Advice to a young photographer:

HuthPhoto-KAH_6992We’re approached pret­ty reg­u­lar­ly these days for shad­ow­ing, advice, port­fo­lio reviews, etc by begin­ning pho­tog­ra­phers. They want to know how to get start­ed in the pho­tog­ra­phy busi­ness and how to make mon­ey. We real­ly appre­ci­ate being involved in oth­er peo­ple’s start and some of their lives. But, be warned… I’m tough. Here’s a pret­ty com­mon bit of info I pass along. Maybe it’ll help answer a few ear­ly ques­tions you might have. A quick caveat. I’m a corporate/business Pub­lic Rela­tions pho­tog­ra­ph­er in the Durham NC area. I’ve also done 22+ sea­sons in the­atre (and lived in Rochester NY & do shoots in Boston, Chica­go, FL, etc), so I can speak to those areas. If your goal is to be a band pho­tog­ra­ph­er in NYC, that’s not what I’m talk­ing about… although I think this core stuff is the same. This is how to get the right skills to show you can do a PR or edi­to­r­i­al assign­ment.

In your port­fo­lio to get real work (sec­ond shoot­ing, small assign­ments, etc) is to prove you can go into a vari­ety of sit­u­a­tions and use a flash and get pleas­ant images.

I think for many young pho­tog­ra­phers, this is the miss­ing link— pri­or­i­tiz­ing cool shots over ones that show you can do sol­id, actu­al, client-need­ed WORK.

It’s fine if publication/event work isn’t your passion—skim my tips and move on… but to get PR work, good light­ing in nor­mal sit­u­a­tions is the moth­er skill. Even shoot­ing bands, etc… I tell peo­ple, what will you do when you’re in a crap­py loca­tion with crap­py light? You have to have the skills to add light.

In the pho­to world, real­ly any­one can do cool effects and nice pho­tos under nat­ur­al light. But for every 100 peo­ple who have a port­fo­lio of ‘cool’/instagrammy images, I see 1 with some light­ing chops… and that’s where the assign­ments are. You have to prove in the work you show that you can go into crappy/average/normal sit­u­a­tions and come out with a sol­id pub­li­ca­tion image.

Sor­ry if that’s too blunt, YMMV.  It might help to look at my port­fo­lio to see what PR/event work we show, and there are so many amaz­ing pho­tog­ra­phers to check out these days. One advan­tage of check­ing out my work is that it’s very real. This is what nor­mal clients assign in mid-sized cities in the US. You can scoot over to the client and edit­ing areas even and see what a full shoot looks like.

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Check out peo­ple like Zack Arias to see some­one who’s much cool­er than I am, but note how he shows good use of light:
and get his book on Ama­zon. GREAT advice for a young pho­tog. Pay atten­tion to what real work­ing pros like Joe Mcnal­ly does. Top of his game for 30 years. This is the real PR work­ing pho­tog­ra­ph­er— not the hip flavor/style of the month guy. This kind of work will always get you hired.

Read for info on get­ting good with small lights. Buy their DVD set for edu­ca­tion. Sign up for Kel­by­One for a month and suck it dry. I’ve been pret­ty con­vinced I’m the worst pho­tog­ra­ph­er on the plan­et for 25 years… and that has dri­ven me to work and learn more than any­one I know.

Don’t be afraid to ask to shad­ow nor­mal work­ing pros. Just don’t be mean when they are too busy. And first do some research to find some­one real­ly in sync with your goals, and learn all about them. Add val­ue by offer­ing to car­ry bags for free at a shoot, just so you can observe. Act on their advice, and get back to them show­ing results. Out of all the folks I’ve helped, only a hand­ful have actu­al­ly done some of what I advised (like read­ing Zack­’s book or work­ing on light­ing) and even few­er have got­ten back to me with results or fol­low up ques­tions. Makes you think, eh?

And most of all, keep shoot­ing and enjoy­ing it. Always have a cam­era with you and be obses­sive. If you aren’t pas­sion­ate like that, don’t do this— just take snaps for fun and share them with your friends. There’s a rea­son this is called a ‘pro­fes­sion’. Join us.


Have great work or questions? From the Durham Area?

Don’t be shy about giv­ing me a shout (@HuthPhoto) to see your work or ask a quick ques­tion. I do what I can to reply. If you are in the Raleigh/Durham area, and your work is sol­id… get in touch. I’m get­ting to know the local pho­to tal­ent for when I need a larg­er team on a job, or when I’m booked and a client needs help. Just hap­pen last week in fact…

(Note: the pho­tos of the young pho­tog­ra­ph­er above is the guy that’s lis­tened to me best over the last five years of so and has a great busi­ness of his own— it’s my son Col­in. is where he proves he can shoot for clients & then this is his pho­to-art blog for pas­sion)

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