I am going to be honest with you; taking your photography hobby to a place where you actually make a good living takes a lot work. But if you do it the right way, you will have a FUN, life-changing and exciting ride! When I made the decision to go Pro, my business grew very quickly. In fact I could hardly keep up! But my success was not because of my talent, camera gear or connections.
When I first started out, these were my odds:
I had a cheap beginners camera + one lens
I knew nothing about camera settings, lighting, posing or anything related to photography
I knew no one who could help me out
I knew nothing about blogging or branding
I had no connections in the photography industry
I knew absolutely nothing about the photography industry
And as a native Dane, my English was poor—and it still is 🙂
So how the heck did I do it?
My strengths that came in handy
Passion – It might sound strange, but I don’t believe that talent is enough; I believe that passion is the fuel and I am deeply and madly in love with photography.
Determination and willingness to learn – I spend hours, days, nights and months practicing.
Ambition + vision – I knew I wanted to help women in photography (in front of the lens + behind the lens) to believe in themselves.
A creative mind – In the past I’ve crossed paths with fashion design, interior decoration, styling and art in many form.
Business know-how – This was due to running my former life coaching business.
Now, let’s focus on YOU!
Do you have what it takes?
What it Takes To Go From Hobbyist To Full-Time Photographer
1. You have PASSION
You LOVE photography so much that it’s ALL you think about (besides your loved ones, of course). Your camera is your baby and the only thing you want for Christmas is a new lens! You wake up, excited about what you do.
2. You are WILLING to do the work
You are ready to put in the hours.
You are willing to put a minimum of 10-15 hours a week into learning, creating, and building your business.
You can build your business while you still keep your day job, which is what I did the first year. Some mornings I would get up before my children, to get a few quiet hours of work done. Other times I would sit up all night to practice photoshop. You are willing to do what it takes, because you know it will change your life.
You are realistic and understand that nothing comes to you, without you taking ACTION.
3. You LOVE to learn new things
As the owner of a photography business, you need to master a lot more than the camera. You must be willing to learn how to design your blog, run a Facebook page, book yourself solid, connect with clients and so much more.
Personally what I love the most about photography is that there is always something new to learn. I never get stuck in “I-know-it-all-and-now-I-am-bored” land.”
If you want to be a success, you’ll want to love learning more than just how to take photos—it’s an entire business and lifestyle to embrace and enjoy.
4. You know your strengths and understand how to use them
One of the keys to success in the photography industry is to choose a niche, a passion that you combine with photography.
If you love dogs, for example, and know everything about them, you might want to consider specializing in dog portraits. If you are the master of cake baking and love decorating cakes, you might want to consider specializing in photographing pastry. If you love nature, sports, weddings, beaches, traveling…you get the idea. The possibilities are endless!
Your niche might shift during your growth as a photographer—mine certainly did many times. I started with boudoir photography and then moved into fashion and glamour-inspired portraiture. Now my niche has shifting again to lifestyle images.
My main niche is to inspire and motivate women around the world to believe in themselves, whether they are my clients, my students or my readers. No matter what I do, that will always be my core niche!
Choosing a niche will not make it difficult to get clients; rather your focus will attract clients to you. More importantly, it will help set you apart from the competition.
5. Build relationships with clients AND like-minded photographers
When I first started out, I didn’t know any other photographers. So I started networking on flickr and by being very active—liking, commenting and sharing tips—I gained a whole new group of friends. With their support and the inspiration I felt from these relationships, I started to grow really fast. Soon after that I created my blog and then later my Facebook page.
If you truly want to grow your business, take your time to to connect with people. Show your support, write comments, cheer, be positive and say “THANK YOU” when people care about you and take their time to like your work. Be nice and give people a reason to care.
How you treat people will determine how well your business will do.
6. Walk through your FEARS
The truth is: you can never actually be completely fear-free. So that’s not really the goal here. The true goal is to ACT, despite the fear you are feeling.
Ninety-percent of the time, fear is just thoughts running through your mind, and has nothing to do with reality.
The best thing you can do, in order to propel forward, is to IGNORE your fearful thoughts and start putting one leg in front of the other. As NIKE so clearly puts it: Just Do It!
When you act despite your fears, the fears will slowly die and leave you alone.
