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Thread: Student Photographer Looking for Help

  1. #1

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    Student Photographer Looking for Help

    First off I would like to say I am a student photographer looking for advice on how to pursue a career in photography. I currently attend Cal State University San Marcos and have been photographing for 3 years now and shoot on a Cannon T1i. I have recently created a website to display some of my work and want advice on how I can improve my quality of work. Any advice would be helpful even if it is constructive criticism. This is not spam just a honest request for an honest opinion.

    Thanks,
    Alex

    oh the website is www.motionlessmemories.com

  2. #2
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    Re: Student Photographer Looking for Help

    Quote Originally Posted by MotionlessMemories View Post
    First off I would like to say I am a student photographer looking for advice on how to pursue a career in photography. I currently attend Cal State University San Marcos and have been photographing for 3 years now and shoot on a Cannon T1i. I have recently created a website to display some of my work and want advice on how I can improve my quality of work. Any advice would be helpful even if it is constructive criticism. This is not spam just a honest request for an honest opinion.

    Thanks,
    Alex

    oh the website is www.motionlessmemories.com
    Alex,

    Welcome to the group and don't worry about asking questions, that's what the forum is for. I won't comment on your skills but I will comment on your marketing. You are partly there when it comes to marketing your work but you need to be more specific on the type of services you want to offer. Provide details for the type of portraits (graduation, formal, boudoir) you are willing to do and be specific as to where these portraits will be done, either in the customer's home, on location, or in your studio. Include information to any photography organization you belong to or awards you have won. Be sure the works you display on your website represent the best of your work. You want the models in your displayed work to be clients if possible. Include the location of your studio, don't make it look like you cover extensive areas unless you are willing to travel. Don't expect people to buy stock photography.

  3. #3

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    Re: Student Photographer Looking for Help

    Thank you for the advice. I know my marketing skills are lacking. Since I am just starting this I find it hard to do some things. Portraits would be good for me but I am low on cash and cant afford lights or anything. so when I get money I plan on upgrading my lenses and obtaing lights. Do you know anywhere that offers used lighting equipment? that would be a huge help.

  4. #4
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Student Photographer Looking for Help

    Quote Originally Posted by MotionlessMemories View Post
    Thank you for the advice. I know my marketing skills are lacking. Since I am just starting this I find it hard to do some things. Portraits would be good for me but I am low on cash and cant afford lights or anything. so when I get money I plan on upgrading my lenses and obtaing lights. Do you know anywhere that offers used lighting equipment? that would be a huge help.
    http://cameraspot.com/

    This retailer usually has used items for sale but I am sure you can find something closer to home.

  5. #5

    Re: Student Photographer Looking for Help

    Hi Alex, and welcome to CiC. You will find plenty of help and advice here.

    I see you are on Smug - good choice. Several of us here on CiC use Smug, and I think we are all very happy with it. Just a couple of observations about your site and how it comes across...

    The banner is very high and takes up quite a bit of the page. I had to scroll down to see the shots.

    You have distinct galleries (which is good) but you have them listed on your home page menu as well as from the portfolio link. But you can only get to the portfolio link by first selecting one of the photo categories. It's a little confusing, but can easily be fixed. Have a look at my Smug site to see how I have done it - single link for 'images' then they are all listed, and are all distinct by category of subject. You know where you are, and if you are looking for something specific, say, botanic shots, it's easy to find them. http://www.robmarshall.net/

    I'd try to select a few less images. Concentrate on the good ones, and keep them in as distinct categories as possible.

    Put the info about yourselves in a new section, so people can go there and read about you. See mine for an example.

  6. #6
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Student Photographer Looking for Help

    Hi Alex,

    Welcome to the CiC forums from me; the grumpy one (you'll see what I mean in a moment)

    I had a quick look at your web site, I have to say there are many pictures where a little PP would go a long way:- leveling sea horizons, cloning out something inconsequential, but distracting, in the background, or enhancing local contrast - would improve them. That may seem harsh, but you came here for help and the best way I can do that is highlight what I see - first impressions are important and mine was a coastal shot with a sloping horizon in the slideshow on home page.

