LAGOS, Nigeria (VOICE OF NAIJA) – I’d like to discuss the very specific steps I took to make photography my career. All of the initial actions and procedures are debatable.
Those of you who are reading this might not agree with what I have to say, but I am willing to defend it, and if you know anything about me, you know that I dislike conforming to social norms.
However, learn the fundamentals of photography, including exposure, aperture, ISO, composition, lighting, and editing, as you would in any other profession. I simply did this by starting with my family and friends and capturing pictures of everything that happened around them because they were used to me having a camera.
My friends began requesting that I take photos of their families, engagements, and other events, which helped me gain more experience taking photos, understand the fundamentals, and share my work on social media at the time. Do not discount the fundamentals because you will need them as the foundation for your photographic skill set throughout the course of your career.
Never discount going back to those fundamental skills so you can later use them to build more diverse skills.
I know what you’re thinking—that’s like a Business Creativity 101 mistake. I repeat, take photographs for free, especially when you’re with friends and family.
Bring your camera to events whenever you can, and ask attendees if you can photograph their engagement photos or perhaps even their nuptials. Whatever it is, just get out there and begin to build a portfolio.
I went out on the beach alone and encountered strangers, and I was like, “Hey, can I take a few portraits of yours under the sunset?”
As we got closer, we could see the gorgeous sea, the crazy clouds in the sky, and the golden sunshine. Then I used the 17-55mm lens to create this usual composition of them, going all creative with it.
In order to expand my skill set and demonstrate it to potential clients, I also work with professionals already in the industry and attempt to acquire new work for my portfolio. At an exhibition event in the Eko Hotel, I captured this silhouette image of a friend.
I stepped out with a tripod and my 50mm lens to capture one of my favorite portfolio shots. I filmed for no cost, and that was the only reason. Does that imply that I always advocate shooting for nothing? Of course not; doing that is not viable. Nobody can simply work for free all the time, but you must be strategic in your creative entrepreneurship to determine when it’s appropriate to do so, how to fill your portfolio with beautiful images, demonstrate your ability to do these things, and how to connect with those who share your taste.
You need a website; Instagram and TicTok are not enough, in my opinion. A website demonstrates professionalism and lets a prospective customer know that you are an expert in your field. You can stand by your body of work. There are certainly many who would counter that you could simply do it through social media platforms.
These days, you can definitely start a whole business that way, but without a portfolio and a place to keep everything, you won’t attract the super high-end clients or those who will ultimately pay you thousands of Naira for your work. You’re just missing out on the opportunity for SEO if you don’t do it. (search engine optimization).
The best spot to have a foundation in your photography, in my opinion, is on a website. This way, you can get blog posts out there with Google searches and meet new people. Of course, you don’t want to overwhelm yourself with all the channels you have open for showing off your work.
Get a photo delivery service the same way you would build a website; this will increase your professionalism and demonstrate to potential clients that you are a professional and serious about this. The experience of receiving your photos through that kind of platform as opposed to something like Dropbox or Google Drive will be a world of difference.
Additionally, you could show potential customers what a full gallery looks like outside of just specific images from a blog post. They get to view, star, favorite, download, and order prints all in one place. They may anticipate that I’ll be receiving this many images as a client. It will let them know that this is how their experience will also be.
Don’t undervalue the potential revenue from print sales. Sending a Dropbox link is a waste of money because you have an entire platform dedicated to generating revenue for you. You set up automations that run through “Picktime,” and you set up discounts. Only emails will be sent to them, and they and their families will order prints.
Another feature of “Picktime” that I love is the constant addition of new features to their services. They recently built slideshows, and now they are integrating blogs. Thus, with their service, you can start your own blogs. You can immediately begin using them if you already have them; if not, this will be covered by your plan.
Likewise, enter photo contests; do anything to try to get your work in front of new eyes; all of that stuff is free, and although it might seem overwhelming to attempt, not all of it needs to be accurate. Roll it out gradually over time so you can attempt to show it to people who may have never seen your work before. It is free marketing as of right now, and you might think about it later, once you have a budget and more money to spend on marketing, when you could run some sponsored advertisements. However, since they are free, you might as well use those sites.
Just publish your work online. I can’t even begin to tell you how much my work has advanced simply through posting on social media; I’ve met people I never would have thought to meet, made connections with them, and been given opportunities that go beyond just photographing people for portraits.
Serving your clients doesn’t only mean being on time, providing enough images, or being friendly in general. The absolute minimum is that. Go to the convenience store and buy them a few water bottles; if they ask for one, give them a hug.
Thank you for reading.