I am interested in becoming a photographer, what are the first steps?
The first four steps are: learn, practice, invest, and charge.
When you start learning, it is important both to know how you will learn and what you will learn. You can learn through classes, workshops, mentoring sessions, youtube, and through this blog! I started by taking a class through Utah Valley University a few years ago. Make sure that you start by learning manual mode, basic computer editing (I recommend using Adobe Lightroom CC), posing, and angles. Always be open to learning. Sometimes I still attend workshops and classes of fellow photographers to learn something new or better.
Next it is time to practice. Start by renting equipment instead of buying, as this will help you know what you like. If you are seriously wanting to become a photographer, I recommend shooting for at least thirty minutes for five days of the week. Although I recommend trying to find people to take photos of daily, you can also use your surroundings: buildings, plants, cars, etc.
Investing in yourself means paying for either more education or your own equipment. Once you have practiced and have begun seeing what you like to shoot and what equipment you like to use, it is time for the painful part: your wallet emptying. But don't worry, many equipment shops (Best Buy, Amazon, etc.) offer amazing financing plans. We get all of our equipment through Best Buy and do their zero-interest twelve month plans.
The last step is charging. Although I think you are fine to charge even while you still rent equipment, you will most likely not have enough of a portfolio to do so until you get to this point. Knowing what to charge is one of the hardest parts of becoming a photographer. You want to make a good income, but you also want to attract clients. However, pricing can be very simple if you remember one simple truth: it is your business and your prices can change the second you decide so. I recommend testing the waters. Start by offering $75 mini-shoots (about thirty minutes in length) and see if you get any interest. If you don't, it is likely you need more exposure on social media or just more of a portfolio. Don't get discouraged, keep shooting and try lowering your prices a bit. The great part about photography is that once you get more experience by doing a certain kind of shoot, you can raise your prices for the next one!
I am a new photographer looking for what equipment I should get, what do you recommend?
Equipment varies among photographers just depending on what kind of brands they like. Typically you will be choosing between Nikon, Canon, and Sony. I personally have always shot with Canon cameras, but I know a lot of photographers who also love Nikon. If you are wanting to start with Canon as well, I recommend starting with:
Camera Body: Canon EOS Rebel T7i
Lens: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens (If that seems like gibberish, don't worry! It will make sense as you keep learning)
Once you continue learning and are ready for an upgrade (I upgraded about a year into my business and this is what I currently shoot with) I recommend purchasing:
Camera Body: Canon EOS 5d Mark IV
Lens: Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 II
Another great lens that I still shoot with is a Tamron 24-70mm.
At what point do I need a Utah business license for my photography business?
You will need to register your business as soon as you start advertising it as a business and charging people. The great part is having a legal business gives your business not just legality but also credibility to your clients. The process is super easy and can be done on the state website: https://corporations.utah.gov/online_bus_reg.html. It costs about $22 for a three-year registration. More in-depth information on the steps of registration can be found on my blog.
If I only deliver digital photos, do I still need to pay sales taxes in Utah and when do I pay it?
Yes! This is a relatively new law in Utah but you do have to charge sales tax on all tangible and intangible services you provide. Sales tax is not as complicated as you might think! You have your base price (let's say $100) and if your sales tax rate is 6.85 percent, sales tax would be $106.85. You charge your client that full amount, and then pay the state the $6.85 from that payment. Sales taxes are due on January 31 if you owe them annually. More information can be found in my comprehensive tax guide which you can purchase for only $95! You can submit a request for the tax guide by using the form on the bottom of this page.
I want to shoot more weddings but am having a hard time finding new clients, how can I book more?
The first step is having a solid portfolio. Obviously if you aren't shooting weddings, this can be hard to do. I recommend second shooting. You are always welcome to second shoot with me for free. This means you tag-along with me to a wedding and get pictures for fun. You won't deliver those photos to the client, but you can use them in your own portfolio. Note that some photographers do charge for second shooting opportunities.
Next, you can put together a stylized shoot or a "mock" wedding. You can reach out to local vendors like a model couple, florist, dress provider, and hair and makeup artist to help stylize a shoot. I recommend asking a photographer who has done stylized shoots before for their advice before trying to plan one on your own, but this a great way to get stunning photos at a relatively low cost (depending on the vendors' prices of course!)
Do you offer mentoring sessions and how do I schedule one?
YES! I love mentoring sessions. Unlike second shooting, mentoring sessions are way more hands-on learning. I put together a stylized shoot just for the two of us where I will teach you anything ranging from posing, angles, camera settings, details shots, etc. After we shoot together we go back to my apartment and edit together which I walk you through as well. Mentoring sessions are so fun and such a great way to get more direct and immediate help and feedback for your business and work. I also offer mentoring sessions specifically for taxes, business registration, marketing, Instagram, and more. Anything you need help with, we can create a mentoring session around.
I charge $100 per hour for mentoring sessions. If we are including a stylized shoot it is an additional $100 set-up cost.
I require a 50 percent deposit upfront to book your session.
Booking one has never been easier! Just fill out this form and I will get back to you within twenty-four hours.