Becoming a Freelance Photographer

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Photography and videography are one of those businesses that offer so many opportunities for someone that is in business for themselves. However, it is pretty much a known fact that running a photography business can be expensive, time-consuming, and most photographers and videographers don't make a lot of income. That is why many photographers only do photography on the side and make a few bucks for each job they get. Most photographers that want to make money want to start their own business and want to work for themselves. Very few rarely look at the benefits of working as a freelance photographer. In this post, I will talk about what is a freelance photographer, can all photographers do freelance work, and should photographers focus on specific products and services or should they expand their skill sets to do freelance work. 

So what is a freelance photographer? If you look up the definition on the Internet you can find a wide variety of definitions for the term. In most cases,  a freelance photographer is simply someone that does photography work for others besides themselves. Being a freelance photographer can be profitable if you can find the right business or company that needs your skills. Being a freelance photographer can be expensive because another business is normally not going to provide you with gear, equipment, and software to do a job. So a good freelance photographer has to have the proper gear to do the job. Freelance work can be very time-consuming and can require travel and additional travel expenses. Lastly, freelance photography work is normally a "contract" type of employment which means there is no normal work schedule and companies don't offer benefits. So pretty much, you are on your own. 

Now you may think that being a freelance photographer is not that great but there are some advantages to becoming one. Depending on the work, the money might be pretty good in some cases. I recently saw a freelance real estate job that was willing to pay over $75 an hour to do real estate property shoots within a 30-mile radius in my local area. That is pretty good money if you have the flexibility to do the work, the time, and don't mind the travel. Being a freelance photographer can be exciting because you normally don't do the same thing or shoot the same thing on every project. You may do portrait shoots, all types real estate shoots, special events, video shoots, or even drone photography work. So there are some benefits from becoming a freelance photographer and incorporate those services into your photography business. 

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So, can all photographers do freelance work? Many photographers have the ability to do freelance work, while others don't want to or don't have the proper gear or equipment for the work that may be required. Some photographers focus on a specific form of photography and never want to learn the needed skills to do freelance photography projects. In my opinion, many photographers would like to make a little extra income doing freelance work but don't have all the needed gear. There have been cases where real estate agents have used their cell phones to take images of homes and the images were downloaded directly out of the camera and no post-processing was done. As you can imagine the photos were pretty bad. Today, many real estate companies are looking for certified drone pilots to shoot video footage of homes and land. There are a lot of missed opportunities to make extra income if a photographer can do drone footage. 

I feel the biggest reason many photographers don't do freelance work is their unwillingness to learn new skills so they can offer their products and services to potential businesses. Many photographers are very skilled and have the ability to do freelance work but only focus on a specific type of photography or service. Now don't get me wrong, there are many great photographers that offer some amazing work through their own business and products and services are client specific. There is nothing wrong with that. I feel the issue comes from not being open-minded about taking on some freelance work when the opportunity comes along. Many photographers could not only make more money but freelance work provides them a method to advertise their services and products to those for free. The power of marketing and advertising through word-of-mouth is a powerful thing. Freelance photography work allows photographers to showcase their skills and the potential for more work is possible. 

For many photographers, the question is should a photographer focus specifically on certain products or services or should they expand their skill sets? It really depends on the individual photographer and the goals they set for themselves and their business. For me, I am always working to improve my skill sets and knowledge when comes to photography and videography. I like to study more about photography, how to create new products, and I strive to offer unique services to my customers and clients.  I have no desire to open up my own studio for a variety of reasons. One such reason is cost and overhead. Having my own studio would be nice but it would also not allow me to be flexible in my schedule so I could do freelance work. I want the flexibility to work one-on-one with my clients and customers. I enjoy providing my clients and customers one-on-one attention. That is very important to me. So, for me, freelance photography work makes sense. In my world, I can do both. It just takes time, patience, and the willingness to stay focused on building my business. 

So what is your opinion about freelance photography work? Do you do it now?  Are you considering it? If not, what is holding you back? I would love to hear your take on the topic. Feel free to post your comments on the subject of being a freelance photographer. 

Until next time, keep shooting!

