I was asked by a few recent­ly out of col­lege friends about how they could get a start in pho­tog­ra­phy and what my ‘Asso­ciates’ pro­gram is all about. Here’s what I said:

I encour­age young pho­tog­ra­phers to send along links to their work online so I can see the range of what they do and tell me the things they like most to shoot.


Offi­cial ‘Asso­ciates’ have a pret­ty good amount of expe­ri­ence and then ‘young’ asso­ciates are ready to be sec­ond shoot­ers with an eye toward long-term growth into full Asso­ciates. Asso­ciates have to be avail­able lots, so they must have a flex­i­ble work sched­ule if they aren’t full time. If I ask some­one a few times to assist me or work on a project, and they can’t, I have to move on.
I don’t have a huge for­mal sys­tem, just when some­one is real­ly ready to do the work, I give them some things, start­ing with shoot­ing along side me on ‘safe’ shoots.
You do need a full cam­era kit, long lens­es, sol­id flash, etc too.
My best advice is to shoot tons and keep talk­ing to peo­ple about what you want to do. For the­ater, vol­un­teer­ing to do high school shows, com­mu­ni­ty the­atre, chris­t­ian the­atre, stu­dent the­atre, etc… peo­ple who hav­ing some­one come is a bonus and you get expe­ri­ence. You might have to donate until you can show your work is at ‘pay’ lev­el.
The trick is donat­ing some to start and tact­ful­ly pulling the plug before that’s all you do. Maybe telling some­one you’ll vol­un­teer for a sea­son, etc.
Have a great web site of your pho­tos, use Flickr, face­book, etc.
Find out what you are pas­sion­ate about shoot­ing and good at. Don’t shoot sports if you hate sports (well, do it some for mon­ey, but focus else­where).
Have a good busi­ness card too, to rep­re­sent your­self well. I like Moo.com cards with my pho­tos.
Learn all you can. Lots of online resources like Stro­bist
Flick­r’s learn­ing groups, DVDs like from Pho­to­Vi­sion.
Blogs, pod­casts, etc… and just shoot, shoot, shoot.
And shoot in as many ‘real’ sit­u­a­tions as you can. The paid work comes more from prac­ti­cal events like pho­to sto­ries, events (which you can cov­er on your own, like some of your col­lege Alum­ni recep­tions, tours, etc), Awards events, speak­ers giv­ing pre­sen­ta­tions, famous peo­ple tour­ing, etc.
Learn your cam­era and light­ing real­ly well to and how to prep the images to high qual­i­ty.

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