    One other thing about most Smug' sites I see; is the downside to giving access to all those different image sizes is that, few, if any, have been sharpened for the size presented, this means they can look soft.

    Oh dear, I have just seen something else I don't like, but I don't want to get too picky and it's not your fault; just the way Smug Mug works. And besides, Rob and Donald will eat me alive if I'm too rude about their Smug'

    I also back the earlier suggestions made by others above.

    Ok, time to try to be helpful, if you haven't seen it yet, do work your way through Colin's; "School of Portraiture" - Lesson 01 - Backgrounds / Locations - there are 6 lessons in all (1 - 5, with 4a and 4b) I can't think of a better way to start on portraiture, which must surely be many a pro photogrpahers 'bread and butter' earner.

    Hope that was helpful,

  7. #7

    Re: Student Photographer Looking for Help

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Oh dear, I have just seen something else I don't like, but I don't want to get too picky and it's not your fault; just the way Smug Mug works. And besides, Rob and Donald will eat me alive if I'm too rude about their Smug'

    Sigh.... go on then, let's have it...

  8. #8
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Student Photographer Looking for Help

    Quote Originally Posted by carregwen View Post
    Sigh.... go on then, let's have it...
    ... the way the square thumbnails crop the image instead of shrinking it - yes you get a bigger image, but it 'overflows' if you know what I mean, things can get cut off destroying the photographer's composition when s/he cropped it.

    sorry, just sayin'

  9. #9
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Student Photographer Looking for Help

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    ... the way the square thumbnails crop the image instead of shrinking it - yes you get a bigger image, but it 'overflows' if you know what I mean, things can get cut off destroying the photographer's composition when s/he cropped it.

    sorry, just sayin'
    I've always thought of the thumbnails as merely a tool to assist the viewer get to the image. It is an indication of what the image is, not a small version of it. In other words, I don't see it as something that will inform the viewer's decision whether or not to view the image. It's an aid to doing so.

    Discuss

  10. #10
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Student Photographer Looking for Help

    Alex, you may want to sit through a couple of Zack Arias's photography website critique videos.

    Also, lighting-wise, I'd recommend looking at the Strobist blog and the Strobist Flickr group discussions. Lighting gear doesn't have to be big studio strobes or wildly expensive. While the Strobist may not be the way you want to go, it's at least good to start thinking about these things, and about DIY alternatives. What Strobists do with Home Depot and Lowe's gear is pretty inspiring.

  11. #11

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    Re: Student Photographer Looking for Help

    Thank you so much to everyone that has offered advice. That is a lot of information to take in at once so I am sorry if I ask questions that seem redundant. But so far I love all the help. Thank you so much. I will ask questions as they come to me. And please if anyone can think of anything else, random or not please feel free to share. I open for new ideas and avenues.

  12. #12
    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Re: Student Photographer Looking for Help

    Hi Alex and welcome to CiC.

    Firstly I have to agree with Donald.

    A good way to evaluate what others think of your work (face to face) and also sell your services is to prepare some images, say 8 x 10, back them with mount board and put them in cellophane bags and take a stall at a market.

    This way you can see what your target market is interested in so you can harness your direction. I sell at markets and most images I sell at markets would not necessarily win a competition award here or in camera clubs for that matter. There are images I have taken to post here in competition that did well but would never sell.

    Two things about markets –
    1. I have learned a lot about my target market, image presentation and what they like – like: choose a market in first home buyer areas for two reasons – they are looking for nice affordable art and more importantly THEY HAVE SPACE ON THEIR WALLS.
    2. a lot of images you see on the web are too small to appreciate. Image printed to A3 or A4 have a very different impact than what you can show on the net. I have never sold an image over the net but many of the images I have displayed on the net I have sold at market.

    The buyer likes to meet the artist and get some provenance about the image i.e. how, when, where, why did you take it and understand your feeling for the work.

    As they talk to you about the images you can talk to them about photo shoots of their houses, pets, etc and/or workshops you might care to offer.

    Market stalls are pretty cheap and if you don’t sell the images you can give them away to family and friends as presents.

