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Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Every profession involves a set of skills, procedures, terminology and equipment. Professional photography is no exception. Unlike some professions, however, photography is also pursued by amateurs, and since the border between professional and amateur has wavered in recent years--especially with the improvement of photographic technology--career photographers have to devote more time and effort into making themselves marketable. This article is broken into 8 sections--each describing a crucial part of the path to a successful career in professional photography.


Difficulty: Challenging
Instructions

Choosing a Camera

1

Decide between digital or film cameras. Though digital cameras are far more popular now than film cameras, bear in mind that studio photographers--those doing fashion, automotive or catalog or product photography--generally use medium-format film cameras. Architectural photographers sometimes use large format cameras.

2
Buy a 35 mm camera if you plan to work in the field, doing photo-journalism or wedding, architectural, travel, sports, nature or wildlife photography or anything involving quick, mobile work. For uncompromising quality pick a medium format camera. A 35 mm SLR camera is what most people think of when they think of a camera. It is the norm. Art and experimental photography can be done with all sorts of cameras, even such antique cameras as Kodak Brownies.If you're doing field photography, always have a back-up camera on hand.Leading camera brands include Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Sony and Hasselblad.

3
Select only the type of lenses you'll need for your type of work. Fixed lenses aren't used as much today as in the past, except as specialty lenses like ultra wide-angle. Zoom lenses are used everywhere. 28-85 mm lenses are good for everyday use. 85-200 mm are normal for telephoto lenses. Lenses 200 mm and above are used for sports, nature or wildlife photography.

4
Purchase some basic filters. Every photographer needs a neutral density filter, a circular polarizer, UV (0) filter and a selection of gradient filters. A neutral density filter cuts down light in high light situations and gives you finer control over exposures. A circular polarizer cuts glare, especially on glass and water. A UV (0) filter cuts ultra-violet light entering the lens. Most professional photographers keep a UV(0) filter on their lenses to protect them from scratches, since a $10 filter is easier to replace than a $500 lens. Gradient filters are used to create special effects in camera. For example--a gradient filter can be used to darken the sky of a shot while leaving the things below the horizon normal.

5
Pick a good tripod, spending as much as you can afford. You will not regret the investment. The human body is by nature too shaky to keep a camera truly stable and still. If you’re doing action shots and need stability, also invest in a mono-pod.

6
Plan ahead if you have to fly to a shoot. Due to current security restrictions you are limited as to the amount of photographic equipment you can take on a plane. So consider renting gear when you get to your location.

Deciding on a Career

1

Decide on your true nature. Would you rather work for someone else or for yourself? Do you want to be part of a team with job security or a lone wolf, answering to no one but yourself, buffeted by financial ups and downs? When you work for others you can work as a full- or part-time staff photographer. You can also work as a freelancer doing assignments for one or multiple companies. If you want to work for yourself you will have to work almost full-time promoting yourself and your work to galleries, trade shows--even streets festivals and markets.If you think being a photographer is just jumping around, pushing buttons and telling supermodels, "Gimme that look, babe," you're sadly mistaken. Photography is not an easy profession to break into or stay in. If you can't stay ahead of the wave, you'll drown.

2
Get an education. Having a degree in photography is especially important if you'll be working for an organization that requires a resumé. You can sometimes develop excellent contacts in school and get all sorts of portfolio-building opportunities. It's essential to go to school if you want to go into sports photography, because where, other than a school, will you be able to get permission to photograph sporting events to add to your portfolio? A degree in photography is not needed in all fields of the business--there are plenty of things you can teach yourself--but the degree will indicate to potential employers your commitment to your art and at least some level of technical know-how. But of course, none of this matters if you have a lousy portfolio. If you don't have a good eye and a proven ability to take excellent photos again and again, you won't get very far. Also, mere pretty pictures won't cut it. Internet photo sharing sites are full of pretty pictures by amateurs. You have to blow your clients out of the water or else resign yourself to a life taking family portraits in department stores.

3
Take an internship with an established photographer, studio or agency. You will not likely get paid for your work, but the practical experience you could get from this will be priceless. Check with your school's photography department or career center for advice and details. Landing a slot as an intern is competitive--employers don't want ignorant slackers muddying up the works.