New fears will pop up as you move forward, but with time, you become much better at dealing with them.
Never let your fears stop you from creating the life you truly want for yourself!
YOU deserve the best of the best. Now go for it, girl!
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I have a BIG crush on hashtags. Over on my Instagram account I love to find new, creative, one-of-a-kind hashtags that inspire me and lead me to beautiful photos. Ever since I started my own hashtag movement #slowdownwithstills I´ve eagerly investigated hashtags and their development on Instagram.
I especially LOVE how you can connect with like-minded with the same particular passions and interests as yourself. For example hashtags like #chasing_facades which is for people who love to capture walls with doors and windows is simply SUPER fun! Or how about #myfarmhousegreens which are perfect for someone like me, who has a BIG thing for country life and botanic. Pure inspiration – that´s what it is!
Today Instagram is my go-to place for inspiration, and I use hashtags to help me navigate through the over-crowded social media jungle.
In this blog post I´ll share 10 tips to help you ROCK hashtags – especially written with still life photographers in mind.
Here we go;
#1: Use Hastags to Boost Your Creative Mind
Pinterest is the go-to-place for inspiration for many creatives. But by following innovative hashtags on Instagram which focus on your specific interest, you can indulge in fascinating photos taken by people with the similar interests as you.
When you find a hashtag you love, you can decide to participate and take photos with a matching theme. Get creative, take your photo, post it and add the specific hashtag. That way, you become part of a tribe with the same passion – you chase the same niche pictures and can enjoy each others work.
#2: Pay Attention to Your Choice Of Hashtags
The more you get into hashtags, the more you´ll notice the importance of choosing the right tag for your photos. The idea isn’t to tag the crap out of your photos with any word that relate to your photo.
Instead, think carefully about what hashtags will be a perfect match. Your photo is going to be placed among other creative shots, so you want to make sure it will both fit nicely with the others as well as stand out. That way, potential, new followers will be intrigued to check you out.
#3: Get New Followers via Hashtags
The better you become at placing the right hashtags with your image, the easier you will reach potential new followers that will love your gallery. Think of your style, your content, and your theme. What is your Instagram account about?
The best way to streamline your account + personalize it is to stick with 1-3 topics (for example my focus points are food, flowers and places with a Nordic country style theme).
The more specific you are, the bigger your following. The more you spread out on different topics, publishing all sorts of photos, the smaller your crowd. Just think about who you love to follow yourself – how specific are they in what they post? I bet they are pretty niche orientated, right?
So when you find your niche and their perfect matching hashtags, make sure you visit those hashtags and browse the uploaded pics and like / comment them to draw new followers to your gallery.
#4: Gather a Collection of Your Favorite Hashtags
In the overflooded world of hashtags, it´s super important to keep track of your favorite hashtags. If I don´t write down a new exciting hashtag, I´ll forget about it two minutes later when I´ve moved on to do other things. Therefore, I suggest you keep your most-used and most-loved hashtags gathered in one place on your phone. I use NOTES on my iPhone (you can also use Google Docs).
Another good tip is to use the app TagsForLikes Pro. With this app, you can customize you hashtags into specific categories like food, flowers, interior and so on.
Then when you post a flower photo, you simply go to the app click on you flower category and copy all the hashtags that you created and collected. Then you go back to Instagram and paste in the hashtags. Voila, super helpful on a busy day.
#5: Use Hashtags for Specific Days
Using hashtags for specific days of the week can give your following a boost + it´s super fun to participate. It evokes your creativity and helps you meet new friends on Instagram. Weekday Suggestions for still life photographers are:
#6: Use Relevant Tags Only and Post During “Peak Time”
Instagram limits users to 30 hashtags per photo. Many social media experts talk about a sweet spot – a perfect number of hashtags that will help you get more exposure.
Some say that sweet spot is five hashtags for each photo. To be honest, I don´t see any difference in likes if I post 5, 10 or 30 hashtags. The most important is to keep your hashtags relevant and specific.
What is also interesting is to pay attention to when it´s the right time to post – what time a day are your followers most active – when is it ‘peak time’? It can vary from country to country or from audience to audience, so pay attention.
