There’s a lot to consider if you’re a photographer preparing for a shoot, from impostor syndrome to freelance payment problems. Thankfully, the Photography panel at Summer in the City 2019 had plenty of advice!
Here are five of the things we learned…
1. There’s no such thing as a “real” photographer
The panellists discussed the perceived gap between professional photographers and others who do photography, and the point in their careers at which they felt like “real” photographers themselves. Ray said that anyone who goes out and enjoys taking pictures is a photographer: “There’s no boundary.”
Linda added that “your journey as a photographer begins” as soon as you pick up your camera, and Jon agreed.
Ray continued by saying that it’s now possible to take incredible pictures with the smartphone in your pocket and so you don’t necessarily need to have a camera, which was previously a hurdle people faced.
2. Shooting in unfamiliar places can be stressful
Linda gave the example of her shoot with Casey Neistat in New York as one of the “scariest” shoots she’s done. She explained that it wasn’t Casey she was worried about, it was that she only had an hour to shoot in a place she was totally unfamiliar with. However, she said she was very happy with the results of the shoot in the end, so the stress was absolutely worth it!
For Harry, due to the the nature of the urban exploration photography he does, when he first started there was a bit of fear. He said that after consistent exposure, he got more comfortable in those types of environments and he learned “how to evaluate the scene that [he’s] in to use it to the best of its potential”. Harry added that something that makes him nervous about shooting in a new location is whether there will be good photo opportunities when he gets there, after having put so much time into planning and climbing to get to somewhere like a rooftop.
Josiah said that at one point he had to do a shoot in Germany, and for that he had to provide everything, including the models and the team. He said this was challenging as not only did he have to make arrangements for everyone to get there, but he had never been himself so didn’t know what to expect.
3. Impostor syndrome is natural
Christy reminded us that impostor syndrome is a feeling of self-doubt, leading you to believe that you shouldn’t be somewhere or aren’t qualified to do something.
Harry’s best advice was “fake it till you make it”, saying that as long as you’re trying your best and have the skills then you’ll be okay.
Jon said that a good way to get rid of impostor syndrome is to start showing your client your work and get their feedback, because you can work to what they like. Your client will become more comfortable and it’ll remind you that they “hired you for a reason”: they like your work!
Josiah added that when you put yourself out of your comfort zone, that can often be when you produce some of your best work.
Linda also chipped in to say that any photographer who thinks they’re the best probably isn’t the best, and they’re never going to get any better at what they do with that mindset.
4. Your niche starts with you
Finding your niche is seen as very important in photography, but it turns out your niche is based on you!
Harry said that in order to find your niche, you have to follow what you enjoy. Ray added that finding a way to capture something personal to you through photography can enlighten you.
Jon and Josiah agreed that you will work out pretty early on what you dislike photographing, especially during the editing process.
Linda concluded that it is difficult to force yourself to find your niche, but her top tip is to just keep shooting. That way you can find out what you love to photograph most.
5. Protecting yourself as a freelancer is important
Josiah and Jon both recommended including payment terms on invoices. For bigger clients, Linda advised asking for payment upfront and a contract, while for smaller clients, she suggested asking for payment within a certain number of days and not sending the photos until it has been received.
Harry said to make sure you stand up for yourself and if you are not paid, emphasise that what they are doing is illegal, and threaten legal action.
Josiah’s final tip was to try to get the direct email address of the client’s finance department, as it often takes time for your details to get passed through to them to schedule your payment, and reaching them directly can cut out the wait time.
Photos by Emma Pamplin.
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