Roger

 

Portraits Sessions With Kids Can Be a Challege, But Rewarding Too

I have stated in the past I believe it is a good thing if a photographer branches out and photograph a wide variety of subjects. I enjoy trying new things that I feel will improve my photography skills no matter what the subject is. Even though I don't do a lot of portrait photography shoots with kids I do enjoy the challenge of photographing them and sometimes the images are awesome. What makes my photo shoots even more challenging for me is I don't like to carry around a lot of gear to do my portrait shoots, especially when trying to chase down "Little Johnny". Kids don't like to sit down to get their photos taken. So, I have to go mobile when photographing kids. That is where the challenge starts. 

I don't mind chasing kids down when photographing them. Walking around observing them and trying to capture unique and unstaged portraits is my main goal for children portrait images. My goal is to get at least one special image for the photo shoot. Sometimes, I may only get one or two special images and sometimes I may get really lucky and get more. Below are four images I took during a photo shoot of a beautiful little girl that was not staged and each photo was taken on her grandparents front porch in the Spring. I believe the photos are unique because they captured the little girl emotions and her expressions were priceless. The cute and colorful outfit was a plus as well. 

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There is a little history behind the images. The images were shot about 7 years ago and taken with my old trusty Canon 60D camera. I wanted to go back and re-edit the old images since my photography post-processing skills have improved over the years. I knew when the images were taken it was important for me to make sure I shot my images in "RAW" which would allow me to work with all the data from each image if I needed to in the future. It is important for any new photographer to remember to shot in RAW when possible. It is always important to save all your images and back them up. You never know when you may want to go back and revisit them and improve the images. You can do that if you shoot in RAW and don't lose them. 

For me, portrait images of little kids can be fun but it requires me to be observant and ready at all times. Kids photo shoots can be short or take longer than most portrait shoots. I always remain myself that I have to disregard time when it comes to photographing kids. I am on their time, not mine.

 It is great to have your own studio to photograph kids and have all the gear you need to take awesome well-planned images of the kids with fancy props, but what is the fun in that? I like the challenge of sneaking up on the kids to get my shots and using the natural environment around me. That is more fun for the kids and a big kid like me. 

Until next time, keep shooting!

Roger 

Biker Portrait Photo Shoot

Just recently I had the honor to photograph a biker friend of mine. I had been wanting to do a portrait session with my friend, Buster for the last few weeks. The weather was our biggest factor to deal with. I was pretty eager to do the portrait session for a variety of reasons. Not only was I looking forward the shoot, I was eager to test out my new camera body. I recently upgraded to a Canon 80D DSLR. I also purchased a new Rode microphone, and I was still testing my new Tamron 18-400mm zoom lens. So I had a lot to look forward too. 

Besides the weather, I had an issue with finding a good location for the photo shoot. I always like to find locations that are a little rundown or bring a historical feel to the photos for my biker shoots. Most of the time selecting a location can be a challenge. I have to factor in the look of the biker, the type of bike, lighting, weather conditions, accessibility, and safety. The place I found required me to contact the owner to get permission for the photo shoot. It is always a good idea to seek permission to conduct your portrait sessions if the location is not normally available to the public. The place I chose was an old gas station in historic Jamestown North Carolina. The owner was very nice and allowed me to shoot my session there. 

The biker I photograph was my friend Buster. Once Buster arrived for the shoot we discussed some posing options. I always like to discuss with my client what type of photos they would like taken and not base the images on my option. Getting feedback from the client is very important and makes the client part of the overall process. I believe that is very important for a successful portrait session. If you have never shot biker portraits it can be difficult to choose the proper poses for a biker. However, Buster was a great guy to photograph. He had the type of biker look I like to photograph and my options to photograph him were a little more flexible. Bikers like Buster allows me to create biker images that can be nostalgic and some images can be more modern. I had to consider Buster's look and the even the type of bike he wanted me to photograph. He has a beautiful Honda Goldwing that was great to photograph. Below is an image from my biker portrait photo shoot with Buster. 

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I really enjoyed my photo shoot with Buster. He was a great guy to photograph and was easy to work with. I look forward to more biker portrait photo shoots this year. 

Until next time, keep shooting!

Roger