is; once you’ve taken some of the steps I’ve mentioned, like ordering business cards, setting up a website and creating a portfolio, it takes less work going forward to keep it going. I’m not telling the truth. I deeply apologize! Competition being what it is suggests doing more and more to stay ahead of the pack. Modern gear makes it easier for amateurs to knock out great looking work. Something has to help you stand out in the crowd.
I just finished attending a five+ hour seminar for amateur and professional photographers. The information provided covered everything from lighting techniques to gear techniques to composition techniques to interacting with your client(s) techniques to business techniques to technique techniques! Amazing stuff. I was honored to be a student of the maestro David Ziser (see http://www.digitalprotalk.blogspot.com). I can’t begin to tell you the amount of carefully prepared training that goes into to being a “real” pro (and best-selling author). In fact, Ziser is going to be releasing a 6-hour DVD of his seminar in January 2011 and I just know it’s going to be an incredible series jammed with everything you need to know to succeed – including where to get some of the best tools available – gear and software. I know this will be an awesome DVD series because I’m the producer of the DVD. [glowing boastful grin!!!]
Check out David’s Blog at the above link. He’s one of the best reads on photography and a master at helping you market yourself.
Then, grow up and put your business out into the real world. Nobody knows how great an artist you are until you make it your business to show them.