Monthly Archives: August 2014

7 More Tips for Your First Wedding Photography Job

Are you starting out in wedding photography and need some pointers? I have recently written two posts for people beginning in wedding photography. If you’d like to read those posts you can find them here.

Readers of those posts have asked me to add more tips for new wedding photographers – so here are 7 more tips for your first wedding photography job.

Tip #1 – Use Multiple Lenses. If you are shooting a wedding for the very first time, you possibly don’t have a wide range of camera bodies and lenses. If that’s the case, keep in mind that your images are going to have a level of ‘sameness’ about them if you only use one lens. You can’t expect a single lens to create a broad range of image types. So if you have limited gear, make sure you have at least 2-3 lenses on hand and that you have experience using them.

Tip #2 – Keep Cool and Calm, Manage Yourself. At a wedding, you will be judged on your behavior and the way you ‘carry yourself’. Only afterwards will you be judged on the images you produce. Every now and then you hear a wedding photographer horror story where guests say the photographer was rude or inconsiderate. Keep cool and calm. If you’ve just shot 6 horrible images in a row, nobody needs to know that. Remain calm and relaxed, position yourself and your subject and shoot the images again. Don’t panic, you are allowed to have plenty of ‘duds’ for your few ‘winners’. Make sure you present a calm, confident demeanor to guests. Keep cool. Keep calm. Manage yourself.

Wedding photography

Manage your clients expectations. Make sure the bride knows where you’ll be and when

Tip #3 – Manage Your Clients Expectations. As well as managing yourself, you will be wise to manage your bride and grooms expectations. Agree with them in advance where you will be and when. And then be in the right place at the right time. I put special emphasis on making sure the bride knows what will happen to her wedding photos after the big day. I tell her how long it will be until I am in touch with her, and what I will need her to do then. Make sure she knows what the process and timeframe is. Then stick to the process and timeframe. Manage your clients expectations.

Tip #4 – Change Cameras Not Lenses. In Tip #1 I suggested you are going to need multiple lenses to create a variety of images. You should definitely have more than one camera body. There are two reasons this is critical. Firstly, if you only have one camera body you run the risk that if you have any technical fault with the camera, you will be standing watching the ceremony unable to take any images. So the first reason to have an extra camera body – it is insurance against anything going wrong. Secondly, with 2 cameras, you won’t need to be constantly changing lenses. Simply pick up your other camera body and shoot a different style of image. If you can’t justify buying a second camera body at this stage, borrow one from a friend. It is worth it. Change cameras, not lenses.

Wedding photography

Kids can offer you great candid moments.

Tip #5 – Shoot Candids and Posed Images. When I speak to couples before the wedding, most of our discussions focus on the family formal pictures, the bridal party images, and the bride and groom images. We talk about style of image, location, and timings. We figure out the logistics of how to get between the locations. They are important discussions. When I present images to the bride and groom, more often than not, the ones that get the most emotional response are the candid images. Often it will be a moment, a hug, a facial expression. The couple normally can’t remember that exact moment until they see the image. Look for special moments and strong emotions. The mother of the bride crying, the bride embracing her grandmother, the grooms dad congratulating him with a bear hug. The raw emotion will be in the candid shots. Shoot both candid and posed images.

Tip #6 – Be Ready for Referral Opportunities. Weddings are a fantastic source of referrals for a photographer. At almost every wedding, I have people wanting to talk to me, either because they are photography enthusiasts or they have a photography need. Both can make for very interesting conversations. Take time to talk to people. Don’t brush them off because you are too busy or too stressed. Have your business cards in your shirt pocket, so if a wedding guest has a genuine photographic need, you can hand them a card and solve their problem. Be prepared. Weddings are a great source of referrals.

Wedding photography

Remember to congratulate the bride and groom

Tip #7 – Congratulate the Bride and Groom. What is the first thing you should do when you speak to the bride and groom after the ceremony? Is it to organize the family formals? Is it to ask where the best man is so he can assist you? Is it to ask what time the car will pick them up? No, it’s none of these! The first moment you get a chance, walk up to the bride and groom and say to them “Congratulations! That was a lovely ceremony.” It is a great thing to do and your clients will appreciate it. Human first, photographer second.

