Your first photography job, one for a fee, is a decisive moment in your photography career. It can be the difference between struggling or being a success in the future so not a decision you should take lightly.
I remember my first job a few year ago. I received an email asking me for my fee and availability for a shoot.
The brand? McLaren, the automotive / F1 company.
Quite a tempting offer, especially since I watched F1 religiously for years.
The shoot was to take place at the McLaren Technology Centre near Woking.
Unfortunately I can't tell you too many details about it as I signed a confidentiality agreement stopping me from doing so.
At first I thought to myself: “Man maybe that’s a little ambitious. Maybe I should pass, am I good enough, am I going to make a mess of it?”.
Tons of insecurities, mostly unjustified, manifested themselves suddenly.
But it wasn’t long before I got my sh*t together and thought to myself, you have two choices here Nico.
You can either pass on this amazing opportunity or raise to the challenge and have confidence in your skills.
Imagine passing on working with such a brand! Who knows maybe if I refused it, maybe I’d never again be approached by such a famous company. Plus I’d be passing this chance to someone else which as generous as it sounds... is just silly.
Whereas the opposite, accepting the job, could kick-start my career, the life goal I’ve been working so hard towards. Once I would have them on my list of clients it would most likely impress potential future clients visiting my website..
Of course you're human and inevitably think to yourself: “But what if I make a terrible mess of it?”
Well in truth there’s always that risk with a first job and you can spend hours and days thinking to yourself: “I’m a professional, I should not undertake something I’m not sure about”.
Well the reality is you HAVE to give your first photography job a go, you CANNOT let it pass you by. NO WAY!
It is what will make you a true professional, it will provide assurance to potential future clients and… it will teach you a lot.
What will you learn?
Many things such as:
- How to quote for your photography (a fee that makes you and your client happy)
- How to take calculated risks that pay-off
- How to qualify a job by asking your client many questions to cover everything
- How to handle stressful situations
- How to deal with clients by email, phone and face to face.
- How to raise invoices
- How to be organised
- How to photograph within time and location restraints and meet tight deadlines
I really could go on and on but the truth is that these are things you will begin to learn about and as you take on more jobs, you will learn some more, in fact you’ll never stop learning, making occasional mistake and learning some more.
It’s daunting to head for your first shoot, well for most people anyway, I remember how I felt.
But just go for it, do not turn down that first job as it’ll be the beginning of a series of unexpected other jobs that will come to you always by surprise and I find that so exciting about photography.
I open my email and regularly find emails from potential clients asking me for a quote, I can pick the ones I really fancy working on and reject others I have a bad feeling about.
Being a professional photographer can be hard, at times financially challenging due to the freelancing nature of it but it’s one of the best things that has happened in my life.
Oh... and by the way... I ended doing such a good job they hired me another time AND it led me to attract other clients such as shooting 2 events for Williams F1 (including one at SilverStone) and being invited as a social media influencer to experience a full day of driving supercars at Donnington.
You just never know with photography what's around the corner... literally.
Now go for it, go take that first photography job and good luck!