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Intro to Photography and Photo Editing

So you want to improve your photography skills. Maybe you want to learn photography to document your trip-of-a-lifetime, offer a valued grandparenting talent, or just save on professional portraits of your kids. Or maybe it’s not about photography techniques, but more about how to do proper photo retouching so you put your best face — or avocado on toast — forward on Instagram.

This guide isn’t going to just show you loads of examples of perfectly framed composition photography — you don’t need to look at great photos, you need to take them! This isn’t a boring photo class where you only read and you don’t do. This is a practical guide to creating beautiful, persuasive photos, from capturing the image to the final edits.  

This practical guide will help you take the first steps toward building a profession as a photographer and photo editor.

That’s why we talked to the experts — people who not only make a living as photographers and editors, but love their work! Just like the other courses at Skillshare, we offer you the tips and tricks to help you learn photography, and discover a new a passion, a talent, and possibly, a side hustle that turns into your day job!

Those special moments when you want to have your camera at the ready — weddings, encounters with wildlife, memorable times with your kids? This guide will help you turn moments into memories.

We’ll guide you through the process of capturing photographs that look like professional or studio portraits, whether you’re going pro or just want to save a few hundred bucks. We’ll reveal the tricks behind studio lighting setup and other methods that help make your subjects — human or otherwise — shine.

Then, once you’ve sparked your passion for photography, we’ll teach you how enhanced photos can complete those memories. We’ll demonstrate photo editing, restoring and retouching to help you create engaging online and offline content. We’ll review the basics of composite photography, so you can bring together two or more favorite memories or products. And we’ll try to do it in a way that makes this often less-favorite part of your photographic journey a fun and creative exercise. Nothing sounds more “yawn” than photo enhancement, but, in reality, editing photos, with the right tools and learned skills, it can be an enjoyable and creative exercise. Moreover, it’s one that’s essential in turning any photography business.

Finally, we’ll tell you about photography courses online. If you’re reading this guide, you probably already know about or have mastered some stuff we'll cover, but you are, most likely looking to take some other parts to the next level. Hopefully, this guide will provide you with the basis on which to build your photo biz. Then we recommend you take a photo class or two that drills down on a specific topic in this guide. You may want to focus on the more serious side of portraiture photography or maybe have some fun with food and lifestyle photography. Maybe you’ve nailed the taking pictures part and are ready to learn photo editing online. Or perhaps you only really know photo retouching, to preserve long-ago memories.

In the end, this guide is just that—a guide. It’s the experience you gain from putting these tips into action that will make you a success. Enjoy!

 

Can a Photograph Change the World?

Yes, yes, we said we’d get into the practical but first let's start with some inspiration. Photography is proof that something happened. And whether it’s proof that two people got married, that you just had the best meal of your life, or of history in the making, it means the woman or man behind the lens has an important role to play in our world.

British photographer and photography teacher of 36 years, Alan Gandy, describes your potential impact this way:

 “As a teenager getting interested in photography I used to thumb through many a book in the library (remember them?) just looking at images. One day I stumbled upon Nick Ut’s ‘Napalm Girl’ from then on, I was hooked. I knew then a photograph can change the world: I knew that because that photograph changed me. I knew from that moment I wanted to take photography seriously, I felt I’d had my eyes opened to its real power. I became fascinated by the Vietnam War photographers and how their work had, in many ways, influenced the war by bringing the true horror home for the first time in a way that can not be achieved with just words.”

In our 24-7 access to information and imagery, a photograph still has the possibility of stopping you in your tracks.

So can a photograph change the world? Sometimes, though rarely. Can it change someone else? Maybe. Can a photograph change you? Quite possibly!

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Photo Credit: Tyson Wheatley, Skillshare Teacher

Photography is About Storytelling

Let’s start with the basics. Why do you want to take photos? More importantly, why do you want to take good photos? Great ones, even? It is probably because you’re trying to say something! It may sound cliche to talk about a thousand words, but they don’t say a picture is worth 140 characters because it is a lot more valuable than a tweet. Whether it’s a magical moment or just a silent sales pitch, your photography is trying to say something. And it’s trying to say something worth remembering.