4
Find a mentor, a veteran photographer who knows the pitfalls, has had successes and failures and can guide you and give you advice. Start by finding 10 photographers in your area of interest, writing them and asking for their guidance. Some will probably be too busy to respond, but if you've picked your candidates well enough surely someone will be flattered enough to respond.

5
Expand your options when you go out to look for work. A photographer can work for many different companies or can be a staff photographer for a single company. He may sell his services to many magazines or companies. A fashion photographer can work for a magazine, a designer or even one model. Automotive photographers can work for manufacturers, retailers, magazines or ad agencies. Wedding photographers can freelance, work for agencies or even be attached to specific wedding venues. If you're interested in photo-journalism or news or sports photography you can freelance, work for a magazine, wire service, or newspaper, or even become a staff photographer for a specific team.

Learning Technique

1

Learn the importance of aperture by taking a series of photos on a sunny day of a person standing in full sunlight. Take the photo with each aperture setting your camera has, adjusting shutter speed until exposure is correct. Take a series of photos equal to the full shutter settings on your camera. When this is done, study the results and you'll see the effect of aperture on photography. You'll notice that as the aperture goes from lowest to highest settings that the background goes from blurry to focused. This is called depth-of-field, and is a way of describing the extent to which subjects in front of and behind the object you focused upon will be in focus.

2
Examine the workings of the shutter by finding a functioning waterfall. During daylight, walk through all the shutter settings while maintaining proper exposure by changing the aperture. You'll notice that at lower shutter speeds the water is blurry and at higher shutter speeds it is crisp and sharp. This is because at lower speeds the water moves while it is being recorded. Often photographers will shoot sporting events by using high shutter speeds to freeze moments, or they'll use low shutter speeds to show movement.

3
Solve this problem relating to film speed: You're in the middle of a photo shoot, the sun is going down, it's getting darker, you have the aperture of your camera all the way open on lower settings and you're having to shoot at shutter rates below 1/100. Now the images are starting to look blurry, or rather, they move while the shutter is open, giving the appearance of blur. What should you do?If you bump your camera up to ISO 400, 800 or even 1600 by buying faster film or by changing the settings on your digital SLR you can shoot with faster shutter rates again, but keep in mind the photos will now be grainier with film and noisier with digital.Film speed is a way of expressing how sensitive the media is to light, be it film or digital, though with digital it's usually called the ISO equivalent. The lower the ISO setting or film rating the higher quality it will be, but you'll then need more light. ISO 100 or ISO 200 are the norms for daylight photography and flash photography.As the sun goes down and light gets more scarce you'll need more sensitive digital settings or more sensitive film, but your photos will be more grainy and noisy. For example, to shoot a church interior with a hand-held camera you would use ISO 1600 and F3.5 with 1/60 shutter speed. Sports photographers will sometimes use faster film, that is, higher up in the ISO numbers, when working at night with stadium lighting.

4
Learn the rule of thirds and when to break it. The rule of thirds is based on the classical notion of the golden mean, a theory of artistic proportions and composition. For the rule of thirds, imagine a grid of two vertical and two horizontal lines in the frame. Now place subjects only where those grid points meet. If you're taking a photo of a person put the eyes at the intersection of the grid in the upper right or upper left portion. To learn both composition and lighting choose a subject, be it a chair, a doll, or a fruit bowl. Take 100 photos of it, making sure no two photos are taken in the exact same way. While taking these photos stop after each shot and write a note about each one, explaining why you chose to shoot in that particular way, as well as the setting you used on the camera for that shot. Analyze which photos look best in the end. Then take a ruler and measure the one-thirds grid on the photos and see how using it helped make the structure of the photos more dynamic.

5
Practice lighting technique in a manner similar to what you did to learn composition, by taking 100 photos, starting with the basic three-point lighting set-up. Move the lights around, recording their positions and then analyze your work. The three-point lighting set-up is the most common one used. One bright key light is used to illuminate the subject and is usually set at a 45-degree angle from it. A fill light is usually set at the point exactly opposite, also at a 45-degree angle. The fill light is half the strength of the key light. Opposite the fill light, behind the subject, and again at a 45-degree angle, is the high light or back light. Picture a circle with the subject in the center. If your camera is at the compass south point or 180-degree mark, the key light would be southwest of at 225 degrees, while the fill light would be at southeast or 135 degrees. The high light is set up at the northwest corner and higher in altitude than the other two. Its strength is nearer to the fill light. It catches highlights on the hair and head (assuming the subject has either), and tricks the eye of the viewer into seeing three dimensions on a two-dimensional print. Without the high light the subject can appear flat.

