how did you and your sister get into photography? i wanna get into it and eventually freelance in my spare time when i get enough experience but don't how to begin and 2) have you both done wedding photography and if not is that something you'd be interested in doing? also do you think it's better to be self taught or is it okay to take a photography class at my local community college? like i feel like almost everyone is self taught and idk if taking a class is a waste
We have always been into anything art related. Our parents bought us small digital cameras for our birthday when we were in 5th or 6th grade I believe. We were always taking photos of nature, vacations, and various events. When we got to high school (right around the time dslr cameras were becoming available to everyday consumers not just professionals) my dad bought one for himself. At first our dad wouldn’t let us use it without him there but eventually when we got the hang of using it and he let us take it places without him there. Natasha started taking photos of school events and posting them on Facebook. I started doing the same but a little bit after her. Eventually she bought her own entry level dslr and I bought my dads old dslr when he upgraded his. By sophomore year we were both posting lots of photos on Facebook. We also started asking our friends if we could photograph them. We would style our friends and have mini photoshoots. This was all just for fun for us. We have always been into editorial makeup/photography and styling our own shoots was our way of getting into that. Then during the summer after sophomore year a student asked Natasha to take his senior pictures which she ended up doing did. And later more and more people asked both of us to take their senior pictures. We had no idea how to price anything or what to include in packages initially. After 2-3 years we both were honing in our photography style and were getting better at pricing and guaranteeing a certain level of quality to our clients. When we got to college we would go home and take senior pictures during the summers. In college we took peoples headshots. So it was overtime that we started our photography businesses. We didn’t start photography with the intention of making a business out of it/going into it professionally. We still ask our friends to photograph them and have mini photo shoots that we style. Its important to us to constantly create personal work as well as client work. During all of this we both tried our hand at surreal/photo manipulation photography but it wasn’t for us. By the end of high school and throughout college we also shot a few wedding but both didn’t like photographing weddings. By the time we finished college both of us realized that our favorite genre of photography is portraits. So now we mainly shoot headshots, portraits, and senior pictures professionally and create editorial shoots for our personal work.
Even though we both went to art school neither of us has taken a photography class. The photo department at U of M mainly focused on documentary photography which we were not interested in. Plus the photo professors were known to be sexist and/or racist. We are about 95% percent self taught. One of our digital media professors did help us learn some stuff in photoshop but that’s about it. When either Natasha or I start a hobby we go into it full force lol. So right when we got into photography we followed a TON of photographers online and were constantly trying to figure out how they edited there photos so we could improve our editing. Over the course of 8 years we have really developed our photography styles and editing skills. Early on we would sometimes try and copy other photographers which helped us figure out what we liked and disliked for our own photography. I don’t encourage people to copy other artists especially if they are going to sell their work. But it can be helpful when figuring out your own style but it’s important to make sure you are not ripping someone off and give credit where credit is due. When I would use another artists idea I always explained in the description who the artist was and linked to their work. A photographer I know was notorious for copying another well known photographer but her audience thought she was super original because they didn’t know about the well known photographer. Plus you will never be as good as the original photographer/artist and will end up constantly comparing yourself which is no fun lol.
Even though both of us are self taught I don’t think taking photography classes is a bad idea if you think it will help you learn. One of my favorite illustrators, Sam Spratt, took many illustration classes when he was at SCAD but that doesn’t mean he is any better or worse than other illustrators that are completely self-taught. I always wanted to take commercial/fashion lighting classes but they were never offered at my university. I also would love to take some photography workshops but they the ones I want to take (Lara Jade’s in particular) are too expensive for me. Also as an artist I’ve generally been self-taught. I had a few great drawing teachers and professors in high school (I took a college drawing class in high school) who helped me a lot. But when it comes down to being an artist you really have to push yourself to make stuff outside of class. This was a challenge for a lot of my classmates once we graduated. A lot of them didn’t know how to create work outside of class. (I’m simplifying a lot here bc i could go on and on about how much i disliked or liked u of m’s art school lol) My whole life I’ve been making stuff outside of class so creating a photography business wasn’t super difficult for me.
This brings me to the business/freelance part. Turning something you are passionate about into a business can be great and horrible. A lot of my friends don’t freelance because the business side of it destroys their interest in the art. Some of my clients are very particular and they don’t always like the photos I take. But this is something I have to get past. Also over time you start to get better clients because they come to you knowing what they will get. Early on people would hire me because they knew I took photos not because they liked my style of photography (I hope that makes sense). Now people know what they are getting and it’s less likely that a client will be unsatisfied with their photos. As a freelancer keep in mind that it’s a lot of emails and advertising yourself. Yes it’s great that I can make money off of something I love doing but I have to keep in mind that it’s still a business. When I first started out clients would ask for lower prices and I would lower them because I didn’t want to lose a client and I didn’t know if I was too expensive or not. This was fine at first but now I don’t budge on my prices because now I know my worth and it’s not fair to my other clients to change prices. Also photography gear can get expensive and when you freelance/do photography professionally there is a point when you’ll probably to invest in professional gear. Part of this is to put you among other photographers in the industry but the physical quality of your photos will also improve. This way you can better guarantee what a client will get. Ex. my dad’s old dslr that I used had a cropped sensor so if the lighting wasn’t the best i couldn’t edit the photos as much in photoshop as I can with a full frame camera. Basically I just want to make it clear that once you start freelancing it’s a business so just like other business you have to know when and where to invest and how much.
I’m sure you were not expecting this long of answer but I hope it helped!