photographer

How I became a professional (paid) photographer in 5 steps

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So one day I decided I was done working as a designer and I decided I would finally live my dream and become a full-time photographer. Here is how I did it, and how it can help you do it as well :

I didn’t study photography : I studied graphic design, and everyone reaction is « ooohw but that’s the saaaame! » and I say yep it’s close, I do have a strong visual culture, and it certainly helps. But I had no idea of how to put the rights settings on my camera, I never retouched an image in Photoshop (though I was a superstar at removing getty and shutter stock copyrights logos thank to my many interships in advertising agency -_- ) and above all the HUGE pain in the ass scary part was to learn LIGHT, especially STUDIO LIGHTS

1 - GET CURIOUS

So just before I quit my designer job (this is another story) I was spending half of my time looking at photography blogs. And my constant question was HOW DID THEY DO IT 
Because when I was photographing something, clearly it just did not look like the same, no matter the love I was putting in it. I did not understand what was their secret behind the mood I was loving in their images WHAT WAS THEIR SECRET 

Especially looking at photographs done with studio lights and speed lights, these one gave me such a headache I WANTED TO KNOW HOW IT WAS DONE

I still ask myself this question now when I see something I love, and most of the time I understand right away how it’s done. On the negative side, knowing all the behind the scene, the magic is kinda gone now, everything has a price :) 

so from this obsession I started to look for information
I was tricked by the beauty of the photographs by Joey L : and because he is a chill guy he had a blog and it gave me a good starting point to understand his work and his vision. then I came across the strobist website : so for those who don’t know strobism off camera flash david hobby
speedlights . 

2 - ONLINE RESSOURCES

I did not want to go back to school and understiood I could find everything online to set me up! (remember it was 5/6 years ago, it was not as obvious as it is right now!) 
I would watch some videos in the morning and practice in the afternoon

My favorite ones (at that time but they are all still awesome) I am not sponsored, I just love them :) 
 
- Creative Live for just almost everything
- The Strobist for learning to use off-camera speedlights as awesome studio lights
- Phlearn for Photoshop (but beautiful Photoshop, not kitschy ugly stuff)
- Sue Bryce for Photography and the business aspect of it


3 - MACGYVER STUDIO LIGHTS FOR CHEAP

So I was watching all these videos talking about soft boxes, beauty dish, reflectors. For me it was out of the question to buy something I did not know how to use, I did not even understand why I needed these stuff so I decided to build them from scratch. Basically I had every single modifier on the market as a cardboard version!

Here a few examples :) 

Light modifiers :
- A diffusion panel with plastic plumbing pipes and the cheapest Ikea white curtains as a diffuser
- A soft box with cardboard and a survival blanket glued inside + curtains for diffusion
- Damn it I swear I did not understand why people were using reflectors so much! Same here, cardboard as a base. I had a white side with paper, the other side was survival blanket, and I even made a golden side! 
- A ring light with a stripe of LED lights (cheap LED lights are AWESOME) 
- A snoot? EASY! Cardboard and gaffer tape of course! 

Cardboard reflectors and my beloved homemade softbox <3

Cardboard reflectors and my beloved homemade softbox <3

Backdrops :
- A white wall (that often means moving the furnitures a lot!)
- I painted fabric (that was given to me) to have different colors
- I also used a pair of black sheet (that someone gave to me as well!) and I taped it directly to the wall ahah (not my best idea, don’t do it, OR be ready to paint your wall after :) ) 

I finally bought a Photek soft lighter soft box after 3 years, and I got my proper paper backdrops just a year ago (and a friend gave them to me ahem, though I could not live without them anymore) 

I got my first paid shoots with this and i NEVER EVER EVER had anyone tell me « oh but this is not a real soft box! people don’t know, people don’t care, they all came to me because they loved my photographs looked, not the way my « studio » looked :) 

Photographed in 2014 with my homemade cardboard softbox and black sheets as a background

Photographed in 2014 with my homemade cardboard softbox and black sheets as a background

4 - TRY STUFF AND EXPERIMENT

I had no idea what I wanted to do especially : as you know there are many types of photographers : you can do landscapes, portraits, fashion, culinary, ANYTHING 

Most of the time I reproduced a cool technique I saw some other photographer teaching, and little by little after a few months, I realized I was attracted more and more by the same kind of result. I kinda found my style like this! 


5 - INVOLVE OTHER PEOPLE 

I would team up with a friend some days and we would be very nerdy and try lighting and stuff. Basically it sounded exactly like this : « Hey what do you think it does if I press this button? OoooooH AWESOME! » 
Also I photographed ALL my friends. When I didn’t have any friend available I photographed myself, and that’s the main reason I started to do self portrays. 

And when the friends of my friends saw their pictures on Facebook, they started to contact me and that was it : 

I GOT PAID TO PHOTOGRAPH PEOPLE!  (YAY!