6
Carry aluminum foil and clothespins in your light kit. The foil can give subtle reflective light without requiring you to add another light source. The foil is used most often in sunlight as a reflector, with the sun working as the key light and the reflector as the fill light. The pins can be used to affix gels to your lights or to hold things when you can't. See the Tips section for more ideas on how to work on your overall technique.

Good Habits That Make a Difference

1
Learn how to work with models. This includes giving direction to a model the way a director of a film would. You must put the model at ease, as well as direct her to project certain emotions. At the same time, you need to develop your own ability to listen to helpful criticism.Also, make sure that every model you use signs a model release. There are no exceptions to this rule. release should be drafted by a lawyer who specializes in copyright and media law to draft one for you. A model release spells out contractually what you can do with your model's likeness. It is designed to protect you from lawsuits.

2
Allow time for other people to prepare if you're dealing with models, costumers and make-up artists. These people are also professionals. Talk with them before the photo shoot to find out how much time they'll need to prepare the models. Make sure you budget enough time so that they can do their job thoroughly and well and also so you're not kept waiting.

3
Practice with your equipment over and over. Set it up and tear it down. Just as an auto mechanic should be able to tear down and rebuild an engine, so also should you know all the parts of your photographic equipment. Everything must have its place--you must know where each piece of equipment is to be properly stored so you can find it easy next time. Practice grabbing equipment from your bags without looking. When the “perfect shot” comes your way you shouldn’t still be fumbling around. Learn all the settings of your camera and equipment so that you can change a setting in the dark if needed.

4
Read thoroughly through every manual you get with every piece of equipment and try every option mentioned. Even if you don’t use these procedures on a daily basis at least you will know it is there and what to do when you do need it.Pay attention to where you are when taking pictures outside your studio. If you're taking pictures on private property you must have a location release. There are no exceptions to this rule. Local laws may prohibit photography in public places, especially transportation hubs, industrial infrastructure, military bases, or even military and security personnel. And it goes without saying that certain foreign countries are even more strict about what you can and cannot photograph. Laws regarding shoots on public property vary by state and country. In some places you can legally stand in the street and snap a photo of a celebrity in her yard, while in others it could get you arrested.

5
Plan an outdoor photo shoot with regard to the properties of the natural light at the time of the shoot. If you want the perfect morning light and you have models who need to have make-up applied, you may have to get started as early as 3:00 a.m. to be ready for the light to be perfect.

Processing Your Photos

1

Keep track of your work through photo databasing. This is especially important to the freelancer and to the stock photo market. The software allows you to search through a series of photos by means of a system of descriptive tags. Apple Aperture is frequently used with the Apple Mac, while Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is popular for the PC.

2
Prepare for emergencies by making back-ups. Some film-based photographers keep prints in their files and store their negatives in climate-controlled safe deposit boxes. Digital photographers need to have copies of their photos on the computer that runs their database, as well as back-ups of the entire database and stored copies off-site, away from the work-space, in case of fire, flood, explosion, theft or acts of God.

3
Decide, if you use a film camera, whether to develop your photos with your own equipment or take them to a lab. To develop film requires a fairly large set-up with several stages of acid washes that have to be maintained at a constant temperature. The advantage of developing film yourself is that you have total control over the finished product. You can also learn such advanced techniques like pushing and pulling film for effect and convenience. If you studied photography in school there's a good chance you used the labs here. Did you like working that way? Is that something you'd like to continue doing? To have a home print set-up is similar to a home developing set-up, as both use acid baths and temperature control.If you take your film to a lab you need to find out how it processes film. Is a machine used? Is the work done by hand? When the prints are finished are the negatives scanned or is a projector used? What equipment is used for prints? Overall, do you like the methods used at the lab?Remember also that many professional photo labs have the ability to print archival quality prints from digital files, and have equipment that can print large poster sizes.If you'd like a happy medium between home and lab consider joining a photo co-op that has processing and printing capabilities.

