So you want to be a professional photographer, here is how

Professional Photographer – Do you have what it takes to become a professional photographer?

Buy a nice camera.  Take some nice photos.  Hey, this is fun!  Maybe I should quit my job and become a professional photographer!

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Not so fast.  Consider that any “fantasy job” is a dream for hundreds of thousands of other people just like you.  Running a bed and breakfast, owning a restaurant, taking photos for a living — these are all high on the fantasy list of many people but the reality is to be successful in any of these ventures is risky, involves and lot of hard work.  These jobs require relentless drive to stand out from the pack, be the top of your game and compete with lots of local competition.

You need to access your local market of potential clients and get an idea of the local competition.  Are there good photographers in the area?  Are they cheap?  Many do this as a hobby and undercut those trying to earn a decent wage for their work.  If your local market is flooded with cheap photographers, it will be difficult for you to compete.

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Commercial photographer Mark Timberlake gives these tips:

What Are The First 10 Steps To Become A Professional Photographer?

  • Be confident in your equipment, know your equipment, most photography is high pressure.
  • Make sure your website looks stunning, your website will sell your photography.
  • Put your prices on your website so that you get rid of time wasters, set an hourly rate, a half day rate and a full day rate.
  • Look for commercial work for businesses, that is where the real money is.
  • Network at local business networks, wedding events, anywhere where your potential client hangs out, you will pick up work that way.
  • Do your first 3 jobs for free so that you can build a portfolio of professional work, find friends or relatives that need a photographer.
  • Build a local following on social media, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram are your best sites to start with.
  • When sharing photos on Instagram make sure you tag them with your location so that local users can find you.
  • Set up your Google My Business Page and get some reviews from happy local customers on it straight away.
  • Never ever drop your prices, always have a set price then offer a discount if someone is hard balling you or you want to run a promotion.

Can I make a living at this?

Can I make a living selling my photographs online?

In danger of sounding like the overgrown fifth grader, PeeWee Herman, my response has to be “I don’t know, can you?”

I can’t predict people’s future or have any idea of someone drive to succeed.  When someone asks “can you make a living licensing stock photographs from microstock sites” or “can you make a living selling artwork or photographs from PODs or Print On Demand sites” the answer has to be – “maybe”.

Some people do very well on stock photography sites and fine art sites like Fine Art America, Pixels, Red Bubble and Society6.  Some sell  enough to make a living at it even if its a modest one.  Then again some sellers live in third world counties where the cost of living is low.  Or they have a very spartan existence and eat ramen noodle three times a day.

The idea of living off of one’s artwork or photography buy simply uploading a few images and then kicking back on the beach is a fantasy.  Any photographer I’ve seen that has been successful has had to really hustle to make a living – they shoot weddings, they shoot events, they teach workshops, they shoot non-stop.

Alamy recently had an interview with a photographer that reached $250,000 in sales but that was after 15 years and uploading 27,000 images into his portfolio.  27,000!  Imagine finding, creating, processing and uploading that many images.  Imagine the time and effort involved.  Its not easy!  It takes dedication and working at it every single day to find worthy subjects.

From what I’ve seen, most photographers starting out in the game thinking they are going to make some money with their camera tap out the depths of their imaginations with garden flower photographs.  If garden flowers are the best you can come up with, you are going to be sorely disappointed.

Then there are the landscape photographers who dust off their cameras a few times a year when they are off on a holiday.  They stand in the National Parks next to hundreds of other vacationers getting the stale Kodak moment shot and then expecting to retire on the results.  Hate to break the news to you but very few people make a living as a landscape photographer.  Unless you have a sales force and chain of galleries in vacation spots like Peter Lik or magazine assignments from National Geographic and Outside Magazine, you probably will not be making a living as a landscape photographer.

To make any real money with your camera, you have to shoot people.  Learn to make people look good and you’ll make money with your camera doing portraits, senior portraits, weddings, fashion, etc.

Then there are the gadget hounds.  The guys with the latest and greatest cameras and lenses.  You know the guys who spend more time on the camera forums arguing about which lens is the sharpest than they spend actually taking pictures.  These guys spend all of their disposable income so they can have bragging rights the next time they are on vacation.  They are busier looking at people’s camera straps then the vistas before them. They are the ones who wander up to you while you are trying to compose a show with “I see you have the Canon X123” and try to get you to talk about camera gear.  The working photographer has no time for this, they are busy working!

