Armin DeFiesta is a Washington, D.C. wedding photographer. We first read about DeFiesta’s work on the Profoto blog. Here’s his five photography tips, as written by him.
Read ’em all after the jump, plus see one of his images.
- Permits are a popular topic among photographers. The general rule is that if it’s a public street or location, you probably do not need one. “Shoot first and ask for forgiveness later.” However, sometimes an interruption by Police or Security is not something you can afford to have with your clients on location. If you ever plan on shooting in the DC area where I am, or any National Park and/or National monument that involves high profile subjects (e.g., wedding parties, models, etc), lighting gear and assistants, always inquire ahead of time about permits. You can find more info on the National Park Service site. NPS Rangers and Park Police are especially aggressive around the popular downtown D.C. monuments such as the Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson Memorials.
- Never underprice or undervalue your work in this changing and competitive market. With the ongoing rise of SLR owners entering the market, the competition is growing exponentially. At the same time many of these new SLR owners are marketing themselves as photographers and undercutting the professionals in pricing. In such a market it’s easy to consider lowering your fees and making concessions just to stay in the running. In the end, that could potentially hurt your brand and value in the market place. The impact on the value of photography is evident. Many customers are purchasing inexpensive, and some fairly decent photos from stock, instead of the sometimes more expensive option of hiring an independent photographer or studio for a more personalized and customized service. In the wedding industry, customers are seeing so many more choices these days of photographers to choose from that it’s becoming a bidding war among photographers. If you want to try to continue making living in photography, do your best to understand market trends and find ways to adapt your business and set yourself apart from “stock” work and your competitors. And be patient because the process may not happen overnight.
- Always take the time to photograph for yourself. I know it’s important to find the next job, book the next wedding, or submit the best photos to your editor so you can pay the bills. But don’t forget why you got into this in the first place—probably because you enjoy the art of photography! Taking time to shoot for yourself is good for the soul, whether a personal project or just something fun to do with a group of fellow photographers, it helps avoid burn-out. Not to mention you might get some great photos to add to your portfolio which could lead to paying jobs anyway.
- If you’re a wedding photographer, you’re in a referral business. Focus on your best clients who have a good habit of referring you to future and paying clients. Send them anniversary cards, thank you gifts, credit towards future photo shoots (e.g., family portraits). Wedding photography is a referral business in which you’re always thinking about your income several months ahead. Let’s not forget networking with key wedding industry vendors, especially wedding/event coordinators. These folks love working with and recommending not only great photographers, but professional and reliable photographers. Cultivating important relationships like these can be important to your business’ survival.
- There are dozens and dozens of get-rich-with-your-pics products and services out there. From intellectual property to instructional DVDs to workshops to the latest gadget to grow your business, some are legitimately helpful, some might not be of value to you. Before investing a chunk of money in them, talk to fellow photographers who’ve already checked them out. Then ask yourself if it will help you grow your business and result in a profitable business plan and marketing strategy.