4
Convert all of your work into a digital format. If you decide to work with film cameras it would still be a good idea to invest in a negative scanner to convert your film negatives into digital files so you can use them in Photo Databasing software.

5
Learn Photoshop. It is the standard in photo editing. Every professional photographer should be able to use this with a high degree of proficiency. You cannot survive without it. It is to photographers what Microsoft Word is to writers, and allows you to make such changes to your photos as exposure correction, filters, art effects and compositing.

6
Make high quality art prints with a Giclée process printer or with offset lithography, though bear in mind that the equipment is so expensive that most solo photographers will not be able to buy their own. Archival or museum quality prints are made with special inks that increase the print's lifespan. Most ink-jet ink only lasts about seven years or so before the image is no longer visible. It also means that special paper is used that can be stored for longer periods of time. What makes a photo archival- or museum-quality are the chemicals used in the ink and the paper upon which it's printed.

7
Frame your work, but keep in mind that the process is expensive. A 20-inch by 30-inch custom frame with archival non-glare glass, archival wood and archival mountings can cost as much as $800. You can make frames yourself or go to a framing shop, but if you opt for the latter course you can expect the framing to cost more than the printing, possibly double or triple the price. You can also use pre-built frames from art shops or framing stores, but these are usually of lower quality than custom frames.

Selling and Marketing Your Work

1
Examine "The Photographers Market." This book, just like the title says, explains who is buying what. It also goes without saying that you should pour through magazines that print the kind of photos you like to take: "Condé Nast Traveler" for travel, "Vogue" and "Elle" for fashion, "Gourmet" and "Bon Appetit" for food glamor shots.

2
Start your professional career with basic equipment. What could in the past only be done with an expensive, professional-quality camera and gear can now be done with consumer-level equipment. Your lack of pricey equipment is no longer a barrier for entering the market.

3
Study all the major stock photo locations, including Corbis, Fotosearch and Getty Images (see Resources below). Most stock agencies are online. Some are high-end, some are budget, but they are all major markets for photographs.The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) objects to the fact that amateur photographers are willing to sell their work to stock photo companies because it cuts into the market for professional photographers. Nowadays any person in any location with any sort of camera--every a camera phone--can take stock and news photos. Some people pay for their vacations by taking stock photos and listing them as tax write-offs. As a result, they can undersell photographers who are trying to make a living with their work.

4
Sell fine art prints of your work--if you can. Limited-edition and mass-run prints can be a great way of making money with your photography. Of course, archival-quality prints with custom-made, archival-quality frames cost a lot to make, so your price should reflect that. But unless your work "reinvents the wheel," artistically speaking, there may not be much of a market for your expensive prints.

5
Set the proper price for your work. Get online, find photographers whose work you like and admire, who work in your specific field, and see what they're charging. Adjust your prices accordingly.

Picking the Right Subjects

1

Research what's selling. Read magazines that publish the kind of photos you like to take. E-mail editors and ask them what sort of photos they need. Many will brush you off and say they only buy from stock agencies, but some might say, "Go out and take pictures of A, B and C and if I like them I might buy a few." Cultivate magazine and newspaper writers. Most include their e-mail addresses at the bottom of their articles, so contact them and see if they need anything. Look through the websites of photo agencies to see what sort of photos are their top sellers.

2
Be on top of trends. Even better, be ahead of them. Find a topic that is growing. Get in there with the "early adapters." This is one skill, unfortunately, that can't really be taught. You can study the culture, sniff the air, ask around, but eventually it will all depend on your instincts.

3
Choose timeless and evergreen subjects, such as holidays or essential human emotions. If you can take a photo that clearly conveys such intangibles as love, happiness, sadness or hunger, people will want to see and buy it.

4
See old subjects in a new way. The Eiffel Tower has been photographed so many millions of times it's become as much a cliché as an icon. Can you take a picture of it in a way that has never been done before, and that will present it in a completely new light?

5
Evaluate the subcultures to which you have special access, especially sub-cultures that might interest the general public. Do you, for instance, collect model trains as a hobby? If so, you're uniquely well-suited to photograph model train hobbyists and their collections. Are you into tattoos and body art? Then you probably have friends and connections in tattoo parlors who'll let you take photos of that world. If you have the wherewithal to photograph a sub-culture before it appears on the radar of the general public, all the better.

