• Tina Ebenal

Becoming a Successful and Professional Photographer

We are finally settled (ish) in here in Toowoomba, Australia. August is almost here and I am planning to relaunch my photography business. It has been a journey to get where I am with the help of a lot of supportive people. Being a military spouse, it is hard in general to have to find a job in an new area, especially if you are moving every 3-4 years. And I will be doing just that, reestablishing and relaunch in a new location within 2-3 years.

How do I establish myself as a professional photographer in a sea of people who say they are photographers? I don't want to be that individual who gets a nice camera for Christmas or birthday, takes one nice picture, has no idea how they did it, one person comments on it and how they should do it for money, and BLAM...now is a photographer. Talking to professional photographers who have a passion for their art and make actual careers, this is the most annoying thing. And I do not want to be seen as much. I want to be seen for the quality of my work, my passion for what I do, and my knowledge.

I started off as doing photography as a hobby, taking photographs on trips and of family moments. I never thought I would be good enough or even if I could make any type of business or career out of it. It was during a trip that I expressed to my husband that I always wanted to pursue photography seriously. He was the one to push me to do so and we discussed how to start and how to do it professionally. I began by interning with Holly, a professional wedding photographer who had also done our family portraits just a few weeks before. She agreed to take me on. I also started taking courses to learn about techniques, what makes a professional, and how to improve. I was never confident in my skills until I met Holly.

My goal over the next few years is to LEARN, GROW, and BUILD. I am not worried about making money. Yes money is great, it helps pay the bills especially student loans (which is where a majority it goes towards). But I want to focus on learning, growing, and building.

LEARNING - how to be a professional, techniques, from my mistakes and how to improve, what works and what doesn't, and learning how to build a successful business.

GROWING - a successful business by learning from my mistakes and achievements, as an individual, and my skills to be better and improve.

BUILDING - a successful business, a clientèle, relationships with others who share the same passion and wanting to work with me.

I want to be seen for the quality of my work, not just another photographer. I take pride and passion in all that I do. I work hard to improve. If there is something that I want to try to do, I will research and learn. The successful professional photographers that I know are successful because they see photography as their art and passionate about it, not as a way of just making money and moving on to the next job. They build relationships with their clients. They are passionate about the work and quality of work they produce. They get annoyed with individuals who claim they are photographer without knowledge of how different effects are made or anything about their cameras and lens. I have a background in research. So when there is something that comes up like a certain effect I want to achieve, I research, ask about it, and put it into practice. I firmly believe that knowledge is power.

Over the past month leading up to August, I have been learning how to build a business through the administrative side by making contracts, welcome packets, updating my website, making business cards, researching ways to make new clients, and building relationships. I learned from interning weddings, the reason for contracts. I also learned that even for sessions that are not weddings, why there is a need for a contract that outlines policies. I was told by a client that she never had a photographer with a contract before. I explained that I don't want there to be any miscommunication; and allows both the client and I to have a understand what is to be expected. I know that I will always be making updates to all my materials as I grow and learn. Each session is different and can bring different challenges. I welcome these challenges because it allows me to be a better individual.

I am so grateful and appreciative of the help, love, and support that I get from family and friends. I continue to get advice and help from Holly and I can't begin to express how much I love this woman and the time she takes out of her day to help me learn, answer my questions, help me improve, and helps me with my confidence. My husband is my rock and my main support. He is always pushing me, supporting me in what I want to by driving me to locations, sessions, and watching our daughter after a week of working. And my friends and family who have supported me from day one. Especially the friend who is only hours from having a baby, who looks at my material. :)

I will always appreciate and be eternally grateful to all those who have supported me and helping me achieve my goals.

I am looking forward to what the future brings and growing.

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