Home Forums Am I a Fauxtog? I wanted to charge $ until I found your site…

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    I’ve always been bit unsure.  Family and friends call me a photographer.  I have no fancy fine arts degree, just a love of taking photos passed down to me by dad.  I used to be quite proud to be his light meter kid.
    I know I have much more to learn.  I could and will  go on learning for years and years.  Right now though, I consider myself amateur.  I do want to earn some money soon … the gear acquisition is pricy for a hobby.
    I’d like your opinion.  Ready to start this as a job?  I am not looking to pay the mortgage or move to NYC and be ohsofabulous.  I want to keep it part time so I never lose the joy I get from photography.





    I looked at


    I think her face is a bit too bright.  Otherwise pretty good.  I think I have seen the photo (or a very similar pose) before.

    If you go through the posts here, you  will see lots of people will pay for much worse photos than yours.  If you want to charge and people are willing to pay, why not?


    I haven’t got much time right now to go through your portfolio, but wanted to share some links with you about pricing. So many of my friends have gone in debt being “in business” and it’s good to have a solid understanding of your costs of doing business and what you need to make per client, before you take that plunge. BTW I have a pug too. His name is Mr. Wilson 🙂 He’s the best thing to ever happen to me. (Shhhhhh don’t tell my husband or kids that lol)






    Ah, Pugs.  Pickles is only one of my three.  I will definitely look at those links, thank you.
    I had a bout of paranoia after seeing this site for the first time.  Whether people pay me or not, I would like the work to have a level of respectability.  I don’t want to look foolish!

    And yes, you’re right about the girls face being too bright.  It seems to fade her nose into her face.  whoops.




    Don’t get me wrong, your photos aren’t awful but they could use a little polish. Very few of the photos you have on there are photos that people would actually pay for though which suggests to me you probably need more experience with a variety of subjects (i.e. people as flowers/dogs/squirrels won’t pay you for photos).

    I don’t think you are ready to be charging yet based on this. The photos aren’t really the problem although you have some major depth of field issues but the spread just isn’t there. Give yourself a bit more time and build up the necessary experience before committing to this as a business. Taking good photos is only a minor part of being a self employed photographer after all. With the photos you have on there I’d be surprised if you couldn’t get some second shooter jobs with local pros for both studio or weddings.


    Thanks 🙂
    working on the DOF thing… I have a habit of opening wide for light and getting the wrong bit in focus then.   Yes, still learning.

    I was under the assumption that being a second shooter was still a paid gig?  I had one person interested but they wanted me for 12 hours at no pay.   I couldn’t imagine doing that and all the resulting edits for free.


    Apologies in advance for any hurt I might cause!  Most of my suggestions are from all the reading I have done over the years, and a bit of experience of paid shooting.  But not to a profitable level, because I was never brave enough to do what you are thinking of doing.  So well done to you for that.

    First, lets consider that girl in a hat.  I don’t really think it is too bright, there are few if any blown-out or overbright areas in the shot.  However, there is a very narrow range of greys on the face, the most important part of the shot maybe.  I hope you are shooting in RAW, and if you are it may be possible to improve the pic by playing with colour sliders in your postprocessing software, to put a bit more contrast into the face.  Also, maybe including a tiiiiny bit of the eye further away would have added to the shot somehow.  I wonder how many shots you took of this pose?  This one is fine, but a dozen more from 1 inch higher, 1 inch lower, and so on, might have helped.  The thing that detracts from the shot, in my eyes, is the shadow below her chin?  How many light sources were you using?  Portraits often need 2 or more, and in particular don’t use on-camera flash.

    You mention resulting edits – do you use postprocessing software?  It’s often very expensive, but an excellent free one I use as my default is Faststone Image Viewer.  People often comment that my b&w conversions are nice, yet all I did was press a single button!  (Gray Scale)  PP suites like Photoshop and Lightroom are expensive, overcomplicated, and give you several more ways to get it right, and 1000s more ways to get it wrong…

    Let’s talk about your portfolio on Viewbug.  First, it’s in the wrong place!   I assume it’s free, but it, and others like FB, Flickr and so on are places where we can post shots and get oodles of praise from our pals, or as shown in YANAP from people who have no idea about photography and may even dislike a shot that was perfect.  Your portfolio would be better on your own website, so you could have full control of it’s content, and to show a level of professionalism.


