Despite the popularity of digital cameras and mobile phone cameras, photography still offers a vast market to tap into. This is a business where you can literally call the shots, depending on which area you wish to work in. And as its your hobby it can be great fun and rewarding. The way forward is to to specialise in a niche market and this is what we will be covering, but lets look at the basic equipment that you will need.
Compact Cameras: These are small light weight, high mobility, with automatic focus. There some excellent compact cameras around of the simple point and shoot variety which are perfectly acceptable for taking landscape and buildings, although not advisable for use on portrait or fashion. These are very popular cameras with up to 50% of all photos taken around the world coming from this type of camera. Ideal when starting out. Stick with established brands such as Nikon, Sony, Canon and Olympus.
DSLR (digital single lens reflex) Cameras: DSLR cameras are more expensive than ompacts and tend to have more user operated functions such as focus, exposure time and zoom. Widely used by professional still photographers, they have 1080 video mode which is the same as that used in Hollywood films. Technology has enabled these cameras to produce very high quality of video. Although they require more skill to operate, they can be used for various different applications. DSLRs are the best option for taking portrait and fashion shots. They are also the best option for the new semi professional photographer, as even the cheapest SLRs can take excellent portraits.
Digital Cameras: These work using digital media. The obvious advantage is the ability of these cameras to to take as many shots as you want, discard the poor unwanted photos and just keep the good ones. Store them on your PC or a CD rom, even watch them on your television. If your purchasing a new model get one with the largest number of mega pixels possible, the more mega pixels the better your picture. These cameras cover a wide range of models from entry level upwards. Digital cameras can display images on a screen immediately after being recorded, and store and delete images from memory. Many digital cameras can also record moving video with sound. Some digital cameras can crop and stitch pictures and perform other elementary image editing. Lightweight, dependable, these cameras are constantly evolving, the latest being underwater models are now available. Always buy the best you can.
Medium Format Cameras: Mostly used by professionals, these types of cameras use 35mm roll film. They are the most costly type of camera in common use by professionals. If you wish to upgrade your equipment there are highly specialised models which can be purchased, although they are not required for any of the photographic businesses described here.
Other Equipment: This will depend on what niche you will be working in and may include flash gun or tripod.
Getting Started in Business:
Depending upon your experience it may well be advisable to consider a photographic training course. You can pick up all sorts of hints and tips and even business from these courses. Check out photographic magazines and the internet.
Now you have your camera and equipment, it will be time to get started. Remember, once you begin to make money you can put it back into the business and buy better quality equipment, enabling you to take better pictures and charge more money for them. It is essential that you are well organised and present a businesslike image. It is a good idea to get professional letterheads, invoices and business cards printed - these can be handed to any potential customers. Remember Insurance will be necessary, as photographic equipment is very desirable to criminals. Household insurance will not usually cover cameras used for business purposes.
Fashion Photography: This is an area of photography which is highly competitive and can be tough in terms of hours, although it is fun and can be very lucrative. Fashion retailers, magazines and designers all require fashion photographers and will either have their own staff photographers, use freelance photographers, or buy in photos when needed. Your portfolio will be of the utmost importance as you will need to demonstrate that you have good technical ability, a distinctive style and an eye for what makes a good fashion shot. Although it is a tough area to get into, the rewards are enormous.
