Looking for insights on the business of photography.
July 19, 2012 3:19 AM   Subscribe

UI designer wanting to turn into UI designer/photographer is looking for insights on the business of photography.

I am a web/app designer with 5 years of experience. 1.5 years ago I went freelance. While still very fascinated with user interface design, I want to move my photography hobby to the business.

I started photographing with a DSLR 5 years ago, and I believe I have amassed enough technical knowledge to be a photographer. However, I don't really know too much about the business side of photography: how to get clients (in photography), workflows, processes. I know how to take a good picture, how to light a scene, but I don't know enough about the business side. What are going rates, how to determine prices, what about prints, what services do clients expect out of a photographer? Specialization vs. jack of all trades?

I know photography is a hard business to break into, I am lucky to already have several things covered (most gear, software, computer, own a business) which would definitely make it easier than someone starting from scratch.

I realize a lot of this is learning-by-doing and there is no ultimate guide. However, while learning UI design I found some books and articles along the way that I can heartily recommend to any budding UI designer.

Googling leads to a lot of awful websites with mediocre advice, so pointers would be nice. I am sure there are some good reads out there.
posted by wolfr to Education (6 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Keep an eye on the courses at CreativeLive - they're free to watch live (and are repeated immediately after). Those that have already taken place can be purchased for US $99-$149.
posted by humph at 3:27 AM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've been reading Best Business Practices for Photographers, and it's been very enlightening as well as being well regarded.
posted by Mercaptan at 3:30 AM on July 19, 2012

(p.s. You have a fantastic portfolio!)
posted by humph at 3:31 AM on July 19, 2012

The ASMP's Professional Business Practices in Photography is pretty thorough on the business nitty-gritty. The ASMP in general is a fantastic resource.
posted by gyusan at 7:55 AM on July 19, 2012

gyusan's recommendation above is a good one.

Here's some tough love based on a look at your portfolio...

I mostly see a collection of typical snapshot level pictures, with no consistent style or content.

Example 1: The picture of frogs (or toads) tells me more about what you can't do (get a clean background and foreground) than what you can do.

Example 2: The flag photo says more about the metal pole than it does the flag. The horizon is just enough out of kilter to relegate this to snapshot status. If I were assigned to shoot this kind of a picture, I'd probably have burned about 500 frames (or however many it took) to end up with one where the flag is waving vibrantly, and I'd either have a level horizon, or at an appropriately dramatic angle.

Example 3: The objects in the camera and bottles still life have no real relationship with each other, and the blown out bottom right corner of the tale simply pulls one's eye out of the frame.

I am not attempting to demean your efforts at all, but I could go on in a similar vein about the rest of the pictures. I just don't see anything there that either I nor any of my 36 years worth of clients would consider top tier photography.

I'm not advocating that you should specialize, but that you give some serious thought to the kind of pictures you'd most like to be paid to shoot. Then, go out on your own and shoot those kinds of things; striving to continually improve the quality of your results.

Similarly, look at the web sites of professional photographers who shoot the kinds of subjects you like so you'll have a benchmark to objectively view your own progress. Heck, even look at flickr to see how other pros and talented amateurs handle those subjects.

In all but the most bottom feeding levels of professional photography, it is assumed that you can run a camera, lights, etc. The people who are making a real living in this business are paid largely for their creative vision, their professionalism, and the peace of mind that they bring to their clients. Remember also that they're generally working on tight deadlines and frequently are shooting something less than their first choices of subject matter.
posted by imjustsaying at 11:26 AM on July 19, 2012

Thanks for the kick in the nuts imjustsaying. I need more people that actually have something to say about my photos than "Ow, pretty".

I looked through some old picture sets on Flickr of mine and there is definitely an improvement.

That portfolio part is mostly composed of older pictures. I will be working hard to get a new portfolio up. In terms of upping quality I'm doing a 365 project to up my skills (see http://wolfslittlestore.tumblr.com/ )

posted by wolfr at 9:05 AM on July 20, 2012

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