chantal stone photography: the blog

April 18, 2007

How’s It Going?

Filed under: Process/Learning — chantal @ 3:01 pm

In a comment to yesterday’s post, where I mentioned my on-going quest to becoming a professional photographer, Paul Lester asks this:

How goes the professional quest? Do you care to share your experiences? Are you finished processing all of those pictures that you shot (portraits)? Are you loving the digital world?

So I thought I’d take a few minutes to answer. One word can accurately describe how things are going so far: SLOW. But slow motion is better than NO motion, so I’m not complaining. I was never under the delusion that the minute I decided to be a photographer, that my phone would be ringing off the hook and my calendar would suddenly be full with assignments. That would be nice, but I know I’m not ready for all of that yet anyway. It’s a continual learning process, and everyday I feel like I am in school, with the world as my teacher.

The biggest obstacle for me has been my own thinking. In a naive way, I struggled with the idea of what type of photographer I wanted to be. Now this is going back a few years, but photography has always been a very creative pursuit for me, my form of artistic expression. Therefore, it made sense for me to go the route or the Art Photographer, which I am in the process of doing. I exhibit with a local gallery, and I have some ideas for future exhibitions which I am actively pursuing.

But Art Photography isn’t a business. Sure you can make some money, and a few elite photographers can actually earn a living from their Art, but I’m just not there….not yet anyway. So considering my geographic location, the local market, etc. I’m actively pursuing portrait and wedding photography. And I think my particular ‘style’ (whatever that is) lends itself well to this type of photography.

For those of you who haven’t read about it before, I recently held a “Portrait Day”. I rented a space, set up backdrops and lights, advertised a little, but mostly through word of mouth, I scheduled people throughout the day come and pose for me. I charged $20 per session, and with that, each person will receive 4 5×7 prints of their choice. Clearly not a money-making event, the purpose was or me to have some real studio work for my portfolio, and also to get my name out there a little, to build a client base. So far so good.

I had a great time during the shoot, and I learned a LOT. I’m still processing many of the images, but a few of the clients have received their pictures, and they all seemed really happy with the results. And, as anticipated (and hoped for), I’ve been referred to friends and family and subsequently have been able to book future assignments. The Portrait Day was a success (and continues to be)!

The challenge continues to be the post-processing. I’m totally loving digital, I love the control I have over the image from start to finish. And I finally have my own little system in place to work more efficiently. But it still is a lot of work, and although it’s fun work, I’d much rather be out shooting, than stuck in front of a computer.

One of the biggest challenges though for me thus far has been self-marketing. And marketing is the key if you ever want to get hired for anything. I’m working on it though. My portfolio continues to grow, and soon I will be creating some promo cards. I enjoy weddings and portraits, but I’d also like to mix in a few commercial assignments from local businesses. I want to remain diverse.

Something I have learned along the way is to ask questions. Experience is the best teacher, and thankfully there are plenty of amazing and generous photographers out there willing to share what they’ve learned and what they know. An invaluable resource that was recommended to me was the ASMP Pro Advice yahoo group. Beginners ask questions, experienced pros give excellent and detailed answers. (If you want to join the group, let me know and I’ll email the link…I don’t want the group to get spammed—there’s enough of that already 🙂 ) The ASMP website also has some great information, so be sure to check it out.

So where am I now? I’m constantly shooting, processing, learning…and I even have some really great events booked for the next couple of months. Progress is slow, but steady and good.

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2 Comments »

  1. Chantal, thanks for that detailed answer. I really appreciate the time that you spent typing it! 🙂 I used to shoot weddings … a long time ago. I think that I told you, I found out that it wasn’t my ‘cup of tea’, and I dropped it quickly. Mind you, there was no shortage of business as people were getting married every Saturday! 🙂

    Most of my time, in the days of film, was spent in marketing and post processing. Unfortunately, little of it was spent shooting. I shot just about every other Saturday and processed, when I could, during the week. The scary part of doing weddings with film was you didn’t know if you actually got the shot! You had to wait! Scary indeed!

    From what I understand, things haven’t changed. Photography, like most businesses is 20% photography, 80% business (marketing, invoicing, collections, etc.)

    Good luck on your endeavors. It sounds like you are going through all of the right procedures. It’s good that you don’t mind asking questions! 🙂

    Comment by paul — April 19, 2007 @ 6:50 am | Reply

  2. Thanks Paul…..

    I’ve done weddings with film before, and yeah you’re right….scary! And expensive too…..since I couldn’t see immediate results, and often times lighting was questionable, I’d shoot twice as much just to bracket and make sure I covered myself…..made the processing after the fact a real pain in the rear.

    Digital changes everything for me. And although the time in front of the computer is more, like I said before, I love the control I have from beginning to end.

    When I first tried wedding photography, I really didnt like it….but it was more because I lacked experience and was unsure of myself…..and also (this is HUGE) the clients I had weren’t right for me. Now that I’ve educated myself and have more experience I’m much more confident. And photographing people is what I love most…weddings provide the perfect opportunity or that, you can skulk around with the camera all day and no one pays any attention…you’re supposed to be there!

    But not only does the client have to choose the right photographer for their needs, it’s important for photographers to understand that they need to then choose clients who understand their shooting style, etc. That was a big and valuable lesson for me.

    Comment by Chantal — April 19, 2007 @ 8:10 am | Reply


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