5 Things Every Photographer Needs To Know

This is a guest post by Veronica Gillis from Veronica Gillas Photography.



veronica gillas photography


Hi everyone!

As professional photographers, we are asked a whole lot of questions.  Honestly, almost everyone peppers me with them when they find out what I do.  Usually, they ask about my camera and lens, or the props that I use.  However, on one very magical Wednesday last week, a total stranger asked me a question that I guess no one had thought to ask before.  And, well, I thought it was a good enough question that I should share it, and my answer, with you here.

Now, I consider myself to be pretty quick on my feet.  I was totally expecting this young lady to ask me how to pose a newborn or what lens she should buy next.  So imagine if you will, yours truly grasping for a coherent sentence when she asked me what three pieces of advice I would have given myself when I was just starting out.

Fantastic question!  After six years of dabbling with photography, there are so many things that I wish I could tell amateur Veronica that professional Veronica knows now.  I’ve picked out the five (I added two for good measure) that I think are most important for amateurs and hobbyists looking to go pro.  If you let me, I would talk forever about all of the things I know now that I didn’t know then, but I guess that’s kind of the story of everyone’s life, isn’t it?

So without further ado, here are the answers that I gave her, and then some!

1.  Take your camera with you everywhere.  

It might as well be surgically attached to your hand; that is how often it should be with you.  The more you shoot, the more you improve.  If you are just starting out, do not sit around drumming your fingers on the table waiting for a client to come around before you dust off that camera.  Grab a handful of business cards, go to a busy park and ask people if you can photograph them.  Hand them your business card and tell them if they get in touch, you’d be happy to send them the images free of charge.  This especially works with adorable little kids!  You’re out getting new subjects all of the time, and when the parents email you for the images, just ask them if it is okay for you to use the images on your website.  Voila!  Fresh content and you are getting practice.  People don’t say practice makes perfect for fun, they say it because it is true!  No one got better sitting around waiting for the phone to ring.

2. Price yourself right.

My heart sinks every single time I see a photographer offering their services for pennies on the dollar.  Not only is it a bad business practice as it has a negative impact on the local photography market, but it devalues your work.  If you do not value your work, why would your clients?  If you need to build your portfolio and do a few free sessions when you are starting out, then by all means.  But for any other work, you need to price yourself right.  This means calculating your cost of doing business against what your potential annual expenses will be.  If you don’t want my long winded explanation about pricing and why it is critical to your business and the photography community at large, InspireMeBaby recommends the Easy As Pie pricing guide for portrait photographers.  If you have no idea where to begin, that is the perfect place to start.

3.  Do your research.

Running a photography business is a full-time job and requires dedication and discipline.  The backend of the business is 70% of what I do.  Yes, that means only 30% of my time is actually dedicated to shooting!  Business plans, location scouting, business insurance, local licenses, client databases, replying to emails, editing, marketing, phone calls, putting together galleries, networking and client service all have to be at the top of your priority list.  You will be juggling all of the time.  Loving photography will only get you so far.  You NEED to do the work if you plan to succeed.

4.  Comparison is the thief of joy.

Stop flipping through the portfolios of other photographers, wondering how you could be more like them.  Any extra time you have should be spent working on your business, not looking at your competition’s work.  I can’t even tell you the number of hours that I spent looking through the work of other newborn photographers trying to pick apart their sessions.  Really, what I was lacking back then was confidence.  The pros can be intimidating and I can see how someone just coming in could easily make that mistake.  You will be successful because of the work that you do, not because you can create a replica of someone else’s work.  Everything you do should have your own special touch added to it.  Forge your own path!

5.  Forget your equipment.

Do not wait until you can afford that Mark III you’ve been eying to get started.  Your business will not succeed or fail based on how many props you have or how good your camera is.  Yes, there are certain factors to take into consideration where equipment is concerned, but I assure you that there are photographs that have been taken with Canon Rebels that speak louder than ones taken with a 1DX.  Cameras do not take amazing photographs, people do!   Photography is art, and art demands vision and originality.  Start now with what you have.  Take the time to perfect your craft.  Get feedback from professional locally as well as online and be open to their suggestions.  It is not about who has the best props, the best camera, or the most expensive glass.  The grass is not always greener on the other side.

How about it pros?  What advice would you give your newbie selves?


Located in Portland, Oregon, Veronica Gillas is a natural light custom photographer specializing in newborn, children, family and senior photography.  When she’s not on location, you’ll probably find her at her favorite Starbucks, or at the beach with her husband and three children, trying to capture that perfect sunset.  Visit her on the web at Veronica Gillas Photography, or drop by her Facebook page and say hello!



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