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Thinking of a career change to photography

(34 Posts)
JammySplodger Thu 17-Jan-13 21:16:03

... and would like a bit of advice please. It's something I enjoy as an amateur but I know I still have alot to learn about taking shots in different conditions, equipment etc.

I enjoy taking photos of our two boys (6 and 2) and friends especially out and about - we have fab parks, woods and city centre plus we're on the edge of the Peak District, so I thought maybe family portraits at peoples own homes and on location. I also quite enjoy food photography, and close up photography including flora.

I have my little point & shoot that usually lives in my coat pocket plus a bridge camera with a good zoom. I have an old film SLR too so understand a bit about lenses etc, but feel I need to have a better idea of it all if I'm going to invest in training and equipment.

There are courses around the city, from beginners How to Use Your Camera type to degrees at the university. There are also plenty of other photographers, including studios and photos in your own home ones, and weddings etc.

I'm not really sure where to start with this so would appreciate any advice.

Oh, my background is as an environmental scientist, including working on construction sites, pollution assessments, and also doing community environmental projects. Am currently a SAHM. Thanks.

Shybairns Thu 17-Jan-13 21:23:14

Check out my friends site Capturing Childhood. She has recently set up this business offering on line photography tutorials and courses. She also has a brilliant blog which she earns loads from called Housewife Confidential.

JammySplodger Fri 18-Jan-13 10:10:12

Thanks Shybairns, I'll have a look but am thinking if I'm going to do a course I'd probably prefer something face to face (there are some at the local college), and something where I can work towards a useful qualification. Your friend's got some nice pics though and I like the idea of a blog.

bruffin Fri 18-Jan-13 10:30:47

Its a pity you are up north Ray Lowe does business start up photography courses
Ray lowe is one of the leading photographers in the country.

TheFallenNinja Fri 18-Jan-13 10:35:21

Check out Ben Longs tutorials on all extremely well presented

Here is a useful aide memoirémoire-pour-photographe-©Miguel-Gantioqui-.jpg

JammySplodger Fri 18-Jan-13 10:54:19

Yes that would be a bit too far bruffin, though I'm very aware I need to get to grips with the business side of things a bit - I've managed projects, contracts and budgets but not as a self employed individual.

JammySplodger Fri 18-Jan-13 10:56:12

I like the look of the environmental portraiture workshop too though, that's the sort of thing I'd like to do, but for families.

Nancy66 Fri 18-Jan-13 12:32:18

A photographer I know, Howard Shooter, does food photography. He makes good money as it's a very specialised area with not too many people doing it.

DolomitesDonkey Fri 18-Jan-13 12:37:59

OK, as you can see there is an abundance of courses. There is also an abundance of photographers - amongst my facebook friends alone, FOUR of them are amateur/pro photographers - that is, they are photographers alongside their main full-time jobs.

So what does that tell you about your odds for gainful employment which will pay the bills?

You need to think like a businesswoman not an "artiste" if you are to pay the bills - as Nancy says, find a niche!

JammySplodger Fri 18-Jan-13 13:16:23

That's what I'm thinking at the moment, do I just stick with it as a hobby, or do I find an area that I could make a business out of (and so justify the expense of courses, equipment etc)?

I have a friend who has a cookware business, I could have a chat with her and see if I could do some freebies for her website and see how that goes (those Howard Shooter photos are great by the way). And another friend setting up an interior decorating buisiness so could test the water with her too.

What do you think about the idea of outdoor portraits? There are alot of portrait studios locally plus some that take their equipment to clients' homes but not many locally that I can find that do the great outdoors side of things. Plenty of great landscape photographers, but generally without any people in the photos.

lingle Thu 31-Jan-13 21:06:20

I think you'd be best off making money by doing more technical photos (for commercial surveyors, planners, people in construction, that kind of thing). that's if you want to make a proper living.

buildingmycorestrength Thu 31-Jan-13 21:24:03

One friend of mine makes a good living out of stock photography.

He took a course, invested in equipment, decided not to go for client sessions, and has uploaded thousands of photos to istock or a similar stock photo site. He is incredibly focused and determined, and maintains huge momentum year round. He rents a cheap studio and sets up photos he thinks will sell.

After about six years, he now makes enough from the stock that he can spend about half the working week on his own creative projects and his wife doesn't have to work.

bacon Tue 05-Feb-13 14:29:31

I have yet to meet a photographer who is making a good living these days and that includes experienced ex-glossy papers. There is a hell of a lot of people doing photography out there and many mediocre.

The guy who does our construction shots also does stock yet he's far from inundated and he's comfortable yet he did work for a major newspaper magazine. I dont think there is a niche there is commercial and portriat. And commercial covers all those you have listed and many good professional photographers in our area do both.

