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Tyler, Professional Researcher & Musician
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 6040
Experience:  B.M & M.M.. Skilled at in-depth research. Former police officer.
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I am wanting to find out how to get into the field of photography.

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I am wanting to find out how to get into the field of photography. I feel I have a natural talent for composing pictures (what makes a great picture) and have been told by many people that I should be a professional photographer. While I have a college education, the only photography course I have taken is "Recreational Outdoor Photography". I would like to learn how to go about finding out who would buy my photos, how to get assignments for taking photos for people, how to market myself, etc. Basically, how do I get into the field? I would like an answer from someone who has experience in this area as I am a fairly competent internet researcher and can google this myself. I want some experienced, knowledgeable advice.

Hi, welcome back and thanks for your question!

While I'm not a professional photographer, I have many friends and contacts who are in the business in different capacities. Breaking into any sort of mainstream business or art is difficult at first. Most professional photogs started quite low on the totem pole. Taking photography courses is a great way to learn the basics. An understanding of basic principles is absolutely necessary before you can hope to be successful. If your desire is simply to market your own, artful, photos then look within your community. Check out art galleries and submit some of your work for consideration. Most places have some sort of love for the arts, and by searching online for these outlets you can get some great leads. Even a free community gallery can get your name and persona out there. My church hosts an art gallery within the premises and showcases a different artist each month. Church members can view and purchase the items displayed. Although the community is not huge and the church is rather small, these artists do quite well, as our membership has a love for art.

If you would like to be paid to take photos for people, then consider putting an ad up on craigslist. Start slow and market yourself well. Work for CHEAP! There are tons of couples looking to save major money on their wedding these days. Wedding photographs normally cost between $1,000-2,000. Come in well under that figure and start making an impression. Also, if you have a college or university in the area, market to their theatre, dance and music departments. Most students are encouraged to or required to get professional head shots done. Contact the dept. professors and offer your services.

As you start to pick up some jobs and gain a good reputation you can get more work and raise your prices. Build a community base for your work so your name becomes known. You'll find this will open more doors. Should you decide to take some additional photography classes make sure you talk to your instructors. They will know the ins and outs of the art/photo community in your area. They can put you in contact with people and places who will at least look at your portfolio.

You can't expect to just take great pictures, put them on a website, and see money rolling in. You have to develop your name in your area. Work these ideas and, if you're good at what you do, I have no doubt you'll see some professional growth. Please write back if I can answer any more questions! Best of luck to you!

If you need more information, please press REPLY so I can help you further. If I have been able to answer your question, please press ACCEPT as that is the only way I am compensated for my time and research. Positive feedback is very beneficial to me and, if you are able to take a minute once the process is over to leave some I would greatly appreciate it. If you have reason to leave less than positive feedback, please contact me first so I can ensure you are properly assisted with your question. Thanks and best wishes!

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thanks for the information! I am interested in marketing my "own, artful, photos" - do you have any other suggestions other than submitting work to art galleries? Also, how does one go about submitting work to art galleries? Do I need to have some sort of semi-professional portfolio put together? If so, what should it contain? Do I need to have my credentials or a resume of some sort? I live in Boise Idaho and am completely unfamiliar with the "art scene", especially as far as amateur art photography goes. Any suggestions for my local area? I am definitely more of an "art photography" type of person...

I appreciate any additional information you can provide, if it's especially useful I would love to leave a bonus as well.

Thanks for your reply. To market yourself in the art world you MUST have a "fan base". You've got to have a large group of people who know your name and want what you offer. That's why I mention local art galleries. Even if your photos are displayed at a place where they can't be sold (a non-profit type situation) you can at least leave your name and a way to be contacted, for those who want to buy. In this case I would recommend setting up a website. It doesn't have to be anything elaborate, just something that tells who you are and describes your photo philosophy. This is less of a place for "googlers" to find and more of a place to send interested parties to.

In regards XXXXX XXXXX galleries--do know that an art gallery can be any sort of place that displays art--hence, the church example I gave. It doesn't have to be a stuffy place that sells items only from well known artists whose prices begin at $10k. Try local restaurants, "well-traveled" businesses and bars. They ALL need decor, something to put on the walls. Offer your photos to them with in agreement in place in regards XXXXX XXXXX them. That can be as simple as a small business card placed underneath which offers your contact info and the price of the piece. Businesses benefit because they can borrow the art for free and, if you put it in the right place, you can definitely see some profit. This is not just an idea of mine, this is something I've seen countless times. I've seen art at city hall for sale! If you were to work out an agreement with a governmental agency, you might have to stipulate that part of the profit went to charity.

As far as submitting work goes, first make some contacts. Take some classes (in Boise I'm sure you have some great educational opportunities) and talk to some professors. A portfolio is necessary to get into most gigs. Put together something that shows YOU. Think about what the overall theme of your work is and pick a select number of works that can show this. Think of a portfolio as a resume. If you rattle on for 10 pages you can be certain the last nine won't be read. Be concise and powerful in what you present. Show your strengths and what you're most interested in--don't be a "jack of all trades". A resume is not as necessary as a portfolio. Art is not something you have to have a degree in to be able to do.

As far as the art scene goes in Boise, I'm afraid I can't help much there--I live about 1,000 miles away! That said, check out the "beatnik" places in town to get a vibe for the art scene. Stay in tune with local city-wide publications. I'm sure Boise has a city magazine and there are probably other city publications put out. Check out the events listings in those publications as well as in the paper. You'll find some things you never noticed before I'm sure.

Lastly, NETWORK! In any realm of the arts talent can get you far, but networking can get your farther. Know the people in the art circles--which starts by getting to know them as your professor in a photo class.

Sorry to be so long winded, but I had so much to say! I hope this works out for you, I personally am a huge fan of a beautiful photo or painting!

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