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Author: ToesOnTheNose Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 21962  
Subject: This is my first post here... Date: 10/27/2003 4:08 PM
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I'm really famous over on the Living Below Your Means board - not really, but I can dream, right?

Anyway, I am embarking on a new career. I have been taking photographs for at least 15 years. It started out as snapshots, then later, my dad bought me a Canon EOS 650 with a 50mm lens.

I am now going to turn pro. Am I scared? Yes. But, I'm getting everything in a row. One thing I am going to do is go all digital. I do believe, and this is a personal opinion, that film will fade away; well, not completely. But, almost.

At any rate, I am starting new with all my equipment. I have decided on the Canon EOS 10D system. I like Canon, and I already have most of the lenses. I am going to purchase two new bodies.

I am also looking at medium format, although the digital backs are too expensive. I may wait for that. The quality I have seem for digital 35mm is incredible. Way better than film, IMO.

I feel that going digital will allow me more control (in editing the final product) and it will allow better turn around time for my clients. Additionally, I do web design as a hobby, so this could fit right in with that for me.

Anyway, I have a million things going on. I am going to quit my job and move out of state where the cost of living is cheaper, and this will allow me to concentrate on my work.

Just wanted to stop in and say hi. So, Hi.

Toes
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Author: dcarper Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3043 of 21962
Subject: Re: This is my first post here... Date: 10/27/2003 4:19 PM
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I am now going to turn pro. Am I scared? Yes. But, I'm getting everything in a row. One thing I am going to do is go all digital.

You say you're going to turn pro; my question is, pro what? Are you planning on shooting weddings? Business functions (grip and grin)? Commercial studio work? Portrait studio? Stock for calendars?

I don't think that you need to rush to move to digital. Depending on the area you are going into, you may find that your clients want film; in fact, they may want it big.

If you are just starting out, I would stick with what you have, adding on with an eye to the future. Other than for "grip and grin" or other event photography where a quick turnaround can mean more money, I don't see a compelling reason to go to digital right off. Sure, it has its benefits, but what do you do if you get a client willing to pay you good bucks for the original film? (this cost should be quite high, BTW). If a client wants digital files (again, should be priced high), you can easily scan. Not so easy to go the other way.

Don't use "I'm going pro" as an excuse to buy toys you've always liked; look first at the type of work you are doing, and then buy the tools best suited for the job. It may very well be digital; but it may be film. It's a tough field; don't handicap yourself by overspending on equipment that won't do the job.

David

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Author: ToesOnTheNose Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3045 of 21962
Subject: Re: This is my first post here... Date: 10/27/2003 4:39 PM
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Don't use "I'm going pro" as an excuse to buy toys you've always liked; look first at the type of work you are doing, and then buy the tools best suited for the job. It may very well be digital; but it may be film. It's a tough field; don't handicap yourself by overspending on equipment that won't do the job.
++++

Good point.

Well, I am going to start out doing weddings. That will probably be my primary source of income. My clients will be coming in from out of town - I am moving to a "resort town". So, my plan is to shoot the wedding, mostly photojournalistic style, but I don't want to get caught up in "I only do it this way". So, I will be very flexible. In fact, at first, I'll do anything.

The only reason I need to build up fast is because my current equipment is not professional quality. So, I need one body, and then a back up. And then, my current equipment will be a 3rd and 4th back up, if it ever comes to that.

Since my clients will up and leave town after the wedding, I will offer the photos be ordered on-line. Which is why I am thinking digital is the way to go. I can more easily load them into my computer, do some "touch-up" then publish them to a website where they can view and order pic's for their album, and for the rest of the family.

I know that I can scan everything. But, that seems like a lot of work. If I take an average of 300 pic's at a wedding. That's 300 scans times however many weddings; hopefully, at least, 2 per week.

Also, I like the immediate feedback you get from digital.

I can also do film, I've been doing it for a long time. I just like the appeal of digital.

I am not really interested in stock. I do want to have a portrait studio eventually.

I am starting right now, in LA, doing headshots on location for soon-to-be stars, real estate agents, musicians, etc. This is really good money, especially on a digital format because I can very quickly touch up my results, print out a wonderful print on my Epson 2200, and get it back to them sameday, in some cases.

I am also interested in doing shows; like arts and crafts shows.

I have a small interest in calendars, cards, etc.

Actually, scratch everything I said. I'll do anything in the beginning.