    Now let’s look at its content.  It is too small!  It suggests you have only taken 65 shots that you are proud to show to other people.  The portfolio will be even smaller after my suggestions!  Your website might be better if it was in sections:  People, Pets, Babies, Scenery spring to mind after a quick look.  Remove:  butterflies, squirrels, ducks, fireworks… bla bla bla – you see where I am going with this?  You must be VERY critical of your own work.  Only the best will do, and don’t bother trying to sell shots that people can get/steal for nothing off the internet.  You may sell such shots, but mainly by including them as cutaways taken during someone’s half-day or day long session or wedding.  I suggested babies as a category.  This could be very profitable, but the shots you show are often very similar.  Take lots more shots for any category you choose to specialise in.  Take them now – maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life.  Don’t choose categories that are too wildly different.  Few people would trust a wedding photographer who also specialises in insect macros, sports photography, and forensic medicine!  For people and babies, that you seem to be good at, you might have to offer or even beg to do free sessions for people, with them paying for materials, in order to boost your portfolio.

    You wanted to be paid for a gig as second shooter.  No way that’s gonna happen, based on your portfolio.  Not the quality, which is ok, but the extent.  The guy was doing you a favour allowing you to be there, take shots, lots of shots, and learn from him/her.  You are effectively at a stage where any form of internship is a godsend, grab every opportunity.

    Webites and online resources to look at.  YANAP, of course, will show you nearly everything you shouldn’t do!  I don’t know your gear, but I love Pentax gear, and pentaxforums.com is the most helpful and supportive website for photographers I have ever encountered.  So good in fact that some people have changed from Canikon to Pentax just because of the website,  Other sites include theonlinephotographer.com, strobist, and googling for instructional videos is very useful too.  photoinf.com, slrlounge.com.  The list is endless.

    Now some questions.  What area of photography do you love most?  Or more inportantly, what area do you do best  They are not necessarily the same.  Also, don’t forget that you are no longer taking shots for the joy of it – you are doing it for commercial reasons.  This will impose its own restrictions and requirements, and may even suck all the fun out of your hobby.

    What gear do you have?  I have some suggestions, but they are worthless without me knowing about your equipment.  Fwoarr!  Can you list it here, I will bookmark this, and return later.

    I have probably forgotten loads, and some of what I say maybe obvious, or even wrong!  Such is life.


    For events second shooter gigs can be paid or unpaid depending on what is expected of you. If the photographer let’s you tag along with the assumption that any photos you provide that are good enough to use are only a bonus then expect not to get paid. If on the other hand he trusts you and knows what you can do it may well be paid. Same goes if you assist in a studio however, you probably wouldn’t actually take any photos yourself but rather help with lights etc. What you get paid in is experience and contacts.

    @Bagga As for gear a few of the photos show that a Nikon D800E was used so any pentax offering would be at least two steps downgrading. I don’t really agree with you that lightroom is over complicated either but I can see where you are coming from with regards to photoshop.

    @OP What you are telling me and looking at the exposure settings I think you don’t have enough light available to you for what you are trying to do. If you shoot in a studio f8, iso100 and a 85-135mm lens is a very good starting point unless you want a specific look for some reason. Looking at the catchlights, are you using only a window for light? The recommendation to look at strobist.com is a very good one, I think you could bring your studio shots up in quality if you learnt how to light them with more light that what you have naturally available.

    Worst Case Scenario

    I think you should BURN IN HELL for putting a dog in a tutu, but I don’t think any of your shots will be featured on this website if you start charging.

    Most of the above is true, but I never put a lot of stock into what equipment you use. If you are good you don’t need every lens ever made.


    Take them now – maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life.