So there we are, 7 more tips for your first wedding photography job. Please let me know your comments by adding a comment to this post, or emailing me at And thanks to all the readers who emailed me after the first 7 tips.

If you’d like to automatically receive a weekly update from Beyond Here please sign up by adding your email address at the top of this page. Thank you for reading 7 more tips for your first wedding photography job.

7 Tips for Your First Wedding Photography Job

Number 7Last weekend I photographed a lovely wedding in the Yarra Valley in Victoria, Australia. I had a talented photographer assisting me – it was her first wedding photography job. Like all weddings, it was a challenging, exciting, and tiring day. We discussed many elements of shooting a wedding in the days prior, and on the day of the wedding. Today I condensed these into tips for your first wedding photography job. I listed all the tips and have come up with 28! But lets start with 7 tips for your first wedding photography job. Depending on reader feedback, I will add extra posts with additional tips.

Tip #1 – Expect a Long and Tiring Day. Wedding photography is often an all day event and you need to prepare for a long day. This weekend, we started at the bride’s house at 11am and left the reception just after 10.30pm. Expect a long day and pace yourself. Take something with you to eat. Drink plenty of water. Don’t expect the couple to provide everything for you. We took snacks and drinks in the car and had them as we travelled.

Tip #2 – Fit With the Couples Needs. I previously wrote a post called Preparing For Wedding Photography Success where I talked about the importance of knowing your client and what they want on their wedding day. You need to have prepared for this in advance. If the couple don’t like posed kissing shots – don’t ask them to pose and kiss. Fit in with what they want. If they want informal, documentary style wedding photography – that’s what you need to deliver. If formal family portraits are important to them – make sure you shoot formal family portraits. Deliver what the couple wants with your own unique approach.


Surprise the bride and groom with a special image or print

Tip #3 – Know Where Your Gear Is. Weddings are busy. You will be carrying your gear and putting it down. Picking it up again, moving, putting it down again. It is critical to know where you gear is at all times. I carry a fairly small bag with all the equipment I expect to use in it. I have back up gear and additional equipment which I leave in the car. In my bag – each piece of equipment stays in one place. If I need additional batteries I know where they are. If I need a new memory card, I know where they are. If I need a different lens – it has its place and I know where to find it. Earlier this year I was at a wedding where the photographer was about to leave the bride’s house to go to the ceremony. He suddenly realized that he didn’t have his 70-200mm f2.8 lens with him. It wasn’t in his bag – he had left it in the bride’s house. The bride had locked the door when she left and the photographer couldn’t get back in. After several frantic phone calls, he got a key from a neighbor and was able to retrieve his lens. A happy ending to a very stressful few minutes. Once you have finished using a piece of equipment put it back in your bag – don’t leave it on the kitchen bench.

Tip #4 – Change Memory Cards and Batteries During Down Times. It looks really unprofessional to change your batteries or memory cards at a key moment in the wedding day – particularly during the ceremony. Change batteries and memory cards during the down times. For example, when you have shot all the ‘getting ready’ images and are driving to the ceremony – this is an ideal time to change batteries and memory cards. You don’t want to have a full memory card a moment before the couple are pronounced man and wife!

Tip #5 – Don’t Overshoot. It is an easy mistake for a beginner to make to overshoot – that is to take too many images. For example, when the bride is getting ready and doing her hair and make up, you need only a few key images. There is no point in having 50 shots of her hair being done if you are only going to use 1 in the album. Take the key shots you need. When you are confident you have an ‘A grade’ image, move on or take a quick break. Don’t overshoot.

Make Up

Don’t overshoot. Get your key shots and move on.

Plan sign

Plan your travel times and leave a buffer

Tip #6 – Plan Your Travel Times and Leave a Buffer. Travelling between locations can be very stressful if you don’t allow enough time. Last weekend, we started at the bride’s house, then traveled to where the groom was getting ready, went back to the bride’s house, and on to the venue for the ceremony and reception. They were all within fairly close proximity and so it was not too difficult. For a 30 minute drive I allow 40 minutes. Then a small delay in traffic or through road works are not enough to stress me out. Plan more time than you really need. Then you can check your shot list before you walk into the next venue.