A general suggestion is to post anytime from Monday to Thursday except from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. and weekdays between 6 a.m. and 12 p.m. But again it´s important for you to notice the pattern in your own audience.
In the morning posting-volume can be relatively low, yet users are still peeking at their feeds regularly while slowly waking up in bed, enjoying breakfast, or commuting to work. Therefore, they represent a sizable audience during a time when there’s less competition for attention.
#7: Geotag Your Location
Some studies indicate that tagging your location can give you a much higher engagement. Adding a geotag on your Instagram photo can be useful for letting your followers know where you are, and to inspire others to go visit that place.
You might even attract more engagement or new followers who are around the same location and browsing through the photos that were geotagged.
#8: Hide Hashtags
Good Instagram etiquette is to “hide” your hashtags. This just means to avoid putting all your hashtags in the content area under the photo.
It´s perfectly fine to add 1-3 hashtags with your text, but avoid spamming your followers by placing the rest of the hashtags in the first comment of your feed. It also looks more clean and elegant.
#9: How to Hide Hashtags – Step by Step
Below is a quick guide to hiding your hashtags. They are not really hidden, but will not take all the attention and as a result, you´ll appear less spammy.
Whether you choose to hide your hashtags or not is a personal thing. I´m still experimenting with this, and I don´t think there´s any right or wrong way to do this.
Open a text editor on your phone (you can also do this in your Facebook status, just don´t post it).
Type a dot • then press “Return”. Repeat 5 times.
Place your hashtags right underneath the 5th dot.
Copy the text (line breaks and all) and open Instagram.
Now post your photo with your text and perhaps also a geotag.
After you’ve posted your photo, click the comment button, paste the text you copied in the text editor and click “Post”.
#10: Hashtags to Follow for Still Life Photographers
Are you currently shooting on Automatic – not taking advantage of the manual settings available in your camera?
No worries – we’ve all been there!
(yes, me too!!)
I shot on automatic for over a year into my business – can you believe it! It´s true and I can tell you exactly WHY this was the case…..
Learning to shoot manual was overwhelming, it seemed difficult – I had no one to help me and it reminded me of a time in my childhood I really did not want to think about: doing math in school!
I did create pretty decent pictures in auto and no one was complaining about me not shooting manual. And to be honest I was thinking; “why on earth should I go through the hassle of learning that” I just did not get it – I did not understand WHY this could be a benefit for me.
So let me share with you what I know today, that I did not know back then:
When you control the manual settings – you get FULL control over your style and images. This is when you can get really creative and this can not be done in auto.
When you have the control, you save time in photoshop, because your photo will be close to perfect right out of the camera – you just need to fine-adjust a few things – that´s all.
By knowing the camera settings you can “dance a beautiful tango” with the available light, instead of being frustrated with it. You can create magic!
It was not until I started to comprehend these benefits, that I became eager to learn to shoot in manual. Once you understand just HOW important light is to making or breaking a photo, you will want to start shooting in manual mode.
How to get started
It might seem difficult and very technical, but it´s actually easier than you think – you just need to put some time aside to practice, take a lot of shots, learn from them and delete them – then do it all over again.
Use the guidelines in this lesson and before you know it you´ll shoot in full manual mode!
Let’s look at some of the manual settings:
Aperture, ISO and Shutter speed are your new friends.
To get a good photo you have to know how to let just the right amount of light into the camera. When you shoot in manual mode, you can adjust these functions. Does it sound difficult? I will introduce you to these settings, but remember, the only way to really understand to practise in real life.
(Please note: every camera style is different and setting adjustments can vary. I strongly advise that you read your manual to know exactly how to use the settings I discuss in this lesson. Also, if you are a beginner, you should feel no pressure to shoot in manual mode- but do try to play with these settings as much as you can.)
Let´s take a look at the control settings on your DSLR camera:
* The higher the ISO setting, the less light you need to make a picture * The lower the ISO setting, the more light you need to make a picture.
Just like your own eyes, the camera sensor can see with different amounts of light. Unlike your eyes, someone has to tell it how sensitive it needs to be in the varying conditions. Like the volume knob on your television, this sensor has a “volume” control that adjusts how much light it records. The higher the sensitivity, the less light you need to make a picture. Typically, ISO 100 is the least sensitive setting and is used when the lighting conditions are optimal.
