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Old Jan 8, 2005, 7:24 AM   #1
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Good morning everyone. I am just starting to learn the manual functions of my camera and I try to use the advice from this forum on how to better take shots. What is required for you to begin offering your services as a portrait photographer or how do you go about selling pictures of landscapes or any other subject you have photographed.
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Old Jan 8, 2005, 10:40 AM   #2
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How to take better shots is an almost impossible question to answer. It's a mix of opinion and general rules. For the general rules, I would suggest getting a book on photography out of a local library. National Geographic makes a great series of books that you may find in a library. They have books on both general photography and specific topics (wildlife, portraits, landscapes,….) Don't worry if it's a book about film, don't worry if the book is 20 years old. Photography has changed very little and the basic rules about composition and such haven't changed at all.

In my opinion, a great picture is an interesting subject in great light. A good subject is made much better by light and the converse is true too... a good subject is ruined by bad light. This is why much photography is done within an hour of sunrise and an hour or two of sunset. That is when the light is at it's most interesting.

There are so many ways to sell photos this is a difficult question to answer.

There are basically two things that matter.
1)Having really good work.
2)Getting it in front of people who might buy it.

I have not seen your work, so I can't comment on its quality. I would suggest that you go to a web site with some examples of really good pictures. See what you need to achieve to really consider selling. The photographic marketplace is really cutthroat. You need really good stuff to make it worth your time selling your work. Your time is worth something and unless you value it very cheaply you will need a good body of quality work before it is worth your time.

My first suggestion would be to go to:
www.naturephotographers.net
www.naturescapes.net

See what the Pro's are able to do. You need to come close to that. Both these sites have people who are learning and people who are professionals. Look at both and learn. Looking a other people's pictures and really thinking about them is one of the best ways to get better.

Second, you need to find the customers. This completely depends on what you are going to sell. You mention portraits and landscapes; those are completely different markets. For portraits you need a good studio, you need good marketing and advertising. The marketing and advertising are probably worth more than a good studio. People have to come to you, so you have to draw them in. Obviously a bad studio will hurt you, but the best studio in the world (by its self) won't draw people in the door.

Landscapes are very different. You need to find the locations/subjects, photograph them well, and then find people who might buy them. Finding the subjects & locations means reading books about your area. Talking with other photographers and learn where they like to go. Picking places on the map and just go to see what is there. Look at other people's pictures and see where they are taken. You have to learn what you like to photograph (water falls, fields, buildings, mountains,…) and learn where they are (then, obviously, go there.)

Then you've gotta find customers. This can be done direct (go to fairs, farmer's markets,…) or through others (contact shop owners and see if they'll sell your stuff for a cut of the profits, sign an agent to sell your work for you,...)

And we haven't even touched on how you'll photograph the subject. What you really need to decide first is who your customers are. If you're selling as advertisement stock you compose your picture in a very different way than if you're selling to a person to hang on a wall. If you're selling to ad agencies then you need to compose the picture with room to put the text. You need a smaller subject with room on an edge. The text is as important as the subject. If you are photographing for "art", then the subject is what it's all about.

And I haven't even touch on the fact that you'll need really big images that are crisp, sharp and generally well done. Generally this means 200-300 PPI prints at 13x19 or landscapes (or bigger.) And if your equipment isn't good enough for that you need it to be even sharpen because interpolation magnifies any small mistakes into bigger ones.

A book you should go after is:
2004 Photographer's Market (Photographer's Market, 2004)
by Donna Poehner

And
Photography: Focus on Profit
by Tom Zimberoff

The first is really the bible for selling photos. The second I've just heard good stuff about.

Does that help? If you have more questions, feel free to ask.

Eric
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Old Jan 8, 2005, 11:16 AM   #3
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Gosh, that's alot of good tips and information Eric. Sounds like you have some experience with this. I think I would be more interested in selling nature shots as art work for people to hang in their houses. I only have a fuji s5100 and am just getting started so I don't think I could take the marvelous professional type photos you were speaking about for companies. I don't have the facilities to get into the portrait world and I really do enjoy photographing nature. Thanks for your help.
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Old Jan 8, 2005, 1:46 PM   #4
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While I haven't sold a single picture, I plan on doing so when I get enough pictures to make it worth while. Build up a portfolio and all that.

A quick look at Steve's review of that camera shows that its reasonably well rouneded. Nice amount of zoom, looks like it has a manual focus ring, shutter and aperture priority modes. Not bad. This could be a good camera to learn from and with 4MP it can take some decent sized pictures.

If you really want to sell pictures, another market which is surprisingly good is landscapes of local historic places. You'll still have to take it in the right season and in good light and all that. But it makes the choice of composition & subjects a lot easier.

But in the end the key thing is... go out and shoot and have fun. You'll get better just by doing it, as long as you care too.