Tip #7 – Surprise the Bride and Groom. I like to provide a positive surprise for the bride and groom to finish their wedding day. At the end of the day they will be feeling a sense of tiredness, relief, and excitement. I know some photographers who surprise them with a print. They take an image early in the day, and while the ceremony happens, they are having a print made. At the end of the reception the photographer presents it to them. I like to get home and pick a few key images. I quickly edit them and email them to the bride. She has a high quality image to show friends and family the next day. Often that image gets posted on social media the next day or carried on a smart phone and shown to friends and family during the honeymoon.

So there we are – 7 tips for your first wedding photography job. Please let me know your comments by adding a comment to this post, or emailing me at I have 21 more tips to follow!

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Preparing for Wedding Photography Success

Wedding photography can be challenging, exciting, stressful, exhilarating, and exhausting – all at once! I am shooting another wedding this weekend and have spent time making sure that I have everything in place to be able to perform at my best on the day. The more preparation I do before the wedding day, the less I have to worry about, and the better my images are. Rather than hoping for the best, I focus on preparing for wedding photography success. Here are some tips which might be useful to you.

Wedding Photography

Taking time to understand what your client is looking for is important

Sorry if you were hoping this would be a “what’s in the wedding photographer’s bag” type post. Instead, I’ve condensed my preparation into 7 checkpoints.

Checkpoint 1 – Do you really know your client?

Wedding Photography

Meeting your client face to face helps to establish a relationship and helps you understand what they are looking for

Where it is possible I like to meet face to face with my client at the time they are selecting a photographer. It gives me a chance to make a personal connection with the bride and groom, to understand the dynamic between the couple, and to focus on what is important to them in their wedding photography. The couple I am shooting for this coming weekend, I met over a year ago at their home. We spent time discussing the wedding day and what was important to them. They are ‘car people’ and even showed me around the vehicles in the garage (this was a good sign they were planning to book me!). In the last 2 months I have been in touch with them via email and phone to understand how the wedding planning was going. Last weekend I visited them to go through the timings for the day and to re-visit the notes I made a year ago. I now have a good understanding of what is important to them, and am looking forward to the wedding.

Checkpoint 2 – Is the paperwork in order?

If you are thinking ‘what paperwork?’ you may need to do more preparation before launching your wedding photography career. It is ok to shoot your friends wedding without a contract, but for all other clients you will need a contract. Included are the terms and conditions of payment. My clients for this weekend have had a copy of their contract for over a year. They signed it at the time of the booking and paid in full 4 weeks ago. During the wedding I won’t be wondering if I am going to get paid. Don’t over look this checkpoint – it is key to preparing for wedding photography success and will go a long way to ensuring financial success as well as photographic success.

Checkpoint 3 – Have you visited the venues?

Wedding photography

Visiting the venue lets you plan your key shots

It is very important to have visited the venue for the wedding in advance. It gives you time to look around and plan for where your key shots will take place. At the venue I will be shooting at next weekend, they display a range of sample albums. Looking through them also gave me some great ideas which other photographers have used. I now feel well prepared – particularly to make the most of the short time between the end of the ceremony and the start of the reception. I know which camera body and which lens I will be using at each location on the property. I know the style of shot which will suit my client. I know where my assistant will be and what she will be doing.

Checkpoint 4 – Are the logistics sorted out?

By logistics, I mean some of the practicalities of the day. For next weekends wedding there is a small chapel at the bottom of the property, and the reception venue is several hundred metres away. Thinking through the logistics, I will park the car near the chapel, as I will need to grab the step ladder for the ‘all guest’ shot. Rather than driving and re-parking I will walk up to the reception venue. No stress, I know where the car is. Car parking is just one element of the logistics. The more you can consider in advance, the less stress you will have on the day. Less stress generally means better images and happier clients.