 

Storytelling With Product Photography

WAIT STOP! I see you, the owner of the small store who just wants to skip ahead to editing the plain-jane pics of each item in front of a sheet. But here’s the thing, people don’t want to buy things. They want to buy a story. They’ll go to your biggest competitor, Amazon, for two-dimensional static product images. They choose your smaller business with infinitely smaller selection for your story. So they’ll be sadly disappointed when all they see is another boring page with pics of stand-alone objects.

 Shopify has even pointed to bad (and boring!) photos as to why people sell less than others online.

But you just sell candles, you say? Oh wait, scented candles with organic paraffin wax, no artificial dyes or packaging? So you just want to put an unopened candle inside your portable lightbox studio? What if, instead, you created experiences and stories to make your candles stand out. After all, they cost more than what we can just pick up at the grocery store, don’t they? Think about the mood your candles create. Your cookie or cinnamon-scented candle invoke family and holidays — so try burning (at a safe distance from) a Christmas tree? Or perhaps relaxing lavender burning next to an inviting bubble bath.

The lesson here is that every object has a story, and you’ll stand out online when you tell that story, instead of just putting an object on a sheet and snapping a boring pic.

 

Storytelling is Essential to Memorable Occasions

For portraiture and wedding photographer, Rocio Sanchez, photography is storytelling, capturing the most emotional moments.  

“For me, the best tricks are to catch the most emotional moments — like at a wedding, for example.”

This can be the obvious moments — dad-daughter dance or shoving cake into each other’s faces — but also the ones that everyone will be talking about for years (because no one talks about the moments you see at wedding.) These are the ones when things go unplanned. Or when “Who Let the Dogs Out” or “Baby Got Back” inevitably plays, everyone groans, but gets up and has a ball boogying on down anyway. Or when the fight for the bouquet gets a little too aggressive. Or when the flower girl just dumps that basket on the head. And, of course, you can’t miss capturing the couple’s moments, like the first time they see each other, or that secret look or hands held. Sure, you have to take those posed pics of whole bridal parties, but it’s the candid moments that sell your shots time and again.

Of course, we know nothing’s cuter or more emotion-invoking than a baby. Rocio says kids are the best at creating these moments, whether (kind of) posed or candid.

“I love to work with and photograph kids so much because they are so natural, which means the photos just come out better, filled with spontaneity and joy, without any need to pose,” Rocio says. 

Her motto as a photographer is “Tus recuerdos son mi trabajo” — “Your memories are my job.”
As a lifestyle photographer who brings her memory-capturing skills to the homes of new families, Tabitha Park, agrees.

“Things change so fast and by capturing these moments in their correct spaces, it just adds so more to their story.”

She understands that these aren’t just the beginning weeks of a child’s life. As a photographer, you are freezing moments that will hang on a wall and be cherished forever.

That’s a lot of power for one photographer, right? Maybe. But it’s kinda cool, isn’t it?

 Whether you’re snapping pics professionally or as a hobby, for art or just for sales, always ask yourself, how are you creating memories? Because that’s the best way to make sure your photography is memorable. (For good reasons!)

In the end, photography is all about capturing a moment, with a prime (or primal?) example being wildlife photography. Learning photographic basics can help you pursue any type of photography you desire, and help improve your skill for capturing everything from a still cityscape to a flurry of movement from a hummingbird to your niece or nephew’s first steps.

 

So Tell a Story!

Your photos should tell a story. This is especially true when you are sharing a memory from start to finish.

Part-time photographer and facilities management consultant, Craig Shepheard, put it this way:

“You should build up a set of images that tell the entire story of the event from initial setup and preparation through to the final performance. Don’t just stand in one place for the entire event. Otherwise every single shot will look the same.”

Craig also says you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. The vast majority of these stories have already been told.

