Choosing a photographer
Vintage Photo Books

you are at : [36 yr & 22 yr old with University degrees want to do FREELANCE photojournalism.]

The Question

As you requested, below is some information about me before I ask my questions:

1. Yes I have read your pages....great wealth of information!!!
2. Nil, other than taking photos since age 9. Modeled for 5 years. In psychological tests (mandatory at my old job at NNN) I rated 99% (meaning everyone taking the scored lower than me) on ability to visual space, lines and relationship of space and lines. Don't know how this may be relevant other than I am always looking at images as though through a camera to determine best composition.

3 Mid West

4. 36 year old

5. Present occupation, consultant with large company. Making good money but I have hit the corporate brick wall of boredom and squashed creativity. Still employed, just got a promotion....but don't care. I have always wanted to be a photographer for it's a necessity to keep my sanity. I can support myself for about 6 months if I leave my job. I currently have a Minolta digital camera.

6. My BS degree is in Finance my and business experience is all in management and financial analysis. I want to do FREELANCE photojournalism. Perhaps weddings to start....end goal, opening my own gallery.

7. Income level desirable in 5 years .....hmmmm .... realistically less than $60, 000.

My questions are...

1. What type of camera should I get for black and white landscape/cityscape frame able enlargement photos? What type of zoom lens? I want to start my collection of photographs even while I pursue alternative income options in the short term.

2. What is the best and most accessible way to enter the Wedding Photography arena as an entrepreneur? I think this may be where I start.

3. I know I do not want to do portrait or product photography....any other suggestions to get quickly acclimated to the profession?

4. Are accredited classes needed? I have enrolled in some local classes through the community center and Camera Exchange. However, the College of Arts and Science offers a more intensive study over the summer....would it be worth it to learn in classroom or would an apprenticeship provide the same education?

Hi Mary have a few moments in the lounge at Mexico so here are some comments and a project for you

1. did you go thro to the National Geographic minimum requirements?

2. good start at least you know one side of the Pro camera

rated 99% good you are bright there are too many dead heads in the industry

4. never too old however as we get older we appreciate our creature comforts so any move will have to be carefully considered

5. have you considered staying where you are and taking say six weeks holiday, (you are obviously considered to be good and this way they can keep you) and travel like I do taking photos that I WANT TO, then you can spend
the rest of the year in your spare time sorting and doing things with them without wondering where the next $ is coming from like most photographers

do a project for me, take the yellow pages, select the largest adverts (they SHOULD be the most successful, in theory) and go and visit them, tell them of the BS degree is in Finance my and business experience is all in
management and financial analysis. Tell them you will be doing a degree in photography and ask them if they would have a job for you when you are finished.

The purpose of this exercise is to see the type of people involved in the industry and for you to assess them as to their earning capacity. With your background and IQ this should be a piece of cake.

6. wonderful background

FREELANCE photojournalism. So does the rest of the world

Perhaps weddings to start.... that is where they all start & get business by cutting price, you are to bright to do this but HOW will you get weddings, most in most countries are sold on price the top ?% on quality but everyone wants those as well.

opening my own gallery... what does this mean? How will you make money? YOU know all the questions to ask about this with your background

7. I would doubt it unless you go into systems photography in portraiture. This is what I call working to a formula and using photography as a system for making money...but you would get bored with this as you want to be creative

Now I want you to study the above and see if anything appeals to you before I go onto your set of questions so let me have your comments on what I have said and do the research project I spoke about above, say you used to be a
model, do you still have contact with any of the photographers you worked with, what about talking to them, and get their comments, do a interview with them as a financial advisor!

Thank you so much for your reply! And I've changed my mind....I want YOUR job! You're lounging in Mexico -- as I sit here in front of my computer analysing and graphing XXXXXXX global corporate hotel spend in 2001...and daydreaming.

I have a couple of updates since yesterday (I waste no time!). First, I have set up informational interviews with local top rated photographers in 5 different fields.

1. The first meeting is tonight with XXXXXX. He has my dream job. Successfully gallery downtown, primarily landscape/cityscape photographer, his work in displayed at various corporations and he has just published his third, or forth, book.

2. The second is with XXXXXXX, she is a highly sought after wedding photographer in the city. She agreed to also take me along on a photo shoot ( I can be charmingly convincing when needed).

3. The third is with a studio shooting product and model photos for XXXX Corporation (not my ideal, but they bring in the money!).

4. Jack (took photos for xxxxxx book cover) has agreed to a phone conversation. I was in Savannah two weeks ago and visited his gallery.

5. Also, two friends of friends whom have successful local photography businesses have agreed to meet with me for an hour.

Next, I looked into educational opportunities. I plan to sign up for 5 one night classes at the local Camera Exchange (dark room, black and white, digital, basics etc.

Lastly, the College of Art and Design has a course this summer meeting every Monday night on Photography

I like your idea and will pursue it and advise you of results.

