Tonight I had the pleasure of speaking to Natalie Bartelme for one of my virtual coffee e-learning sessions. We had a FABULOUS time! Natalie was super organized and knew exactly what questions she wanted answers to. Natalie is brand new to starting a photography business. She has a background in journalism from college and tons of experience with studio photography from back when film was the only option. She does not yet have a website but I can’t wait to see what she does with it when she gets it all set up. Natalie lives in Wisconsin with her husband (who gets brownie points in my book for being a pastor!) and her fabulous kids (who I caught peeking their little heads through her closed office door, haha!). We had a blast getting to know each other and talking photography.
As a new photographer, I completely understand how hard it can be to figure out how to get into the business and the most economical way to do that. Start up costs are not cheap but it can be done without breaking the bank. More importantly, it can be done over time. Here are some Q&A’s from tonight’s session. Again, these e-learning sessions are FREE via Skype. If you’re interested in an virtual coffee e-learning session use the contact us form to send us an email with your information. Again, this is all just my opinion so take it or leave it.
#1) What types of equipment and programs are essential when you’re starting out?
Here’s a myth buster for you. You don’t need all sorts of fancy equipment to start a photography business. If you are passionate about being a photographer and you have the drive to do what it takes you will succeed. You don’t need a D700 or that Nikon 2.8 70-200mm lens. I started out with a D80 (which I’m still using) and two Quantarray lenses. You don’t need popular name brand lenses to make good images. I have the 18-55 and the 70-300, all for just under $200 at the time I purchased them. You need solid branding so make sure you have a clear vision before you invest in a designer for your logo. Again, I’m lucky that I have a design background so I can do all of my own work but that doesn’t mean you can do the same thing. Hire a pro! Lastly you should have either Lightroom or Aperture. You don’t need Photoshop to start off with. Lightroom is my preference. It makes life so much easier and will run you about $200. You DON’T need Photoshop actions like Totally Rad Actions or Kubota Actions. Define your style before you buy these then use these to make your life easier. Don’t let these actions define your style like so many other photographers do. Then your images will look like everyone else’s images that have purchased these actions. Instead learn your style then learn to manipulate the actions to suit your style. Also, while a Mac is nice, you don’t NEED a Mac. A PC will work.
True story. Many photographers are under the misconception that they have to have all this fancy gear to be a good photographer but in actuality I can hand my fancy hear to you and your pictures won’t look any different than what you’re used to shooting. It’s the skill behind the lens that makes an image great, not the equipment. I know someone who was under this misconception, went out and racked up over 10,000 in credit card debt for fancy gear, a computer, etc. Now this person is facing working at their full time job for a VERY long time to pay off the debt and won’t be able to be a full time photographer because they’ve been swallowed in that debt. I’m very lucky to have started out with what I had and not racked up any business debt but it’s sad to watch your piers drown in their bad decisions. PLEASE don’t go rack up debt.
#2) What’s in your camera bag?
I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I still shoot with a D80. That’s right. My camera back has two D80’s, my Quantarray 3.5 18-55 and 3.5 70-200, my Nikkor 5omm 1.4D, my Nikon 3.5 18-200mm, my macro rings, a Lensbaby, and an SB800. When I shoot weddings I rent pocket wizards and a couple of additional SB800’s. I also carry a bunch of spare batteries, sometimes my Lightsphere (though not really necessary for weddings), and my ShootSac! Who can leave home without a ShootSac?
#3) I see a lot of logos that are just a graphic, some that are a graphic with text, and some that are just text. What do you recommend?
In all honesty I don’t have a preference. Either way your logo will be your face to the world and, like every good brand, will be recognized over time. The Nike swoosh is something everyone recognizes but has no text. You have to decide what fits best for you and run with it. Hire a good designer who will understand your business and create an amazing logo for you. PLEASE DO NOT go to Vista Print or Overnight Prints and do one of their logo designers…. You’ll be doing yourself a favor. I recommend Into the Darkroom and Infinet Design.