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Old Apr-16-2012, 11:52 PM
#21
RyanS is offline RyanS
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Laura,

Based on what I've seen, I think you have a knack for finding a story. You might get more traction from your degree and current experience if you focus on journalism instead of commercial portrait/wedding photography. Playing PJ will train you to do what non-profits need done in the field. Beyond that, I sincerely wish you the best of luck. Awfully tough out there right now. So many people want this crappy job, it is crazy. I don't get it. You'll need to really want it, bad.
Old Apr-17-2012, 12:54 AM
#22
puzzledpaul is offline puzzledpaul
low down bum
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vogues View Post

If you need to know more details about my goals, well thats another story. In my ideal world (I mean, you have to start somewhere, right?) I would travel and take pictures for non profits around the world. In a more practical sense, I am drawn to portraits so probably something related to that. I sell a little work on the side, mostly through word of mouth, nothing big. The most successful images are wildlife. I was thinking a school either for photography and/or business would help me narrow that in to something viable.
The only bit of this thread that I know a smidge about is related to wildlife pics ... and as an amateur, it's not much :)

From what I've read / seen, you've certainly got be 'different' in some way, obviously take pics that people want to buy (if a business), probably engage yourself in a targetted project -whether your own choice or not, cover complete life cycles, conservation etc.

If you know one end of a cam from t'other (as seems to be the case) and you want to take things further - from a w/life aspect - maybe look for local animal refuge / conservation type projects that need help promoting their causes?

They may well have other 'togs already offering their services - but that'll be your chance to show that you're capable of producing something better / different ... as you think you're capable of doing.

The nearest I'd get to 'paying for learning' would be with an established pro, doing stuff that I *really* liked - and only then after I'd figured out (for myself) the nitty gritty of the technicals.

I've added a couple of blog links I find of interest - as various topics are covered ... and a book I'm currently trying to get out of the library because it appears to cover wider issues than the basic stuff like what settings to use etc.

If you think the above is irrelevant 'cos I'm in the UK ... then fine, no probs:)

Personally, I believe that it's not necessary to travel vast distances in order to take a decent w/life shot - even of a 'boring / commonplace' subject. I'd rather have a superb / different shot of a local subject than a mediocre 'record' shot of a so-called exotic - getting a decent shot is a different matter, of course :)

Best of luck, btw

pp

http://imagesfromtheedge.com/blog/

http://blog.northshots.com/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wildlife-Pho...4651064&sr=8-1
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Last edited by puzzledpaul; Apr-17-2012 at 01:06 AM.
Old Apr-17-2012, 04:20 AM
#23
Vogues is offline Vogues OP
Big grins
Thank you! This is all very helpful. I think photojournalism would make a lot of sense and could apply my sociology background! I'll start reading about it.
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Old Apr-17-2012, 04:45 AM
#24
johng is offline johng
Sports Shooter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vogues View Post
Thank you! This is all very helpful. I think photojournalism would make a lot of sense and could apply my sociology background! I'll start reading about it.
Make sure your research looks into your local job market. In general in the U.S. the PJ market is shrinking drastically. Lots more layoffs than hires. Each area is different, but in general it is a really poor industry right now to look for work in.
Old Apr-17-2012, 05:35 AM
#25
puzzledpaul is offline puzzledpaul
low down bum
2011 Veolia overall winning pic had a PJ angle.

pp

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit-us/whats-...ory=56&group=4
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Old Apr-17-2012, 06:44 AM
#26
adbsgicom is offline adbsgicom
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Don't forget that NC has state sales tax, and if you are doing a business, you need to collect taxes for sessions, prints, etc.
NC also has what they call a privledge license that a Photographer is required to have. You only need to provide some basic info an $50. No idea why this exists, but it does and there are fairly steep penalties for not doing it. In general the Dept. of Revenue is pretty humorless.

