How to go pro/choosing a mentor ? (Kinda long)

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daniellec.parker's picture
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How to go pro/choosing a mentor ? (Kinda long)

I know there are a few of you on here who are professional photographers. I have always enjoyed photography, and when I was in high school I very seriously considered going to college for it--- not that I felt I was great by any means. It's something I enjoy, and felt that with time, practice, and an education I could become great at.

When Alaina and Aiden were born, I picked it up as a more serious hobby. As you all know I joined this board and have been working hard to improve myself. I've taken courses, and have signed up for more this summer. By next spring/summer I will have completed all of the courses required for the photography certificate from our local college. (SO excited about that!)

With the expected arrival of baby #3, I have been doing a lot of searching for newborn images, how to's on posing, editing, etc. There is nothing cuter than a fresh, wrinkly baby. They melt my heart. I have heard from several aspiring photographers in my classes and online that shooting newborns is no easy task---- And I can well imagine that. But after taking those pictures of little Adam last weekend, it's ALL I can think about. He was such an angel, and overall very easy to work with. I know I got lucky with that. And yes, we had a few messes. But I had SO MUCH FUN! I can't wait until I have the opportunity to do it again.

I feel like I have finally found my (professional) calling... While many things are interesting to me and I am capable of working in different fields, I have never felt the passion for those things like I do for photography--specifically newborn and maternity. The one thing I have wanted all of my life is to be a Mommy. It just seems right for me to use the essence of my greatest passion/calling (motherhood) to fuel my second passion, photography.

After looking through all of the images I captured, I have identified several areas in which I would like a chance to improve on. But without marketing myself as a newborn photographer, I don't see how I will have the chance to do so and build my portfolio. I don't know anyone else IRL who is expecting, or hoping/planning on having a baby. I am leery of putting my name out there because I feel like my pictures aren't good enough to be called professional. Bottom line, I need more experience and training.

I would like to look for someone to possibly be my mentor, but know I'll have to look outside of the Mobile area. I don't want to ask someone that I would become competition for ya know? Then when I find someone, I wouldn't even know how to approach her/him. Also I am approached with the fact that in order to have the time needed to become as dedicated as I would like to be, I would have to quit my job. While I do enjoy what I do and the people I work with, it's just a job. Just a job that brings in money we need though... Not that ALL of my income is needed, but enough of it is that I worry about quitting for something I fear might take a while to generate new income for us.

For those of you who are pro, or are in the process of going pro... do you have any tips? I know that it will take time to build a name for myself. It will depend a lot on my skill and then on marketing/word of mouth. I went to school for marketing/public relations, so I have plenty of ideas for that part.

So I guess it all comes down to this: I need to market in order to have the opportunity to build my portfolio/improve myself. But I need to build my portfolio/improve my skill for the marketing to be the most effective. HOW do I go about balancing these two and getting out there?

P.S. Thanks for reading if you made it this far. Wink

EL2
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Have you looked into ILP or Clickin' moms or other boards that have professional outlet? There is a lot of information on both website I mentioned.

Not sure how to help since I don't think that I will ever go fully into business. I do some stuff for friends and families I know if they ask me, but I don't advertise. It actually took me from 2008 until now to apply for advance thru ILP, just because I was portfolio building and making sure I understood what I was doing... lol... I am a slow learner.

I know some folks that advertised thru craigslist - but leery and make sure you have a contract in place when you do stranger shoots.

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Real quick reply, but you may want to look into The Milky Way on Facebook. It's the lady from Milk and Honey photography, and she is quite good. Lots of resources for photographers and she hosts workshops.

Besides that, Clickin Moms has lots of online resources, and pros who will give you critique. ILP is another one as well, and I know they are trying to start up their education center. Good luck!!