1. Second Shooting (Assisting)
I know that this lesson is pretty much the standard lesson to learn. I was so fortunate to have interned with Kristen at Kristen Mary Photography for 150 hours in order to get my degree. She was kind and very experienced. She has 14 years of experience in the wedding industry! I was also able to assist Luke Duval at a shoot in LA and see how the fashion/editorial photographers worked.
What I am trying to get is this: Watching and learning from others is so invaluable in photography. They teach you how to be a better photographer, how to see things from a different perspective, and ultimately show you all the bad habits and how to correct them. With Kristen, I learned the wedding schedule, the must have shots, what a wedding day entails. I learned to fluff a dress, style a veil, and use two flashes at once. With Luke, I learned how to set up lights, which wardrobe goes with what background, and all the inner workings of a fashion shoot. The more people you shoot with, the more you learn. And the more you learn, the better you get. Just don't forget to be a grateful and helpful student :).
2. Make Photo Friends
I don't know about you but I can talk until my voice goes out about photography. I can talk about the techie side, the photos I like, famous photographers that inspire me, and so on. Only, I'm sure most of my friends won't know what I'm talking about.
Hence: Make Photo Friends! I am a part of a few groups on Facebook that allow me to talk shop with others who share in my passion and love for the craft of photography. Those that can offer a critique or perhaps a location to shoot in. And it's much more fun when they actually understand what f stop means and when I talk about bouncing light.
3. Social Networking and Netiquette
Social networking has been such a big staple in today's society. If you don't have a Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Blog, or Skype, it's like people don't know what you've been up to. It's a lot to do being on all of these sites and even I myself have a hard time keeping up. But they are necessary! They help spread the word about your recent work, they allow you to stay on top of news and friends, and even on top of industry news.
However, when used incorrectly, they may not work in your favor. Remember that good manners also extends to the web. It's called netiquette. This is exactly why when I'm having a bad day, I don't post about it. I don't curse nor do I allow others to post inappropriate things on my page or photos. I am in full control of the content. Many of my clients and their friends are linked to my Facebook profile and photography page. I make it a point to stay professional yet friendly and hep enough to keep people coming back. No one likes to read about your bad day, unless something funny happened.
4. Business is Business
Photography is fun. Anyone can do it. Conversely, not everyone can run a business. Doing photography and doing it as a professional are two different things. If you are considering jumping in and doing it as your profession, there are many a things to consider before making your Facebook Fan Page. Do you have a business license? How about a seller's permit for the prints you sell? What about a separate checking account? Are you prepared with liability insurance? What if your stuff gets stolen or damaged?
Do your research for the city, county, and state you live in and find out what you need to really make yourself the professional photographer. A cool website is not enough to make you professional. Plus, all of these documents can help save your butt in case of any emergencies.
5. Style takes time
Every famous photographer has their style. Style, takes time to build, perfect, and it is something that constantly changes. I did not always have a style. It took me years of practice, trying out new things, new gear, different models, clients and locations until I finally realized what my style was. And in a few years from now, it will evolve and become something a little different. Don't pressure yourself to define your style if you're just starting out. From one photog to another, it takes time.