What advice would I give photographers starting out? It's sure not a short answer.
1) Learn. I cannot stress the importance of education enough. This is where I see a lot of people cut themselves short and not make the investment. while camera manufacturers have made it easier and easier to make a decent image - you will never make a great image without education. even at this stage of our career, we continue to invest in education. I learn something new every time I attend a workshop or seminar. There are a lot of smart people out there, so soak all that information up and apply it to your business.
2) Practice. Reading about something in a magazine doesn't make you an expert. Get out there and practice! Don't experiment on a live event. If you want to try some new lighting idea - grab a model, a friend, a can of soda and go shoot!!! all too often, I see people get too comfortable and lazy. this leads to your skills getting stagnant. Next thing you know, you wonder why you can't book more weddings, or why all of a sudden you have stiff competition all around you. It's because you have done nothing to grow your business or your skills.
3) Never give up. Regardless of whether you are a newbie or a seasoned pro, never give up! its easy to get frustrated or disenfranchised with everything, but if this is your passion you have to persevere. We all have ups and downs. Being in this business is an emotional roller coaster sometimes. We all get frustrated and burned out. don't think for a minute that doesn't happen to every speaker or every photographer. It's really easy to look at another studio and think the grass is greener, but we all have to deal with the day to day of the business.
4) Recharge. Don't be afraid to take some time off. it doesn't need to be a 2 month sabbatical, but take a day off. go play golf, do whatever it is you love to do. Sometimes, when I am getting burned out towards the end of a season, I just need a day or two off - not shooting and nothing business related. Seems counter-productive when you are super busy, but when I get back to the studio, I am 10x more productive!
Being a professional photographer is a fun and rewarding career. Every day I wake up and feel like I am the luckiest man in the world. I get to do what I love and get paid for it. Good luck and be true to your dreams.
Sal Cincotta could well be the most diverse photographer in our business. To start, as a photographer and artist there's nothing he can't shoot. As a publisher, Shutter Magazine, may well be the most widely read publication in professional photography. As a business owner, his diversity is remarkable with a reputation for always exceeding client expectations. And last but not least as an educator and leader in education, ShutterFest sets the standard for hands-on shooting and a community of attendees who all support each other.
Images copyright Sal Cincotta. All rights reserved.