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Today's word on journalism

March 17, 2009

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 1863-2009

"Can Seattle's oldest newspaper be successfully transformed into a child of the information age? The Northwest is a land of big dreams. With the demise of the Soviet Union, one quipster noted that Puget Sound is now home to three empires still bent on global dominion: Microsoft, Amazon.com and Starbuck's. If the stars align properly and with a quality product, Seattle will show the way to a new model for journalism of the written word."

--Joel Connelly, columnist, in today's final print edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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Tips on turning your shutterbug hobby into a wedding photography business

By Whitney Petersen

February 20, 2009 | Photography is a booming business. It seems like a photographer can find business anywhere is the country, or the world because photographers are always needed. So many people learn the skill of photography and want to start making money with their skill by starting their own photography business, but don't know how.

Cam Peterson, photo editor for The Utah Statesman, said you need to decide what realm of photography you want to pursue. Whether it's commercial, wedding, stock, or editorial based, you need to focus on something. Also, you need to honestly assess your skill level.

"Many photographers jump into wedding photography first because it's the easiest to make money," Peterson said.

However, Peterson said working hard to understand the technical side of photography will save a lot of time in Photoshop, and customers will be happier with the images.

"Photoshop is a useful tool to fix mistakes," Peterson said, "but it doesn't fix everything." A little time adjusting your camera to the lighting situation will save you a lot of time in Photoshop, Peterson said.

The thought of photographing a wedding may be intimidating, but Peterson said, "The more you work at it, the more chances you will have to learn and become more skilled." Be patient with yourself and do not be afraid to give what you know, Peterson said.

Will Christensen, a local wedding photographer, brings an assistant with him at weddings he covers. Having a "second camera angle" at a wedding is beneficial to everyone, he said.

"It's helpful to me because I can't be everywhere at once. The client is happy because they have more pictures to choose from, and it's beneficial to the assistant because they gain valuable experience and pictures to build their portfolio with," Christensen said.

This is like job shadowing because you're able to see every aspect of a wedding and what you need to be prepared for before you actually cover a wedding by yourself. You're able to watch the main photographer and see what he does in certain situations at a wedding. "I know where to stand when the bride and groom cut the cake and have their first dance," Christensen said.

Working as the "second camera angle" with a more experienced photographer at a wedding is a good way to gain experience without being in charge of the actual event. This way, not all pressure is on you as the photographer and you're able to play around and gain experience in a more relaxed mind set, Christensen said.

According to photo.net many professional wedding photographers hire second shooters and assistants. However, Christensen "hires" second shooters free of charge and simply offers them the opportunity to work with him and gain experience. Peterson said this could be comparable to a doctor because, "they don't get paid for their first few years of work either."

Photo.net, a photography community for photographers, offers tips on how to start your own photography business. The best way to advertise yourself is to have a website available for potential clients to look at your work. Christensen said his website gives him clients that never would have found him except through the web. "Having a well designed website with a photo gallery lets the client see what you have to offer," Christensen said.

A website doesn't bring in all clients however. Christensen said a large portion of his clients come through word of mouth or from referrals from past clients. "If a client likes my work they'll tell their friends."

Many professional wedding photographers offered their advice on photo.net. The most common advice given was, "Success is built over the years on the back of hard work, experience and determination." Rome wasn't built in a day.

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