Note that higher ISO settings can make the final image look worse by adding “noise” that appears as ugly dots in the final image. More expensive cameras typically can operate at higher sensitivity levels without nearly as much noise. This is one reason that some digital cameras cost plenty of $$$ while others only cost less. The more expensive ones can shoot good pictures with much less light (like Canon 7D, Canon 5D and Nikon 700, which are excellent at this, but cameras like 550D and 600D do great too with high ISO).
So how do you use this info?
Firstly, remember to aim for the lowest ISO setting possible. Low ISO gives you sharp crisp images with less noise. However, sometimes you really need to push ISO up to get a good exposed image. When your lighting conditions are good go for ISO 100-200. For the most part this works fine when shooting outside in broad daylight. When shooting inside, where there is less light, you might have to go for a higher ISO – sometimes higher than 400 or above.
This is a great tool to use when you shoot in low light situations ( a wedding inside a dark church) and you don´t want to use flash.
Here are a few loose guidelines for ISO settings:
Bright sun – ISO 100 Overcast – ISO 200 Deep Shade – ISO 400 Indoors on a sunny day – ISO 200 – 640 Indoors on a cloudy day – ISO 400 – 1250 Indoors at night ISO- 1600+
*** If you live in a place where the weather often are gray and rainy without much sunshine – like I do, don´t be afraid to shoot with a higher ISO. Unless the sun is out, my ISO are often set between 300 and 600. This does not affect the quality of my images very much. And a little noise in your picture, can be reduced in photoshop.
Now let´s take this setting into practice, shall we!
Put it into action!
Grab that camera of yours and put it on P for ISO mode.
This setting is not full manual mode and it´s not full auto mode either. This is a mix between the two, we call it half manual or partly manual. Now YOU control the ISO setting in your camera, but the camera controls the rest. Your camera will adjust shutter speed and aperture for you and make sure it works together with your chosen ISO setting.
Now try and take a few shots with ISO 100, ISO 400, ISO 800 and the highest ISO your camera will go to. Play with it and see the difference. Notice that the higher you go the more light your camera will let in. Also notice if your image starts to get grainy and you see noise when you push it high up.
NB: Don´t aim to shoot in P mode – this is just to get to know the function, so you can use it in full manual later.
* The slower the shutter speed, the more light will enter the camera. * The faster the shutter speed, the less light will enter the camera.
You can control how long the camera’s opening stays open. The opening in your camera lens is covered by a “shutter”. When you click the button on your camera to take a picture, the shutter opens for a brief moment. The longer it stays open, the more light comes into the camera.
Shutter speed is mostly used for capturing movement. You want the shutter speed to be fast enough to capture your image without any blurriness. This can be a playful tool, a way to make creative portraits where you “freeze” a moving moment (see dancing girl above). This is great when you photograph kids, dance, sport and anything else with movement.
If you look at your camera’s dial button, shutter priority mode is called Tv or S depending on your camera model. When you set your camera to shoot in this mode, you control the shutter speed manually, but ask the camera to take care of the rest of the settings (ISO and Aperture). Only when you shoot in full manual, will you have to decide how to adjust all of these controls, but we´ll get to that later.
I personally don’t shoot anything slower than 1/80 handheld. In portrait sessions where my subject is NOT moving my shutter speed is set between 1/80 and 1/160 depending on the situation. If I want to shoot lower than that I´ll use a tripod to get tack sharp images.
If my subject moves/dance/jump, I raise the shutter speed 1/200 and above.
(Note: One great rule of thumb: Always shoot at a shutter speed higher that the length of your lens. If you are shooting with a 50 mm lens, go with 1/50 and above. If you’re shooting with a 100 mm lens, go 1/100 and above.)
When your shutter speed is not right, camera shake can occur, especially when you are holding your camera in your hand (not on a tripod or other stable surface). Your hands are naturally shaky and cause your photo to be blurry.
Block out the light with Shutter Speed
If you are shooting out on a sunny day, using high shutter speed can be just what you need to capture those wonderful summer moments. When you raise the shutter speed less light will enter your camera, this way you can still keep your f-stop low and create a soft looking image. (See example below).
Put it into action!