School/College Photography: Most schools and colleges organise annual photographs of pupils as a way of raising money and updating records. You do not need much experience to take these simple portrait pictures, so consider approaching schools in your area with a view to getting the work. When the school has agreed to use your services, arrange a day in which you can come to photograph every pupil in the school individually. You could also take photos of class, year and teacher groups, and sports teams. A teacher will usually organise the times when pupils come to be photographed, so all you will have to do is set up your equipment and shoot. When you get the photographs developed, try to negotiate a bulk discount with the processing company. You will also require cardboard frames and wallets to hold the photos. The photographs are offered to the school pupils on a sale or return basis - about 65% sales to 35% returns is an average response. Please remember in the UK if you are working with children you will need a CRB certificate. (criminal records bureau)
News Photography: Interesting and newsworthy photographs are always required by newspapers to stand alongside news reports. They usually use freelance photographs for this purpose, or buy in photographs from particular individuals or photographic agencies. This is a service that you can offer, assuming you can demonstrate that you can be in the right place at the right time and take decent shots. It will be necessary to build up a portfolio of photos to show any prospective clients and employers. Try and develop contacts with news reporters who will tip you off when any news breaks, so you can quickly get snapping at the scene of any newsworthy events. Approach newspapers and news agencies, who, if they are interested in hiring you, will ask to see your portfolio. Whether they agree to use your pictures or not, get straight to the scene of any news event and start taking photos without waiting for authorisation. A single photo, if sufficiently newsworthy, could earn you thousands of pounds if syndicated to different newspapers and agencies. When you have built up a relationship with a newspaper, they will call you out on assignments, paying you per photograph rather than by the hour.
Trade Photography: This tends to be of a higher standard than news photography, although you will have much more time to set up shots as it is largely studio based. Companies often require good quality product shots for their packaging, or for trade magazines. Similarly, there are many consumer and trade magazines requiring regular supplies of high quality photographs. Try contacting magazines and the product marketing departments of large companies with a view to getting them to use you on a regular basis. Make an appointment to see them, to which you can take your portfolio.
Media Photography: Photographs of media and entertainment events and celebrities are required constantly newspapers by magazines, and the colour supplements. Indeed, some virtually base their sales upon printing candid shots of personalities' Although the general standard of photograph will need to be fairly high, the main requirements is to be in the right place at the right time. concerts, film-premieres, parties, theatre productions, public appearances and signing sessions. All these generate excellent media photo opportunities if you can make your way into the right position. once again, your portfolio will be all important although a good photo will be bought by magazines' newspapers and news agencies alike, perhaps all over the world.
Sports Photography: Photographs of sports people and events are the staple diet of tabloid back pages and sporting magazines' This requires a particular skill as you not only need to get into the right position, but you need to be able to photograph people moving at high speed. You will also need a camera and film that allows for fast, and possible multiple exposure times, as well as a zoom lens. You will often require authorisation to take photographs as this can interfere with the event taking place. Again, develop a portfolio and offer your services to magazines, newspapers and agencies.
Landscape Photography: Taking photographs of attractive landscapes, buildings and places of interest is one of the easiest ways of making money from photography. You could frame and sell the pictures yourself, or sell them to shops and other places, such as pubs. You could take pictures of local beauty spots, churches, bridges, monuments, streets and stately homes - anywhere that is popular and admired by local people. Decide when the best time is to take the photographs. Sun is generally a requirement for a good photo, with morning and evening times providing the best light. Snow scenes are also popular. Take various shots of your subject, if possible from different angles, and choose the best one. Following that, get some copies made and have them framed - they should be at least 10" x 8". Then approach places who will sell your pictures, such as gift shops, craft shops, home furnishing shops, the internet and even restaurants and pubs. They will probably agree to take them on a sale or return basis, although ideally they will buy them outright.
Property Photography: One possible lucrative photographic opportunity is to take pictures of people's houses and property on behalf of real estate agents/estate agents. An attractive colour photo is an essential requirement of estate agents to sell properties, so they may be interested in employing you to take their photographs. contact as many agencies as possible in your area with the aim of getting a regular orders. There is no reason why you can,t work for more than one. You could offer to take initial photos for free to give them an idea of what you are capable of and establish a rapport. stress to the estate agents that slow selling properties should be re-photographed regularly in order to help boost the amount of work. once they agree to use you, try to establish the best angle to photograph the property from. You need a shot that enhances the property as much as possible, so if the house has peeling paint, piles of rubbish in the garden, or rusty cars parked outside, try not to get them in the picture.
Opportunities will appear at the most unusual times, and in the most unusual places. Its a question of keeping your mind open. Good luck.