    True…. but we’ll always have Paris



    When I say gear, I don’t just mean the camera.  To offer a professional service one needs a damned sight more than just a good camera. Tripods, lights, flashes, filters, reflectors, umbrellas, a second camera body.  To paraphrase Matrix:  We need lenses, lots of lenses.  I agree that an 85 or 135 is a good early buy, preferably with a wide fastest aperture – the 85 f1.8 would be cool, especially as the 85 f1.4 is twice or thrice the price.  A 50mm f1.8 would be useful too, as some shooting sessions might be in more enclosed spaces that wouldn’t suit the 85.  The 135 is also very expensive, and to begin this career path it would be adequate to crop the 85 to get similar results.

    As for Pentax being at least two steps downgrading, I’m not too sure about that, even though I agree that the D800E is a super camera. much much more than adequate for the purpose.  Tis a pity the appropriate and necessary lenses to match that camera will be so very expensive.

    To the OP, this is a major step, and needs a lot of prior investment of time spent in both research and building your portfolio.  But decades ago I would have been happy to begin my portfolio with shots as good technically as many of yours are.  Good luck, and if you get rich you owe us 10% ok?





    I agree with everything that’s been said, including Camera Clicker… I’m sure you do as well.  Confused yet?  Look, this is only a decision you yourself can make.  Try to use your head instead of your heart when thinking of going into business.  Read those links I gave you and really be honest about your bottom line.

    My family and friends think I am fabulous, and I’m wasting my talent by not being for hire.  (pisses me off to no end)  But, each and every time someone says something like “Why aren’t you in business?  why don’t you start doing sessions for money?” and the conversation gets started they always say “I’d pay you” until they find out how much they would be charged for me to stay afloat and make it all worth my while, then I get “But, so and so only charges such and such”  Well… so and so will be out of business before they even get started if they keep it up, and I guarantee they have to spend gobs more on their photography than I do.  They are most likely losing money by being in business.  Why would I work part time to go in debt, or make just pennies?  Don’t you think what I do is worth more than just minimum wage?  Would YOU take a job making less than minimum?  So the truth is, they don’t really think I am good enough, or value my photography as much as they say they do.  They mean well but don’t see the whole picture.  They see my work as worth a $100 session fee, or less.  I can’t do that and have it work in my favor.  I either have to step up my game, and completely WOW people so I can get the amount of money I need to make it work, and successfully compete against the other photographers who are cheaper than me, that haven’t spent the time to figure out how to be profitable,  or continue to be happy shooting whatever, whomever, whenever I want to.  Shooting for the love of it wins out every time over shooting for hire.  But, that’s me, and my decision.

    Nope, you don’t have anything in your port that is worthy of being featured on the YANAP page YAY!  but… When you take away the shots you made just for fun, and only leave what could be used to make money by being for hire it’s a little bare… you have a lot more to think about than just your skills.  Good luck to you, whatever you decide, I hope it’s the right decision for you and makes you happy, and makes you want to keep shooting and learning.


    No hurt caused whatsoever.  I LOVE that you took the time out of your day to talk to me.  Well, I may be a little hurt over the dog/tutu comment.  Those pug girls of mine are well paid with high end doggie treats!  They didn’t mind dressing up at all.  If I had a male pug, he might have been put in a leotard.  With a codpiece, of course, to save him from any embarrassment.  LOL  ( You now have that image etched into your mind for the remainder of the day. You’re welcome)

    Equipment.  I started in 2009 with a refurbed Nikon D90, kit lens and a new Nikon 70-200 2.8 VR (at the time I was given a chunk of money and knew I wouldn’t soon be able to afford better glass, so I chose less of a body and more of a lens)  Filters for the lenses, but have only really used the clear one for protection and the circular polarizer for competitive swimming photos.
    over time:
    50 mm 1: 1.4
    16-35mm 1:4
    Nikon D800E
    1 good speed light, 1 umbrella,  a 5/1 reflector, backdrop stand with a couple backdrops and a roll of black paper

    The room I have available to me is even too small to use my 50 mm except babies and seated poses.  I can’t bring anyone far enough away from the backdrop to keep light from falling on it when I want it nice and black.

    I use a recent version of Lightroom and have Elements 10, which I’m trying to learn compositing with.  Yes, I use RAW.

    I know I need more light sources but hesitate to purchase because I’m not sure what to get / learn.  I like the idea of boxes that area always lit.  Maybe you all can give advice in this direction.   I use my speed light off camera and manual settings for now.