Thanks! Please let me know if you think any of the above is not worth the time, effort or money.

Mary, you can have my job in 30 years time if you make enough money, there was a lot of hard graft, as you know, to be able to retire etc!

Re the courses you are looking at the beauty of having a GOOD job is that you will have enough money to do these courses, some will be good others like last weeks fish!

Ivan, I still want to know what type of SLR you suggest...I plan on purchasing one this weekend (probably used).

first Mary do you relate to the photography I do?
if you have not found it on the 700 or so pages it is under Ivan's Photography

I restarted in photography after a absence of 25+ years with a Nikon 801 I think they are 8008 in your country.
I have always used a 70 or 75 to 300 Zoom lens and I was able to get a 30x40 inch enlargement from gold 200 Kodak film.

I changed my whole outfit to Canon for the image stabilization this allows you to take a photo with a real slow shutter speed for example 300mm should be min speed 1/300 sec I could go down to probably 1/50 sec and would be happy to try 1/15sec.

I started with the Canon Eos 5 last year but did not like it and have moved to a Eos 33. that is one step down from the Eos 3 and the camera is lighter and has more functions that I will ever use.

I use it on Program, Auto focus so all I have to do is compose & take the picture

I always use Colour Negative never Transparencies because when I darken the room I think it is night time and go to sleep with slides, besides I like looking at the photos as prints and not holding things up to the light.

On my travels I use my 70-300 for 95% of my photos and for the rest have a 17-35 Sigma lens. I do not worry about the bit between 35 and 75 but I do have at home a 28-105 IS lens!

if I was starting to do what I do now and with hindsight that is what I would buy today. Second hand ? you will have it for at least 10 years so why not buy new and know what you are getting, in the States I would buy by UPS from NY bfrom one of the coys that advertise in all the camera magazines


The Question

My name is xxxxxxx. I am 22 years old and in PhD. program for conservation biology at the University . Trust me I do know how far away this field seems from photography. I got into photography in college. I was one of the few pre-med majors with more than the obligated 3 credit hours of Art/Music. I have taken two semesters of Art History, Ceramics, and Photography. In photography, I have worked with color slides, black and white, some specialty techniques, and I have done both developing and enlarging of prints and negatives. I have also done more photojournalist style work and studio photography. My background though is nothing similar to someone who has studied art everyday of their collegiate life. I have been told I have talent(by people other than my family and friends) and I have had offers to by one of prints.

The main reason I am writing is to ask your advice. I find myself at a crossroads, I am burned out on scientific pursuits, and have always turned to photography as a release for my creative frustrations.(Science can be a pretty dry discipline). Given the brief information you know about me, I hope you can answer some questions.

1. Of all the people who have written to you in my situation, how many have taken the plunge?

2.My main goal is to work for National Geographic as a wildlife photographer, combining my background in science with photography, Do you know any thing about working for the geographic? Trust me I do know the level of difficulty and competion at National Geographic, and that I would need loads of talent and practice to work there.

3. Is it really possible to become a great photographer by anyone scale, while working 7 days a week, and studying all the time?

Any advice you could offer would be amazingly helpful. Also I am not limited just to wildlife photography I am open to both sports photography and photojournalism. You website was wonderful thanks for the help. I hope I have given you enough information to be useful.


My Reply

Yours is a interesting situation xxxxxx

However it to answer your first question usually the people that write to me either go away and commit suicide, or all take up paper Mache work in a special room with padded cells.

There are a terrible amount of people than dream about doing things and only very few ever do it. I believe if you really want to do it and are prepared to make what ever sacrifices there may be a long the way you will be able to achieve what ever you wish to achieve assuming you have any ability in the beginning.

I've always said there is no use setting your sites on being a brain surgeon and you can't stand the sight of blood and are bottom of a low achievers class.

The majority of photographers that will want to do photography on a roving assignment want to work for National Geographic so you have to be pretty damn good to make it because I would guess for every one person accepted there maybe 30,000 people apply or try.

Your final question I may answer in the following way, it is as possible to become a great photographer with out really practicing all the time, as it is to become a champion tennis player or concert pianist. No you need constant practice to become a great photographer and you need to take plenty of photographs and do plenty of study.

I will assume you have read my comments on the following pages because it sums up my thinking.

You sound like you will, when finished your studies, have a well-paid job.
I'm not quite sure the type of company or firm that would employ you, but if you are good enough, you may have opportunity to travel, where you can explore and developed your photographic ability and perhaps specialize because of your background in a field of photography that you become a expert at and therefore create a demand for your secondary occupation than many override the first.

Personally I would finish and obtain employment in your specialty and then started developing your photographic skill once you have your studying behind you. Most photographers and artists that I know do not make a lot of money. Whilst it is nice to think you can do with out that stuff it becomes harder and harder the older you get.

Please feel free to ask any other questions that I may have not covered........and good luck...... stay in touch