It’s Monday, which would normally mean it’s time for a weekly picture of my homemade menu chalkboard, but, well, I haven’t yet made this week’s menu. I shot Valentine’s mini-sessions this weekend, so any and all activities that do not involve looking through a camera and/or repeatedly squeezing a rubber chicken dog toy (God bless you, Beebo, for your baby-attention-getting talents) did not get done.
(Want to see ‘em?! Go here!)
I’ve had a number of readers suggest that I start posting photography advice, but so far, I’ve been REALLY hesitant to do so. My reasons are thus:
1) The haters
2) I’m not, relatively speaking, that far into the photographer journey myself. I feel like everything I know could be written on the head of a pin, while all the things I have yet to learn could fill Lake Bistineau and then some. I do not, by any means, consider myself an expert.
On the other hand, I’ve learned a LOT since I shot my first wedding three years ago. Another photographer, Jennifer Robison, very graciously and generously shared some of her knowledge with me, and it gave me not only the tools but also the confidence to start Powell Photography. And my business has, thank God, grown by leaps and bounds in the last two years. Consequently, so has my understanding of some of the finer points of photography and the industry. So while I’m no expert, I do feel an obligation to “pay it forward” and teach others, whether they’re hobbyists or amateurs considering going pro, what I’ve learned.
I know that not everyone agrees with my point of view. Many photographers think the market is over-saturated (and, to some degree, they’re right), and we all hate seeing amateurs with little or no training, education or desire to improve hang out a shingle and call themselves professionals, demand undeservedly high rates and trash-talk more established photographers while delivering poor service and inferior products to their clients.
Maybe I’m naive, but I don’t necessarily feel like I’m competing with other photographers. I think I’m a good photographer and a responsible, honest businessperson, but I know I’m not the best photographer in the world or even the right photographer for every single job in Shreveport, LA. I try as hard as I can to give my clients what they want, but I am straightforward with potential clients who I can sense want something that I can’t or won’t provide (and yes, I have been approached about a couple of shoots that I was unwilling to do!). For another thing, even if I were the most sought-after photographer in the entire state of Louisiana (from this keyboard to God’s ear, right?!), I am simply not AVAILABLE to shoot everything – I’m not only a photographer, I’m also a wife, mother and freelance writer, so my availability is somewhat more limited than some other photographers’. And lastly, my prices are not in everyone’s budget. I think they’re fair, given my experience, talent and level of service, but fair or not, my fees are not affordable for every person who wants professional-quality photos.
Therefore, I think there is a place in the market for the talented, responsible amateur photographer who knows s/he has a long way to go but is honest with his/her clients about his/her experience, equipment, skills and capabilities – the sort of person who has a real love for the art of photography and an intense desire to learn and improve. But it’s very difficult to do that in the beginning, when you don’t have the money for classes, conferences and workshops, if other, more experienced professionals aren’t willing to help and guide you.
And then there are the hobbyists, people who love photography and taking pictures but who have no desire to turn pro. They just want to take better pictures of their kids, their cat, their car, the birds in their backyard – whatever it is they cherish and want to document. Some photographers don’t want to help them either because if those people learn to take good pictures on their own, why would they hire us? Well, I’m a professional photographer, and I still pay other people to take photos of my family! Personally, I think Powell Photography is AWESOME (duh), but The Guy and I love the art of photography, not just making money, so we love other photographers’ work, too. In other words, we don’t need or want a house that’s filled exclusively with Kelly Powell photos. And just because I help you learn to take a better photo of your kid in the bathtub doesn’t mean you won’t hire me to photograph that kid’s baptism, when you want to be present and not see the entire thing through a viewfinder.
There are a lot of fantastic photography blogs (I read several of them on a daily basis), but many times, the topics they cover are pretty advanced – things like what type of studio lighting to use in a certain situation, how and when to use flash outdoors and how to keep your memory cards from getting corrupted. All very important and interesting topics, but perhaps not particularly useful to the amateur who wants to learn how to prepare for a newborn session or the hobbyist who wants to know just what the heck all those letters on the mode dial are for.
I’m not planning to post on photography topics every day or even every week, but is this something y’all might be interested in? If so, what specific topics would you like to read about? If you’ll tell me what you’d like to learn, I’ll do my best to cover those subjects from my standpoint and include some other photographers’ insights as well.
Maybe we’ll learn something together!