Now, check your camera for “Tv” or “S” on the dial button.
Try to play with this to test different shutter speeds. Try taking your camera to your kitchen and let the water run for a while, point your camera at the running water and photograph it at different shutter speeds – see the effect. Or you can ask your kids/friends to jump like crazy and practice the settings.
NB: Notice that when you shoot in Tv mode, the camera will control f/stops for you (aperture) but you can and should control the ISO here too. Remember the higher shutter speed you choose the less light the camera will let in = dark pictures, so push up the ISO if you need to.
Play, and practice – have fun!
Aperture and the F-Stop
* The wider the aperture opening, the more light will enter the camera. * The smaller the aperture opening, the less light will enter the camera.
The third way to control light coming into your camera is to change the opening size of the camera’s lens. This hole, called the aperture, is the place where light enters the camera. Obviously a bigger hole lets in more light than a smaller hole.
The scale used to measure the aperture size is the “f-number” scale. This sounds much more complicated than it is. There is one trick to understanding it: A smaller f-stop number indicates a bigger aperture opening.
F-stops are indicated by these numbers on your camera: f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16 ect.
When shooting at a lower f/stop (ie: larger aperture: f/1.2 – f/2.8), the ‘in focus’ part of your image will be smaller and the background will be blurry – this is great for portraits, flowers and still life. Small apertures (ie: f/8 and above) cause more of the background to be in focus this is great for shooting families, interior, buildings or street life.
Each of your lenses will be marked with an f-stop number. This number is the biggest opening the lens can accommodate. Lenses with low apertures of f/1.4 or f/1.2 are more expensive as they require more optics to achieve this aperture size. These optics can also make the lenses heavier. My 85 mm f1,2 is extremely heavy for me to work with but I love the quality of it! It is definitely not a lens suited for fieldtrips with the kids. However, it is great for shooting professional portraits. When I go out for walks or fieldtrips, I usually bring my 50 mm f/1.4. This lens is small and not that heavy.
The lower the f-stop on your lens, the easier you can achieving an out-of-focus background. That’s why lenses with low f-numbers (and thus large openings) are preferred for portraits. Portraits look good with blurry backgrounds. This blurry background effect is called “bokeh“. I have a tendency to create bokeh/blur in many of my pictures – again this is a matter of taste and style.
Please note that if you have a standard lens like the 18-55mm, which come with many camera kits, your lens will only be able to go as low as f/3,5.
Put it into action!
Look for “Av” or “A” mode for aperture control.
Aperture mode and it just wonderful for portraits, still life and weddings. I often want to go as low as possible f/1.2 – f/2.8 is where mine is set most of the time.
When shooting in A mode the camera controls your shutter speed – you can still control the ISO or choose to put this on automatic as well.
Now try to focus on a subject near you, perhaps your Coffee cup or a vase with flowers. Focus on the subject while constantly changing the f-stop settings – se what happens. Notice the difference in each picture.
NB: If your not ready for shooting in full manual mode yet – this should be your prefered mode to shoot in.
Do all these steps sound complicated? It really isn’t bad at all. You just need to practice!
When you feel you understand these settings it´s time to move into FULL manual mode!
Let´s go all the way: Full manual mode
Okay, are you ready to try full manual mode? Don´t panic now, it will properly be a challenge for you. I can tell you that it took me several months to really understand how to shoot in manual mode – really….so don´t feel stupid if you don´t nail it today, okay 🙂
Set you camera settings on M for manual mode. Now you control everything; ISO, Shutter speed and F-stop.
Let me give you an example:
I shoot a portrait outside in the sunshine, we are surrounded by so much light, that I need to let a minimum of light into my camera. To do that I can lower my ISO to 100, raise my f-stop and raise my shutter speed.
But on a grey cloudy day, when I shoot inside with not much available light I need to raise my ISO, lower my f-stop and my shutter speed. This way I can let more light into the camera and still get a decent photo without using flash.
Of course every situation is different – especially when you shoot with natural light, so above examples are just rough guidelines.
Practice a ton and have fun!!
NOTE: Most times I have to take 5 to 20 pictures before I get my settings right – so don´t give up if it does not work the first time, alright! Try 100 times if you need too 🙂
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