Offering the example of a recent fashion show he covered, “Look at websites of other fashion shows. Google is your friend. See what has worked well on other websites of other fashion shows. Watch YouTube videos of fashion shows to see how the events work.”

 You don’t want to be overwhelmed the first time you’re covering an important event, so familiarize yourself with how it’ll probably go — and don’t hesitate to ask your subjects/customers the plan ahead of time.

And remember, as Craig said, “The most important piece of equipment that you will ever own is your eyesight. Get to think about what pleases your eye and then try to replicate it.”

 9c44fb86Photo Credit: Dan Rubin, Skillshare Teacher

Where to Start to Learn Photography

Some of this may seem obvious — yet how often is the obvious ignored? Some photography tips will take you deeper into your art, while others will help you sell more. This is an entry-level guide to making yourself more marketable as a photographer, so skim over what you already know and dive into what’s new. We spoke to a mix of full-time and part-time photographers just like you, so you can learn photography from the proverbial horse’s mouth and figure out how to improve your hobby or even turn it into a business, just like they did.

Read the instructions!

“The first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”

— Henri Cartier-Bresson, French humanist photographer

 Why? Because you don’t know what you’re doing, of course! No matter how many filters you apply, an ugly photo is still an ugly photo to the naked eye.

 Alan offers us the best advice we tend to adhere to never in his piece “Read the damned instruction manual!” When you’re looking to take your photography to the next level, it’s important to start at the beginning. This means, like in school, you’ve got to read your instructions. Alan says the first thing you should do before trying to learn photography is to read your computer manual.

Did you buy a used or vintage camera? Just go ahead and search Google on it. You are almost certainly to find a PDF of how your camera really works and all that it can do, but you’ll most likely find fan forums and Facebook Groups dedicated to helping you making the most of it.

 

Snap as Many Pics as You Can

The best way to learn photography is via the practice-makes-perfect method. The price of cameras and especially film has dramatically decreased nowadays because your images are no longer on fragile film, but either on a memory card or in the cloud. The best photo class is actually taking those 10,000 first horrible pics!  

While we will be teaching tricks from expert photographers, when it comes down to it, photography is an art and, thus, it’s different per person. This means the best way to learn photography is to learn more about yourself. Take many, many pics and be critical of the results. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Where can you improve? Where do you seem to just nail it? What were you thinking at that time? What were you trying to achieve? When it comes down to it, like with all art, good photos say as much about the photographer as its subject, so keep snapping away until you know what you are saying!

 

Composition Photography: Look for That Frameable Moment

An amateur will look around herself to find the right shot. The pro photog will look through her lens to frame the perfect shot. Composition photography is all about framing — and we’re not talking about on your wall. Framing involves drawing attention to the subject of your photo by blocking other parts of the image with something in the scene.

The simplest example of composition photography is a window, like when you take a perfect picture of the sea from your hotel room in Santorini. Composition photography draws the eye toward your focal point — in that case, paradise. This “framing” window also gives context that you aren’t just taking a pic of the sea, but from within a room with a view. It shows off a wave or two of that deep blue sea, but without showing everything, keeping the viewer wanting more. Perfect if you are photographing a hotel — instead of taking pics of a made bed and the building itself — or if you are just trying to invoke FOMO (fear of missing out) in your friends on Facebook.

Now, sometimes you’ll want your frame to be clear and sometimes you’ll want it to blur around the edges. Composition photography isn’t just of physical frames, but anytime you use something in the foreground to draw the viewer to the main focal point. This is a great trick when you are snapping candids at a wedding — imagine a photo that focuses on the bride smiling, surrounded by friends and family, as you shoot over guests’ shoulders and heads.

But be careful, a beginner’s mistake is when your composition photography looks more like a cluttered collage. The purpose of composition photography is to make order from disorder, so always ask yourself if you are adding or taking away from your focal point by framing. And, when in doubt, in the land of almost limitless memory cards, try it both ways!

