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How New Photographers Can Gain Experience in the Industry Part I

As it is with any professional career, finding job experience as a new photographer can be pretty daunting. Sure you may have talent, understand your rule of thirds, know how to manipulate the intricacies of your digital camera, and possess a stash of high end equipment, but it’s like trying to get a managerial position when all you have ever done is worked a couple of odd jobs here and there. It’s difficult to find an “in” if you do not have the experience, but few people are willing to take the gamble to give you the resume building opportunities that you need to prove yourself worthy.


Here are a few ways to bulk up your resume and go on more shoots.



  1. Start building your portfolio earlier rather than later
  2. Communicate with your muses
  3. Continue taking any opportunity given to you



1. Build Your Portfolio

A portfolio for a photographer is usually a digital collection of the best photographs that you have ever taken. Those shots that are your pride and joy. But they also need to represent the wide range of your photography skills - proving that you can adapt to different projects - like action shots, landscapes, portraits, etc. The problem is, many new photographers don’t feel that they have sufficient pictures to create a diverse portfolio, but the most important aspect about a portfolio to remember is that it is always changing and can always be updated. Some photographers link to their Instagram or VSCO pages from their website, allowing people to view their work and determine if they are a good fit for a client’s needs. Creating your first portfolio is a pivotal point in a photographer’s career because they allow you to share your work and build a clientele. How are people going to hire you if they have never seen what you are capable of producing? You have to cast your line before you can ever think of reeling in a catch.



2. Communicate with your muses

If you’re a new photographer, it is safe to say that you have professional and well-known photographers that you idolize and are inspired by as you learn and find your own style. This is GREAT! All prospective photographers should, because you can gain valuable information from experts that will help shape you as a professional someday. It’s important to remember though that these mentors and muses that you look up to are real people. All of them recognize that they started from the bottom, just like you. So why not write to (or hey, here’s a thought that is so 20th century… call) your favorite three? Prioritize who you feel the most strongly about so that your messages are sincere, send them your portfolio, and inquire about if you could spend a day or week shadowing or assisting them for professional work experience. Be humble and gracious with their time, these are experienced photographers who can provide knowledge you can only receive by experiencing the down and dirty work in the real world of photography. It may not be the most luxurious experience of your life, but remember that you are trying to create experience in a professional industry; it is not going to always be fun and easy. However, an experience like this could also easily lead you into your next job, and will definitely help you network with more professionals.  


3. Take every opportunity

Just two years ago, 3 out of 5 photographers were self-employed (Source). It’s important to remember that this is a difficult industry to make a dependable salary. Many professional photographers do freelancing. Remember that no job that is offered to you when you’re trying to gain experience is beneath you. On any job, you can re-hone your skills with lighting, or experiment with creative framing, or just do a stellar job. Everything is valuable experience, even going outside on your own and shooting your backyard. Any job helps you build further skills, a more impressive portfolio, and relationships with present and future clients.



Tune in next month to learn about more ways you
can gain experience as a novice photographer.



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