ckw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 660 posts, RR: 17 Reply 1, posted (10 months 1 week 10 hours ago) and read 3568 times:
First of all, full time paid jobs as a professional photographer of any kind are very hard to come by.
You need to be not only a very good photographer, you probably need a qualification and considerable technical expertise. You also excellent people and organisational skills.
Ask any pro what they spend most of their time doing. It's not photography. Most of your time is spent organising the things that will allow the shoot to happen.
I'm not going to say much about the photos in your gallery, but you do have a lot of work to do there - this can be learned.
More importantly, you need to prepare yourself for a lot of hard work. No one is going to offer you a job. You are going to have to sell yourself. You have to demonstrate your ability to make things happen, to handle things when it all goes wrong and come up with shots that no one else has. If you can show all this, then maybe - just maybe, an airline will commission you for a shoot. Just possibly after a number of such commissions, a full time job will come available.
Having said that, it is true that there are a few out there who just got lucky - but I wouldn't count on it.
Tomskii From Belgium, joined May 2011, 463 posts, RR: 0 Reply 4, posted (10 months 1 week 5 hours ago) and read 3482 times:
Since I'm an amateur myself (or I consider myself to be one) I will not comment on that fact. However as Colin stated, it is hard to become a professional photographer at all, and I suppose even harder when it comes to airlines/airplanes.
I know a fair amount of photographers who I think are thousand times better than me. Out of 10, 1 got an offer. Just to tell you the odds are small, and you really need to be one of the best, if not the best!
Asuspine From United States of America, joined Apr 2009, 64 posts, RR: 0 Reply 7, posted (10 months 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 3280 times:
There are several photographers on A.Net who are associated with online aviation photo databases mentioned against their name. May be you can check on that and be part of online prof. airline photographers community.
soon7x7 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 8, posted (10 months 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 3159 times:
I'll toss some ideas into the ring for you...You gotta have passion!...With out it,...it won't work. Passion will drive you to get past the initial hard stages. This can be said about any business really. Most here are passionate. Next...Specialize in one aspect of aviation at first and develop a niche and a reputation. Before all that you must self market and you need the tools to do it, so develop a client list, create a visual presentation. Portfolios with hard copy prints still go a long way as you will want to personally meet clients. Since you are just one...create a goal of having 15-25 regular clients whose needs you can service. Anymore and you won't be able to handle it. I selected corporate jets as that was where the money is or was. Commercial aviation is a tough grind and usually the best you can ask for is through magazines...they don't pay much but I wouldn't dicount them either.
Marketing yourself is most important, nowadays sites like A/net and the others allow companies to scout around for images they want and offer chump change so this creeps into the stock photo market in a bad way. Stock photos used to go for $1500.00-$10,000.00 for one image depending on use. Those days are long gone. You portfolio should only reflect the nature of work you are persuing for revenue. As you grow you can expean on other areas. When I started I was landing cover shots within three months. They are valauble as it is a tremendous vehicle for getting your name out there. They are impressive in your portfolio as well.
Be prepared to work unusual hours. If you are a 9-5'er. forget it. If you don't care...go at it. You will not have shoots everyday. You may even have work load flat spots a month long so work when you can.
Be creative...shoot what others don't.
You can do it despite all the photographers now that exist as most don't believe you can make a living out of it. I started out of my home office and grossed $130,000.00/yr. Not bad for having fun but as time went on the industry met with hard times...technology had clients using "new digital cams" to record their own work...even though is sucked they were proud and felt even better about not having to pay a pro. I have seen a resurgance this year however as over time they have realized pros are pros for a reason and I am getting more calls that a while back. I jus t don't do it any more full time. I am still involved silently having recently photodocumented Trumps 757, Tom Cruises private jet, Tyler Perry's jet and others.
Define your market base
Build a portfolio you can present to that market base
Have a log/ branding...a look of your own and keep it consistent
Publication photo editors, addresses, emails ...that sort of thing.
Get good equipment ($$$in the optics)
Build a "stock photo base"...good "found money" in stock
Believe you can do it...and you will.
I have two file cabinets with over 2,000 envelopes with negatives/cd's in them. Each one of those represent a commissioned photo shoot. So it can be done. Good luck. You can access my site through my personal history. I actually have a disk of new images I must update on the site as it is dated but it will be helpfull none the less. Good luck! Email me with any questions...really...g
megatop412 From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 294 posts, RR: 0 Reply 9, posted (10 months 8 hours ago) and read 2927 times:
Kudos to all of you that responded to the OP with a patient and thorough reply, I hate to say it but I expected otherwise. The guy has a dream, why shouldn't he pursue it.
Several years ago I wondered the same thing myself. The issue I kept coming up against seems to be the access issue. As in, to get close enough, you need access. You can only get access with press credentials or a commission. You can only get credentials or someone to commission you for a shoot if you have prior experience with this work. And, you can only get that experience if you somehow miraculously got noticed amongst the huge field of people already making money out there, a large percentage of which is very talented to insanely talented, and you were given a chance. So unless I have a big misunderstanding about this, it's like a big circle.
