So you've picked up a camera and decided you want to have a crack at the photography business? This is what I did 4 years ago.
Admittedly I had been taking pictures a bit longer than this but only for fun, it wasn't until a friend said they'd give me a bit of money to take pictures for their business that I considered making it a full-time job.
The first thing you obviously need is equipment. Although the latest phones are pretty good these days, as a client I'd be pretty cheesed off if you turned up to a shoot with a phone. I started Capture House with a laptop and a camera.
If you don't own a camera already, I'd recommend doing some research online and then visiting a shop to have a go using to see what feels comfortable. If there's a local photography exhibition like The Photography Show, even better. These shows allow you to speak to experts who will give you all the information you need based on their experience and also there's usually some cracking deals. Go with a budget in mind. I had about £700 in savings and I was serious about photography.
The first camera I bought was the Nikon D7100. Why? Value for money mainly. I was naive to think that the only good brands were Canon or Nikon but they're not, look at other brands Fujifilm and Sony too. Nikon gave (and still does) give you more bang for your buck than Canon.
I don't have a massive opinion on what operating system you should use. I've always been Apple so I used my MacBook Pro but it really doesn't matter what you use. The only thing that's important is that you can edit images and send them to your clients.
Adobe Lightroom is the industry standard editing software and I love it. You used to be able to buy the software outright but now you have to pay for a subscription which works out at around £10.00 per month.
If £10.00 per month sounds too much for you there are free softwares available. I first learned photo editing on Photoscape X. The main difference is when it comes down to editing a large collection of images, it will take you much longer that Lightroom. What you save in money, you lose in time so I would strongly recommend going straight for Adobe Lightroom.
Okay, so now you have the main tools to begin your photography empire. Now you need to build a strong portfolio and market yourself. This will probably mean doing some free work in the beginning or doing things for peanuts but if you can stick at it at this stage, there is no reason why you can't be successful.
One of the most valuable things for me was when I did some work experience with Tom Halliday. I learned more about running a photography that week than I did in my months of education.
Find someone's work who you like and just ask. I like to think the photography community is really nice and can empathise with you as they have also been in your shoes. Work Experience or second shooting is the best way to learn how the photography game works and it's great networking.
The best way to build a portfolio is to work for friends who own businesses, visit local events and contact local concerts for press passes. If you have some form of idea in something that you'd like to specialise in, do more of that. For example, if you like family photography take photos of as many of you friends families as possible. If you like music, attend as many gigs as possible. Friends are always a safe bet as they will want to help you.
Another nice option is to approach charities you like and ask is there anything you could do for them. This is a really nice win, win situation as they get something for free and you're helping a charity.
Always network and listen out for opportunities. Ensure you have business cards.
Showcase Your Work
While doing this, it's important that you have a place where people can find your photos. A Facebook page is okay but really you need to have a decent looking website to be taken seriously. Squarespace, Wix, Smugmug, Pixieset are good places to build a photography website.
Pick relevant work that people would pay for. I see a lot of photographers who add photos of flowers, graffiti or street photography to their portfolio. Unless you're seriously good at taking photos of one these things and want it to be your career, don't do it. Use photos of something that people would buy such as a product, service or an event.
The two previous points can take around 6 months before you begin seeing a return. Don't be afraid to put your prices up after this. It's hard to believe but people can easily be put off by someone doing something too cheaply and those are the people you want to be doing work for. Not just because it's more money in your pocket, they value your work and are more likely to stay loyal.
People who want something for little pay will drop you for someone else without hesitation. No one needs people like that in their life.
This isn't an easy industry to crack into but it you have the right mindset and work ethic, you can go far.