Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

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How does one start out to become a landscape photographer as I assume the basics are to make a website, flickr, twitter accounts with a solid portfolio on them. However, how does one get assignments? or should one just depend on photo sales from the website? Any advice is appreciated

I'm looking at this from the business/entrepreneurial point of view rather than the photographic technical aspect

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Portfolio. Build it. Make it better. Repeat. Don't worry about all this other stuff you mentioned. –  dpollitt Oct 5 '12 at 19:46
    
@dpollitt make it answer! –  ElendilTheTall Oct 5 '12 at 20:06
    
I think that question would pass better to Freelancers.SE. Should I flag for migration? –  Lukasz Jan 14 at 14:16
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4 Answers 4

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Portfolio. Build it. Make it better. Repeat. Don't worry about all this other stuff you mentioned.

Seriously, no one will take a second look past your portfolio if it isn't excellent. Specifically you asked "how does one start out to become a landscape photographer". The basics are not websites, social media, marketing, etc. The basics are great photos that set you apart or are highly desirable!

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agreed. The first step is to be able to make consistently great photos, and then display them where potential buyers can see them. but there's no shortcut to the technical quality and vision within the images.

My second thought on this is simple: don't. Just enjoy taking photos.

Why? Because there are a zillion other people trying to get into the same business. And it's a tough business to get into.

So unless your reaction to my saying "don't" isn't "the hell with you, I HAVE to do this", you probably shouldn't. Because photographers who want to get into the business will lose to those that have to.

It's going to be tough to do. Possible, but go in with your eyes open. Or decide maybe it's not the right thing to do right now, and just focus on being a better photographer and enjoying it. Because the reality is, once you get serious about trying to succeed at the business of photography, you will probably find yourself doing more business and less photography. So make sure you know that and it's the right thing to do.

If what you want to do is spend a lot of time taking photos -- then do that. Going pro actually gets in the way of that, because you have to spend a lot of time hustling to raise the money to make the business succeed.

Just something to think about.

chuq (was in your shoes in 2005.... Now very happy as a serious non-pro. For now).

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I'm a professional in the morning, and since I like to do landscapes and travel a lot, I was thinking if it's possible to do this "on the side" type of a deal if that makes any sense –  dassouki Oct 6 '12 at 0:29
    
Depends on what your expectations are. If you just want to put up a web site and any sales are beer money, that's one option. If you want to have it be a significant income stream? Whole different beast. (I'd argue that "beer money" sales isn't professional, personally). But there are literally tens of thousands of people with cameras thinking like you are thinking right now. How do you stand out? –  chuqui Oct 6 '12 at 1:24
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Your "business/entrepreneurial point of view" is the right place to focus. Being a professional is about marketing and sales, and customer service. As others have said, taking "great photos" is not enough. Its necessary, but not sufficient. Lots of folks can take great photos.

To be a business, you need to find clients who will pay for your photos, or pay to have you take photos. This means its a business, and you have to do marketing, sales, customer service, bookkeeping, taxes and all that stuff that every small business has. If you don't like business, then just keep it a hobby, you'll be a lot happier.

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I think the answer "just have great photos" is not enough.

If you only have great photos, then who is going to buy them? In the past such information spread via word of mouth, but today there are just too many people shooting landscapes out there. And what is a great landscape image? I have seen many over-edited HDR images that I found hideous (Did the same effect on a couple of images in my past too) that have gotten many positive comments - conversely, I have seen images that I consider well done that people don't think are good enough to sell or can't be bothered to print or that others don't like.

Because there is not a perfect criteria for a "great photo" any photo can be "great" in the eye of the beholder. In contrast, some points definitely make a bad photo, such as out of focus (unless used for artistic purposes) or excessive noise (unless this was the only possibly way of getting the shot).

Obviously, if you do not have photos that you (and maybe some trusted critic) consider good or great, you will not have anything to sell, but if you do, I think the next step you have to think about is how to draw attention to your images. Because yours are just a few in billions of images of which millions aren't bad - what makes your image that much better? What makes it so printworthy? What makes people want it on a wall as a print? On their website?

And having said that, I would not be surprised if you end up in the odd "what do you need such a big camera for, my phone does the job" debate - and yes, some people really think that...

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If "have great photos" is not enough, I'm not sure you argued any differently. More to the point that it takes luck? –  dpollitt Oct 6 '12 at 17:44
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@dpolitt I'm saying that "great" can vary greatly in the eye of the beholder. What you consider "great" I might just consider "average" and vice versa. Once you have a decent photo, marketing can be key when it comes to income. A lot of modern art is rather banal - and still sells for a lot, just due to clever marketing. –  DetlevCM Oct 6 '12 at 19:16
    
I agree with that. Having a portfolio that is at least considered "great" to the largest amount of people is a good idea. Also an option would be a portfolio that is considered "great" by a small number of people, but is unique and hard to find. Although I wouldn't recommend producing crap and just trying to market it, I know it works for some! –  dpollitt Oct 6 '12 at 21:20
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