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Photography Question 
Samantha Young
 

Going into photography - I need tips


I'm a senior in high school, a few months away from graduation. I have my heart set on being a photographer - but I'm not sure where to go from graduation. I would like to apprentice, but I live in a rural area where it seems that it would be hard to approach a photographer about this. I do not want to take the business away from them, but I feel it is my talent and I would be extremely good.

Where can I start to even get enough money for a good camera? What about all the other equipment? Also, lighting - I would need to learn that, too. Ahhh...help?


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12/11/2006 8:24:21 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Well Sam, you've probably chosen one of the most competitive and yet diverse professions there is and for a lot of reasons. Without intending to be discouraging, based on my roughly 35 years experience in the biz, there are a couple of things I recommend that you do.

First, I think you need to select a back-up career to support you when photographic times are lean, which these days, happens pretty often. Unfortunately, the market is dilluted with people who imagine themselves as great photographers and are distracting editors at publications, saturating the event photography market, and under cutting pros doing this work to support themselves for the sake of simply getting a byline or published or even an assignment. That's not bitterness, it's based on what I've seen and heard over the past several years.

Next, you should have a college degree, preferably one in liberal arts and science with perhaps majors in art and/or design and/or photography. You need that to get grounded in the basics of photography while you develop (err, so to-speak) your own style over four or five years along with a portfolio of work in various areas that demonstrates verasatility, technical knowledge and ability to problem solve. You should also get some courses in basic accounting, business practices like marketing, business law, etc.

After college, you'll be much better equipped to apprentice or work for someone else. Through photo job experience during college, you may gain some knowlege as to how to go about financing, setting up and running your own shop. Keep in mind that that business is rapidly changing for a lot of reasons, even for portrait photographers.

You start by taking this one step at a time. Usually getting either a job of some kind to score a camera and meet living expenses helps a lot. Applying to college programs, even a junior college to get basic degree reqiurements out of the way really helps and applying for scholarships and grants helps as well. It's a cumulative process. You should also get some background and education in wet darkroom techniques like film, how to expose it, process and print it. Some may disagree but one reason I recommend that is it helps you learn the language of photography, terms and relate better to processes including digital ones.

The other things like learning about equipment including lighting, all evolve over time, with or without formal training. Reading a lot on your own is also very useful. Just start at your local library for that matter while at the same time, have faith in your dreams and retain the capacity to dream great dreams.

Personally, I discovered photography when I was in about 8th grade and a couple of years later got a head start by going to a local newspaper to gain assignments for shooting high school sports like football and track and field. It was all up hill from there. LOL !!! [Well, some of the time]. But I wouldn't trade the experiences I've had or the people I've been fortunate enough to meet and work with as a photojournalist for anything. I was fortunate in having good mentors, meeting great editors who had the time then to kind of teach me the basic skills I wasn't learning in school, and patient people around me who tolerated my experimenting while learning how to tackle assignments on their dime.

So, take one step at a time but start moving in the direction you want to go, being flexible in your plans, study hard in school or on your own, and things will get rolling. Remember persistence pays off and there aren't any cool short cuts to making it in this business.

Meanwhile, feel free to ask lots of questions and good luck in your new career.

Take it light. ;>)
Mark


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12/11/2006 9:22:13 AM

 
Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2005
  Or you could invest in a reasonable quality/price prosumer camera (like my S5200) and play around with it.

You don't need to apprentice. Just play around with it and ask people on BP how to improve. Also read up on photography techniques and composition.


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12/11/2006 8:27:01 PM

 
Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  Ariel,

That approach may work fine for a hobbyist, or someone looking to make a little extra money on photography - but if you're really looking to make a career out of photography, it's going to take more than just "playing around".

Chris A. Vedros
www.cavphotos.com


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12/12/2006 5:51:30 AM

 
Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2005
  For starters!


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12/12/2006 11:11:21 AM

 
Jerry Frazier   Ariel, you are seriously telling a HS student when they graduate to 'go play around'? Seriously?

WOW.

Mark's advice is right on the money. Photography, funnily, is a small part of what makes a photographer successful. There are many at the top of the price ranges in various fields that are actually very mediocre photographers, but they are excellent at marketing and selling. They are very astute business people with a plan.

It's cool to be an artist, but successful artists, the ones who get PAID, are better at business than they are at art. It's always a difficult balance for both sides. But, having a balanced education will help you. Go to college and study art, with a minor in marketing or something. Take finance classes too. You will be glad you did.


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12/12/2006 4:31:05 PM

 
Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2005
  I'm not saying that Mark is wrong. But for a total beginner who is low on funds, "playing around" with a prosumer camera and reading up on composition is really a very great way to learn. College and $1000s of dollars of equipment could come later down the line. (Of course, if Samantha is going into college right away, or even later on, classes in art, photography, marketing, etc., would be very helpful.) Anyway, the most important thing is to have fun!