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Photo Credit: Chris Burkard, Skillshare Teacher

It’s Called the ‘Horizontal’ For a Reason

Want to take great composition photography? Want to go to the beach and capture that perfect sunset? Or you climbed that mountain and want to savor the moment? (Just don’t drop your camera!) Or maybe you’re an attempted wildlife photographer capturing a cheetah running across a grassy field. Alan reminds us the simplest thing we often forget as we try to get too artsy and tilt our cameras — horizon = horizontal.

 “It really isn’t rocket science, but it’s an absurdly common mistake. A mistake at the most basic level. The last time, and every time I’ve ever looked, the horizon is horizontal,” he says. “It never ceases to amaze me just how many images I see, even from people who claim to be competent photographers, where the horizon is enough out of kilter in a landscape or seascape to make me (metaphorically) foam at the mouth! It’s simply nothing more than a sloppy and careless mistake.”

 Now, of course this is something that can be fixed with editing photos, but certainly it’s better to plan your shot right from the start, by making sure it’s in line with your sunrise, sunset or beach line. And you don’t need to drag around a tripod to achieve this.

Alan says, “Use the auto-focus points or other viewfinder elements as reference. And, if in doubt, if you aren’t confident in your own ability to level your camera take several images adjusting the angle slightly to cover yourself.”

And as a blogger, I’d like to add this, take pics for the Web in landscape not portrait — landscape are much more responsive and are shaped the same way as your computer and fit better on a webpage.

 

Follow the Rule of Thirds

Following that straight line. This is one of those tips that goes for both great photos and great photo editing. The Rule of Thirds is when you actually break up and frame your photo into nine cubes — or three squares horizontally and three squares vertically, a la The Brady Bunch. Our eyes are naturally drawn to where those lines intersect more than we are to the center. If you were taking a photo of someone standing up, you would then position them on one of the two vertical lines, for example, in the center of the two cube columns to the left. Likewise, the head is positioned in the top part and torso in the middle. The eyes will automatically be drawn to the upper left corner to look at the face.

Most digital cameras will actually put the grid on your viewer, so you can position your shot. Otherwise, you can just try your best. Photo editing software is the master of the Rule of Thirds and can do a lot to fix it so your focal point is perfectly placed.

 

Finding the Right Lighting for Photography

Lighting for photography is probably the most important tool or hindrance, after the camera itself. This is what the aperture stop of your camera lens controls. It can be adjusted to manipulate the amount of light reaching the film or image sensor. In combination with shutter speeds, the aperture size can regulate exposure to light. Slow shutter speeds allow more light into the camera sensor and are used for low-light and night photography, while fast shutter speeds help to freeze motion. 

Aperture usage can vary by camera so it’s one of the most important things to (yes, we repeat ourselves) read about in the manual. There are many photography courses online just dedicated to aperture because lighting for photography is just that important.

 Another important camera functionality is the ISO setting, which measures the light sensitivity of the image sensor. The more light you have in the scene you’re shooting, the lower your ISO. You can program your camera to have a higher ISO setting in darker areas, which lends to faster shutter speeds.

 But, again, this is where your skill at editing photos comes in because you won’t always have the right lighting no matter what your camera settings — after all, there are 23 more hours in the day than the Magic Hour.

 

How to Take Professional Portraits

If there’s one place you should be controlling the lighting for photography, it’s from your studio. Your studio may be one you rent, a space in your home, or a portable studio you can set up on the fly. If you want to take professional portraits, but controlling your studio lighting setup is key. Why? First and foremost, people hiring you for studio portraits aren’t looking for honesty, they are looking for the most beautiful side of their subjects.

 And we’ll get to this in the second half of this guide, but no one wants to buy studio portraits that aren’t flattering. This means you’ll also need the skills to erase those blemishes, fine lines and wrinkles, while still capturing the essence of that person. Anyone paying for professional portraiture photography will want to receive a finished product to print and share, so photograph editing is perhaps most important here.

