What's your style? You may already have an idea where your best work lies, whether in landscapes, editorial or portraits or conceptual. Your signature style and look will be informed by your personality, your subject matter, your view of it, as well as other more technical aspects such as lighting and colour. Ask the opinions of trusted friends or colleagues, what your best work is, why they like it, and explore whether this is your signature style and subject matter. When it comes to building your portfolio, your signature style will feature strongly and shine through. Your style is a little like branding - consistency and staying true are key.
From offering to be the official photographer at smaller family gatherings, to applying for internships or work experience with local photographers, there are many ways to gain experience. There is nothing quite like the hands on experience of managing a photoshoot at a real life family event, or seeing an experienced professional at work, watching their processes, their art and skills.
Compile your portfolio
When it comes to displaying your work and your expertise and talent, both variety and focus are key. While this may sound counterproductive, you can and should have both. Maintain continuity and focus by having a running theme or themes throughout your portfolio. This makes it feel easy and pleasing to browse. Variety ensures the viewer doesn't get bored, 'glossing over' images that feel same. While Facebook, Instagram and Flickr are must-haves, you will need a dedicated online space to show your work at its best. Whether a dedicated website or a cloud based portfolio service, group your photos by subject or season, or whatever makes sense, and sequence them if they are chronological. Make the job easier for the viewer and you will be rewarded with higher viewing figures.
Become a professional
When you reach a certain standard, you may apply to a professional photography body, such as the IPPVA (Irish Professional & Videographer Association). Organisations such as these will help you access fantastic networks, a well of information and many potential mentor relationships. Validation and accreditation are just two more benefits of joining a professional organisation.
Watch for opportunities
While it's good to be prudent and be aware of your limitations, don't be afraid to challenge yourself. Watch out for opportunities which could lead to more work, enquiries and exposure. Events such as joint exhibitions, public displays and competition sare a great opportunity to push yourself and see what's possible. What's the worst that could happen?
Get a process
What works for you? From managing how you transport your equipment, planning and scheduling, travel methods, people management and more, a photographer needs many systems to help them automate as much as possible so they can focus on what's important. Invest in simple system aids such as schedule management software, digital asset management and ???. Get into a working routine where regular tasks such as cleaning equipment, backup of images etc becomes automatic and just something you do with every job. Your future self will thank you!