Tuesday's Tip: How to deal with Competition and not feel threatened | CHATTANOOGA PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY

This is a BIG BIG BIG deal with photographers today.  Mostly do to the hundreds and hundreds of photographers that have began breaking into the industry recently with the digital age.  It seems EVERYONE feels like they can be a photographer.  That it's just as simple as 1,2,3 CLICK!!!  I am here to tell you it is NOT easy and it's not for everybody.

Being a professional photographer can and is stressful.  WHY?  Because the majority of your time is spent dealing with the business side of photography.  Yes Photography is art and yes that is a huge part of being a professional photographer, but if you want to make a living at photography you have to be willing to deal with the business aspect as well.

A lot of new photographers out there seem to be fly by night photographers at least from what I've seen.  They think if they charge really really low prices they will generate a lot of response and make LOADS of money and have to do very little.  Generally they do get loads of response and make decent money, but then the workloads slams them.  Truth is they will tap out eventually realize that either they have to make a change or quit.  If their heart is in it and it is truly what their heart desires they will learn from their mistakes and push through.  I've personally been there done that...  I've made many many mistakes along the way.

 Here let me list them for you lol:

  • Used auto mode
    • I can not stress enough why you MUST learn how to use your camera.  I'm not saying that you can't use the aperture or shutter settings and so on, but LEARN HOW TO USE MANUAL.  Once I got over the fear of having to do it all myself I realized that actually it was WAY easier and my results were more consistent! YAY!  I'm STILL learning though!
  • Underexposed or overexposed all my images... EEK!!! 
    • Because I was using every mode but manual my images were never exposed correctly and never consistent.
    • You can however use these modes and get good shots IF you understand them!
  • Shot in full sun at the worst part of the day which resulted in harsh shadows, raccoon eyes, harsh highlights.
    • This is the BIGGEST mistake I see many newbie photographers make.  Mostly because you just don't understand light/sun and how it works for and against you.  
    • Make sure you understand where and how to place your subjects if  you are working with direct sunlight.  Open Shade, back light, fill light and reflectors are your friends!!!!!
  • Over edited my photos
    • THIS is another huge thing I see many newbie photographers do.  Boy did I ever do this.  I love bright cheery photos and goodness did I brighten my photos lol! I also loved the vintage look and guess what I did...  Made people look overly orange or dead lol!!!!  While Lightroom Presets and Photoshop Actions can help ease your workflow tremendously make sure you understand editing first.  
    • First you must learn to get your strait out of the camera shots close to perfect as you can.  Then use actions and presets to help set it off and give it a little boost not save your picture.    
    • Take a second look at your photo most times you will be able to tell if it's overly edited if not ask for honest feedback from someone that isn't a yes man.
  • Changed my logo/branding over and over... 
    • Truth is I was never satisfied with anything.  I wasn't sure what I liked.  I do suggest you find a professional and work with them.  The relief they will give you is worth the money.  I however did not go with a professional.  I forced myself to put my webdesign degree to use and came up with something I love.
    • You don't want to keep changing your logo/branding I mean really how can anyone really ever find you if you keep changing.
    • The colors, font, images, EVERYTHING you do or show is apart of your branding.  Make it all represent who you are what your photography represents.
  • Didn't update blog regularly
    • I'm sooooo guilty of this.  This is important.  If you have a blog update it.  There is nothing worse then going to your favorite photographer's blog and well it's been 4 months since they even posted anything.  BUMMER!  The blog is a place to engage with your clients and other photographers and if you have nothing you lose them.  SIGH...  I am working on this!
There are many more mistakes I've made but we'll talk about that in another post. 

I've seen many photographers on forums and facebook and so on that complain about the newbie photographers and how they either mimic what they do, steal customers, or their business is taking off quickly while you a technically better photographer are not.  I will admit I've been there and while it is frustrating and upsetting there is nothing you can really do about it.  

Well I lied the one thing you can do is BE YOU!   Don't let them get you down, because you are the one putting the stigma on yourself.  Yes that's right it's your fault!!!  Don't stoop down to their level.  This took me a while to come to terms with.  No one can be me.  No one can get my business out there and get me clients but myself.  How much do I really love what I am doing?  If someone steals your idea make it better.  If someone steals your clients go out and find new ones.  Believe it or not there is room for every photographer good or bad.  Yes I still complain about it all and yes it aggravates me at times, but I know who I am and what my photography stands for.  It speaks for it self and people will recognize the true talent and will eventually get tired of the knockoffs lol!  But honestly you were that newbie at some point, you probably did a lot of the same things to other photographers as they are doing to you.  So study your craft, put your heart and soul into everything you do, don't give up and quit worrying about what other photographers are doing.  This is not saying that you have to take blatant stealing or hate, just don't fret the small stuff.  It's easier said than done, but just try it.  I am slowly doing this, slowly saying you know what I love what I do and obviously others do too.  It sucks at times, but that's life it's hard and it's challenging...  I in no way think I am the best and I am still learning as I go, but hopefully the things I have learned along the way can help you out. 

If your heart is truly in love with photography like mine you will find a way to better yourself you will live, sleep, breathe photography.  Your time is out there just be patient don't worry about the others.  BE YOU!  

“If you copy, it means you're working without any real feeling. No two people on earth are alike, and it's got to be that way in music or it isn't music.”- Billie Holiday
“The difference between a bad artist and a good one is: The bad artist seems to copy a great deal; the good one really does.”-  William Blake
“Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else.”- Tom Peters
“The most essential factor is persistence - the determination never to allow your energy or enthusiasm to be dampened by the discouragement that must inevitably come.” - James Whitcomb Riley
Gosh I like to ramble!  lol!  Plus English wasn't my best subject.  Sorry guys!  Since EVERY blog post needs photos I will show you pictures with the mistakes I listed above and where I'm at now...

This was one of my first photoshoots.  I worked with this girl and asked her to be my model.  Here's the dish I used auto on this shoot.  I got some REALLY GOOD shots and shots like these.  I thought they were all awesome lol!  HALAIRE!  Notice how I shot in full harsh sunlight with the sun to her face.  Look at the raccoon eyes, really underexposed areas and really overly exposed areas.  NOT A GOOD PICTURE! This type of photo is very common for beginners...

Notice how muddy the black and white is, how I have under and over exposed areas.  What happened was this was an overcast day.  While this is natures soft box you still have a tendency to have uneven light and if your camera isn't being shot in manual you can't control your shots.  One HUGE thing you tend to get on overcast days are those awesome raccoon eyes.  REFLECTOR or a wearing a white shirt can help bounce light back on the face and fill in those shadows.

Here is an example of an over exposed image AND a over edited image.  OK bright is good but when the pink and skin are blinding that is no good lol!

Over edited, over exposed, direct sunlight image.  YEAH NOT GOOD lol!!!!!!

Ok now how about my recent work.

Notice the consistent exposures and how I use the sunlight to my advantage.  Notice how the maternity picture has a major lens flare, but that lens flare has a purpose.  Work with the sun don't let the sun work you...

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