Checkpoint 5 – Do you know the wedding party’s names?

The wedding party aren’t directly your clients, but they are normally family or the best friends of the bride and groom. Often they are lifelong friends. Taking the time to learn their names and using them, is one small way to show the bride and groom that you care about them and their day. It is not hard. I am looking forward to meeting Spiro – the best man – this weekend. If I strike up a good relationship with him early on the day, I might ask him to help with ‘crowd control’ after the ceremony. Often the best man loves to play a key role and it helps deal with his nerves if he is making a speech at the reception.

Checkpoint 6 – Which are the key shots?

It is easy to think on a wedding day that they are all key shots. What I mean here is, which are the shots you plan in advance which you anticipate the bride and groom will print and hang on their walls at home? Which shots capture the venue, the couple, and the day all in one? Based on what you know is important to the couple, which shots are going to mean the most to them? For my couple this weekend it will involve the grooms vehicle and driving into the future together. There will also be shots of the wedding party, candid moments, the ceremony, the guests, family formals, and kids being kids – but I anticipate the ‘winning shots’ to involve the bride and groom and the car. It will show their love for one another, a beautiful venue, and their passion for motor vehicles.

Checkpoint 7 – What is the weather forecast?

Wedding Photography

Checking the weather forecast gives you time to plan indoor and outdoor shots

If your wedding involves shooting outdoors during any part of the day, you will need to consider in advance what the weather forecast is. You can’t rely on beautiful soft light from a bright cloudy day for every wedding you shoot. What is the plan if there is bright sunlight? Or pouring rain? Or both within a few hours? Have you spoken to the venue to ask their advice on wet weather options? Late August can bring some very changeable and cold weather in Melbourne, Australia. Fortunately the forecast for this weekend is sunny, clear and cool. It should mean flexibility to shoot both indoor and outdoor images throughout the day. (I hope it is the same for the wedding I am shooting the following weekend!!)

I am a strong believer in preparing for wedding photography success. The more elements I have planned for in advance, the more I will be able to focus on photography on the big day. You don’t have to use my checklist, but I encourage you to plan in advance. Having a system in place gives you the best chance to shoot great wedding images and enjoy yourself at the same time. Invest the time in preparing for wedding photography success!

Simple Stock Concepts

Earlier this week I wrote a post called Starting in Stock Photography. I have had several people contact me who, since reading that post, have opened microstock photography accounts and become approved contributors. How very cool! Within a week, they have gone from enthusiasts – to being able to generate an income from their images. This post looks at where to next, starting with simple stock concepts.

When your first become an approved microstock contributor there is a tendency to want to upload all the images that sit on your hard drive – pictures of flowers, trees, landscapes, and anything else you have. There is a perception that it will just be a matter of uploading those images and waiting for the money to roll in. Danger sign! While it can feel like progress to have images in your account, most contributors find that this burst of energy produces very few downloads.

So, what should you do?

Stock photography has a huge range of uses. Many of those are websites or print material which help to tell a story. Images which help to tell a story are going to do better than plain landscapes or pictures of flowers.

Let’s look at some simple stock concepts and images.

Stock Photo

A simple stock concept, bullying

The first image is one which shows a concept of bullying. It was shot outdoor, on a cloudy day. This is a simple image of a much-talked-about topic. The subject is clear, and the message is clear. Some space around the subject also gives room for a graphic designer to crop the image or to add some text on the wall to the left. Don’t think that a successful stock image has to be a masterpiece, simple stock concepts executed well are the key. I have used this image on Beyond Here before. It is a good example of a simple stock concept. It was shot and uploaded in 2012 and has been downloaded more than 400 times.


Finance concept

In the second sample image – I chose to show an example which doesn’t involve a model. Stock images can be shot with household objects and simple lighting. This shot did use a studio soft box, but could have used a lamp or window to light the subject. It was shot with a macro lens, and with a black sheet as the background. Finance and business themed images are popular.


