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02-24-2016, 11:10 PM   #1
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Tips for staying positive and finding photography jobs?

Hello! It's been a while since I've posted, but I'm just kinda wanting to see if anyone has any advice. I got into photography a few years ago, and recently decided I'd love to try to make a job out of it. The problem is, while my photography is pretty good, my social skills are absolutely abysmal and I can't seem to find anyone to shoot for. And I'd normally try not to bother anyone with my woes, but lately it's started to affect my photography. I don't see as much worth to my photography and ideas, so I pick up a camera less now.

Any tips from someone who's been there?

EDIT with my later clarification: Ah, I should have mentioned what kind of photography I'm into... I've done a couple senior photo shoots, and a wedding (my friends and family) and I quite enjoyed that (not so much for the wedding, but...) I also kinda enjoy the attention to detail required for product photography (I've dabbled with shooting items around the house, and some food shots)
But, I can't wrap my head around stock photography and don't have the eye for fine art.

Thanks for the advice so far BTW.


Last edited by SpartanD63; 02-24-2016 at 11:51 PM.
02-24-2016, 11:17 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by SpartanD63 Quote
Hello! It's been a while since I've posted, but I'm just kinda wanting to see if anyone has any advice. I got into photography a few years ago, and recently decided I'd love to try to make a job out of it. The problem is, while my photography is pretty good, my social skills are absolutely abysmal and I can't seem to find anyone to shoot for. And I'd normally try not to bother anyone with my woes, but lately it's started to affect my photography. I don't see as much worth to my photography and ideas, so I pick up a camera less now.

Any tips from someone who's been there?

(And I wasn't sure whether to put this in General or Pro sections, but I figured this section would be more knowledgeable about this side of things)
Well you obviously have the talent and the desire. The only way to get passed the issue with social skills is to seek out professional help. I am not implying that you are insane, we all have issues to some degree. I am recommending a psychologist, not a psychiatrist. Speaking from personal experience, it will be time well spent. I am confident you will be fine after just a few sessions. Best of luck.

Tony
02-24-2016, 11:23 PM   #3
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I know absolutely zero about the photography industry but I will offer generalized advice about 'jobs' in general.

The economy sucks no matter how you slice it. Things are very rough for a whole lot of people. I know a bunch of people that were in the oil industry that are now unemployed.

Indications are that we have a pretty good chance to enter another recession.

The first question I would ask is what kind of photography are you wanting to do? You said 'shoot for someone'... what do you mean? As in you want to be a staff photographer for a newspaper or something? Define that if you will as it relates to you...

I don't want to rain on any parades but try to not let a job get in the way of your passion. If money is tight you might have to get something different. Be a bartender or whatever you can to eat, but don't let your creativity suffer. Don't do anything short term stupid that will cause you long term misery.

I am sorry that I don't have any good advice to give, but from what I can tell photography jobs are 95% inside connections. They hire people they already know to do things.
02-24-2016, 11:29 PM   #4
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Wow, Duncan, I had to check my old posts to make sure I didn't write this in my sleep. If it makes you feel any better, you are not alone. I mean word for word you could have described me.

Well what kind of photography work are you trying to find? Private consumer jobs like weddings, seniors, and families? Commercial work, either editorial or advertising? Do you want to sell fine art prints? Stock photography? People here will be able to help you more if they know a little more about your goals.

02-24-2016, 11:41 PM   #5
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Ah, I should have mentioned what kind of photography I'm into... I've done a couple senior photo shoots, and a wedding (my friends and family) and I quite enjoyed that (not so much for the wedding, but...) I also kinda enjoy the attention to detail required for product photography (I've dabbled with shooting items around the house, and some food shots)
But, I can't wrap my head around stock photography and don't have the eye for fine art.

Thanks for the advice so far BTW.
02-25-2016, 06:45 AM   #6
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Many years ago I wanted to get into fashion photography which at the time was a bi...tch to get into. So I devised a plan, I went to various modeling schools and offered my services to photograph their students runway and portfolio shots for free with the agreement the non charge would not be divulged. After a brief time as I continued to do that my name got out as those students with those portfolio shots went on to modeling agencies and jobs in the industry. The end result my work got out and I was able to make a very decent living over a period of time. My point is sometimes a little sacrifice and creative thinking can lead to better things.

If your product photography is what you feel your calling is, then why not go to different retail establishments in your area and offer your services for window and store displays etc.
02-25-2016, 07:43 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by SpartanD63 Quote
Ah, I should have mentioned what kind of photography I'm into... I've done a couple senior photo shoots, and a wedding (my friends and family) and I quite enjoyed that (not so much for the wedding, but...) I also kinda enjoy the attention to detail required for product photography (I've dabbled with shooting items around the house, and some food shots)
But, I can't wrap my head around stock photography and don't have the eye for fine art.
Do you have a portfolio? Nothing speaks for itself like visualization. If offer your job, explanation what you can do will not so effective like a look at what you can do, imo.
02-25-2016, 09:20 AM   #8
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A portfolio is an important place to start. You probably want to build both a physical one maybe 11x14, and a website. On your website, you should have, along with your pictures, a bio about yourself, a section that talks about the investment people will be making by hiring you, and a way to contact you. "Investment" is a great word because it carries the connotation that a) there will be costs involved, and b) they will be worth it.

