I ain’t about for profit photography schools. So rather than complain, I’m going to explain the foundation and fundamentals of photography.
1. Why photography?
As a photographer you are a philosopher.
As a photographer, you are trying to discover meaning and truth and beauty though your photos.
As a photographer you are an artist. Except your canvas is reality, and your paint brush is your camera.
Why do you want to pursue photography? That is the first inquiry you need.
For example, if you asked me, Eric, why do you make photos? I’d say:
I make photos for me to uncover beauty of daily life, to inspire others.
Because I feel in today’s society, we are so busy with bullshit, and we never notice beautiful things in everyday life, and we take life for granted.
I think most of us are entitled to life, yet we don’t appreciate it.
Because we never think we’re gonna die.
Most mortals are afraid of thinking about death because they are scared of the pain of death, and what is gonna happen after they die.
People don’t know what their spiritual beliefs are.
Anyways we can go further, but whenever you ask yourself “why?” enough times, you will find a better truth on your motivations behind anything, especially photography.
To be frank, there is no right or wrong reason to make photos, or to pursue photography as your passion or your career. But you better know why your shoot and make photos.
2. Do I wanna make photography my living or career?
Okay imma be real, if you pursue photography as a career, you will most likely fail. It is a fucking dog eat dog world out there. Anybody can afford a high end DSLR, and shoot amazing wedding or commercial photos, with mostly automatic settings. Anybody and everyone can make a technically good photo now.
To survive in today’s photography landscape, you need to be a high end, or expensive photographer. In the future, all photography is gonna be free, or really expensive (for the rich). If you see the growth of capitalism, the poor is getting poorer, and the rich are getting richer. The middle class is gonna die in a few decades.
Imagine a world where you can buy a medium format digital camera for $500. A full frame DSLR for $300. The market for “middle price” photographers is going to be dead.
Also know there is no shame in having a day job, and doing your photography passion on the side. Many great thinkers like Einstein held down a boring 9-5 job, and made their great creative breakthroughs when they were bored at work.
3. What camera should I buy?
Honestly, my practical advice is this: learn composition, framing, light, and how to make a good photo on your smartphone or iPhone before going out and buying an expensive camera.
I would say a dedicated year of just shooting with your smartphone or iPhone will teach you everything you need to know in terms of what makes a good photo.
My practical suggestion: buy the most expensive iPhone you can afford. If you’re broke, pick up a used iPhone. Or buy an iPhone with a monthly payment. The iPhone has the best camera, and app ecosystem for photo editing. I recommend using VSCO to process your photos.
To start off by making good photos on your iPhone, focus on composition. Start by looking at the background and making clean compositions. Start with a simple blank colored wall, then add your subject afterwards.
Also focus on the edges of your photo. Try to get the edges as clean as possible.
Also, focus on capturing emotion via hand gestures. The most important part of a portrait is someone’s face, their eyes, and their hands, and body language. Essentially to make a good photo, you need a photo that evokes emotion from your subject. A photo that tugs your heart strings is going to burn itself into your minds eye.
4. How to make money from photography
Start off by building your portfolio by working for free. Then when you feel your portfolio is legit register a website via bluehost.com and install a good WordPress theme for a photographer portfolio. Then advertise your prices for your shoots, consulting services or workshops.
Suggestion: always charge 25% more than you think you’re worth. Because as an artist, we always under-sell ourselves. Your time and skills are valuable. Don’t sell yourself for cheap. Also, charging for your services is not “selling out.”
5. Social media
Frankly speaking, don’t waste time with social media. Just build up your portfolio, the quality of your images, and build up your website and name it look as legit as possible.
Get business cards printed via moocards.com. Make it simple, clean, and minimalist. Include your first and last name, your website address, your email, and phone number. Don’t make your business card look cheesy.
Remember, if you want to make a living from your photography, you need to charge money for it. You need to count the dollars you’re earning from photography not your social media numbers.
I deleted my Instagram with 65,000+ followers, because it was a massive distraction. Now I deleted it, I am 10x more focused on blogging, which is how I make my living. I make 80% of my living from teaching photography workshops, and selling products via our company Haptic.
6. How to market yourself.
Word of mouth is the best way starting off. Ask friends, family, and local businesses whether they can recommend you.
Hand out a thousand business cards, and you might get one paying customer. Remember, starting off, it is a numbers game. Don’t take it personally when nobody emails you back.
Also you can offer to shoot weddings and portraits for free. Do a damn good job, and then you can build up your portfolio.
7. Personal photography
Regardless if you make photos for your job, whether you make money, or don’t it doesn’t matter.
Ultimately you need to make personal photos that uplift your soul. You need to make photos to help you appreciate your life. Photograph your friends, family, and make self portraits of yourself.
Remember, photography is a meditation on life and death. You will die one day, and so will your loved ones. Photograph while they’re still alive, before it is too late.
For more inspiration pick up a copy of PHOTO JOURNAL.
So concludes our first volume of the Photography Foundation Series.
I hope I have shared some useful information with you.
Don’t waste money on photography school; invest in yourself. Invest in photo books, workshops, and travel. Start your own photography website or blog via bluehost.com and WordPress.org, don’t get distracted by social media, and remember– photography is ultimately artistic expression of your soul.