Concept – blue collar worker on strike

The third image is a more specific theme, a blue collar worker on strike. The models clothing has been themed appropriately. Again, this is a simple image which communicates a clear message. This style of image will be slightly more challenging for the beginner to achieve as it involves multiple light sources. When you are ready to move on to having different light sources, have a look at this post to learn how to shoot this image.



Household objects can be used to create stock images

The fourth image utilizes ‘props’ which you can find at home. This is a normal kitchen jar, some money, and a sticky note. The blue background is a poster size piece of paper. In this case the lighting comes from studio soft boxes, but a similar look can be achieved by placing the subject and background near a large window.

Rather than uploading all the old images sitting around on your computer, I recommend:

  • thinking up image concepts
  • research what is already available in image libraries
  • focus on shooting clear, simple images which tell a story
  • repeat this process!

If you have questions from this post, please leave a comment. If you would like to receive a weekly email from Beyond Here please sign up in the box at the top right of this page.

I’m excited that people who read last week’s post have taken action and set up their own microstock accounts. I hope this post helps them in the next step – building a portfolio and generating their first downloads. Good luck in shooting simple stock concepts!


Starting in Stock Photography

This weekend I commented on an interesting post in a Facebook group. This led to a series of private messages asking me about starting in stock photography. While earlier posts on Beyond Here have covered elements of stock photography, I haven’t written a post for people considering getting started. So here it is – starting in stock photography.

First, let me tell you about the Facebook group. I am not a big Facebook user – you can find me at Craig Dingle Photography Pty Ltd – but have recently joined a forum called Aussie Photography. It is very impressive for the quality of images posted, but more for the positive environment created by the members. It must be very well moderated to achieve such a positive, helpful group. I encourage you to check it out, whether or not you live in Australia.

In that group I commented on a post where the member was inquiring about how to deal with issues associated with client cancellations. The photographer was doing 5-7 shoots per week but seemed to be struggling with cash flow. I suggested stock as one way to generate a steady cashflow. That lead to a wave of private mail messages. They were mainly asking for more detail about stock photography and how to get started.


Simple concepts can do very well as stock images

How Does Stock Photography Work?

Stock photography works on the principal that it will be easier and more cost effective to buy an existing image than to get a photographer to shoot a new one. For example, if you need an image of a koala, you can buy one for less than $20. That is going to be cheaper and quicker than getting a photographer to shoot a new image for you.

From the photographers point of view, the stock photography model works on the basis of generating a high number of downloads (sales) for a relatively small amount per download. And again, in the case of the koala image, the photographer uploads the image to the stock photography site, and that image can be downloaded by multiple buyers. I have images dating back to 2008 in my stock portfolio. It seems amazing that images taken back then are still generating an income for me.

Micro Stock Photography

A significant income is possible through stock photography

How Much Income is Possible?

This was the most common question I received after the Facebook post. Of course, the answer is – the sky is the limit. There are people generating hundreds of thousands of dollars per annum via stock photography. They are in the minority. But it is a pity that most of the people I swapped messages with today had a view that you couldn’t make real money in stock photography. It is possible to make a significant income, but it will start out small, and it will require persistence. I have uploaded over 1000 images per year for 6 years now. I am not in the top echelon of stock photographers, but have generated an income well in excess of 5 figures per annum for the last 3 years. I expect to be able to maintain that level, as outlined in this post.

What Type of Images are Popular?

This was the second most asked question after my Facebook post. It is not an easy one to answer. If you look on a stock photography site, you can search nearly any subject and find images with hundreds of downloads. Try, diced tomatoes, for some really well lit and successful stock images. Pick another obscure subject and you will find the same.

That said, if you can shoot images with a clear theme they have a good chance to be downloaded. Again, search a stock site for ‘global warming’, or ‘workplace bullying’ or just ‘bullying’. You will find clearly themed, well executed images which have been downloaded many, many times. Nice.

What if you don’t want to shoot images like those? Well, study the type of images you do like to shoot, and see what sells. I can tell you in advance that simple, plain, uneventful landscapes will not be popular. There are just too many of them. But, if you have landscapes that are very well lit, or contain iconic content (like the Sydney Opera House), they have a good chance to do well. (The Sydney Opera House can only be used in editorial images – I will explain that in another post).

