Are you/will you/do you want to go pro?

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Are you/will you/do you want to go pro?

Post  mawson on Fri Jun 20, 2008 9:15 am

I just attended my ds's preschool graduation. We had a silent auction and kinda last minute I decided to donate a free photo session, cd and 5 by 7 to the winning bidder. I frantically made a collage from (horrors!) Costco. (12 by 18 for 2.99) Super easy, just select photos and it arranged it for me. Well, their site right now is "new"and super buggy so it crashed on me like 5 times! So 3 hours later I get it done and it was supposed to be ready for pick up 30 minutes before the graduation started. So I am racing to get things done. I get there, put out my collage and realize there are 2 other photogs donating sessions, etc. So I look at them. One is a real pro doing high key that is not really high key. Just inferior for high key. Nothing special. the other has her own website and business cards. One of her clients (another preschool mom) put out a photo album of her work on her kids since the person was not there to set up her own examples. Oh my! They were snapshots! Really really bad. One had the little girl holding her brother and the brother was chopped off to really only show the little girl but it looked awkward. (like she should have just done a head shot and not the baby brother at all) others were just not good! Some had good expression but the color wasn't right and composition uninspiring.
I've checked her website. She has some good stuff. But I've been told that you should only put your strongest pics on your website. (less is more if it is not good) Some of her stuff is really good. Others not good at all. (maybe it is just me, I don't know) Now, I've seen many of your pictures on this board and I think you guys do a really good job. This was not nearly as good as anything you guys have posted.
So it makes me wonder. I am not in business. I refuse to be in business til I am good enough. SO what is good enough? I typically nail focus. I do OK with exposure. I have some fun compostions though I could vary it a bit. I like candid type stuff but do some posed things as well. I like catchlights. I have a working knowledge of lighting. But I am not good enough.
I don't know photoshop. I have no business sense. I am not yet consistent in my shooting. I am still developing my own style. (actually, I have my own style I use with my kids but feel my friends I shoot for want a different style in mind so I try to accomodate them)
I guess it is just strange realizing I am NOT in business yet am as good as some that do choose to be in business. Plus I went to the coffee shop and they had a photo exhibit there and once again, my bug an flower pictures were comparable if not better than the ones posted.
So what would you do in this situation? Go into business even though you are not perfect and have still so much to learn? Stay doing it for free since you enjoy it so much and don't want to hassle with a business?
Do I truly lack the skill (I do) or do I just lack the confidence? (I DO need to learn photoshop)
Anyways.... I know you guys can't really answer these questions. If I were to be honest I'd realize that I am not ready....but it is strange seeing so many people I also deem not ready becoming pro.
I am babbling. So sorry.
By the way, my auction had the most bid than any other auction. I ended up offering a session to the top 2 bidders and brought in over 100 for the school. Plus I've many more that want to "hire" me to do sessions. Of course, they can't "hire" me since I don't do this professionally but I told them I'd do it for free. (or will work for gift cards!)
So, all this to ask: Do you have a business? How did you know you were ready? If you don't have a business but want to what goals do you feel you need to achieve before you can start PBing (portfolio building) or charging?
Do any of you WANT to go pro or are just happy being a hobbyist? I thought I was happy being a hobbyist but I don't know anymore. Usually I am happy being a hobbyist but after tonight I wonder....


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Re: Are you/will you/do you want to go pro?

Post  tammylk on Tue Jun 24, 2008 2:13 am

I know exactly how you are feeling, I ask myself that many times. I am still in the learning stage in many aspects. I know that is the bug in many pro-photographers sides (I am on ILP). Is that there are many people that think because they have a dslr they can say they are a pro photographer.


Right now I am an extreme hobbyist, with hopes of one day doing some photography on the side. I would never give up my full time teaching postion to do it though. I am a single Mom and wouldn't mind doing photography in the summers when I could benifit from natural light/outdoor photography. For now I will just enjoy learning and sharing what I can do with family and friends.

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Re: Are you/will you/do you want to go pro?

Post  TIG on Tue Jun 24, 2008 2:17 am

Congratulations on the bids! That's awesome!

Your bug and flower pics are amazing beautiful, IMO.