Eric
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Old Jan 8, 2005, 3:49 PM   #5
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Great information eric s... Right on.

Those web sites have some really nice photos... I also looked at the those books pretty good.



Thanks
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Old Jan 8, 2005, 6:36 PM   #6
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minutephotos.com,
Don't they now? I wish half my shots were as good as the stuff on those sites. I'm working at it...

Eric
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Old Jan 8, 2005, 9:21 PM   #7
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Yea eric s me too..

I am finding thogh that it has a lot to do with your equipment. I have never had the oportunity to even tough some of the Canon 600 and 1200 mm primes.I have a difficult sometimes keeping quality up with my small portrait business I run doing headshots for potential models and actors. The Canon Drebel and kit lens just don't cut it sometimes. But it is hard to balance photgraphy with kids girlfriend shopping and so many other things that require money. Makes it hard to buy L -series stuff when photography is not yet paying any bills.

But I am going to focus on being more protiable with my photography this year so that I can get better equipment.

Diciding between Sigma 70-200 2.8 and Canon 70-200 F4L. I want to start printing large 13x19 and selling.
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Old Jan 9, 2005, 6:59 AM   #8
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That is something that is often not realized by people just starting out. You can get away with cheaper glass if you're just posting on the web. But getting a really good 13x19 print is really hard. It takes a lot of data and it has to be really good data. And the quality of the lens effects that.

The inverse of that is I know someone who made a huge print (much bigger than 13x19) of an older black man. Lots of detail in the skin of his face and the straw hat. Not just the usual portrate less-than-tac-sharp-is-good situation. And it came from a 2.1MP image. The guy has been shooting for well over 20 years and is a Nikon Profession (in their exclusive program.) So he has the skill both with the camera and with photoshop.

It truly amazes me. I'm starting to take PS lessions from him, hopefully it will help.

You do some good stuff yourself, keep at it. It can be hard to make the time, but its well worth it.

I'm lucky that I don't have kids to worry about and I've already purchased my house. My day job pays for what I need and more... so I can get that good glass. (On the other hand, I'm a stingey (sp?) bastard so I don't buy that 180 f3.5 macro that I want. Amazing glass, but do I really need it?)

Eric
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Old Jan 9, 2005, 8:32 AM   #9
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Thanks eric s, sometimes when I hear people comment on mt work I realize that maybe I am not an ameteur ant more. I have sure spent enough time studying photography and practicing.

The hard part is like you said drawing that fine line betwwen what you need and what you want. I want a 20D, but do I need it... (Not Yet) as you pointed out I should be able to get started with what I have.. which is more than 2.1mp.

ps

how do you know what my work looks like I haven't posted in photos in this thread?

I tried doing a search and it just comes up withthe profile not forums the user has posted in.



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Old Jan 9, 2005, 9:24 AM   #10
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algea wrote:
Quote:
I think I would be more interested in selling nature shots as art work for people to hang in their houses. I only have a fuji s5100 and am just getting started so I don't think I could take the marvelous professional type photos you were speaking about for companies.
Please don't misunderstand my reply.....I mean no disrespect. Having said that .....have you considered what you have asked? You want people to pay you for "art" to hang in their homes when you yourself admit that you are a rank amateur when it comes to photography.

Perhaps you have placed the proverbial cart before the horse......Would you hire a carpenter to fix your roof if he had absolutely no experience in driving a nail????

Let's get honest here for a moment. I strongly recommend that you hold on to your dream, but first spend some time learning how to take a photograph. While reading is a great way to begin to learn photography, I submit to you that you can memorize every word ever written on "how to take a photograph" and still not have a clue as to what to do. By all means - read all the how to's you can, but then get out and shoot. Take photos. Learn first hand what works and what does not work, and more importantly, when and why some things work some time and not others. THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR ACTUALLY SHOOTING PHOTOS!!!!!!

You mention that you own "only" a Fuji XXX camera. So what. It is not the camera that makes a memorable image. A camera is only a light proof box that holds the film or memory card. It is the person holding that light proof box that determines makes the photograph. If you eat in a gourmet restaurant, do you think your meal was extraordinary because the chef used good pots??

Of course "better" and more varied equipment will help you make better images, but in the beginning, it is not the camera...it is you and your experience level.

This may sound harsh and sarcastic, but I mean it as honest, hearfelt advice. Use your Fuji to learn the craft of photography. Learn exposure. Learn depth of field. Learn composition and framing. Then and only then, when you can make consistently well focused, well composed, well exposed and well thought out images should you take the next step and consider expanding your equipment list and pursuing your dream to sell yourlandscape work.

To paraphrase your original post sith some degree of sarcasm, ...." I have just gotten my drivers license last week and I own a Toyota Corolla and I am thinking about competing in next years Indy 500. What do you recommend that I do?"

Hope this doesn't come across as too obnoxious. I did not intend it that way.



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