So, you decided to buy yourself a dSLR camera for your birthday?! You have no idea how that one gift to yourself is going to change your life.
You are going to be amazed at how the images look straight out of the camera compared to your little point and shoot. Do you feel that curiosity? Soak it up. This is the fuel that will push you to the next level.
When you’ve mastered turning the camera on and off, buy a book to learn all of those other buttons. I know you’re tired after teaching all day, and chasing a 1-year-old all evening, but take the time while he sleeps to read and practice those settings. Shooting in manual will seem impossible right now, but what you are learning, will give you the confidence to keep trying.
Have you heard everyone talking about Project 365? Do it. Using your camera everyday is the single best thing you can do right now to take your photography to the next level. Post your pictures online. They aren’t perfect and that’s ok. Sharing your images will show others your passion.
In the near future, someone is going to ask you to take pictures of their newborn. It’s going to be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done. You will show up with your camera and a big basket with a soft pillow inside and the expectation that you will lay the baby down and she will sleep. You’re going to leave, get in your car, call your husband and tell him newborn photography just isn’t your thing. I know you aren’t a quitter though. This is going to challenge you, and because of that, you are going to make it your mission to learn how to photograph newborns.
Call in sick at work and take the local photography workshop when you hear about it. Seeing “behind the scenes” of a real newborn photo shoot will teach you more than anything you “google.”
Throw your kit lens away and buy that 50mm f/1.8 lens you’ve heard so much about. You know how you keep trying to create those blurry backgrounds in photoshop? That’s called bokeh. It’s actually created in camera by shooting wide open with a low aperture. You’re welcome. That piece of advice will save you months of research.
On your next newborn session, you will show up with more confidence and definitely more props. You will be proud of these pictures.
You’re going to have a daughter. Buy those special newborn accessories you’ve been eyeing so when you bring her home you have new props to use for her. She’s going to grow up to be your mini-me and your model for almost every new idea you have in your photography business. She has your spirit but that’s a whole other letter.
Practice. Practice. Practice.
You’re going to burn out during these years. Remember why you started and know that your greatest frustrations typically precede your biggest breakthroughs.
Charge prices that justify the time away from your family.
Attend as many conferences and workshops as you can. They will renew you. Hold tightly to the excitement you have when you leave.
You’re going to get tired loading your car for “baby boy shoot” or “baby girl shoot.” You’re going to wonder how you accumulated so much STUFF for newborn photography and how you made it to a shoot without an SUV. You’re even going to arrive to an out of town shoot one time and realize just before you reach their driveway that you packed for the wrong gender. Thank goodness you are always 20 minutes early to everything and there is a Wal-mart near by!
Not all homes are created equally, and you will face new challenges such as space and inadequate lighting conditions. Don’t stress, you’re going to open your own studio. You’re going to make photography friends and learn off camera lighting from them. Understanding lighting will speed up your editing and give your photos an entirely new look.
You are going to laugh about the irony that you now shoot newborns more than any other type of session. What’s even more ironic is that you love these sessions and couldn’t imagine not being a newborn photographer. You will master learning to read those sweet little babies and smile when the “Moms and Dads” call you the baby whisperer and ask if they can take you home.
That first newborn session will seem so far away, but my how you will grow in that time.