If you decide to go professional with your photography, every purchase counts.  When you are in business for yourself every lens has to pay for itself.  The hobbist can buy a macro lens and play around shooting insects in the garden but the professional has to ask – what is the market for ugly bugs?  When will I make back the hundreds of dollars I just spent on this lens?

The best advice I can give is to do your research.  Here are a few books to get you started.


I want to be the next Ansel Adams

Have you ever said this to yourself? If you are a certain age you might be wondering – who the heck is Ansel Adams? But if were around in the 1980s you most likely have an Ansel Adams book or poster somewhere in your home.

Photographers of a certain age hold Ansel Adams in high regards. His work was ubiquitous in the 80s. You couldn’t go into a dorm room or poster store without seeing his work. Or even head to a museum and see his amazing prints on the wall. I was reminded of this recently when I visited my son’s high school art teacher room and there was one of those classic Ansel Adams posters framed on the wall. It’s probably been there for 25 years.

For many photographers of a certain age, Ansel Adams is the role model of success. Not only in technical achievement but in marketing. But the realty is that Adams financial success came late in life after a lifetime of dedication to his craft and art. After a life time of mastering the view camera and darkroom, after a lifetime of organizing photography movements (F64), showing his work in museums, writing books, teaching workshops, taking commercial assignments etc. it was only in the twilight years of his life did one of his students start marketing his work to a wider audience.

I think photographers who remember Adams success late in life forget about all of the years and work that lead up to that moment.

I was a college student back in the mid-80s just when Ansel Adam’s was becoming a household name.  I had a few posters in my dorm.  I checked his books out of the library.  I even bought a vintage 4×5 Graflex Press View Camera, a wooden tripod and a started hiking up mountains to expose my Polaroid Type 45 positive/negative film to later develop in my closet darkroom.  I suppose I thought I’d be the “next Ansel Adams”.

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But as an artist as one matures and finds their own voice, you realize that the goal is not to be come the “next” whatever.  The goal is to find your own expression and techniques to achieve your own vision.

The truth is, your journey though life will never match another persons.  Even your equipment won’t match another artist’s equipment.  Your view of the world won’t match another artists.  Your peers will be different.  Your life experience and opportunities will be different.  Your education will be different etc.  And its all good because this means your work will be your own.

How To Be Ansel Adams

  • Shoot black and white
  • Buy a giant view camera
  • Master exposing film
  • Master the dark room
  • Develop prints for maximum contrast and drama
  • Look at the world with awe
  • Hike all over the National Parks
  • Buy a station wagon and mount a platform on it
Ansel Adams on his portable camera platform.
Ansel Adams on his portable camera platform.

Take aways from Ansel Adams

  • 50% of the creative process occurrs in the Dark Room
  • Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships.
  • Use a dropped horizon – less sky more landscape
  • Know your equipment like the back of your hand
  • “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”
  • “There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.”
  • Previsualize your images before you snap the shutter.

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One Fine Day in Winter – The Life of the Photographer

One Fine Day in Winter – The Life of the Photographer

Growing up I was a huge fan of Mad Magazine and especially Don Martin’s cartoons which often had titles such as “One Fine Day in XYZ”. Combine that with my new learning challenge of creating videos and you get a result like the above video which attempts to get the viewer a glimpse into my process. Yes, mundane chores like like doing the laundry, giving rides to ski practice and grocery shopping get in the way of the “glamorous” life of the fine art photographer.

Big snow falls add extra challenges. 1. being the driveway has to be shoveled before any play happens. 2. it is often not safe to stop along a roadside when the plows are still working or the ditches are just waiting to swallow your car. 3.when you are the one working from home you get a list of chores to do.

Not all is as it seems in winter. A couple years ago I drove up what I thought was a snow covered driveway but it turned out to be a snowmobile trail and it swallowed my new car. I ended up walking to a country store and buying lunch for a burly landscaper kind of dude with a truck full of shovels to come and help we get out of the snow bank.