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

When people are starting in stock photography – I encourage them to shoot the type of images they like. If they are wildlife shooters – shoot wildlife. If you like shooting architecture, shoot architecture. Got the idea? As your skill level and success grow you will find other areas of interest that have a market.

What’s My Story?

I got started in stock photography in 2008. At that time, I wasn’t very successful but I could see the power of being able to shoot an image once, and have it downloaded for years afterwards. In many ways, stock photography is a form of passive income. Make the effort to shoot the image once, and get paid multiple times.

Like many stock photographers, it took me a long time to come to grips with the quality standards and to understand what types of images would sell. I like to shoot wildlife and first came across some success when shooting images of flying foxes. They are popular in the lead up to Halloween each year. While it is a fairly small market, I was able to do well by shooting a wide range of flying fox images and uploading them in the weeks before Halloween. At that time, there wasn’t much competition either – that has changed now.


I have been successful with Flying Fox images at Halloween

Today I have over 6000 images available to be downloaded. My most successful files are of people doing something and with a clear theme. (I still shoot and upload wildlife images, mainly because I like to).

What Stock Sites Should You Consider?

There are a growing number of stock sites where you can upload your work. But I would suggest starting in stock photography with the largest and best known sites because they have the most buyers. I suggest Shutterstock, Dreamstime, and iStockphoto. (You can find a link to iStockphoto on the right hand side on each page of this blog).

Each of these sites have millions of files available. Do a search on a topic that interests you. What is there? How can you add different files? Is there something to learn from the files which are successful?

What About Model Releases?

Where ever a stock image contains recognizable people, it will require a model release to be accepted by the stock library. A model release is a document that provides permission to use the person’s image. Model release templates are available from all the major stock photography sites. You simply download, complete, sign, and upload the release with your image. They are not hard – and once you are familiar with them they are straightforward.

Is Stock Photography Easy?

Starting in stock photography is easy. You just go to a stock photography site and open an account. Try, you will have it done in just a few minutes. But succeeding in stock photography is not easy. There is lots of competition and you need a large number of downloads to generate a meaningful income. That generally means you need a large number of files, and that takes time, skill, and persistence.

Can Anyone do It?

I believe anyone can succeed in stock photography (I can hear people criticizing that statement already!) One thing all successful stock photographers have in common is persistence. They research image concepts, shoot quality images, and repeat the process. They keep at it. Over time they build a large and diversified portfolio. They don’t give up. Persistence is the key.

Where to From Here?

I’ve tried to keep this post simple. If you have questions, please add a comment to this post. I will do my best to answer them for you. If you would like to receive a weekly update of popular posts on Beyond Here, please go to the top right of this page and sign up.

Give Me More!

If you are ready to get cracking, consider this ebook called Build a Five Figure Income in Your Spare Time through microstock photography. It is available to download for $5.

Thanks for reading this post. I wish you success as you are starting in stock photography!!

My Home Town Favorites

Today’s post is about some of my home town favorites – special places in Melbourne, Australia that offer great opportunities for a photographer. Melbourne is a super place to live with lots of very good photography spots. It was hard to limit it to 5 places – but maybe I’ll write another post with another 5 one day. So, where are my home town favorites?

Melbourne is known for hosting great sporting events (among other things!) There is:

  • Melbourne Cricket Ground which hosts cricket test matches and AFL football
  • Etihad Stadium which hosts AFL football, and occasional soccer, rugby, rugby league games
  • Rod Laver Arena which hosts the Australian Open Tennis tournament every January, and
  • Albert Park Lake which the Australian Grand Prix races around

But none of those places have made this list of my home town favorites. So what has made the list?

Brighton Beach. Brighton is a well known suburb next to the beach in the city’s south east. It is well known for the colorful bathing boxes along the beach. They are great to photograph particularly at sunrise and sunset. They can also look great during a storm. As well as the bathing boxes, the beach provides great photo opportunities. I particularly like sunset in the summer time. Low tide can mean great silhouettes of people walking on the beach with the sun setting behind them.

