So I just signed in, and noticed the site meter reading 30,000 hits since I started my photography blog on October 24, 2007! I want to give a huge thank you to all my past clients, frequent readers and new visitors, who might have accidentally stumbled upon this little part of the cyber world of mine :) Regardless, I'm so glad you've come to visit and share my experiences with me!
Between juggling life at home with an active toddler, working night shift full time, squeezing in photography gigs on my days off, and not to mention some ME time in between all of that, it's difficult to blog on a daily basis. That's why I appreciate all my readers who check back often for new updates :)
Since I never started a FAQ on here before, these are the questions that I get asked most often:
How did you first get into photography?
I held a dslr in my hands for the first time about 5 years ago when my brother in law asked me to take some family pictures during their visit to San Francisco. I remember it was a Canon 20d and he probably had it in full auto mode since I had no clue how to work the camera at the time! After seeing the quality of photos that a regular point and shoot camera couldn't do, I felt the need to get my own dslr in hopes to take wonderful photos when I had children of my own.
What was the first camera you started with and what equipment do you use now?
When the Canon xti first came out in 2006, it featured the first dslr with a self cleaning sensor. I was sold :) Two years after that I purchased my first used Canon 5d. Currently, I own two 5d bodies and the following lenses: Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS, Canon EF 16-35 f/2.8L, Canon EF 50 f/1.4, Canon EF 100 f/2.8 macro, Canon 530EX and 430EX, Canon CPE3 battery pack, manfroto tripod and mini tripod, 36 gigs of memory and 5 batteries.
Did you ever take any photography classes? How did you start?
The answer is no. I surfed online and read as much as I could, joined photography forums, bookmarked my favorite photographers for inspiration and ideas, posted my photos online to have them critiqued, and practice practice practice! I started taking pictures of objects around my apartment and eventually persuaded some friends to model for me to practice taking portraits. At the time, all I ever shot was in AV mode. Once I felt more comfortable I pushed myself to learn manual mode. Now, all I ever shoot is in manual.
The first experience to take pictures at a wedding was 2 weeks after I got my Canon xti. I still had no clue how to use the functions on the camera and basically shot everything in AV mode with a lot of beginner's luck on my side! My brother in law let me borrow his Canon 420 EX for the day and I was also using his Canon EF 28-135. Randy's brother was getting married so I thought what a great way to learn! 5 months after that, my friend didn't have a full day photographer at her wedding in Las Vegas, so I offered the minimal experience I had and basically started a path towards photography from there!
What gear do you recommend for a newbie wanting to get into photography?
Start with what you can afford. As you will see, photography is an expensive hobby! I started with the Canon xti and borrowed my brother in law's Canon EF 28-135 f/3.5-5.6 for the first half year. The first couple years I owned different lenses every 6 months or so through buying and selling. I really didn't know what focal lengths I needed and the quality of glass that was best to buy. Although I've only rented once to test out a lens, renting from a local photography shop may also be a good idea before you decide on a big investment. The fees are usually affordable and you can see for yourself if it's what you really want. My suggestion is to spend your money on a quality lens from either Canon or Nikon. Their resale values are the highest, and they're most reliable in my opinon. Depending on what kind of shooter you are and the focal length you require will help you determine your best options.
How do you know how much to charge your clients if you're first starting out?
I struggled with this question for a long time before my first paid gig. I remember scouring the web and tried to look for answers on a couple different photography forums, and unfortunately there is no black and white answer. My only suggestion is to charge what you are comfortable with. Look at the different pricing on local professional photographers to get an idea what the going rate is around your area for the quality of work that is being offered. Compare your own work versus the professional photographer and consider the amount of experience you have. I would recommend starting a blog and begin posting your best photos. Christmas is just around the corner, so why not offer to do some family sessions for people you know for free or for a nominal fee? Being able to provide direction to your clients is just as important as being able to take a photograph, and sometimes this takes practice.
Drop me a message if you think this post has been helpful, or if you have other questions! Before I forget, thank you to all the Veterans in Canada and the USA!