Oh the hazards of the job. Full of adventure yet full of perils not shown on a GPS unit.  Here are a few captures from Etna, NH after snow storm Nico.  8 – 12 more inches are on the way!

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Art Prints

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You May Be A Photographer, But Are You An Artist?

Roger Ballen Photography

Think before you shoot… 7 thoughts from world-renowned artist Roger Ballen.

“My purpose in taking photographs over the past forty years has ultimately been about defining myself. It has been fundamentally a psychological and existential journey.

If an artist is one who spends his life trying to define his being, I guess I would have to call myself an artist.” – Roger Ballen

Gregory Crewdson Photographer

Gregory Crewdson is a unique photographer who creates “movies” through a single photograph. Gregory, along with a massive crew, scripts out, sets up and shoots single photographs that are beautifully epic. The photographs he creates explore a psychological nature of humans that can be both majestic and disturbing. The creativity shines bright in the work of Gregory Crewdson.

Seeing Crewdson’s elaborately staged and lit still photographs, often taken with a large format view camera that exposes every detail, one is immediately taken in by the abbreviated narrative.  What is going on?  What events lead up to this scene?  What will happen next?  And perhaps – when is this sad and depressing movie coming out?

But there are no clues to who these people are, or what is happening to them and what will happen next.  There is no movie to tell the rest of the story.  There is no character development or plot.  Just a snap shot in time.

The time and place in a Crewdson photograph or perhaps “movie still” is timeless.  The cars, clothing and technology do not betray an exact period.  This isn’t Mad Men where every detail is authentic to the exact year of the story.  In Mad Men a magazine on a coffee table has to be the right year and month.  In a Crewdson photograph the cars are late model.  The telephones – rotary.  The houses are from the 1940s – well worn, a place from a childhood or a place grandma lived.

Perhaps the sets describe a land within Crewdson’s childhood memories.  The Brooklyn born Crewdson often summered in the Berkshires region of Massachusetts.  A place of contrast among the summering wealthy from New York and Boston, the Tanglewood crowd and the blue collar locals who toiled in the factories of contractors the Industrial Military Complex, many of which have moved overseas, leaving in their wake a lot of unemployment, empty  Main Street storefronts and housing stock in desperate need of upkeep.  The kind of made for Hollywood set pieces perfect for creating a backdrop of despair and mystery.

Inspiration

One summer as i was driving back and forth between New Hampshire and Westbrook, Ct on I91 I found myself in “Crewdson” territory.

I was helping my parents clean out, pack up and make the permanent move to Florida and decided to take some time for my photography alone the way and as a break.

I drove through Franklin County, Ma which is spot where one would take a right coming down I91 to head over to the Berkshires Region.  Its usually the spot to turn if you want to head over to Pittsfield for MassMOCA or just to spot for the McDonald’s.  To the left is Greenfield, MA which has the same mix of architecture you’d see in a Crewdson piece.  The city has a Main Street Historic District containing fine examples of Federal, Greek Revival, and Victorian architecture.  Greenfield also has some of the large old brick mills and factories that provided the economy that created the city in the first place.  Nearby is also Old Deerfields which is basically a living museum of preserved homes.

Deerfield includes the villages of South Deerfield and Old Deerfield which is home to two museums; Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association and Historic Deerfield, Inc. Historic Deerfield, Inc. is a museum with a focus on decorative arts, early American material culture, and history. Its house museums offer interpretation of society, history, and culture from the colonial era through the late nineteenth century.

But it was in Greenfield on a rainy summer day when the chance encounter with a late model car, backed by period homes provided me with a “Crewdson” moment.  The only thing I was missing was a few half naked models clad in dirty, soaked sundresses.
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Can’t you just see a victim of domestic abuse leaning against this car smoking a cigarette with the abusive husband in a wife beater screaming from the landing on the house in the background?
Sell Art Online

Maybe this one with the hood up and a scraggly looking 20 something working under the hood and a kid pedaling his tricycle down the middle of the street in the background.
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I have a number of images in my portfolio on Fine Art America that might fit in with a show of Crewdson’s work.   Usually I don’t work with a crew of art student interns  and lighting crew.  So in my work just the suggestion of a car on location is all you are going to get.  Make your own conclusions about what might be going on.

