So, You Want To Be A Professional Photographer?

Advances in technology have made our lives better in a myriad of ways. We now have things like artificial hearts to help people with bad tickers, replay machines to help sports make close calls, and digital cameras to help people take their own family photos. Gone are the days when you’d buy a disposable camera, take pictures, drop it off at the one-hour photo, and come back after lunch to collect your pictures. Today we see them instantly, and because of that we have a whole new crop of photography businesses. While technology has made it easier to be a photographer, it’s also made the competition fierce. If you’re thinking of becoming a professional photographer, here are three things to keep in mind.

disposable camera technology

Courtesy of Thomas Anderson

I’m sure you run into it every day: you log onto your Facebook, and see family photos a friend has posted with her and her family in matching colored shirts, leaning up against an old barn holding hands. That’s cute, but it’s not very unique. If a customer requests such a thing, by all means do it, but that’s an idea anyone can come up with. If you want to stand out from the crowd and have people take notice, be creative. Be different. Be the photographer everyone wants because they want something completely unique.

I have a friend who quit her day job to become a photographer full-time and she has so much business that she has to turn people away. The main reason is because of her creativity. Her photos aren’t like other photographer’s photos, they’re unique and simple at the same time. For example, she had a recently engaged couple kissing where they first met. People love her because she’s different, and because she caters to her customer.

Camera  

People don’t want to pay for something they could do themselves. Buying a $100 camera from Wal-Mart is probably not going to do the trick for you, but you also don’t want to go broke buying equipment – and believe me you absolutely can. Take a look on eBay and Amazon to see if there are any used professional cameras for sale. Remember, this business is pretty cut throat, so people are starting and stopping all of the time. Read reviews on Amazon, shop around on eBay and Craigslist, and take your time. Having a camera that takes great looking photos can be the difference between a career and a hobby.

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

It’s the dream of a lot of people to set up appointments for photo shoots and take pictures of babies, and puppies, and pregnant bellies all day, but be practical about it. It’s a hard industry to get into and make a living, and it takes a while to build up a client base. Do it on the evenings and weekends to start. Built up your client base until you cannot possibly fit any more appointments into your free time. Then and only then consider quitting your day job. Start a Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest account and add and follow people. Run contests for free sessions for whoever shares your page with the most people, or refers someone. Building up your client base until it’s bursting at the seams before even thinking about quitting your day job, and even then consider it very, very carefully.

Glenn McDuffie: A Man We All Knew

Glen McDuffie VJ Day

Courtesy of William Waterway Marks

You’ve ended up on this site because you’re interested in photography, and if you’re interested in photography you know Glenn McDuffie.  The name Glenn McDuffie may not sound familiar, but he is a man every American has seen at some point in their life. If you are a baby boomer, or part of the greatest generation, you know him well. If you were born in the mid 60’s on and are part of generation X or Y, you’ve at least seen him on the news or in magazines, but may not know the story behind his iconic act of impulse.

V-J Day

McDuffie was an 18 year old soldier on August 14th, 1945 when news spread that Japan had surrendered – also known as V-J Day, or Victory Over Japan Day – and effectively ended World War II. McDuffie was on his way to visit his girlfriend and was changing trains near Times Square when the news spread. He joined in the celebration in the streets when a nurse saw him coming towards her. She looked at him and smiled while holding her arms out, and that was all it took. Without saying a word to each other, McDuffie grabbed and kissed her in front of a Life magazine photographer named Alfred Eisenstaedt. Eisenstaedt has been quoted as saying that the only reason he noticed the kiss is because he glanced behind him and saw the white nurse’s outfit. It was a spur of the moment act that has stood still in time ever since.

Verification

There have been many men who’ve came forward to claim that they were the man in the picture, but McDuffie always insisted to his family that he was the man. Residing in Texas, he went to the Houston Police Department for help verifying he was the man. Louis Gibson – a Houston PD forensic artist who’s in the Guinness Book Of World Records for helping police catch more criminals than any other forensic artist in the world – was able to identify McDuffie as the soldier by having him pose while holding a pillow for 100 pictures in the same pose as the photo.

In Due Time

McDuffie finally got his recognition in due time at the ripe old age of 80, and he became an instant celebrity in the process. He visited air shows, gun shows, parties, fund raisers, etc, and charged $10 for a picture with him kissing women on the cheek. The kisses did him well, he was bringing in $200 an hour at some of the events he attended. He was also given first class upgrades on flights, free rooms at hotels, and received attention from women everywhere he went. A lot of WWII era ladies made sure to get a picture with the man they dreamed about in their younger years.

McDuffie passed away on March 9th, 2014 in a nursing home in Dallas at the age of 86, but his photo will last a lifetime.