    Gosh theres so much to answer from above!  Next – Girl in Hat.  My cousin.  There’s an album on the Facebook link of other pics I took of her that day.  1 flash, 1 reflector.  I thought the same about the one-eye stare.  I did not get one with a hint of the other eye with that pose.   I took a ton of pics, but she was shy and awkward, so there’s only a few where she let me see her real self.

    @ Bagga – Must I choose a favourite?  I’ll tell you what I don’t want to take photos of.  Car races.  Although I have…  I like people, I like nature and displays of light that others don’t notice.  I’m the person who takes a photo of a beautiful misty morning on the street, even though its garbage day.  I know that won’t pay, but I can’t help but like it.  VIEWBUG, yes it was free.  I thought people might say they like something, and take away some critique.  Noooo… everyone gushes over everything to get others to add and gush over theirs.  There is a lot of enviable photos on the site though.  I love browsing.  (and Thank you for the compliment in your last post.  I wish I had started decades ago too.   If I get rich (lmao) i’ll send you a good bottle of scotch.  Rich means I have to pay off existing debts!

    @ Nesgran – you’re a bit tougher, but I appreciate it.  The fact that you said my work may be good enough for a photographer to choose me as a 2nd is a compliment. Thank you.  I will do more free work to fill my portfolio and keep practicing.

    @ Worst Case – I’ll never take a dog in tutu pic ever again in my life I swear… if you take one of yourself in a tutu and post it on this thread.  I promise!



    @ ihate…  I did read through those links, thank you.  (Math, ugh!).   I get what you’re saying.  Also, I live in a heavily populated [read:saturated] area.  Lots of little ads for cheap photography. I totally get the bit about everyone you know saying your work is great and would pay for photos “like that”, but they don’t really mean it. It’s a luxury to them.

    Maybe instead of charging money I can tell them to bring me presents. Battery pack here, speed light there…

    Yes, I’m confused. Lol. And happy to know some of my pics pass the YANAP test.


    @ ihate…  I did read through those links, thank you.  (Math, ugh!).   I get what you’re saying.  Also, I live in a heavily populated [read:saturated] area.  Lots of little ads for cheap photography. I totally get the bit about everyone you know saying your work is great and would pay for photos “like that”, but they don’t really mean it. It’s a luxury to them. Maybe instead of charging money I can tell them to bring me presents. Battery pack here, speed light there… Yes, I’m confused. Lol. And happy to know some of my pics pass the YANAP test.


    I know I need more light sources but hesitate to purchase because I’m not sure what to get / learn.  I like the idea of boxes that area always lit.  Maybe you all can give advice in this direction.   I use my speed light off camera and manual settings for now.

    Movies need continuous lights.  Still photos don’t.  You can still use continuous lights but they are not as bright as strobes; usually they are not as bright as Speedlights.  Continuous lights are, however, bright enough that they bother my eyes when I am playing model.  So my preference is strobes.  If I am where there are roads, sidewalks, and electrical outlets, I like studio strobes.  The instant there are no electrical outlets or I have to carry something, I like Speedlights, instead!  Speedlights are not as powerful, don’t have real modeling lights, and they need batteries, but they don’t weigh much, can flash a couple of hundred times on a fresh set of batteries, and some of the modern rechargeable batteries are pretty good.  Sometimes you can control them with light but I prefer radios.  You can get umbrellas and softboxes, and the stands are lighter for Speedlights than for studio strobes.   If you need more power you can put a couple or more together in an umbrella or softbox.  Of course, a Nikon speedlight probably costs about as much as a studio strobe.  I haven’t used any recent versions but some people say there are lights by non-major brands that are good, or good for the price.

    Umbrellas spill a lot of light.  Softboxes spill less.  Grids and snoots limit light even more but are not large light sources so the light is harsher.  A beauty dish with a grid might be a solution in a really small space if you wanted to keep light off the backdrop.  You can also get a grid for some softboxes.

    If you are in a major centre, there is probably a good camera store that can demo the different lighting options for you, and help to figure out what will work best in your situation.

    If you can get to where no one in your area can take photos as well as you can, you can rise above the cheap photography providers.  That’s worth doing even if it is just for your own family memories.

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