Many of us take nice and very good photos but unsure whether we have what it takes to do it professionally. All the professional photographers I know have a degree in Art. I would try it as a hobby, try selling some stock and go from there but I still would do a course.

SWRhiRhi Tue 12-Feb-13 12:40:27

Hello Ladies,

I'm not sure if these are in your area, but there's a cool site I cam across recently that offers course of all sorts of things, and they've got a comp to win a photo weekend at Champneys on their site at the moment!

Worth a look, but like I say, may not be in your local area:

Hope you find something (or win it!) smile


TLBTOG Wed 10-Apr-13 13:29:56

Hi JammySplodger I started out 10 years ago as someone who could take good pictures and wanted to to set up a business (I was one of about 4 photographers who started the trend for bump photography before it became massively popular) I run a successful business - without a degree! My business has had to change over the years and yes, it can be a tough industry. I now train 'convert-to-pro workshops and have trained a lot of women, who began just like you, to run a photography business. As long as you are outside of a 25 mile radius of Petersfield in Hampshire you can come along to the workshops. I don't hold anything back, you learn everything I have learnt that has worked over the last 10 years. If you would like to me to offer some constructive, impartial advice on some of your pics - please PM me and I will happily chat to you about your potential and to offer help - no strings!

BushCricket Tue 23-Apr-13 20:45:17

I wouldn't recommend it. The market is very crowded, at least for weddings and portraits.

Bunbaker Tue 23-Apr-13 20:52:04

An acquaintance of mine is a photographer and has had hardly any work in the last 12 months.

YoniShapedLoveBox Wed 24-Apr-13 13:10:42

I came here to open a similar thread and found this one. although I'm more inexperienced than the OP, I think I have a good eye and I like spontaneous, daily life kind of photography. TLBTOG, I would love to send some of my photos to you, if you didn't mind giving me your opinion of course.
OP, if I were you, I would do a course anyway, you can start with small projects for your friends and see if it's definitely what you want....also it will be one more thing that you can share/teach your children....

Tallyra Thu 16-May-13 23:02:12

I tried this once, ish. I signed up to be part of a franchise for nursery school photography. I loved it. I bought the equipment and made a very good go at it. 2 years in, I was starting to have problems - I'd canvassed my entire area so many times that there was no-one left to talk to apart from the ones that kept turning me away. It became very downheartening and I just couldn't make a good wage. I became ill at that point (pregnancy/miscarriage related) and decided that it was best if I gave up.

You really need to be focussed. I thought I was, but I couldn't stand the door-to-door sales type of marketing, and although I loved the photography and was good at that part, the sales killed it for me.

Good luck if it's something you like doing, but be aware it will change your love for it to a different kind of emotion. I'm hoping to change my direction again now and sew bags for craft fairs but I'm completely prepared to get sick of sewing and not make any money. Anything's worth a try though!

manda21 Mon 20-May-13 12:04:58

Hi Tallyra,

Can i ask which franchise you bought into because i'm looking into doing the same. I am really up in the air about going down that route because of the amount of money it cost to buy into the franchise but worried no one will take one look at me because i have no background.

Thanks Manda

Tallyra Mon 20-May-13 19:58:53

it's called little angels and head office is in Cheltenham. I believe they've expanded in the sales and marketing areas since I left.

Kez100 Sat 06-Jul-13 18:38:39

Would you be able to access (as a mature student) a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Photography? They are often difficult to get into (the good ones) but use interview and portfolio as much as qualifications to allocate offers. My daughter was only 16 when she joined but hadn't chosen Art at GCSE.

This course is the equivalent of 3 A levels and is full time (usually about 15 - 20 hrs a week actually in college but quite a bit of self study outside of that)

My daughter is currently studying this course and it's immersing her in photography for two years. Many of her fellow students are mature students. Her college has a lot of equipment she can loan and receives tuition on and she has learned so much about the industry already.

At least doing this, you can start to see if you can really stand out from the crowd.

After this, she is very likely to need to do a degree as well.

I have to warn you - there are some amazing 17 year old photographers out there - it's really quite scary how good many of them are.

BikeRunSki Sat 06-Jul-13 19:02:49

OP,you sound very similar to me. I did a City and Guilds in Photography a few years ago, before DC. We also live near the Peaks.

I seriously considered going into business as A photographer rather than going back to work after DC2, but didn't as two local businesses packed in around the same time. I knew one girl a bit, and had a chat about why; she said that she just wasn't getting the work. Her work hoof, her prices not bad, and whilst lots of people like it, professional photos tend not to be people's top priority when money is a bit tight.

BikeRunSki Sat 06-Jul-13 19:04:23

"Good" not "hoof".

edam Sat 06-Jul-13 19:10:20

I think it is hard to make a living as a photographer now. I'm a magazine editor so I know a few snappers - we use a rota of half a dozen who are all really good but I hear times are very tough.

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