You can take specific courses online to help you learn how to create dramatic portraits. In this Fundamentals of Portrait Photography online class, you can learn from fashion photographer Justin Bridges about how to take stunning photos of anyone. The course allows you to follow along with a DSLR or IPhone and edit with Adobe Lightroom. When you’ve completed the lesson, you should understand how to create drama with daylight, expression, and body language. These techniques can help you delve into portraiture photography in an emotional way and to make a career out of shooting studio portraits, if that’s your goal.

 

How to Avoid Looking Like Stock Photos

Let’s face it. Nobody likes a stock photo yet everyone uses stock photos. There’s nothing more vanilla yet useful. But when you’re photographing any stock-worthy moment — from a baptism to a wedding to just a team day — you need to make sure your pics don’t get tossed out because nobody’s going to frame a stilted stock.

 As part of his day job, Craig also photographs lots of maintenance companies, their directors and their engineers.

 He says, “One of the key parts is to incorporate the company logo in the shots so that they don’t look like stock photos. Also, I try to get the engineers to look like they know what they are doing, so they are quite often pointing at drawings, or typing on control panels, etcetera.”

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Photo Credit: Jamal Burger, Skillshare Teacher

Editing Photos in Your Digital Darkroom

Now, you can absolutely still get down with a dark room if you have the time, space, and money for traditional photo editing, but we won’t be covering that aspect of photography. This section will all be about photo editing online because, well, that’s where the world lives now and you’d be a fool not to take advantage of the free, open source, and proprietary photo editing software, literally at your fingertips.

Now, you may say “That’s not real photography!” But, on the contrary, enhanced photos are what will sell your art, whether it’s a print on a wall or a pic of something else on a website or social medium. Photo retouching is what can best take you from amateur to professional. And, a client is going to expect a polished finished product — and one where they look damn good — when the photos are delivered, so either you’re going to do the editing or you’re going to waste money on outsourcing it.

 Think of photo editing as the narrator to your photographic story.

 Then, as Alan says, it’s important to find your own unique style of photo editing.

“I learned my craft long before the emergence of digital photography but in many ways things have not changed. The basic principles of developing a photographic style are the same and they consist of two parts: in and out of the camera,” he says. “Developing techniques and a recognizable style of processing are just as important using photo editing software as it was in the darkroom, albeit a lot dryer!”

Photo editing gives you a different kind of voice and a different editorial slant to your photography. It allows you to discover what is your style of photography, what you enjoy editing, and what makes your photos unique.

As Alan puts it: “A skilled photographer, professional or amateur, will visualize the end result at the time a photograph is taken. Knowledge of the of processing options available makes that possible.”

Photo editing is much more than just a skill that will dramatically improve your own photography. It is a highly marketable skill and can lead to work as a freelancer or at an advertising agency. Skillful photograph editing can also get you a job editing stock photos or even working for top magazines.

Also, photo editing work is a great in-betweener. A lot of your work may be seasonal — whether it’s wildlife photography or weddings, there are times when you’re rammed busy and times when there’s a worrisome lull. Editing photos can not only pass the time but fill in those bank account gaps.

 

Online Photo Editing Courses Can Make You More Valuable

Diversification is the key to the successful freelancer or entrepreneur. When you’re leaving your day to job follow your passion, it’s exciting. But, it’s also easy to fail if you’re not prepared for the competition. Taking multiple courses in photography and photo retouching is a great way to learn skills and gain hands-on experience, while also improving your art.

In fact, photo editors tend to be in more demand and, thus are able to charge more per hour — a 20 percent increase! — than traditional photographers. So, while you are following your passion, becoming adept at photography retouching not only makes your art look much better, but it helps turn your art into a sustainable business.

 If you have taken photography courses before and want to branch into a more artistic option, you would benefit from a class like Understanding Aperture. This is a hands-on course on black-and-white photography which also explores using Adobe Lightroom to enhance your work. You can learn how to assess different equipment and what settings will optimize your focus. You will also learn what times of day and types of lighting are ideal for shooting. The course teaches you how to compose interesting landscapes and cityscapes. Lastly, it introduces you to the most important editing tools when dealing with black and white photography.

 

What Does Photo Editing Work Entail?

