It is everyone's dream: leave the "day job" and get paid
for what you enjoy doing. Due to the depth and breadth of the market, portraits
are a particularly good area to start (or expand!) your photography business.
Portraits are needed both in the consumer and commercial client markets. They
can't be easily replaced with a generic stock photo. In this market segment
word-of-mouth marketing works as well--and sometimes better--than
your traditional marketing tools.
This image of an Argentinean drummer for his upcoming sample music
CD was captured with Fujifilm's FinePix S3 Pro and Tamron's
28-75mm f/2.8 lens with an exposure of ISO 1600 at 1/30 sec at
f/2.8. Once the image was captured, it was taken into Adobe's
Photoshop and retouched. After retouching, the image was filtered
with Kodak's DIGITAL GEM Airbrush Professional Plug-in.
All Photos © 2005, Jennifer George-Walker, All Rights Reserved
Jennifer George-Walker (www.jwalker
photography.com) is a member of the Professional Photographers of San Diego
County and in her first year of entering print competition was awarded Portrait
Photographer of the Year in 1999. She began entering prints into competition
and in just three years had completed the educational and print merits needed
to receive her Master of Photography degree from Professional Photographers
of America (PPA). She is also a Certified Professional Photographer and recently
obtained her Craftsman with PPA. Continuing to push herself in new directions
and improving herself technically, George-Walker won the 2004 Professional Photographers
of California Family Photographer of the Year along with the People's
Choice Award. She is also teaching workshops in 2006 for PPOC (Professional
Photographers of Orange County) and WPPI (Wedding and Portrait Photographers
International) and her next West Coast School On Location will be in Napa, California,
from January 29-31, 2006 (www.prophotoca.com/wcs).
Though she has been in business a short time, she has achieved much success.
Here's a look at how George-Walker "went pro" and what she
can pass along to you.
This image of a mother with her two children during a portrait
session became the first in a series of three sessions. The image
was taken with Fujifilm's FinePix S3 Pro and Tamron's
AF18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di II LD Aspherical (IF) lens with an
exposure of ISO 400 at 1/60 sec at f/6.7. Once the image was captured,
it was taken into Adobe's Photoshop and retouched. After
retouching, the image was filtered with Kodak's DIGITAL
GEM Airbrush Professional Plug-in.
Shutterbug: You market your work as artistic portraits. What
is it about that approach to the business that has made you so successful?
Jennifer George-Walker: Probably because it is a more complex
process than the usual portrait and is perceived as having added value to my
clients. It takes many different elements to create artistic portraits. It is
a little bit of all these things: psychology, artistry, technical skills, and
SB: Break it down for us, what is required to create this marketable
JGW: The first element I think all photographers need is a
very strong technical background. Without this foundation you cannot create
images that you imagine.
The second element is an art background. Knowing composition, color harmony,
and design fundamentals are essential. The elements of art and technical skills
are what physically put the images together, but just as important is the psychology
of people and your passion.
The third element is to know how to approach people, studying sales skills and
people skills really make a difference. Until I took a little time and talked
with other photographers on how they approached clients, I was not very successful.
Once I put more of an emphasis on my "people skills" the more successful
I became. One very important thing to always remember--it isn't about
you, it is about them. This is their day, their images, their memories; make
the most of it, no matter what is happening in your life. Lastly, if you are
not passionate about photography, it shows.
After the family session was completed, several images were made
of the mother alone, which allowed creativity to enter into the
session. This image was captured with Fujifilm's FinePix
S3 Pro and Tamron's AF18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di II LD Aspherical
(IF) lens with an exposure of 1/60 sec at f/4.8. Once the image
was captured, it was taken into Adobe's Photoshop and retouched.
After retouching, the image was filtered with Kodak's DIGITAL
GEM Airbrush Professional Plug-in.
SB: What type of portrait project or client do you most enjoy
JGW: I enjoy clients who are what I call "closet photographers."
These are people who, if they had the skills, would be creating the image themselves.
They get really excited about an idea they have, and we work together to create
the image. Also, I enjoy working with clients who will let me experiment and
come up with concepts for images instead of just documenting their lives.