Brighton Beach

Brighton Beach. Summer, sunset.

Yarra Bend Park. This large park area is just 4 kilometers from the city center. It is an extensive area which includes picnic areas, walking tracks, and a golf course. There is a road through the park area, and car parking available. At one spot, there are great views back to the city. On most evenings in the summer you will find people have stopped to see sunsets like this.


Melbourne cityscape taken from Yarra Bend Park

Yarra Bend Park. Yes, Yarra Bend Park again! It is a big park area. On one side are views of the city, and in another area is the Yarra River. Here you can see these spectacular flying foxes. There is a very large colony of them. This place featured in a previous post called Favorite Wildlife Photography Locations.

Yarra Bend Park

There is a large colony of grey headed flying foxes in Yarra Bend Park

City walks along the Yarra River. The Southbank area next to the Yarra River is a great place to shop, walk, and eat. There are a large range of good restaurants, coffee shops and places to relax near the river. For the photographer, there are also great views of the city buildings. Take a walk anywhere from South Wharf right through to the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Both sides of the river provide great views, with several bridges to go across when you are ready.


Melbourne city from Southbank

Wedding Venues. Melbourne is blessed with some lovely wedding venues. Some of my favorites are in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges which highlight beautiful bushland just outside the main city areas. But my (current) favorite wedding venue is an inner city venue – St Michaels Church on Collins St. I shot a wedding there in October 2013 and it offers so many options in close proximity. The church itself is a magnificent building. Within a short walking distance are inner city laneways, classic tramways, parliament building, funky coffee shops and restaurants, the Yarra River, Federation Square, and Flinders Street Station. This shot is taken just behind the church. Melbourne’s famous weather added the light rain which helped reflect the brides dress. Nice one!


Melbourne has some great inner city wedding photo locations

These are my home town favorites. Do you have home town favorites to share?

Part Time Paradigm

Better backgrounds

There are a growing number of photographers choosing to operate on a part time basis

There was a time when the difference between a professional photographer and an amateur was that a professional got paid and an amateur did not. Times have changed and the lines between the two have blurred. Professional now refers to a quality of work, not whether you get paid. There are many people who generate professional quality photography work, but have a main income from another source. When I was growing up, if you wanted to be considered a professional photographer, then photography had to be your main vocation. Again, times have changed. Today there are many photographers whose main source of income is from non-photography work but their work is of professional standard – I call this the Part Time Paradigm.

I have recently read David Du Chemin’s book – VisionMongers – which addresses the issue of ‘making a life and a living in photography’. It is an excellent book. In the early chapters it considers the issues around whether or not to make photography your primary vocation. He explains that it is not easy to make a living in photography, and gives some great examples of people who are succeeding. This week, I’ve also read a post on The Digital Photography School which considers the benefits of part time photography. Both of these have lead me to today’s post on Beyond Here.

Is the Part Time Paradigm real?

Often people consider how well a photography business is doing by whether the photographer is conducting their photography business full time, or how much work the photographer has, or how many staff the photographer has. I come across this thinking nearly every week, and only in the last year have I realized the power and the benefits of part time business. The Part Time Paradigm is real, and lots of photographers are living it. Maybe you should consider it too.

What does it look like?

Money laundering

The benefits of the part time paradigm are more than financial

Firstly, the photographer has another source of income, normally from a job. This provides them with a steady income and lets them operate their photography business outside of their job commitments. Secondly, there is a range of photography work they can be doing – stock, wedding, family portrait, landscape … the list goes on. Thirdly, whether they are ‘professional’ or not now has a mixed meaning. It could refer to how they conduct their business, or the quality of work they are producing. Importantly, it doesn’t refer to whether they get paid or not, or whether that is the only way they spend their working week.

Why operate like this?

The main reason for operating in the part time paradigm is often overlooked. It is possible to be passionate about photography and have an interest in something else. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Think about it for a moment, a doctor might love photography, and it doesn’t mean they hate being a doctor. Equally a bus driver can love driving buses and love photography. When I boil it down, professions used to define us. This made it hard to change. Today, your profession doesn’t have to define you. You can change. You can be a doctor today and a photographer tomorrow. Or you can be both at the same time.

