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  • Haleigh Shedd

10 Tips For Aspiring Photographers and Videographers

Updated: Mar 5, 2019

At the ripe old age of 15 years old, I picked up a camera and never seemed to put it down. I found so much joy in photographing my life and sharing the pictures online, and eventually started filming too. Fast forward a few years to the summer after my freshman year in college; this is when I started to take my camera work seriously.

With a little help from Wordpress, Wix, and a cool figurine sitting on my dresser, the Bronze Owl Media was brought into existence. Since then, I have booked numerous graduation and engagement photo shoots, as well as filmed a handful of weddings.

While my brand is still growing, I have been able to reflect on all that I have learned over the past few years as a photographer and videographer. If you are interested in joining the field, check out these tips on how to get started as a freelancer.

1. Pick a name

First and foremost, you need a name for your business. It could be your name with "photography" or "media" attached to the end or it could be something a little more creative. It's up to you. I personally didn't want to use my name, especially since it will change when I get married, so that's why I chose The Bronze Owl Media.

2. Take photos for friends and family

Friends and family are the BEST clients! Begin taking photos for free and once you build a portfolio, you will have more grounds to start charging. The same goes for videography. Create short highlight reels of your life or cover an event, and then once you have established yourself, start bringing home the bacon.

3. Use social media to promote your work

Social media is the MOST valuable tool in your advertising arsenal, so USE IT. Plus, it's FREE. For camera work, I mainly deal in Facebook and Instagram since they are the most popular and designed to present photos and videos well. Eventually, I will expand to other outlets, but in due time. Also, anything you share on a professional page, I recommend sharing on your personal pages. Most clients will initially be friends, so make sure your work shows up on their timelines.

4. Invest in your equipment

I could write a book about this because there is so much to your equipment. You don't need a fancy camera and an obscene amount of gear to enter this field. I shoot with a Canon Rebel t6, but I want to eventually upgrade when I can afford it. However, if you want to be a videographer, it's a little more expensive. You will eventually need sound equipment, lighting equipment, and multiple lenses, as well as a way to edit your video and audio.

For audio, I use a wireless transmitter/receiver set to pick up sound and I record it with an H4N Zoom. It is a little pricey, but it is totally worth it. Lighting equipment can come later. Your needs will be dependent upon what kind of events you are filming. If you are filming weddings, you won't really need lighting equipment, but if you are dealing in posed interviews, it will be vital to have the right lighting.

As far as lighting is concerned for photography, I mainly rely on natural light, rather than a flash. To manipulate your light, you can buy a light reflector for pretty cheap online. This can transform your photography and make your clients glow. It is also wise to collect multiple kinds of lenses. My camera came with an 18-55mm lens, but I just purchased a 55-250mm lens, and I am saving for another lens with a greater range. You can also experiment with other lenses like wide and macro.

5. Invest in editing programs

I am a total advocate for Adobe Create Cloud and rave about it to everyone. If you’re a student, you get a killer discount and they even offer a free trial so you can test it out before buying it. I mainly use Lightroom for photos and Premiere for videos, but there are other apps that allow you to add special effects, edit audio, and more.

6. Get more storage

Another piece of equipment you will eventually need is an external hard drive or equivalent storage unit. Photos and videos take up a lot of space on your computer, so spend the money and get a drive with excessive room. My external hard drive, a WD Easystore, is four terabytes. I’ve had it for a year and have only used about 5% of its space. Plus, they are small and portable, so you can take them anywhere.

7. Never pay full price

I frequently browse websites like MPB, B&H, Mercari, and Amazon to look for used equipment. You can look on big brand websites like Canon and Nikon for refurbished items, but I seldom find a price that is worth it. Often, I find gear that has only been used a handful of times, so it is in nearly perfect condition, but it is half the retail price.

Just be sure to read the website's terms & conditions to make sure there is a safeguard in case the seller turns out to be a con artist. To avoid that, I often contact the seller beforehand to ask them about the product and gather as much information as possible. So far, the only issue I have ever had has been an unresponsive seller on Mercari and I was refunded all of my money.

8. Develop a strong portfolio

Wix and Wordpress are my best friends. For web design and photo/video presentation, I prefer Wix, but for blogging I prefer Wordpress. Squarespace is highly recommended as well, but I cannot offer an opinion since I am less familiar with it. It all depends on what you are looking for in a website and how much work you are willing to put into maintaining it.

9. Network network network

Tell people what you do. Don't be pushy, but definitely don't be shy about your work. You’d be surprised how many people remember you later on when a multimedia need arises. I have received numerous recommendations from just a single client. Imagine how many more you will get once you start building your client base.

10. Take your camera everywhere

Life is beautiful and there are photo ops literally everywhere you go! Develop that creative eye by being prepared for when you see a glimmer of extraordinary among the mundane.

Did you find these tips helpful or did I miss something? Let me know in the comments below!

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