  13. #13

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    Re: Student Photographer Looking for Help

    Thank you. On the topic of markets, do you need a business license to sell images. I don't know where you are located but I am in Southern California and I have looked at a few street fairs to set up shop at, but they require a business license. I have looked at getting a business license but was not sure I should spend money on something if I didn't need it yet, as I am paying my way through college right now too. But if you think it is a good idea to get one I will consider it more.

    Thanks again

  14. #14

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    Re: Student Photographer Looking for Help

    Rob,

    I am not sure exactly how to ask this question so bare with me please. I looked at your website like the way you have the slide show on the home page and your galleries under a different tab. I can not figure out how to do this though. I can get just the slide show on my home page but as for creating another tab with galleries I am having issues. Is there something I am missing? also I like how your slide show is a lot bigger than mine and doesn't have that box tall the way around it. Can you help me figure out how to make theses changes? I will trying but I am running out of ideas.

    Thanks

  15. #15
    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Re: Student Photographer Looking for Help

    Hi Alex,

    I am on the other side of the Pacific Ocean and way down south in Australia.

    In Australia we do not have to have a business license to sell at markets but we do need some form of public liability insurance. Some markets offer to cover you under their policy but you pay an extra $5 or so per market to access their policy. I do have my own just to be sure.

    Maybe you can check out some community markets around church or smaller local towns and see if they are more lenient on set up costs.

    I do think putting yourself out there and fronting your audience is a great way to learn where you are at with you photography and presentation. It is very daunting to do this to start with but once you have a go its actually great fun meeting and talking to new people about your work and what you have to offer. It’s taken me some time to build up but this month alone I have grossed over $1,500 (our currencies are almost the same value) from sales of images, gift cards and my calendar. This range of products allows me to use images in different ways. Some images you take will be beautiful framed and hanging on a wall. Others suit a calendar better and some of the more quirky ones you can make into gift cards.

  16. #16
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    Re: Student Photographer Looking for Help

    When I lived in California (long ago,) there were three ways to get a business license. State, County or City. Most market stall sets would take any one of the 3, with the County being the least expensive. Anything which is ongoing regularly in the larger cities usually insist on the City license, which is often the most expensive of the three.

    Now, that might have changed over the ensuing 15 years, but it is something to investigate. Amortizing the license over the numbers of years it lasts is something to consider, also.

    Pops

  17. #17

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    Re: Student Photographer Looking for Help

    Peter Ryan,

    Australia is an awesome place. I have always wanted to go there to shoot some photos. Anyways back on subject, I will take a look into some small venues and see what I can do. I probably wont find much time for a few months though. With the holidays right around the corner it is hard to find some free time. I also just recently got a job in a photo lab so I could have some cash on hand and learn more about photography. And with school my free time is getting limited. I do believe that getting out and talking to people is what I need, and it sounds fun.

    Pops,

    I will look into the different types of licenses but again it all comes down to my free time. Right now photography for me is more of a passions. I know I need improvement before I can go anywhere with it. Every free second I have I am out shooting something. Just out of curiosity and if you don't mind me asking, what made you leave California and where did you are you now? I am just curios because I have lived here my whole life and love it here.

    Thanks for all your help again. I am learning so much.

  18. #18

    Re: Student Photographer Looking for Help

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    ... the way the square thumbnails crop the image instead of shrinking it - yes you get a bigger image, but it 'overflows' if you know what I mean, things can get cut off destroying the photographer's composition when s/he cropped it.

    sorry, just sayin'
    You can change that and have normal thumbnails. It's just an option.

  19. #19
    PopsPhotos's Avatar
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    Re: Student Photographer Looking for Help

    MM, I lived in San Diego for 18 years and then up in Anza (not Anza Borrega) for a couple of years. I left for several reasons, but the primary one was California politics. I'm now in Central Washington and loving it. Check the "My place" in my signature.

    It still would be nice if we had a name for you. Check your profile for a spot to enter that.

    Pops

  20. #20
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    Re: Student Photographer Looking for Help

    Quote Originally Posted by MotionlessMemories View Post
    Peter Ryan,

    Australia is an awesome place. I have always wanted to go there to shoot some photos.
    Ahh but then you will be in trouble, because if you come across to Oz you will have to get a ticket for another 4 hour trip to visit NZ, especially the South Island. You will love it, here, and in Oz.

    /R

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