How I Managed To Land My First Paid Shoot

Someone wrote once, “You can’t consider yourself a professional photographer until you get paid work.”

I guess that’s sort of true.

I’ve been wondering when I’d get my first break; that is, when I’d get paid for the photographs I take.

Somehow, I’ve been extremely fortunate enough to be doing test shots for a modeling agency. I’ve been introduced to really cool people and I hope that it continues.

However, that doesn’t pay.

I’ve been building my book and thinking about completely re-doing my writing portfolio. (I honestly need to sit down and do it, but I haven’t the time or motivation to do it right now.)

Anyway, two weeks ago, an artist friend of mine emailed me asking if I was interested in a project she was tapped to do. It was for a PR company doing some promotional stunt for a restaurant group for July 5th — which is National Bikini Day.

I jumped at the chance.

We had actually discussed potentially doing a collaboration — I pitched her an idea about wearing food (she’s a very talented food artist) and representing different NYC neighborhoods. So like…carrot wayfarer glasses in Williamsburg, lettuce dress in SoHo. It wasn’t a completely perfected idea, but she thought it was great. Fast forward to mid-June and we were having conversations with a PR company about this project.

The shoot itself wasn’t bad at all. It was held in a professional studio with an awesome technician. The PR representatives were really fun to be with as well!

I borrowed a friend’s 5D Mark II, and rented out a 24-70mm lens, which I completely forgot to charge the PR company for.

After using the 5D (it’s a few years old, I admit), and the 24-70mm lens, I don’t want to go back to using my T6i. I understand why people leap for the 5D cameras. They’re just…incredibly solid. I know I’ve been pining for the 6D, but I might save up a little more and get the 5D Mark III.

Things I’ve come to learn on my first professional shoot:

  • Do not let clients control the set.
  • Too many cooks in the kitchen will leave you frustrated.
  • Take breaks! You will feel fatigue quicker than you think.
  • Give the model some direction, but not too much. If they’re good, they’ll know what they’re doing.
  • The lighting technician is there for a reason. Ask him questions and listen to his suggestions.
  • You’re the photographer — meaning, you control the shoot. Take lead.
  • Do not let the client see the RAW files.
  • Don’t rush.
  • Talk to everyone on set. (Or try to.)
  • Make sure there’s lunch on set.
  • Get payment details squared away.
  • Expense things. Seriously. Don’t be scared to.

But I still don’t consider myself a professional photographer. Not yet.

I can’t release any photos from the shoot until after July 5th, so please enjoy these photos of Taylor.

We had a studio shoot and had Andrea, a fantastic MUA and hair stylist on set. Let me tell you, having a MUA makes a world of difference in your shoot.

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