But now I'm thinking, Samantha, before we give you more specific advice about cameras, equipment, college, etc., what type of photography are you interested in?


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12/12/2006 5:11:22 PM

 
Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2005
  If you want to do floral photography, I'd say it's better, even before college, to:
a) look at floral photographs and try to see what makes those pictures good
b) read online about floral photography
c) get a decent camera (SLR and macro lenses, if you can afford them, or a Sony prosumer (like the DSC-H5) which can focus very close to the lens and accept macro add-ons (I like my HOYA close-up filter set)
d) go to a botanical garden, and, using what you know about floral photography from your observation and research, try to get some shots [you might need to set your camera up on a tripod and/or use (a large) flash for many shots]
e) go home and see which photos you like and which you don't like and figure out what you did differently between the good and bad
f) try again

That technique should be enjoyable, affordable, and would also be a GREAT way to enter college with a good grasp on photography.

----------------------

Now, as far as selling goes, classes in (or even reading about) economics, marketing, etc., would be very important.


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12/12/2006 5:22:00 PM

 
Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2005
  Jerry F wrote:
Ariel, you are seriously telling a HS student when they graduate to 'go play around'?

I didn't say to play around. I said to play around with the camera. People don't learn how to do different things with a camera just by going to college and getting jobs.


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12/12/2006 5:28:43 PM

 

BetterPhoto Member
  First of all you have to see if you have the talent. If you don't all ready know how to compose a shot that would be interesting enough, then it might not be the thing for you.

Before you do any of the schooling get yourself a P&S and see what you can produce.

I have never been to school (too boring), never taken a business or marketing class (outsourced).I just kept practicing and figured it out. I do know people who went to school for it, but they shoot like they went to school. You have to discover something special inside of you and that will be an art in itself.


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12/13/2006 3:16:04 PM

 
Samantha Young   Well, Well, Well.

I appreciate every reply. All are good and offered me a lot to concider.

"Playing around" is great advice in my opinion, I could never do without some time to just play around with different cameras and such.

College is greatly on my mind. I may take a year off to explore, then think about what college offers enough for me to learn a bit more about my passion for photography.

Yes, floral photography is my main theme, but I would like to try working with people, too. I am going to give a look at "Picture People" and possibly work there for a while. I would be able to learn and make money!

I don't have much else to say, but keep giving the advice, and thanks!!


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12/13/2006 5:03:33 PM

 
Jerry Frazier   Thanks for the clarification Ariel. I misunderstood what you meant.


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12/14/2006 9:19:22 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Back in the old(er) days, Sam, some of us apprenticed or assisted for nothing...nada, zip, zero. Things have gotten a tad more complex over the years including various employment laws, insurance rules, unemployment laws, ad infinitim.

While I'm sure there are some photographers who would appreciate your services for nothing, that's not a good way to go. If they try to persuade you otherwise and refuse to pay you a reasonable wage, find another photographer to work with. I've got a lot of reasons for saying that.

First and foremost, you should be a fair and honest value for your labor as a person, not just as a photo assistant. No one should be coerced for work for nothing unless you're clearly a volunteer for say a non-profit and answer to a higher calling, but even non-profits entitle you to certain benefits like being able to deduct the fair value of your services at tax time.

If you were an associate assistant member of an outfit like ASMP.org, (American Society of Media Photogs) you'd get a certain amount of assistant training and you'd be compensated accordingly. Plus, you'd be eligible to participate in a group insurance plan (I know, I know, when you're young you don't think you need insurance and you're going to live forever but it's a good benefit). You also get over time, on the job additional training and a place to complain if you're either mistreated or not getting any informal education.

Yes, it takes awhile to build up your skills, as anything else, but joining an association in any capacity for you would be a good idea, especially ASMP or even Advertising Photographers of America. apanational.com If your area is so rural, maybe you could start a chapter in the next largest town depending on the number of photographers or just join in a larger city say New York, Phillie, L.A., San Francisco, etc.

So Sam, whaddya think?
Take it light.
Mark


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12/14/2006 6:47:03 PM

 
Samantha Young   Once again, thanks to everyone for the advice : )

Today is the day that I am going to contact a local photographer and family friend about apprenticing. Wish me luck!


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12/15/2006 8:12:54 AM

 
Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  Derek,

If you really are the accomplished Food Photographer, Michael Ray of Pittsburgh, then I sincerely apologize for the accusation.

Funny, you're a much better speller on your blog & website than you are here.

Congratulations on your accomplishments.

Chris A. Vedros
www.cavphotos.com


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12/15/2006 9:03:59 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  As Tom Lehrer once sang:
"Plagiarize, plagiarize.
Let no one elses work evade your eyes.
Remember why the good lord made your eyes. Go out and plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize."