Of course, you’re your first photography editing customer. But if you want to make it an essential part of your business offering — which we highly recommend — there are various ways you can make money from editing photos. 

You will be expected to choose relevant pictures for articles or content, assign and often train staff photographers on company directives, modify the photos, and sometimes take your own pictures. Various personality traits which mesh well with this profession vary but you will do well if you’re a self-starter with a penchant for organization and the ability to work under pressure.

To be competitive in the job market, editors should have knowledge of different software and technical equipment, have a fundamental understanding of what makes a good picture, and have an organized portfolio that showcases their abilities. Additionally, they should be able to follow deadlines, direct photographers, and be experienced at taking and editing fantastic pictures. Most times, employers will give preference to those editors who have an educational background to support their knowledge.

 

What Makes for Good Photograph Editing?

First and foremost, you can’t be a great photo editor without having a knack for photography. The basis for editing is having a working knowledge of what makes a great photo. Without this foundation you really cannot judge the merit of others’ work. However, there are ways to make great photos even greater. That’s where the next part of the photographer’s job comes in...

 Just as the skills for different kind of photography varies, so does for different types of photo editing. As you develop your skills for editing, you will notice that it takes different adjustments to create a beautiful portrait versus a stunning landscape. Portraiture is about presenting your model in the best light possible. This means removing blemishes and adjusting for skin tone. Oftentimes, portraits are taken inside a studio which requires different equipment and considerations. Editing an outdoor landscape, for example, is very different than editing the portraiture. Photography courses online dedicated to each subject can really help steer your career in the direction you want it to go.

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Photo Credit: Joe Greer, Skillshare Teacher

The Selfie as a Perfect Test Subject

The art of the selfie is actually a great test subject to begin with. After all, we are most critical with ourselves — and having good headshots can be expensive! Take advantage of all the time you spend with yourself to play around with different natural lighting and studio lighting. Then, look to smooth out your rough edges in a realistic way with skin tone adjustments and by removing any non-permanent blemishes. Ask for feedback, even from your trusty, too-honest friends because sometimes it’s hard to be honest with ourselves and you want to make sure you still really look like you and you don’t get overeager with the editing pen.

 

Practice Editing Images of Objects as Much as People

A lot of work in the photo editing space is done for ecommerce and retail websites. People remember 80 percent of what they see and only 20 percent of what they read, yet the vast majority of online retailers are spending hugely on copy and little on photo editing. Yes, that copy is important for SEO, but we are still shopping with our eyes. Successful brands connect with their customers not only through the writing on their website, but through photographs.

As we transition to shopping completely without our sense of touch or smell, sight dominates our decision-making and is as important as reading the reviews before we make purchases online. Visual aspects like the color, shape, and angles of a high-quality photograph help a customer imagine what having that product would be like.

Also, remember as you’re editing, responsive imagery is essential because shoppers are on any number of devices and your product photos have to work on different screen widths and heights. Want a good test if your product photograph photo editing holds up? Try it on your smallest screen.

 

Editing the Light and the Dark

Sure, there are certain hipster, retro needs for a grainy photo. But those needs aren’t someone’s wedding or bar mitzvah. In digital photography, a noisy photo is one with a lot of extra pixels that make the scene blurry or distract from the focal point. This happens especially when you have a longer exposure shoot, like at night — we can’t see well at night so, why should would we think the camera is any different? As we already discussed, lowering your ISO settings will help ease this problem, but this can increase your noise dramatically. Photo retouching is really key here.

One way to reduce this noise is to shoot on the setting RAW. In post-production, you have much more flexibility to remove noise and increase exposure with a RAW file than the typical JPEG your camera will create.

Once you’ve snapped your pics, open them to the brutal honesty of 100 percent in Photoshop or 1:1 in Lightroom. Start by playing around with the different noise reduction categories in luminance and color to find what can most clearly depict the wonder you were witnessing without making it look bizarre. Then remember to zoom out to get a feel for the whole thing.

 

There’s an App for That.

