I've been a photographer for 6 years now. I've dabbled in the wedding industry when I first started, then e-comm and finally now influencer/brand marketing. But no matter what industry I was in, these photography basics don't change. I've been on both ends of the hiring spectrum--I've had to submit my portfolio for a job, and now I'm currently looking for talented photographers and editors to bring onto my team for Rosalie Agency. (Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested with your resume and a link to your portfolio!)
So today I'll be sharing with you guys what I've picked up over the years as to what a photographer absolutely needs to make it in the professional world.
7 things a photographer needs to have:
1. A Good Computer (No later model than a MacBook Retina 2013)
If it’s between a choice of getting a new camera or a new computer, I would definitely recommend getting a new computer. If you have an old computer and can’t see your photos well, it’s going to bring your photo quality down. When I didn’t have enough money to buy a nice camera, I was able to still make a living as a wedding editor. So this is definitely the most important. And don’t go cheap! I made the mistake of getting a 4gb on my first iMac purchase because I was trying to save money, but I ended up having to upgrade to 8gb and spend the money anyway because my computer couldn’t handle all the raw image processing.
2. A Full frame camera
Go full frame or go home! Working with a cropped sensor is like working with one hand tied behind your back. When you’re shooting with a 50mm it actually becomes closer to an 85mm on a cropped sensor and you’re always having to account for that extra mm.
3. A Clean Website & Email
It’s worth it to buy your own domain and get a clean website. I can’t take a photographer seriously if their website is a link to their Tumblr or Pinterest. I recommend Squarespace—it’s just so simple and it looks great. They even have domain purchasing in their site so they make everything super easy for you. Another thing that often gets overlooked is having a clean email name. Get a gmail account and set it as your name. More often than not, just having your name is good enough rather than something creative like “email@example.com.” And please don’t use yahoo.
4. A Professional Instagram
This arguably could be more important than your website. Nowadays how I discover people is through Instagram. Instagram is also how I get 80% of my clients so your Instagram has to reflect your work to some extent. If your Instagram has personal photos of you and your friends or you drinking, you should put that account on private and start a professional Instagram page. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t have many followers—I just want to see a clean grid of solid work.
5. A Car
There are many situations where I have to drive my client to the next location just because I’m super familiar with the area. I also carry around a lot of gear and materials with me to shoot flatlays with. So without a car it would be near impossible to shoot. Not to mention, you need transportation to go to and from shoot locations! If not, you better have an uber car on speed dial.
6. A Uniform
This often gets overlooked. A photographer is behind the camera so the rationale tends to be “well I’m not getting photographer, who cares how I look.” But one of the best advice I learned from another photographer is to dress chic. You’re not just crew—you’re the leader of your set, so dress for that role.
And last but not least ...
No one is perfect and you learn as you go. When I first applied for an internship, my portfolio was set up on wix.com and my work was all overexposed and overly saturated. But I’m constantly pushing myself and looking at people’s work I love to get myself to where they are. Everything is a process, but the important thing is to keep moving.
In my opinion, the most important thing a photographer needs to have is a thirst and hunger for more. Especially in today’s day and age, where content creation and picture making is so easily accessible (mirrorless cameras and VSCO makes it so easy for you), you have to be willing to work 10 times as hard as the next person. When I used to work for Chriselle, I would edit photos from 9-6pm, and then go back home and edit until I slept. Photography is hustle. If you’re not willing to shoot anyone and anything, and put in late hours, stay late and work for free, go through hell and back, then you don’t want it badly enough.
Shoot every day and constantly improve your craft. It’s the only way. Imagine photography as a flower. You have to tend to it every single day or it won’t grow. But the good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. I’m here for you guys—so please feel free to ask me any questions you guys might have!