 

Books of Gregory Crewdson’s Work

Tiki’s Maui Hawaii Adventure

Photographs from Maui Hawaii

A sneak peak at the collection of Maui Hawaii photographs in the Hawaii gallery of photographer Edward M. Fielding (www.edwardfielding.com).

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Photographs from Maui, Hawaii, introduced by the famous Tiki the Westie.  Tiki is all decked out for his tropical vacation to the sunny island beaches, mountains and waterfalls of Maui, Hawaii.

Tiki might seem familiar to you as the supermodel who appeared in the book “The Quotable Westie” available on Amazon.

More funny westie photographs –
http://edward-fielding.pixels.com/art/westie


The photographs of surf board fences, beautiful island beaches, life guard stations and more are available from the portfolio called “The Last Resort” by Edward M. Fielding.  You can order framed art, canvas prints, metal prints, cards and more here:

http://edward-fielding.pixels.com/art/hawaii

All orders come with an 30 day money back guarantee and are printed and framed to museum standards by a firm that has been doing business with artists for over 30 years.

The Maui Hawaii photographs complement the images of surfing and surfers that has been a theme in my work over the years from surfing breaks at Rye Beach in New Hampshire to the shores of California, to the waters off of Hawaii where I was born.

Choose your favorite surfing canvas prints, framed prints, greeting cards, throw pillows, duvet covers, t-shirts, and more from  available designs.  You can choose the style, background, mat, frame, and more to create one of a kind artwork that matches your home or office.

Search for “hawaii”, “maui”, “surfing”, “westies”, “dogs”, “Tiki”, “beach” or whatever you like.  With over 4,000 images in the collection you are sure to find something perfect for yourself or as a gift.

 

Right Place Right Time – Lucky Photography

Vintage Tractor Photography Prints

Lucky Photography

Driving around Prince Edward Island after dinner with a car full of teenagers, I spotted this row of beautiful old antique tractors lit with incredible light from the setting sun. Now in these situations I have to make a calculation in my head within seconds. First is there anyone behind me before I slam on the brakes, second is there any where to pull over and third am I ready for the complaints from the passengers who really just want to get to our destination.

Believe me there are so many times I’m happy to ignore the protests! In photography, the photographer does rely on a lot of serendipitous moments but these moments favor the prepared. Its all about always looking for photograph opportunities and then having the skills to be able to pull the image off.

Make Your Own Luck

1. Learning to see images
2. Always having a camera on hand
3. Practicing constantly
4. Giving yourself opportunities
5. Returning to locations
6. Taking advantage of good light
7. Working quickly and with purpose
8. Making not taking photographs
9. Putting yourself in front of interesting subjects.
10. Walking for driving down that unknown street.

Vintage Tractor Art Online

The lighthouse photograph above came about over years of revisiting the same area.  Conditions were “lucky” on this occasion of going back to the same area and exploring it thoroughly to capture the best light, the best clouds, the best angle etc.  More hard work than luck.  The lucky part is when the sun and clouds cooperated.

Luck and Photography

It has been said that photography is the art form where luck matters most. True enough. And anyone can get that one lucky shot in their life time. But when you look over the career of a great photographer and start seeing one “lucky” shot after another, you start to realize there has to be a bit of planning behind all of those lucky shots.

This “storm chaser” shot below was very lucky.  Probably lucky I didn’t get killed.  But I didn’t go chasing a wall cloud, the storm came to us.  I took this shot from the porch of a little cottage we rented on Prince Edward Island.  Lucky, although I was prepared with my tripod and camera equipment.

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MOST PEOPLE ARE NOT skilled photographers, but if you’ve taken enough pictures in your life, you’ve surely turned up some good ones —
a snapshot or two that made you think, “Maybe I have a knack for this.”Boston Globe

Lucky Shots Take Time

People just starting out in photography look at great photos and have a desire to create the same amazing photograph right away.  The problem is looking at a small sample of a photographers lifetime of work.  Keep in mind that you are looking at the best of a photographer’s portfolio over a long period of time.  Luck will present itself within a long time frame.  Play blackjack, roulette, the lottery or slot machines long enough and you will win at some point.

Same with photography.  Invest the time and energy to create your own luck and it will happen.

