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Everything I've Learned the Hard Way

As I delve in completely to the world of freelance photography, I have learned many things of what should be done but more importantly what should not be done. While many of these things may seem like common sense, I figured I would share my experiences in case anyone else ever decides to make the same mistakes.

  • HAVE YOUR GEAR AT ALL TIMES
    • This may seem like common sense but I can PROMISE you the one time you don't bring it with you, you'll need it
  • YOU WILL REGRET THE SHOT YOU DIDN'T TAKE
    • How many times have I seen a person doing something and thought "that's a great shot" have been to shy to approach them. I'll never forget seeing a bunch of migrant workers at a gas station lined up against a wall in South Carolina eating their lunches, similar to Lewis Hine's photo of the construction workers on a steel beam having lunch. I was with another photographer who was fluent in Spanish and even offered to translate for me, guaranteeing that I could get the shot but in the end I was too shy and passed. Well guess what? I clearly remember that shot and I clearly remember missing it. Don't miss it! 
  • USE ONE SYSTEM FOR ORGANIZING FILES
    • Going back through your old hard drives and spending hours searching for one photo isn't exactly something that you want to be spending your whole afternoon doing, especially if you live in sunny Florida. Do yourself a favor, pick a system and stick to it.
  • HAVE A BUSINESS CARD
    •  I was talking with some "social media experts" and they were giving me a pitch about having a business card is outdated and they just use their Instagram handle if anyone wants to look at their work. Well let me tell you that when you're in the middle of a production and I'm talking with a new crew that I want to work with, no one is going to whip out their phones and start looking at your work. Do yourself a favor, make a card. Its not outdated, you are not "too cool" to use one. If someone is serious about working with you, they're going to look at your stuff. That being said always have the cards with you because like your gear; the one day you don't have them on you, that's probably going to be the day you meet the most people.
  • KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BOOKING AND A HOLD
    • Here is a little something not taught in school and you do not want to find out the hard way. A booking means you are locked in to that date. You have committed to that shoot. A hold means that you have penciled in that day for a shoot. If someone calls and inquires about a date that you have a hold, don't get too eager! Tell them you have to check your calendar, it is then customary to call the client you have a hold with and confirm if that date is booked. If your hold is confirmed then obviously you are no longer available for that date. Do NOT double book. I know this may seem like common sense but this is the little things that aren't really discussed, but you are expected to know.
  • YOUR REPUTATION IS EVERYTHING
    • I know photographers who have been pushed out, I've heard clients talk about people they will never work with again. You may not even be paying attention on a job but I guarantee that someone is and people love to talk. If you've shown up late to a job, I guarantee you that probably six other potential clients will have heard a story about it. The industry is a lot smaller than you think so think twice before you go pissing someone off.

Obviously there are many more lessons to be learned but these were just a few that kept hitting me over the head until finally they stuck.

Thanks for reading!

-MARMS