Things I Wish I Knew Starting Out....

Season 1. Blog 2.

Welcome back friend,

So. This isn’t really a Tip Tuesday, but I got to thinking back to a few things that might have helped me when I first started out in Photography. This should be beneficial and help you get more comfortable if you’re just starting out or an established photographer, but keep thinking your making some mistakes in photography when trying to excel and expand your brand.

So, let’s dive right in! Time is very valuable in 2018!

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1. Attention is Earned. Never guaranteed.

When you’re beginning in photography, it may be hard to get your work noticed. Trust me, we’ve all been there and it’s frustrating. It’s easy to fall into the trap to look at others' work and say “I am going to start a blog, just like them” or “I like the way they edit, I’ll just copy them”. Attention comes in all forms, but overtime I have noticed, people want creativity and personal style. Personal Style is often acquired overtime, and helps add to your brand, which will help you stay on the minds of the viewers, or people looking at your work. Attention isn’t guaranteed, and it shouldn’t be the only thing on your mind when starting out in this field of photography. My thought process on starting out as a photographer: 1st. Passion, 2nd. Art, and lastly, 3rd. Viewers. When talking to new photographers, at the track or away from the track, I always stress; “As long as you like your own work, that’s all that matters. Because 9 times out of 10, someone else will too!”

When I started photography, I had a passion for the art of photography. That is what has kept me in the field, and excelling, because it stems from passion. You will sometimes get negative attention from other photographers, other viewers, family members - but not everyone has an eye for good photography. Push away negative attention, by not associating with it, and keep those thoughts out of sight, and surely, out of mind. I’ve heard a ton of different comments when I started in the Motorsports industry, such as “Your work is never going to go anywhere”; “You will never achieve credentials on your own”; “Your photos are edited poorly and lack skill”. All of these were comments made by either jealous photographers, or photographers that thought I was too young, and had virtually no experience, and surely didn’t want to help me either - Which in reality, you can gain experience with time, but you shoot photos with your eyes, and no one else’s. Not everyone sees shots like you do and that’s exactly where attention is earned, not guaranteed. Stay true to developing your brand, and no one else’s opinions will matter and the drive will push you to stand out in this complex industry.

2. Let Your Work Stand For Itself.

Never force photography onto others - This can result into negative comments, or negative looks upon your brand. What I mean by that is - Don’t post photos directly to people’s Facebook profiles. Tagging them is fine, but never posting directly. It can be viewed as intrusive, and craving attention from people. My rule of thumb, if you are wanting to appear professional on social media - 1. Open a Facebook page, and post to there and only there. It screams less of “Me, Me, Me”, and will be easier for people to share your work, due to some Facebook settings and restrictions. That way you give the option if someone wants that photo being seen by others - Some, honestly, you will be surprised, will remove their tag, if they don’t like the photo! This goes for a lot of different forms of photography not just motorsports.

3. Marketing is important.

Most of us, don’t understand how important marketing is in creating a brand or brand awareness. I have done so much marketing for myself, which has gotten me to where I am today. I firmly believe that. I have a photography facebook page with 4,500+ likes/followers and one of the top motorsports photography pages in the Central PA Area and surrounding areas for Motorsports photography (in 3 short years).

In order to be successful, you need to find a niche. Photography can speak for itself, however, you still have to market yourself. I believe in opening a website, and using it to its fullest potential. Building blocks for marketing; such as: ads, posters, designs, that will help guide your audience to your page, and help create a sense of direction for fans to view your photos. I have done this through special techniques, that are viewed on my page daily. I do not believe in paid marketing on Facebook. You want a genuine following, not paid following. Money can only get you so far, but sharing your work to photography groups, pages, or groups within your niche, you will succeed, better than paying for ads on facebook. They’re just not as effective!

4. Watermarks don’t solve everything.

Watermarking is the best form of FREE advertisement for your company that you can do. I think adding a watermark to your images, doesn’t necessarily mean, your trying to “sell your work”, but in hindsight, protect your work. Most of the general public that views photos, don’t care if your logo is large, if your logo is tiny, if your logo is in the direct center of an image, they mainly just care about the image itself and if it’s “cool enough” to share to their followers/friends & family.

I view logos as a direct marketing tool to help identify my work, and make sure it is not being used for commerical work, without my permission. My logo stays on an image, until I give full permission to use it. I find in 2018, most people just want logos for facebook, instagram and twitter, not necessarily printed. While I still believe you should hang photos everywhere - most just like digital copies, which essentially is more valuable than a screenshot.

5. Not the best equipment? No Problem!

You don’t need the newest and best equipment on the market to start shooting photos! I’ve seen photos with great lighting, get less shares and less likes, than a crappy cell phone photo. Remember, if you can evoke emotion or connection in an image, that’s all you need and BAM, hidden success! I started out taking photos on a Canon Rebel XS, in 2010. It did the trick until I could upgrade, and now I shoot with a Sony a7Rii Mirrorless camera! Talk about a 360! It’s still not the best on the market, but it’s a step in the right direction for the future of camera industry (check back later on this year for when I do a review on how I like my Sony mirrorless). However, I have worked my way to shooting with this camera. I have shot with the Canon Rebel XS, Canon 35mm Film Camera, Canon 50D, and Canon 7D Mark ii. I have had multiple years of experience shooting with each of these, and I think that is the most important. A camera with the newest technology is only as good as the knowledge you have to use it and put it to the test! I think it is important to learn the art of photography and apply it, rather than just go out shooting! You will get decent shots, but any knowledge helps when your in the field!

A camera with the newest technology is only as good as the knowledge you have to use it

I hope these few ideas help you better address how your photography is going, and if it’s going in the right direction. I feel a lot of these themes have helped with questions I see posted everywhere from other photographers. Essentially, to end this blog today, I would like to say thank you if you have made it this far, and come back next Tuesday for another post about photography, and ways to help your own photography improve or just what I think is beneficial information for photographers. Also, if you think of any other tips that may be useful or helpful to other photographers, please post a comment! This is just based on my personal experiences as well as seeing other photographers struggle!

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