Check into the PPA (National Organization) http://www.ppa.com. They have a lot of material (more if you join). The state-level PPA (PP of NC) http://www.ppofnc.com/news.php also exists. They are having a business seminar on the weekend of May 5th. I haven't plugged into this group, so I can't vouch for the quality of the state organization.
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Old Apr-17-2012, 06:47 AM
#27
divamum is offline divamum
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Vogues, I've thought a lot about this thread and discussion (and do excuse my slightly tangential musings, earlier - I do realise that musical and photographic paths aren't identical, although I still say there are similarities which bear comparison ).

You've had some really good input so far, and seem to have a good sense of perspective about what you're getting yourself into. I haven't seen your work so no idea what you actually do, but it seems to me your sociology background could offer some interesting insights, and possibly let you see a different angle than others might. What is your "unique selling point"? What makes YOU different? What do YOU bring to your work? What do YOU want to "say" with your photography? PJ, as mentioned above is one suggestion to possibly combine your degree with future photographic activity. Are there are others that grow directly out of sociology-related fields? Associations with not-for-profits? Psych resesarchers? Sociological researchers? (just brainstorming here - obviously, not my field so if I'm way off base, do forgive me). College friends building businesses who might be able to use your services? Just throwing out ideas. You say you've worked in/with social media. Can you leverage that into a market for your photos? Do you have other interests/skills which could be a potential market either separately, or in conjunction with your degree?

Rambling here, but I guess I'm trying to say leverage what you already have. There are zillions of folks out there shooting weddings, and pictures of kids, and sports - obviously a big market offering a lot of clients, but there are a lot of people trying to break in and sustain careers in those areas, and you have to make them YOUR clients to make it profitable. What can you do that nobody else is doing (or at least how can you do it in a different way than the rest of the folks?)

1 Learn to take good pictures.
2 Figure out what you're best at as well as what you most enjoy shooting.
3 Identify the market for what you figure out in step 2.
4 Pursue it through hard work, networking like crazy and generating as much word of mouth reputation as you can.

Just thinking out loud, really.

PS Not wildlife as such, but I've seen requests from animal rescue organizations that need photographers to take decent pix of the animals to post online and when they're looking for homes for them. I'm sure it's volunteer rather than paid, but it might be of interest as you are skill-building.
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Old Apr-17-2012, 08:47 AM
#28
johng is offline johng
Sports Shooter
Divamum - while I appreciate your optimism, your suggestions seem more geared toward "how do I make a little pocket change on the side" as opposed to "how can I make a viable career in photography". There is a HUGE difference. There's just a huge difference between making an extra $1-2,000 a year and having a $20,000+ career. I may seem jaded, but I have several friends that followed this approach - we're in our 40s now. Neither one has health insurance, any type of retirement savings. One is working anime shows selling various products and the other keeps going from one $8-10 an hour job to another and can barely pay his utility bills and has no credit whatsoever because of all various medical and other bills he's had to default on.. As a sports photographer I pay a lot of attention to discussions over at sportsshooter.com. There are a lot of PJs there. There are no jobs in the PJ market. Photography is like acting - everyone wants to do it. And while you could cobble together the occasional $50 for taking photos of humane society dogs and the like - that doesn't mean there's enough work to make it a career. And, God forbid, if the OP chase the pie in the sky for the next 3 years and end up in a divorce, they have no means to support themselves. Lots of good ways to make money on the side (think $2-5k a year) with photography. But not many jobs that can pay a living wage.

Wanting to do something doesn't mean someone will pay you to do it.
Old Apr-17-2012, 10:11 AM
#29
RyanS is offline RyanS
Always Learning
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There are a few jobs in the PJ market. All the major papers around me have hired PJs recently. I've shaken the hands of the doe-eyed 20-somethings. I don't think they have any idea what it will really be like. It helps if you can do interviews and video work. Publishers want bloggers and behind the scenes work as well. They want more output from their staff than ever before. Not all PJs are adapting to this change. That means new opportunities for people who can master those skills. In short, you need to provide a lot of value for your publisher, and will get very little in return.

