There are a LOT of write ups on how to get started in the world of photography (we're talking serious... the business). The majority of them are just pandering and don't offer any black and white logic. SO, I decide to jot down my thoughts. Hope you get something out of this... that means you, Jeremy. 😉 There are both general tips as well as business tips.
1a. You can't just take good pictures and expect to make it. The business side is just as important if not more important as the *click*. Case in point: there are people with no talent who know how to run a business that are making a living doing it right now.
1b. The photography market is SO saturated, it's a joke. Every day just in Indianapolis there are like 50 new people buying a cheap SLR with the kit lens and puts "photographer" after their name and then they start charging monies. It's bad for the profession and it's bad for the photographer. SO, you have to stand out. You've got to find something that sets you apart. I'm a guy and that gives me an advantage and disadvantage in one area. On one hand, there are studies that show women tend to be trusted more right off the bat than men... but on the other hand... there are definitely less of us in this industry of women, so you can start your style or leverage there... BUT don't forget that women are the majority of portrait clients.
2a. If you're going to take it seriously, you need to make a business plan, take out a loan, and start with real gear. Read this interesting write-up. Bottom Line: Start with a nice camera. You'll thank me.
2b. A good camera doesn't make you a good photographer, but it allows a good photographer to be more efficient and simplifies the process of taking a good photo. A great photographer is still a great photographer with a mediocre camera.
2c. Lenses are more important than camera bodies. We've reached a point technology-wise that there's literally no bad DSLR bodies being made today. With that said, Nikon lenses only work with Nikons. Canon lenses only work with Canon. So don't bargain shop and just settle on what appears to be the "best bang for the buck" body, regardless of the brand. Case in point: a friend of mine bought an Olympus DSLR. It's a lot of camera for the money... but an essential Nikon lens I use that costs $100... to get the same thing for Olympus, is $400.
2d. The reason people are passionate about their gear and their brand... is because you become married to it. It would suck switching to Canon from Nikon, cause you'd have to sell EVERYTHING and start over. With that said... Nikon is better. :-p But with that said:
3. Don't get obsessed with charts, graphs, megapixels, MTF curves... at least don't get to a point where you forget to try to make great photographs.
4a. Don't charge for shoots until you're worth something or have proven yourself. Once you've reached that point, never do anything for free (excluding a charitable service). BUT...
4b. For the love of all things holy whatever you do... don't start shooting weddings until you've got like $15,000 in gear, backup gear, at least a full year (or more) of REGULAR every-day experience and are prepared to shoot under the gun in ANY lighting, weather, or personal situation that could possibly occur. Bonus points for assisting with seasoned pros for at least a few weddings. Even when you've reached a point where you're worth $500... do you think any bride deserves a $500 wedding photographer?* It's the most demanding, stressful, you-only-get-one-shot thing we do. We charge several thousand dollars for a reason (okay, several). While extremely rewarding when executed with perfection, it can be a nightmare.
5. Trust your instincts.
6. Don't be afraid to experiment. Ever. In fact. Experiment all the time.
7. Love what you do. If you stop loving it, step back for a minute. If you still don't, get out. Passion fuels creativity. Without it, it's just a bunch of pixels.
8. Don't be afraid to ask for advice. Most pros are willing to help at least somewhat... some more than others, but as long as you appear to be listening and trying, you'll make friends fast.
As always, feel free to contact me if you want to discuss anything in detail!