Throughout each year I receive emails and phone calls from aspiring photographers, or the parent of a young future photographer, looking to me for help or opportunities. Of course I’m not able to take on assistances or provide consistent eduction. I wish I was able to, but I can’t. What I can do, though, is provide some very valuable resources and some lessons learned. Each of these resources are extremely valuable in their own way, and I strongly suggest every photographer looking to learn and grow at least looks at each of the resources I’ve listed. I’ll talk about some of my lessons learned in a future post.
PhotoVision is a source of video eduction covering just about everything for a photographer. They visit with tons of other photographers where you get to see actual shoots, post-production, learn about sales and marketing, and more. They have a library of different collections of videos, plus they have their annual subscription, which is only $49 for PPA members. I’ve had a subscription with them for years. I learned about them from another photographer, and I continue to recommend it as one of the best educational investments available. Even at regular price for non-PPA members, what you get for your money is unreal. You’ll never get that amount of variety and education for that price anywhere else.
PPA (Professional Photographers of America) is the world’s largest nonprofit association for professional photographers. Their members enjoy the best benefits and protection available. As the leading certifying agency for imaging professionals, PPA’s Professional Photographic Certification program is recognized throughout the industry.Those who have earned the Professional Photographic Certification have passed a comprehensive written exam measuring their technical expertise, and have successfully submitted their work to a panel of judges for review and approval. This is the certification that I carry and have to maintain through continuing education and a improving portfolio of work. PPA also has Imaging USA, a week long convention packed with tons of classes and hundreds of vendors.
WPPI (Wedding & Portrait Photographers International) is another amazing organization providing industry leading education and resources to photographers around the globe. I receive my Rangerfinder Magazine from them. They also have their WPPI Convention every March in Las Vegas and is supposed to be the biggest in the industry I believe.
Joy of Marketing was created created by Sara Petty of Sarah Petty Photography. Sarah come to photography from a strong marketing background after working with CocaCola. Thankfully she has seen a need in our industry where her passion for business is greatly needed since most of us photographers started because of our love of photography, not business. Of course, we have to be stronger at business than we do our photography if we want to succeed as a business. Using The Joy of Marketing, she makes available the largest amount of photography business eduction I’ve seen to date. I’ve even participated in one of her special groups called the Photography Marketing Formula where she drowned me for months with more information than I can recount. Because of Sarah, I have made tons of changes to my business so as to make it more sustainable and profitable over the years. Otherwise I was at risk of being one of the many that fails due to unsustainability resulting from not charging enough for my time and products. I also learned better sales, marketing, networking, communication, and more. Definitely a must for photographers that aren’t strong in the business arena.
Cannon Learning Center is a create site that Cannon has put together. It has also made many improvements and changes over the years. I’m not a Cannon user, but they do make great equipment. Most people either forget or don’t realize that Cannon is primarily a research and development company, not a camera company. So they are able to do amazing things. But I still say Nikon blows Cannon away in low light situations (yes I tested my theory). But all of that aside, they are amazing, and this website is full of videos and tutorials for all kinds of how-to education for photographers and videographers. Since I’m working on learning how to make use of the video abilities of the newer cameras, this site has be very helpful.
ProSelect is my selling software. I use it to project viewing and sales sessions for my clients. With it, I can show slideshow which include my logo and a song of choosing. I can then easily review images on my 64″ projection screen, showing images at actual size from 60″ down to 4×6″ with frames. There is also a feature that allows me to put these images (with or without frames) on room views, which can either be stock images or images of a clients actual room in their home. With room views, my clients can see exactly how an image will look on a wall to the exact scaled size. There’s really tons of things this software can do. Some of my other favorite things includes layouts, album designing (which dramatically improved my workflow by cutting design time by 75%), and detailed invoicing. It really is the industry standard, and no online image gallery will ever compare to this.
Lynda.com is an online library of how-to videos for just about every version of every software available to the common population. There’s some free clips here and there that you can find so you can get a taste for the site first. Even these free clips can be helpful. If you enjoy the site, you can either subscribe on a monthly basis, or for the entire year. Of course you can also purchase DVD’s of some of the courses. One of my favorites has been Photoshop training from Chris Orwig who is a photographer and an instructor for Brooks Institute, which is the best photographer in the country. But as I said, they have just about everything. Any version of Photoshop, and tons of topics for each version. If you’re wanting to know more about any software you have, then you really should check this site out.
Quantum Instruments Lighting Equipment is what I used for my primary lighting source for event photography. So when people see that huge round light above my camera, it’s the Quantum Trio. Quantum makes some of the best portable lighting equipment, and they customer service and technical support are the best I’ve ever experienced. I love the lightweight, versatility, reliability, and amazing quality of light I receive from my Trio. If I could afford three more units, I’d buy them and use them for location portrait/fashion work where more than one light is needed. For those looking for a small nugget or two of lighting education, they do have that as well on their site. I doubt I’ll ever buy another speed light again since they’re less reliable, less consistent, more restrictive, not as good a quality of light, and don’t last near as long as Quantum lights do.
Collages.net is who I use for my online image hosting for my events. No, my portraits do not get posted online for sales. You’ll never make any real sales to make a living with by trying to sale portraits online. Events are different since the main profit is made before the event, compared to after as with portraits. Collages offers an amazing site for hosting my event images with, making them flashy and easy for my clients and their guests to view, order, and share. Collages has always offered great products and service over the years that I’ve been with them. Some photographers almost exclusively use them for products as well since they offer all kinds of printing services. I only use them for my event candid prints. I use other vendors for my other products, but there’s nothing wrong with using Collages. As I said, they are a great company. They really go out of their way to work with photographers and bring them new products and improved service all the time. There are other companies that do similar things as well, but Collages has remained my preference over the years because of their quality of service and products, and of course price as well. You really can’t beat them.
As far as my products go, that’s entirely different kettle. Products are like equipment. They can change at any moment I deem it necessary to satisfy the job. If I don’t do my job right in the first place, no matter of equipment or products are going to fix it for me. So in the end, get the education and practice till you’re at the point you can start working and charging as a professional. When someone that isn’t an educated and proven professional photographer enters the market and starts competing with those that are, it ends up causing damage to the market. People start looking for “good enough” instead of quality if it means they can save some money. But those that charge next to nothing won’t be able to sustain themselves over the years and will likely be a short lived name in the market, leaving their clients abandoned. So it’s really a disservice to both the industry and the clients that hired them. If you want to learn and grow to become a professional photographer, start with the resources I’ve provided, or others you may find. And then when you’re ready, start working professionally. Of course, I know money needs still needs to be made. Just be honest with people and let them know where you are and charge appropriately, if anything at all. But don’t give your work away either. Fare work deserves fare pay. Just be honest about your skills and abilities.
I hope all of this information is a help to you. Please let me know if there’s anything else I can talk about that can help you. Best wishes in your adventure!
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