In fact, my wife is asking me to be very flexible. She said if the market drives you toward web design, that's what you should do.

So we'll see which way the wind blows.

I have a lot going through my mind. Quitting my job and taking on something like this is very nerve racking. But, it's about time I live my life the way I see fit, not the way others think I should.

Do you have any suggestions after hearing all this?

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Author: dcarper Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3047 of 21962
Subject: Re: This is my first post here... Date: 10/27/2003 4:59 PM
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Do you have any suggestions after hearing all this?

Sounds like you have at least a reasonable idea. I can see digital working for weddings, especially the type you describe where the wedding party leaves town afterwards. The quick turnaround could be handy, not to mention the web posting.
And while some photographers will tell you that the big money is in the large prints (which is partially true), I never had a request in my wedding photographer days for anything over 11x14, so good digital should handle it. (I didn't get anything over 8x10 from mine)

Not sure about the "2 per week"; that's pretty ambitious. Remember that weddings are seasonal, although a resort destination may be less so. Also, are you doing a pre-wedding planning session with your clients? This can be a good thing, so that you know what they are expecting and shoot accordingly. That can take time; when you add in the handling of the (hopefully) large orders of reprints, you may find yourself pretty busy! Two per week is not a bad goal, but don't bank on it (I have the feeling you're not, but gotta say it anyway).

And yes, you need at least two of everything. If you are shooting with off camera flash, at least three sync cords; these things have a habit of dying quickly and suddenly.

You also mentioned craft fairs; keep in mind that the prime time for these (spring through fall weekends) is also prime time for weddings. It may be hard to juggle both.

Actually, scratch everything I said. I'll do anything in the beginning.

Your biggest thing in the beginning is getting your name out and building the business. Stay flexible, but figure out what you want to do and persue that. And realize that it's a tough field; unless you are really good or really lucky, you won't get rich doing it. In fact, don't be surprised if your first year or so runs in the red.

But you do sound as if you know a good bit about what you want to do. Best of luck in it.

David

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Author: ToesOnTheNose Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3048 of 21962
Subject: Re: This is my first post here... Date: 10/27/2003 5:58 PM
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But you do sound as if you know a good bit about what you want to do. Best of luck in it.
++++

Thank you.

I do have one last question for you, then I'll leave you be. Do you think it is reasonable to shoot weddings with a 35mm? I've been told, and read a lot, that a good medium format is a necessity for weddings. But, I don't see the need. I've seen side by side 35mm and medium format 8x10's that were indistinguishable.

But, I'd like your take on medium format vs. 35mm.

Also, could you provide a bit of advice on where you believe a good amount of profit can be made in this business?

Thanks,
Toes

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Author: dcarper Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3049 of 21962
Subject: Re: This is my first post here... Date: 10/27/2003 6:58 PM
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I do have one last question for you, then I'll leave you be. Do you think it is reasonable to shoot weddings with a 35mm? I've been told, and read a lot, that a good medium format is a necessity for weddings. But, I don't see the need. I've seen side by side 35mm and medium format 8x10's that were indistinguishable.

Although I used a medium format when I shot weddings (about 12 years ago), I think that it is now reasonable to shoot in 35mm. I got married less than a year ago, and it was shot in 35mm only. I really don't think that with today's films you will notice a difference at 8x10 or probably even 11x14.

Also, could you provide a bit of advice on where you believe a good amount of profit can be made in this business?

If I knew that, I might still be doing it. ;-)

Seriously, I think that part of it is building a reputation. You aren't going to do that by being just "the photographer" that shows up and meets the couple on the day of the ceremony. It used to be that the money was made all in the reprints; very little was charged up front, and the big bucks came from the prints. This was great for the unestablished photographer, as people were willing to hire you. But today, with everyone and his brother having a scanner and a printer, I think that it is becoming more common to charge more for the shoot, and less for the prints. I know that my photographer charged about the same or a little less for prints than I did 12 years ago; but the shooting fee was about 5x as much (this is a well known photographer; I picked her out over 10 years ago, long before being engaged).
But I'm really not the best person to ask about wedding photography. I shot about 8-10, and never really enjoyed it. I just don't do well in dealing with people on the most stressed day of their lives, and that's just counting the bride's mother. ;-)
Still, it is good business if you have the knack for it. If you've assisted quite a few, then I assume that you know whether or not it's for you.

David

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