Nice Derek. Very nice. I guess we need to add to the list of don'ts for would-be assistants. Don't ever EVER use someone elses work whether photographic or text or design without their express written permission and if you do, don't get caught.

So Derek, do we need to send Mike Rey a note explaining how you accidentally deliberately copied his text and used it here without giving him credit, or do YOU want to send him a note apologizing for doing that?

Don't take it so lightly. :<( I think doing that really stinks.
The original Mark
==========================
Often immidated. Never duplicated. :>)


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12/15/2006 9:08:07 AM

 
Derek Justin Deming
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/15/2006
  I have been told by a laywer (shot his wedding in BC) that if you change anything be it pictures, text, design etc.. by 10% or more it can no longer be considered copying or stealing.

I have taken a picture once off my 30inch mac screen before from a photographer that shoots softball games down at our park and then tries to sell us the shots online of all the teams of the day. A friend of mine hit a home run and so I wanted to buy the shot of him smacking the ball that got us second place that year. Well, if you are a first time buyer the first picture you but is $100 (8x10) and the rest are $25 after that. I wanted a poster size and the guy wanted $1000 bucks. Since I have such high resolution I photographed it off my screen and then cropped it, sized it and sharpened it. Got a frame for it and gave it to my buddy for his birthday. The next year came along and him and the photographer where chatting andmy bud thanks him and says "I love my poster shot you took, its in my game room".

You know what happended next, I got a call and I told him that I had cropped the image by over 10% and that in the future he should use watermarks. He said his lawyer would contact me. That was 3 years ago.


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12/15/2006 10:51:50 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Two other thoughts come to mind.

"I never met a white collar criminal I didn't like." Prentice Marshall, [then] Chief Judge, U.S. District Court, E.D. Illinois (Chicago). Sentencing hearing U.S. v. Krane [1987] (multiple counts of trademark and copyright infringement).

And I just LOVE an instance of proper exposure. Get it...exposed, exposure.


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12/15/2006 12:14:44 PM

 
Colby 
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/21/2006
  A simple question--were there really 30" mac screens 3 or 4 years ago?
Just wondering.
Colby


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12/15/2006 1:20:45 PM

 
Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2005
  ?

I can't imagine it.


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12/15/2006 2:29:44 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  I'll go ya one better Jer: What PHOTOGRAPHER woulod blatently steal another photographer's work and then brag about it to a bunch of other photographers. Sounds like a kid to me trying to yank our chain. Look at the word usage and spelling errors. Definitely from the shallow end of the gene pool. I say we ignore the creep and he'll go away.

OR, hey, we could report him to the internet police for boosting that image he so freely acknowledges boosting. Seems they might like to take a tour of his house with a couple of search warrants to see what else he's been stealing. Whaddya think? I mean, gee whiz, a signed confession and everything.

Hey Chris !!! You've got my vote for best BP detective !!!! Good score.
M.

Seems to me


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12/15/2006 6:30:49 PM

 

BetterPhoto Member
  yeah like the people on flickr.

Chris googled it just like I did. Nice detective work there. All you have to do is COPY which is stealing from the text I pasted and then google it and presto.

The shallow end of the gene pool people have more fun and less worries, unless they are blonde too.

Internet police, good one dude. The border that seperates us also protect me.


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12/15/2006 6:53:12 PM

 
Suzzy M. Wilson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/16/2006
  Hi Sam,

I'd say lots of money would help (maybe a rich husband, hehe). A good teacher and lots of patience. My part-time teacher says it alot like woodworking. Alot of practice with different tools and learning how to work in all condtions with different kinds of woods.


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12/16/2006 1:56:52 PM

 
Jerry Frazier   Hey Mark,

You're replicating. Yikes!


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12/16/2006 9:15:47 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Hey Jer !! Yeah, I noticed that. Imitated, not yet duplicated. But there's a fix for this worthless piece of humanity at least according to my spies. Trust me ;>)
M.


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12/17/2006 4:32:00 PM

 
Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  Just to keep everyone up to date, Derek & DJ are obviously the same person, and he is obviously our familiar old name-changer. Apparently he has relocated to Canada. ;-)

A word of advice: If you actually do a fraction of the deeds you claim to do (which I doubt), someone will eventually get ticked off enough to sue you. In that event, don't have your "laywer" friend from BC defend you. If he thinks cropping an image by 10% means you're not stealing it, he's not worth the envelope his mail-order Law Skool Degree was shipped in.

Does he advertise his legal services on MySpace, or flickr?

Chris A. Vedros
www.cavphotos.com


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12/18/2006 6:35:39 AM

 
Derek Justin Deming
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/15/2006
  What a weirdo. I've heard he hangs at the HotBox Internet Cafe. Not sure if he works there?

4369 Main Street BC VON 1B4


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12/18/2006 11:01:43 AM

 
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