Of course there is — probably thousands of them. Nothing is going to edit in the same way as the Adobe software suite, but tools like Photoshop and Illustrator take a lot of time to learn and cost a lot of money. It’s best to start off your photo editing journey with free or almost-free phone and iPad apps that help you with composition, white balance, lighting and other basics. It helps you get a better eye for clean photos, but just be wary of filters — they often make your work look contrived and the same as any Kardashian would post.

 By learning photo editing online, you not only can dramatically improve your work, but you can save on equipment costs. You can clean up a lot of the mistakes of a dimly lit studio, weather complications, or even an inexpensive camera by just taking advantage of the apps out there.

 

Finally, Bring it All Together to Sell Your Photography as a Business

If you’re reading this, you’re probably ready to take your photography to the next level. This could be just getting a nicer camera and expanding your hobby. But you may want to start earning money with your photography talent. It might be trying to get a few weekend gigs. Maybe you want to take photography courses online so you can add that to your resume or C.V. Or maybe you’re ready to turn your side hustle into a full-grown business. Read this next section before you start diving in film first.

 

Showcase your photography business on a website or online portfolio

Placing your beautifully edited photos in an online portfolio can be a benefit for you as a freelance photographer applying for photography jobs in any industry. Remember, your portfolio is a representation of you. As such, it is the first taste of your talent, personality, and dedication. Like a resume, it is sent along with a proposal or application to work for magazines, online entities, or any other media outlet.

You can create your unique portfolio on portfolio websites or you can go the route of publishing your work on different well-known resources. You may want to reserve the rights to your work, but if you’re not bothered about it, you can also publish your images on Creative Commons. This is a great way to get your name out there and your images potentially published anywhere, with credit given. 

Don’t neglect social media. A well-curated Instagram profile with an editorial slant could be your perfect portfolio. You can also use a public Facebook Page or even Twitter and LinkedIn to showcase this media, as it gets loads of eyeballs and images tend do much better on these social media platforms.

Remember, no matter where you showcase your enhanced photos, you must always include very clear ways to contact you — you don’t want to show off your work but fail to convert those views into new customers!

 

Do You Have a Niche?

Try to look for ways you can categorize your portfolio work, whether it is by subject — weddings and other occasions, corporate, sports, and nature — or even by industry. We talked to Craig who specifically focuses on offering professional photography to facilities he managers. He’s created a niche for himself which makes it an easier sell. Some wedding photographers only do destination weddings — which ain’t bad if you love to travel! — while others like Tabitha focus on a certain part of life, the very beginning. Wildlife photography is a whole area unto itself with some just focusing on large, fast cats!

By having a niche, you are able to be found online and have better SEO — your search engine optimization or googleability. And, most importantly, it allows you to be known. Word of mouth is still the top way photographers make a name for themselves, so you not only want to make sure you’re making your customers happy so you’re paid, but you want to make sure they are spreading the good word about you.

However, some photographers, like Rocio, live in small towns, so their niche is being that one photographer for that 600-person village. For Rocio, any memorable occasion is a job for her. So, Rocio’s Facebook Page makes sure to showcase photos — with permission — from all events, including town parades, weddings, baptisms, and festivals. She knows it is important that she steer away from controversy and politics and focus on town pride.

 

Take the First Step!

The first step to starting your own photography and photo editing business? Get yourself a camera (and read the instructions and charge the batteries.) Then just start shooting. Once you have your first images to play around with, start editing! Just dive right in there. A lot of the time, photo editing tools have freemium plans with fewer features or plans that offer you a free month-long trial. Try to take advantage of these first.

Then, once you’ve started, ask a (very honest) friend to look at your photos — do you have obvious weaknesses? Or are there things you can recognize you struggle with? Maybe there’s an aspect of photo editing that frustrates you. Maybe you need to improve the lighting for photography. Or you want to plan for a big trip and sign up for wildlife photography courses — or just improve your outdoor photography in general. Taking photography courses online is a cheap, easy, and flexible way to hone your craft without breaking the bank.

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