photography tutorial

The Secret to Freelancing

I won’t pretend like I’m some freelancing wizard who knows all the tricks and trades and is making millions each year off of my photography business. I’m not. But! I am incredibly happy in my freelancing business and I feel like I’ve found a sort of golden ticket to the whole thing. And I’m going to tell you! Because I’m full of myself and want everybody to share my ideals! Kidding…. it’s because I really think this made my freelancing life so much easier and more enjoyable. 

Which is why I’m pairing this post with the full set of images from my absolute favorite shoot this year- an elopement I was fortunate enough to shoot in the beautiful snowy mountains outside of Salt Lake City. It’s all going to tie in together beautifully, I promise you that! 

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It’s not a scam, I promise! It’s a real tip that when applied, can make YOU the world’s happiest freelancer, too. It might not bring in more clients (although it’s possible!), and it might not make you rich (I guess it could…), but I guarantee it’ll make you feel better about the work that you’re doing. And the funny thing about it, is that it seems fairly simple. It’s something we can tell ourselves to do over and over, until we’re blue in the face. But it’s when we actually put it into action that our lives can change.

Okay, I’ve held out on you folks for long enough. The real secret to being a happy freelancer is….

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Only take the work you enjoy doing. It sounds radical, right? Sorry- you mean… you want me to enjoy my work? YES! I want you to LOVE what you do! And if you don’t love it, stop doing it. We are all so young and so old and have only as much time as we’re promised. Why would you waste that time doing something that doesn’t bring you joy?

Even better- applying this tip to your freelancing business will not just make you happier, but it will improve business. Think about your favorite artists. Do they love what they do? Do they seem happy about it? Are they excited to get out of bed each day and create? I know that’s something that drives me to take my freelance photography full-time: every other freelance photographer I see seems to love the hell out of it. And I want to love the hell out of my life too! I want to do something that excites me every single day! 

It’s a lot of work. It’s coming home from a full-time job exhausted, ready to turn on some Netflix and pour myself a glass of wine until I pass out on the couch… and instead, turning on my computer and launching Photoshop. It’s giving up Saturday morning to go chase that warm sunrise light. It’s sacrificing evenings with friends to stay in and edit. It’s too much work to dedicate to something I don’t enjoy. Which is easy to say, but what does it look like in practice?

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For me, it’s an easy answer. It means- turning down clients. When I was studying photography in college, my university made it something I hated. I dreaded picking up my camera, to the point that I never wanted to touch it again after graduation. It was because I was being forced to practice all kinds of photography, not just the photography that I love. So now, if a client approaches me and says “hey! Can you photograph me on Christmas Day?!” I get to happily say NOPE and not feel bad. This is my career. Do I lose money when I turn down clients I don’t want? I guess you could look at it that way… or look at it like this: instead, I get to make money from clients that I do want to work with. And the good news is that I’m attracting clients who want to work with me too.

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So next time you’re dragging your feet to a shoot that you reluctantly agreed to, ask yourself if this is really the life you want. It’s okay if it isn’t! It’s taken me 25 years to figure out what life I want, and I’ll probably change my mind again next year. But for now, I’m going to do what makes me happy while I’ve still got the time.

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Four Photographers, One Model

The name of the game is Four Photographers, One Model, and here are the rules:

- There are four photographers (duh)

- There is one model (still with me, here?)

- Each photographer chooses one location and corresponding outfit

- Every photographer must shoot at least one photograph of the model in each other’s location + outfit

- You’ve got four minutes to get the shot

It’s a fun Youtube challenge based off of a series by Youtuber Jessica Kobeissi. Myself and three other photographers (all of whom will be linked to throughout this post!) got together to make our own version for Andrea Fonseca’s own YouTube channel! Our videographer was Bethany, and our model was Katie! Everybody was so lovely to work with, so if you’re in NYC and need a creative, you should check them out!

Okay! First location!

See that tiny little park right behind the man in the red (on the right hand side of the image on the left). I took a picture from inside of the park, and placed it on the right. It’s a teeny tiny green space outside of an apartment building. Natalia Wajda chose this location, and it was LOUD and tight! We were scrunched up against the exterior wall of Starbucks, and just as I’d get my shot… the light would change. This location was difficult, even though I do my best in front of greenery. I tried placing objects in front of the lens for the first time, too! See for yourself!

LOCATION TWO: A lush hidden garden space behind a TJ Maxx. Maybe I’m biased, because this was my chosen location! I was so excited to shoot here…. until I got one photograph in.

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An employee of the restaurant next door came outside to tell us that the garden was private, and we couldn’t photograph there. Total bummer. Read: what to do when your photo location falls through!! I started to panic, and was so thankful that I was shooting with a ton of generous, talented young ladies, because they were spotted a park right across the street, and I ended up getting some shots that are maybe even better than I could’ve hoped for!

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LOCATION THREE: Have you ever gotten stuck in the middle of a shoot? Like think about a very long shoot, with the same subject the entire time. Maybe your feet start dragging, you’ve put in everything you’ve got, and you can’t imagine giving more. That was me at the start of the third location. Sophie picked it out and it IS super cute, but I’m so tired by now. I decided to let all of the other girls shoot first, and I went last, so that I could get my creative juices pumping again. It’s okay to chill out and take a break!

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LOCATION FOUR: Y’all!! WE MADE IT!! This is a street in NYC that I know pretty well, but I’ve never noticed this little archway! When Andrea picked it out, I wasn’t sure how I could use it. I was already in the mindset of utilizing different angles, so while the other girls photographed ahead of me, I was thinking about how I could use this location to my own advantage. How could I take a location I wouldn’t usually shoot in, and make the end photographs my own? 

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Well I found a way. To show the model what I wanted, I threw my own booty up to the sky and laid my face on the bricks. Katie got it immediately and WOW!! So GOOD!! I only had that one shot in my mind, so the others were more of fillers. 

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Unfortunately, the YouTube video has since been removed LOL, but you can just take my word on it that it was very fun, and y’all should try one! Challenges like this can push you outside of your comfort zone and really force you to be more creative! Which location was your favorite? I think it’s pretty obvious which one was mine!