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Sometimes luck comes in the form of a vintage car parked in the exact right spot at the exact time you happen to be there with your camera.

car Photography Prints

car Art Online

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More lucky and not so lucky photography – www.edwardfielding.com

Fine Art Photographs of Maui Hawaii

Fine Art Photographs of Maui Hawaii

From the book “The Last Resort” by fine art photographer Edward M. Fielding

www.edwardfielding.com – My book “The Last Resort” fine art photography of Maui Hawaii by Edward M. Fielding is available on Blub. 

 

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As surfers we care – Surf Board Fence in Maui Hawaii made from old surf boards recycled into a fence.

Hawaiian born fine art photographer Edward M. Fielding returns to the islands to see if paradise is lost or found. Black and white images of Maui. – http://www.blurb.com/b/5052770-the-last-resort

Photographs of Maui Hawaii

The Last Resort is a photo essay of the island of Maui Hawaii in black and white fine art photographs.  The name comes from the Eagle’s song from the classic rock album “Hotel California”.  In the song they talk about a certain neon sign that is on the island of Maui that says “Jesus Coming Soon”.  The sign has been there for 89 years so the term “coming soon” isn’t referring to human years.  Maybe 600+  year old Noah would consider that soon but I digress.
Hawaii Art Online

Fine art photographer Edward M. Fielding was born in Hawaii,  was an army brat but didn’t stay on the island for more then six months and hadn’t been back since.  So Fielding’s journey to Maui was about 45 years over due.  The only thing he knew about this tropical paradise was from images he’d seen on Hawaii 5-0 and the episodes of the Brady Bunch where the family takes a three-episode vacation to the islands.  Would Maui live up to the hype of the word “Paradise” or as the Eagles say in there song, should we never call some place paradise because that leads to its ultimate destruction and we are running out of paradises?

Hawaii Online

What Fielding found in Maui was an incredible landscape of contrasts. Maui has desert dry areas, wet rainforests, 10,000 feet above sea level “moonscapes” and 0 feet above sea level beautiful beaches.  But there was also an undercurrent of Yankee go home.  A bit of native resentment and even a bit of resentment from the hippies and surfers who first flocked to the islands to live out their dreams of a perfect wave.  Everyone seems to have a claim to “the real” Hawaii.

Maui Photography Prints

More fine art photographs from Maui, Hawaii by Edward M. Fielding

Inspirations: Rodney Smith

RODNEY SMITH – Photography Inspiration

Rodney Smith (born December 24, 1947) is a New York based fashion and portrait photographer.

Smith primarily photographed with a 35mm Leica M4 before he transitioned to a 120mm (medium format) Hasselblad with a 80mm lens. He prefers natural light to illuminate his subjects, but occasionally will use continuous lighting. Smith shot predominantly in black and white, until 2002, when he first began to experiment with color film. His work is commonly referred to as classic, minimalistic, and whimsical. – Wikipedia

After graduating, Smith went though a long period of struggling to find both his vision and a way to earn a living. He supplemented prints sales by teaching, putting collections together for corporations and basically living the life of a starving artist. “I never really knew from one month to the next how I was going to live,” he recalls. His first break in corporate work came when a friend who owned an ad agency hired him to shoot a black and white ad campaign for Northrop – which was shortly followed by a plum annual report assignment from Heinz – an opportunity that helped transform a lifelong devotion into a prosperous career. – http://www.kodak.com/US/en/corp/features/imagesOfGrace/bio.shtml

The greatest test for a photograph is if the two-dimensional image imbedded in its fibers can stand the test of time. With Rodney Smith’s elegant aesthetic and compositional prowess applied to creative concepts, the paper itself may one day fade, but the memory of the imagery will not. – http://www.digitalphotopro.com/profiles/rodney-smith-old-school-with-a-modern-twist/

Rodney Smith
“I’ve worried about photography. Many successful photographers these days are compositing their pictures. They’re putting together multiple pictures to make one. They’re becoming more like illustrators. Retouchers are becoming more important than the photographer. The photographer is becoming more of a technician than a visionary. Pretty soon the retoucher is going to want as much credit as the photographer. That’s okay. But it’s not the photography I know.” – Rodney Smith