I would think that knowing people behind the scenes helps immensely. For example, many of the aviation shooters I know have connections to the aviation industry in one form or another, something I don't have. I have seen this play out in a number of ways, from knowing someone in security that takes the person onto the field to shoot up close(or they themselves are employed in this capacity) to being asked to cover an aviation event for publication. All of my media submissions have either met with a 'thanks but no thanks' reply, or just no response at all. I have handed out business cards to several pros but it seems most go to friends(or the police). Still, perhaps I am not doing enough on marketing myself as suggested by some of the above responses.
The competition, as evidenced by the work on this site, is extremely fierce, with seemingly all of the niches already covered ad infinitum. Flight decks, night shots, air to air, air to ground, civil, military, rotary wing, warbirds, airshows, all covered by amazing photographers. It amazes me that anyone starting out now would be able to break into this field to get to the point where they're actually getting full-time paid. But, there is a lot to be said for remaining dedicated and passionate, and believing in one's own abilities to succeed.
ckw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 660 posts, RR: 17 Reply 10, posted (9 months 4 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 2882 times:
Quoting megatop412 (Reply 9): So unless I have a big misunderstanding about this, it's like a big circle.
This is true, its a bit of a catch 22. What worked for me, and a lot of others I know, is a combination of nerve, confidence and truth stretching (oh OK, out and out lies). You need to look and act the part. Timidity gets you no where - act like you belong with the pros. Little things like business cards can make a big difference.
Everyone needs a break, and a lot of that comes down to dumb luck, begging, or just being friendly with the right person. The skill comes in getting as much as you can out of that break. You need to use the images you get to secure accreditation for future events - don't get hung up on the money - trade your pics to promoters and magazines in exchange for that all important access.
Funny thing is, among my colleagues in the yachting world (where I now spend most of my time), this is pretty much accepted as the way to get started. Just getting on the press boat in the first place is a sort of "rite of passage". They won't give you much help to get there (after all space is at a premium) but if you can blag your way aboard, then everyone is super helpful.
I've seen the same thing at press enclosures at airshows - everyone is very protective of their territory, and woe betide any "amateur" who tries to intrude! But get the magic pass (by hook or crook) and (nearly) everyone is your friend.
seachaz From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 220 posts, RR: 9 Reply 11, posted (9 months 3 weeks 6 days ago) and read 2725 times:
Quoting ckw (Reply 10): everyone is very protective of their territory
This seems to be a common theme among many photographers I've encountered pros and amateurs - compared to the general population seems there are a disproportionate number of unfriendly photographers out there - why is that?
With digital people are able to learn the technical skills of the craft so much faster then with film, the old saying of 'its not what you know its who you know' becomes that much more important.
ckw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 660 posts, RR: 17 Reply 12, posted (9 months 3 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 2693 times:
Quoting seachaz (Reply 11): compared to the general population seems there are a disproportionate number of unfriendly photographers out there - why is that?
Perhaps its in part due to site like this ... for some photography has become a competitive sport.
I can also appreciate that for many pros the world has got a lot tougher for them in the last 10 years. Getting good images was harder pre-digital, and less people were doing it. Perhaps more importantly it was much harder to make your work available to potential clients. Now, the combination of digital cameras and web based distributionhas increased the threat to their income 10 fold - maybe 100 fold. There may be some resentment.
Having said that, my experience has been that most unpleasant encounters have been with non-pros. In fact I would suggest there is a direct correlation between lack of experience and aggressive behaviour. Perhaps the more experienced are a little more relaxed - in most cases we know that a given shot is not the one of a kind, front cover prize winner the rookie thinks it is, so are perhaps more tolerant of giving others a chance to get a shot.
Then again, I would not recommend getting in the way of a pro who really is after that truly special shot - he/she will just walk right over you. Making a living out of photography has always required a certain single mindedness and determination!
NicolasRubio From Argentina, joined Sep 2005, 583 posts, RR: 3 Reply 13, posted (9 months 3 weeks 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 2581 times:
I worked as the only staff photographer in AR / AU for two years, before becoming a FA. As far as I am concerned, I'm the only one they ever had and probably the only one they will ever have as me being hired was due to a very particular moment both the airlines and Argentina where going through.
In my experience, all it took was good PR, lots of luck and relatively low prices.
Gripped 7D + Sigma 10-20mm + 17-40L + 50mm f/1.8 II + 70-200mm f/4L IS + EF 400mm f/5.6L + 580EX II
megatop412 From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 294 posts, RR: 0 Reply 14, posted (9 months 3 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 2545 times:
Quoting ckw (Reply 12): I would not recommend getting in the way of a pro who really is after that truly special shot - he/she will just walk right over you. Making a living out of photography has always required a certain single mindedness and determination!
I would suggest that a real pro would know how to get the shot WITHOUT walking right over you Then again, the stories I've heard about behaviors in the photo pit(airshows, concerts, whatever) make this seem to be the norm rather than the exception