Legal Issues for Photographers

1
Avoid photo manipulation for news purposes, as it is unethical and unacceptable. In fashion and advertising, on the other hand, it's quite common. The distinction being that a news image is supposed to represent fact. Anything that conveys less than or other than a fact will call into question the integrity of that news outlet as a source of true and factual information. Fashion and advertising play upon feelings, moods and motivations, and as such, the ethics of images used in these areas are rather looser.

2
Hire a lawyer and have him draw up model and location releases for you. This is so everyone involved in the production, marketing and distribution of the photographic images you take will know exactly where they stand, what their legal rights are and how those images are to be used, both now and in the future. Releases are legal devices that are absolutely vital to your protection.

3
Familiarize yourself with copyright law. Now technically speaking, any original work you create is covered by the Copyright Act of 1976, but you need concrete, tangible evidence that you created it. You can choose to register your copyright by sending an example of your work into the United States Copyright Office along with a small fee.Understand, though, that you cannot claim copyright on images that you did under "work-for-hire" contracts--the company that hired you gets to make that claim. Also, familiarize yourself with the concept of fair use. This concerns the nature of who owns what kind of image. For example, you can take a photo of a Harley Davidson motorcycle; that particular image, and the way you took it, the appearance and style of it, belongs to you. You can use the image to illustrate a newspaper article about motorcycles. You can't, however, use it for commercial purposes, such as on the cover of a celebrity sex DVD.

4
Learn the difference between editorial use and advertising use of a photograph. To illustrate let's say you took a photo of the Empire State Building. If you sold this image to a media outlet to accompany an article on the Empire State Building, you would probably be all right, legally speaking. If you sold the image to a company to use in an advertisement for, say, whiskey or detergent, it would probably be illegal. If you sold an image of the entire New York skyline and it included the Empire State Building and that image was used in an advertisement, you'd probably be in the clear, but in each case you'd be better off checking with a lawyer first. There is no rule engraved in stone about this because our society is so litigious you can never tell when someone will try to sue you for good or for frivolous reasons.

5
Study your tax situation. Hire an accountant. Learn what state and local taxes you are required to pay. Keep receipts. Keep personal and business expenses separate. Consider incorporating and use a lawyer to help you draw up the paperwork. Being incorporated limits your liability in lawsuits and increases your claim on your tax status. Just because you think you are a professional the IRS may consider yours a hobby business.

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Tips & Warnings

Use gels to give colors to the lights.

Use diffusers to soften the light. Diffusing the light flattens the textures of a person's face, hiding wrinkles. Conversely, harsh light brings out wrinkles and texture.

When shooting products, pick the best light to accentuate the item. Most small objects look best when photographed in a light box. A light box is a cube with a diffusing material--sometimes a piece of cloth--around all its surfaces except for one opening for the camera. The lights are then placed all around the box, shining through the diffuser material.

When shooting reflective objects keep in mind that shine is the result of reflection. If you take a photo of a silver ring in a dark room the ring will look black, while if you take a photo of it on a blue background the ring will look blue.

When shooting in natural light use reflectors and fill flash. Fill flash is the the practice of using of your flash in full daylight. If the sun is over someone's shoulder and his face is in the shadow of his head, using the flash it will even out the lighting.

Every moment of the day has a different light temperature or color.

Twice a day there are periods known as the "magic hours," when the sun is close to the horizon and rays of light travel further. The moisture in the atmosphere at these times creates a prism effect, with the light picking up attractive shades of red. These periods are not, however, sunrise or sunset, but rather the time immediately before sunrise and after sunset.

Clouds give sunlight a diffusion, reducing the harshness of shadows. To understand this principle stand near a car on a partly cloudy day. Now as the sun goes behind a cloud you'll see that the shadow of the car goes from a crisp line to a blurry, more subtle delineation.

Each season of the year has weather that can affect the color of natural light, and the distance of the earth from the sun can in turn affect the color of the light.

Pollution can create dramatic lighting.

Needless to say, the above article is not complete in scope. It is merely an introduction to some of the basics you'll need to know as a professional photographer.



Read more: How to Be a Professional Photographer | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_4457086_be-professional-photographer.html#ixzz1MfAaHh43

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