BetterPhoto Q&A
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Photography Question 
Bobbi  S. Tomes
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/27/2005

How do I know when I am ready?

For so long I have been working on improving my portraits. Making photos sharper, more artistic, collecting props, upgrading equipment, print name it. Yet, I still do not feel like I could call myself a professional. I am still getting few low paid jobs, mostly friends and family. I did take my digital card to walmart recently to print some photos I took because I am out of ink and the person working the photo lab refused to let me have my copies I made because they looked proffesional. I tried to explain that they were my photos but oddly I took it as a compliment to have a fresh eye honestly believe my work was the real deal. I just want to get the show on the road and make something happen. What are some good ways to get buisiness? Most places in my area offer packages of a zillion of the same photo for between 5 and 10 dollars and then sell additional sheets at around 15 $ a sheet. What do I charge? I dont want to look cheep but not too expensive that I would be passed up.

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7/11/2005 10:34:38 PM

Debbie Del Tejo
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/30/2005
  As the ad says 'JUST DO IT!" Believe in yourself. Also, there is are proffesional labs....even though your printere was broken. Don't price yourself like the Walmart photography studio or the places like that. There is a price for everyone. Some people will go to Walmart for a portrait and others will go to a professiona studio and pay big bucks. You already passed the test. You have been shooting for family and friends.......for practically nothing. WE all need to do that to build our portfolio. Make a goal date to start. Join the local Chamber of Commerce......Join a Networking group.......walk around your town and meet all the local merchants. Idont know where you live but this worked so great for me.....I walked the town (it is a small town) and introduced myself as a photographer. I know all the merchants and they know me. I visit regularly and once they all knew me guess what???? THEY STARTED REFERRING ME. I photographed the grandchildren of one local merchant and THAT TOOK OFF......she had the album in her shop. You know the rest of the story.
Well, I hope I have helped. Good luck.

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7/12/2005 2:50:30 AM

Bobbi  S. Tomes
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/27/2005
  Thanks for the advice, Debbie. I was also wondering, can you just call yourself a photographer when you dont have any certificates or degrees, or even any schooling for photography? Should I take some sort of at home course just to have something on paper that says I am what I am? I know there are some feilds of work out there where a person can get into trouble for saying they are of a proffesion they never really had appropriate training for. Also can you view my gallery and tell me if my works look good enough to start taking cliens?

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7/12/2005 7:29:50 PM


BetterPhoto Member

I opened my studio February 1st and I don't have any degrees or certificates either. I do call myself a photographer, but try not to say the word professional out loud too often. I just have too much to learn yet.

My town is very small and I had pricing concerns as well.

I priced myself very cheap, but making enough to pay my gear off in a couple of years. (hopefully) I was worried that everyone would still go to the "walmart"s and I would have no business.

But I am busier than I could have hoped and I am sure that plenty of people are still going to walmart. I get clients that want studio pictures, not walmart pictures.

I started with all of the wrong stuff and have learned and replaced things as I went. I am sure that there are lots of photographers on this site that wouldn't think that my pictures were that great, but I'm learning more everyday and am getting happier with my results every day.

My advice is to go for it. That's what I did, and my business is really taking off.

check out my website at:

Good luck!

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7/12/2005 10:10:42 PM

Debbie Del Tejo
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/30/2005
Your work is fine but the main thing is ARE PEOPLE PAYING FOR IT? I had a studio for 8 years and there were so many other photographers in the area including Walmart etc. I was so busy that I had to close it down because I had no time for my own memories and my grandkids. Just GIVE GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE. I had the patitience for photographing children that amazed people. The Walmart's and such do not because they just pick someone off the street and tell them how to shoot. They don't even necessarily like the job, and may or may not have the patitience or people skills needed in photography. Getting a subject to relax (especially women) is also a must sell your work BEFORE you snap the portrait. By the way you show your confidence you will make a subject relax and have faith in you. I am 52 and still learning. ONe never stops ESPECIALLY IN PHOTOGRAPHY.....JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT YOU GOT THE FILM THING DOWN...... BANG...... THE AGE OF DIGITAL COMES ALONG AND YOU HAVE to get down on that computer knowledge whether you like them or not.
You are a photographer.....a capturer of life. Take courses to better yourself ALWAYS....find a mentor that can help you as well....someone you trust and that has been in the business for a while. This might be hard because photographers (at least in my area) do not like to share their knowledge. But most importantly GO OUT THERE AN start doing what you like most. Be happy at it and you will see those people write those checks and come to you instead of anyone else. But most importantly BUILD YOUR CONFIDENCE IN YOURSELF.........YOU CAN DO IT! If you have any questions or I can be of any help do not hesitate to write me.
I hope I helped. I love to motivate people into doing things that they want to do. If you need that extra little push.......I'm there to push you. I love your pregnant shot! There is a market for that!

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7/13/2005 4:26:39 AM

Collette Photography
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/21/2005
  Hi, I just thought I would use your question Bobbi to ask my own, cause I'm trying to do the same thing that you are.

So, Debbi if you could take a look at my gallery and tell me what you thgink I would aprectiate it so much, Please be very hard on me, just tell me like it is!!

I'm think if doing on location portraits rather than having a studio, cause I figured there is less start up cost that way, My family is really pushing me to start, but Im afraid I will mess up, although I have been shooting film, before I would start the business I am going to get a digital camera (nikon D70) and photoshop ect..., but would love some feedback from a real pro (I have seen your gallery, your photos are breathtaking!)

Oh, one more thing, how did you get the skin tones to look so flawless in "A boy and his music"?

Thanks again, and Bobbi I hope you dont mind me posting this!


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7/19/2005 9:12:39 AM

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