PJs make less than $50k/year in most markets and may not get any kind of benefits package. No benefits is a big deal given the high-risk nature of the job. The job requires a great deal of time away from home and is a 24/7/365 deal. It is high stress. You'll risk personal injury, being arrested, harassed, and annoyed by the police, government agencies, etc. One of my acquaintances is credentialed with the AP, Getty, Reuters, and a local larger-sized paper (yes, 4 orgs, 4 jobs!). Apparently he spends a great deal of his time in his car. Often gets little sleep on assignment. Occasionally gets put in life threatening situations. He carries thousands of dollars worth of gear in to dust storms, dark alleys, etc. It is my impression that he has made some rather tough personal sacrifices to be able to pursue the job. I'd love to call him a friend, but he is never around to develop those kinds of relationships. Why are you better than this guy? Prove you want it more and you'll make it.

Kiss your spouse goodbye, unfriend everyone on facebook, move in to your car, sleep 3 hours a night, eat pop-tarts every day for dinner, get arrested twice a year, break a bone every five years. That's about the right mental picture. Joking of course, but all those things have happend to PJs I know personally. They complain, a lot. But they still are out there doing it.
Old Apr-17-2012, 12:08 PM
#30
divamum is offline divamum
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I must not be writing terribly clearly, because in fact what I was trying to say is in absolute agreement with you, johng! Given that I do work fulltime as a freelance artist, I know exactly how tough it is. By "wanting it" I didn't mean "if you believe in it enough the Photo Career Fairy will come down and all will be well", but "you have to want it badly enough that you're willing to put up with all the BS tjat goes with it, including but not limited to possibly forgo-ing things that most people consider essentials" (like healthcare and retirement plans).

Quote:
Divamum - while I appreciate your optimism, your suggestions seem more geared toward "how do I make a little pocket change on the side" as opposed to "how can I make a viable career in photography".
I was just brainstorming. The OP seems to have made the decision to do this, so I was just thinking out loud, really.

Quote:
There's just a huge difference between making an extra $1-2,000 a year and having a $20,000+ career.
Couldn't agree more.

Quote:
I may seem jaded, but I have several friends that followed this approach - we're in our 40s now. Neither one has health insurance, any type of retirement savings.
Not jaded at all - realistic! You're very much singing my song. I'm one of the "lucky few" who has carved out a freelance career as a musician and I do make my living as a performer, but it does come with a heavy price in stability and a lot of those other things mentioned above that many people consider essentials. We make it work (my husband is also a freelance musician - neato! lol), but it is rough sometimes.

Quote:
As a sports photographer I pay a lot of attention to discussions over at sportsshooter.com. There are a lot of PJs there. There are no jobs in the PJ market. Photography is like acting - everyone wants to do it.
Absolutely.

Quote:
And while you could cobble together the occasional $50 for taking photos of humane society dogs and the like - that doesn't mean there's enough work to make it a career.
Oh goodness, I never meant to imply it was a career! I just thought it might be something the OP could do while building her skills and portfolio, to gain some experience.

Quote:
And, God forbid, if the OP chase the pie in the sky for the next 3 years and end up in a divorce, they have no means to support themselves. Lots of good ways to make money on the side (think $2-5k a year) with photography. But not many jobs that can pay a living wage.

Wanting to do something doesn't mean someone will pay you to do it.
Again, that wasn't quite what I meant (see first para). Also, just to clarify: somebody else initially mentioned PJ - clearly it is NOT really a career option any more (magazines and newspapers are going the way of the dinosaurs), but it does seem to tie in with the OP's degree skillset as well as aspirations. It may not be a viable career option as such, but researching it (since I get the feeling she's in the research phase) might suggest some possible outlets and opportunities to explore.

Seems to me three questions have emerged in the course of this thread:

1. How do I build my technical skills as a photographer in my new location?
2. What sorts of careers are available for photographers?
3. How do I make a reasonable living as a photographer?

In any case, it seems the OP has made that mental jump to give it a try. Like most artistic pursuits, success will come from a combination of sufficient talent, dedicated hard work, and (probably most important) vast quantities of luck (or at least being in the right place at the right time more than once).
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Old Apr-17-2012, 12:23 PM
#31
RyanS is offline RyanS
Always Learning
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Laura (OP), you really should post the link to your work. I think people would like to see it. What struck me right away was how much of it was journalistic.
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