Do you think if you learned photoshop, etc, you would feel like your work was "good enough"? I think it is great. But I also know that I am super picky about my own work (um, well, I know my photos suck, but my frames I make, people like them and I think they're kinda OK) and it does hold me back.
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Re: Are you/will you/do you want to go pro?

Post  mawson on Wed Jun 25, 2008 5:10 am

I don't know if the ONLY thing holding me back is photoshop skills. It is definitely a big one! I also lack taking charge and posing when needed. (I prefer natural, unposed candids but many clients like both) I am lacking in some skills, but I look at others who are "professionals" and they are lacking in those skills too, lol! I've been told that is what makes me a good photographer, that I am not happy and constantly improving, but I do wonder if I'll ever feel good enough or confident enough.
Then there is the whole 'business' side of things. I am fortunate enough to have a group of friends who are in business so they can give me all their advice, but it will most likely be the side of things I don't enjoy so much, you know? I love taking pics but am beginning to feel like being an "amateur " is the equivalent to "second rate" and while I still may be a second rate amateur, I DO feel I am better than some "pros" and it bugs me. But what to do? as I'd rather be a very good or even mediocre amateur than a mediocre "professional". I can't imagine charging someone for prints unless I am *very* good.


by tammylk on Tue Jun 24, 2008 4:13 am

I know exactly how you are feeling, I ask myself that many times. I am still in the learning stage in many aspects. I know that is the bug in many pro-photographers sides (I am on ILP). Is that there are many people that think because they have a dslr they can say they are a pro photographer.


Right now I am an extreme hobbyist, with hopes of one day doing some photography on the side. I would never give up my full time teaching postion to do it though. I am a single Mom and wouldn't mind doing photography in the summers when I could benifit from natural light/outdoor photography. For now I will just enjoy learning and sharing what I can do with family and friends.

That is how I feel!

TIG wrote:
"Do you think if you learned photoshop, etc, you would feel like your work was "good enough"? I think it is great. But I also know that I am super picky about my own work (um, well, I know my photos suck, but my frames I make, people like them and I think they're kinda OK) and it does hold me back."

Yes, I suppose I am super picky about my work. (as so many of us are!) And it does hold me back too. I want to see the frames you make that people like so much! Please show us an example!
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Re: Are you/will you/do you want to go pro?

Post  lndsfll on Fri Aug 01, 2008 3:03 pm

Hey there lady! Well you responded to me on GF so...I registered and I'll respond to you Wink

I bought a great book, Photoshop for Dummies and I love it. The index is packed with different topics I might want to know. I reference it daily.

Congrats on the auction standings, that's amazing. Your sunflower picture, as I told you in PM, is beyond belief awesome. Teach me oh wise one! Smile

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Re: Are you/will you/do you want to go pro?

Post  lkcase on Wed Sep 17, 2008 5:38 am

Well, I'd definitely say your lack of Photoshop knowledge (do you even own it? And I don't mean Photoshop Elements) is holding you back, esp in this day and age. I bought Photoshop for Dummies and a couple others and I COULD NOT figure it with the books. It is truly a VERY difficult program to understand. So, I signed up for a beginner class and then an intermediate class (both were specifically for photographers) and I hope my teacher (same guy who taught me just about all my classes--portraiture, lighting, etc, etc) will offer an advanced class soon. After all this, I still feel like I only understand about 5% of the program, but it's at least enough to get by, but still not enough.

Besides that, I'd try charging a nominal sitting fee when people ask you if you'll take photos of them (as they did at the preschool)--why not? You don't have to be a licensed pro to do that in this field. I'm not officially a pro (haven't joined a pro organization) and i've been making money taking photos of families, kids, Senior portraits, weddings, events for 6 years. I only do a few gigs a year b/c of the age of my children and I don't advertise (b/c i wouldn't have time to do the work), but once they get older I will. So, I charge very low rates at this point and people like that (and I'm pretty good)--$100 for a sitting fee and $50 for a sitting fee of a friend of a friend (I don't charge my friends, I just expect them to pass on my name and they have) and then my print prices are quite reasonable, too. For weddings I charge anywhere from $1700-$2500, which is very low for the Boston area. I'd say go for it--start small and see what happens!
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