There are several very broad avenues that you can pursue if you want to make a living at photography, since you said stock and fine art are out, let's just talk about commercial, and private consumer photography (there are a few other arenas as well though). Work in the consumer photography industry is much more readily available. People get married all the time, kids graduate from high school, people want family portraits. The problem is that in this day an age, when even a cell phone can create a decent snapshot, people sometimes need to be convinced that they should shell out a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars to hire you as a photographer (assuming dollars are the currency of your country). you'll need to book maybe 100 jobs or more in a year's time just to pay your bills, maybe fewer if there are weddings mixed in. I'm told that social media is THE tool these days for consumer photographers, but sadly, I can't tell you a thing about ho to go about using it.

Commercial photography work on the other hand is much harder to get, but it generally pays better, so you don't have to book as many shoots throughout the year, and you don't have to convince your clients that they need to hire a real photographer (as much). You will need to spend a lot of time marketing yourself though, and creating a brand identity. Plan to spend only about 10 percent of your time shooting, and the rest editing, networking, and marketing.

If you want to focus on the consumer market (weddings, seniors, etc.), I'm told it's not a bad idea to list the prices of your packages on your website. If however, you want to target the commercial market, DO NOT list your prices on your website. For one thing, it looks... cheap, from the eyes of a commercial client, but for another thing, you won't be able to charge a predetermined amount for every assignment. You'll need to talk to the client, determine their needs, figure out what it will cost you, add a markup, and then submit a bit.

This is just a very broad overview, whichever path you take, you will need to be a businessman/businesswoman first, and a photographer second. If that's going to be difficult for you (I mean more so than for others, it's not easy for anyone), maybe consider a different line of work that will allow you to keep doing photography for enjoyment. There's nothing wrong with that approach.

I would try to decide which direction specifically you want to go, and then research what steps you would need to take. There are tons of videos on youtube for free, but you can also take classes, read books on the topic, and so forth. There are even businesses out there that will help you run your business, for a fee of course. In particular there is a company called Wonderful Machine that provides all kinds of services for photographers, marketing and promotion, bidding, website design. You definitely want to be up and running before you start laying out huge sums of money though.

I don't know, does any of that help?

02-25-2016, 02:41 PM   #9
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I can't understand why anyone with poor social skills would want to be a people photographer. All the advice here, thus far, is for how to set up a better business and run it more efficiently. If you really want to pursue people photography nyou'll need better social skills. Perhaps asking on a psychology forum would yield better answers.
02-25-2016, 04:35 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wolfeye Quote
I can't understand why anyone with poor social skills would want to be a people photographer. All the advice here, thus far, is for how to set up a better business and run it more efficiently. If you really want to pursue people photography nyou'll need better social skills. Perhaps asking on a psychology forum would yield better answers.
Another way is to go into business with someone else who *is* a people person, who can do the front of house stuff and marketing really well. If they're a pretty good photographer, it might be asked what do they gain from the venture they couldn't already do themselves, of course.
02-25-2016, 06:41 PM   #11
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QuoteQuote:
Another way is to go into business with someone else who *is* a people person, who can do the front of house stuff and marketing really well.
A "rep" (representative) will negotiate with clients on your behalf with your portfolio. They get 25% of your photo fees. They may (and should) represent other photographers as well.
02-25-2016, 07:05 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by SpecialK Quote
A "rep" (representative) will negotiate with clients on your behalf with your portfolio. They get 25% of your photo fees. They may (and should) represent other photographers as well.
Yes, I suppose Spartan can get himself the equivalent of an agent.

Just handy to have someone there at the shoot itself who acts as the wrangler, lighting assistant, second shooter, etc, but unlike an agent, this would have to be a genuine collaborator.

I think 'Lone Wolves' would have a hard time establishing themselves in a career, they might get away with that personality once they're firmly established, but on the way up ...

I have seen this in my field, IT. Non-communicative savants just aren't tolerated the way they were twenty years ago - there's a very, very big pool of wannabes who can take their place.
02-25-2016, 08:47 PM   #13
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A lot of interesting tips here. And I like the aesthetics and results I get from shooting people, and perhaps am strangely drawn to people.

I will admit that clackers has a pretty good point. It's hard to manage lighting and such alone.
I think that the best way to put my issue is that I'm not sure how to communicate and market and such. Good advice from a couple people here to check with some psychology types. I'll have to look into that.

Lastly, I have considered leaving photography as a hobby or just having it as a small addition to other income. That way it's not so stressful to do.
02-26-2016, 05:57 AM   #14
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Something is conflicting in your statements. You tell that you are not good with people, but you like to work with people, and, as I understood you had clients. How did they like your work?
You want to work as a photographer, but obviously you did not do much efforts to enter the job, or have a strategy for entering.
Perhaps, your issue is not communication, but entering job strategy and in general you are not sure it's a good idea.
02-26-2016, 08:54 PM   #15
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That's a good point, micromacro. Perhaps that's closer to the case. I guess I'm not sure how to convince people that I'm a good choice to shoot for them? Because the shoots all went pretty well, with minimal communication errors there. So perhaps it is just a matter of a lack of strategy... and hesitation stemming from that. I'll have to sit down and think that side of things through a bit more.
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