Photography … some people love it, some hate it.  Some have a natural gift for finding great shots; others attend courses and schools dedicated to showing you how to use your new hobby camera, and how to get great shots anywhere.  Me?  I like to think I’m sorta inbetween.  I seem to be able to get some great point-and-shoot shots of things that interest me… and someday I’d love to do a week-long photography workshop of the traveling variety where I get to travel to Europe, or the East Coast during the fall spectacular, and just take pictures guided by an expert photographer.    The ultimate goal?  I’d love to have my own gallery some day.  I’ve even designed greeting cards with my own sayings… Hallmark would be jealous *LOL*

So for the person like me, who loves the outdoors and taking pictures of things outdoors that interest me (animals, landscape, macros)… but hasn’t the time or money for schooling and courses…  I learn by the seat of my pants.  I figure things out as I go, and let me tell you–sports photography is NOT my forte!  I’ve been trying to figure that out for years, with no avail.  Kudos to those sports photographers, it takes some great camera work to get just a few great action shots.

Do I frame my pictures, use lighting techniques, etc etc etc??  NOPE.  I like to use nature as the inspiration–my personal feeling is that using artificial lighting may create some great pictures, but it takes time and a good observational eye to capture your subject in the lighting you want.   Sometimes you can get caught up in over-creating a shot…and lose the meaning in the process.   When you over-analyze your shot, you make it look over-analyzed and set-up as opposed to natural and meaningful.   This, of course, would probably be disagreed with by some professionals making the big bucks in the industry, but that’s OK.

That brings me to another point:  If you want to be a photographer, decide what kind.  What I mean is this: specialize in something, and become great at it.  If you want to be a professional competing with the industry leaders, you have to have the confidence to not just point-and-shoot your way into their world, but to create some great shots.  If you don’t like the photo-editing aspect, you’ll have to find someone who does.  Me, personally, I love the photo-editing, so I do my own.  You have to have a keen eye for the most subtle changes, or you won’t be successful as a photo-editor, as well as a perfectionist.. which can be hindering at times, I admit.

So, you’ve decided to take your vacation hobby shots to the web… which is great!  You totally need to be web-savvy these days to market your stuff.  The site I use right now for my photos is…in combination with paying for my own domain name via … combined, this costs me around $60/mth, but I do like ifp3 for setting up my site and adding photos (which, I havent’ done in forever and a day). 

Now, if you want to sell your photos, you better brush up on the legalities of using people in photos you want to sell.  Family/friends/strangers… if you want to sell stock photos that include persons, you will need to stock up on waivers so you can actually sell those photos with their permission.   You can try to sell portrait type photos without the waivers, but the first thing someone is likely going to ask is “Did you get a waiver?”…   So, the nice thing about what I like to take photos of is simple: animals don’t need waivers; architecture doesn’t need waivers; landscape doesn’t need waivers.  Makes my life so much simpler–especially since most of my photos are taken while on various vacations at this point in time…

Which brings me to another point: don’t specialize in something for the prospect of money involved.  Specialize in something that interests you.  If you aren’t interested in the subject matter, it’ll show in your photos.   You may not see that it doesn’t show, but others judging/reviewing your work will notice.

Be aware that most magazine contests are great to enter, but you will lose the rights to your photo should you win… it’s in the fine print–be sure to read it.  This is why I, for one, do not partake in magazine contests, although the exposure is great.  Look to your local fairs if you feel you’ve got something to show the public.  I don’t know what booths cost, but rent a booth and get your name out there.  Also, keep in mind, the price: it has to be affordable to the market you are entering.  Let me give you an example: you have yourself a booth at the local county fair.  You go through the expense of framing your photos exactly as you like them and decide to price a print that cost you $3 to order+ $50 to frame for $300.  The price margin sounds great, but how many families at the county fair are going to have $300 to spend on a framed print?  Now if you sweet talk your way into an art gallery showing, then that price point would work as most people attending an art gallery showing will have a higher disposable income.

So, the business side of photography is very tricky and ever-changing.  As for me?  I’ve donated framed prints for sports auctions just to get my name out there… and I’ve got some of my favorites hanging up around the house and in my husband’s office…  There is a local coffee shop that takes local artist’s work and hangs them in their shop for a month at a time.  This is my next phase of marketing, but I’m not financially ready for that yet.   You really have to be aware of your budget in photography.

For portrait photography?  You need some good lighting equipment, a good tripod, a good meter, and some great backgrounds.  You also have to be of the creative mind to try new things with your subjects–even if it gets them outside their comfort zone a little.  I’m not saying shoot nudes, I’m saying be creative with your shots and be patient for the shot.  Sometimes, with children especially, that “perfect” shot may not be what you expect it.  I’ll give you an example: last fall I photographed my youngest in our backyard with leaves covering the ground, and the garden still in part bloom.  I grabbed the rocking horse, had him sit in amongst the garden veggies… and one of my favorite shots was him finding the texture of a leaf via mouth. .. .Most parents are all “oh my god, put that down!” but I’m one of these parents that lets their kids explore–rocks, bugs, dirt, mud, etc. ..   so for me, it was a very natural, and turned out to be a great shot. … One of the shots I have of my youngest from last fall in the garden, I gave him a kid-sized garden tool to play with, and while he explored I took some shots and came up with a couple great ones. .. So,  you have to let kids be kids.  The parents may have other ideas of how their children should look in photos, but again, you have to be a good patient communicator and let the parents understand that this is about finding the child’s personality, not necessarily about that prim and proper 1800s photo.  

Although I’ve never taken a p hotography class, and learn everything the camera does through trial and error, there are some great professional photographers who have done the same.  So don’t get caught up in “I have to go to school to do this”  because that doesn’t guarantee you a spot in the professional level.   If you are good at finding shots of subjects that interest you, things will fall into place.  Keep at it, keep working at framing the shots, keep working at being a creative-minded photographic soul, and things will fall into place.  I read a quote by a professional photographer in a photo magazine once who said that sometimes the best shots are the ones you didn’t get.   That is so true.  Sometimes you just don’t have the camera ready, but you should be happy just being able to view that “perfect” shot and keeping it in your memory bank.    One example: I was traveling across the country in an RV last summer with the family, and saw this fabulous shot of a horse standing in the middle of this creek drinking water near dusk… it was a gorgeous shot, but it passed me by… and I haven’t seen another shot like that opportunity, but I will some day and then I can say “YES!  I’ve got it now”  i could have stopped and ran back to get it, but by the time we would have stopped, I would have run out with my camera and essentially scared the horse away, I still would have missed the shot. 

Don’t be afraid to go barefoot.  *L* We were traveling through Jasper National Park–my fave park so far–and along the way to Banff, there is this roadside waterfall.  People are in their shoes and getting close… well, I’m running across the road barefoot, walking onto the stone path and wading into the water to get that shot I wanted that showed the depth of the falls, and the movement of water amongst the rocks.  I was the only one in there getting that shot at that point in time.   Did I get funny looks? Sure, but I’m the one who got the great shots.  =) 

If you want to see some of my stuff–visit  I haven’t updated it with photos in a very very long time, but there are still some great shots to enjoy.