Interestingly there is still a line of thinking that you can’t be taken seriously unless you are operating as a full time photographer. To me, this is a notion of the past and thousands of photographers are living the part time paradigm. Perhaps a lot more should?

What are the benefits of the part time paradigm?

The benefits of the part time paradigm include:

  • financial stability by having multiple sources of income.
  • you can invest in equipment not promotional material. For full time photographers, it is very hard to justify investing in equipment compared with investing in promotional material to generate more business. In the part time paradigm you don’t have this conflict, you can buy the gear you want.
  • effort can vary. A full time photographer needs work year round and generally won’t go for very long without camera in hand. The part time photographer can vary their work with the season or with their mood. They can dip in and out. Work lots this month, take next month off.
  • you can stay true to your creative vision. Under the part time paradigm you do not have to shoot family portraits on the weekend to keep money coming in. If landscapes at sunrise are your one true love, that’s all you have to shoot in the part time paradigm
  • being able to live a life of variety. It is possible and legitimate to love photography and love something else. It is possible to do both. Shoot weddings all summer, focus on your other interests all winter.

Do you believe you have to operate full time to be a successful photographer? What’s your take on the Part Time Paradigm?

Selling Prints Online

This post looks at the topic of selling prints online as a way to generate an income from your images. This comes on top of recent articles which looked at building financial success through photography. Those posts are here:

There are a range of e-business opportunities available to photographers today. I have contributed to microstock agencies since 2008 as a key way to generate income from my images. That has been productive and financially successful for me. Since mid 2013, I have also been selling prints online through Fine Art America. This post covers my experience and lessons learned. (Follow this link to see my portfolio on Fine Art America)

Selling prints online

Selling prints online is a straightforward process. It suits photographers who prefer for someone else to find the end customer, while they get on with shooting

How does it work?

Fine Art America’s website is very easy to use. After setting up your account, you upload your images, add titles, add descriptions, and add key words. These are so that your image (or artwork) can be found by users of the site. One key element that is different from microstock is that you get to set your own prices – which effectively means you set your own margins. Nice. This is also a straightforward process and is done quickly and easily. Set your prices high to make higher margins but likely low sales volumes. And set your prices lower to make lower margins but likely higher sales volumes.

What do users do?

Rather than downloading an image for use, users of Fine Art America order a product made with your image. While I have titled this post Selling Prints Online, users can order a range of different products with your images on them – not just prints (smart phone covers are one clever use and is a large, emerging market). In short, rather than receiving your image electronically, the end user receives a physical product with your image on it.

Why does this work?

Selling prints online works well for photographers who want someone else to find customers for them. In this case Fine Art America generates traffic to the site, to buy prints of your images. This is ideal for photographers who are busy shooting or working another job. All the photographer has to do is upload the image, add details, and leave the sales process to Fine Art America.

What has my experience been?

I have 200 of my wildlife images available on Fine Art America. That’s not many, and is dwarfed by the 6000+ I have available through iStockphoto.


Sample of one of my wildlife images available on Fine Art America

While I have outlined above that the upload process is straightforward, my sales have not been very successful. It may be both the type of content I have uploaded, and also the relatively small number of images. Overall, the sales generated through selling prints online has generated very small income. Again, it is dwarfed by my microstock sales, and hence I continue to focus on microstock while online adding images to Fine Art America from time to time (generally on really cold, rainy winter days!!)

Lessons Learned

While selling prints online has not been very successful for me – I note other photographers and artists selling artwork regularly. My observations are that they either have:

  • very unique imagery, or
  • are a well known name, or both

For example, Anne Geddes sells her images on Fine Art America. She is very well known for her unique images of new born babies. If you would like to check out her work, go to Fine Art America and put her name in the search field.

Final thoughts

Selling prints online has not been very financially successful for me so far. I’d suggest using an outlet like this to generate an income from your images if you have very unique content or a very “arty” bias in your work.

Do you sell prints online? What has your experience been?