Going it alone
With that experience under your belt, you should have some work you can put together in a portfolio to show prospective clients. The first ones are likely to be family and friends who’ve seen your camera and know that you can take a decent picture. Despite them being close, don’t do it for free. Charge a fair price, based on your experience and capability, and make sure you cover the hire cost of any lenses or lighting equipment you’ve had to arrange.
How much should you charge? Put it this way: an experienced wedding shooter like Ed Godden (www. edgodden.co.uk) charges £1800, which includes coverage of the full day, at least 500 high-res images provided on a USB stick, and an online gallery of the high-res shots for family and friends to download. If you’re just starting out, then you will want to think about charging considerably less without being seen as ‘cheap’. Once you start building a reputation, you can start offering extras, such as an engagement or pre-wedding shoot… and perhaps shots of the couple’s first baby!
If the thought of photographing a wedding makes your blood run cold, then why not challenge yourself to hawk your prints at craft fairs and seasonal art events throughout the year? Naturally, this requires an investment of both time and money in order to build up a decent stock of prints, postcards and calendars. One option is to club together with a photographer friend so that the outlay (and the risk of being left with unsold items) is halved.
Know your niche
One final suggestion to give you something to aim for over the next 12 months: find your photographic niche. Stock libraries are full of ‘nice’ landscape shots showing the same views, and photographic magazines have probably – probably – had their fill of slow-exposure seascapes. Shooting the same subjects from the same viewpoint as everyone else will reduce your chances of making a sale, so where are the gaps in the market that you can fill? Maybe you know a certain sport inside out. Perhaps you have a love for vintage cars that’s equal to your passion for photography. Are you a great cook and a great photographer? Combine your interests and there’s a chance that you can become the go-to guy or gal for commercial pictures…