Pho­to: pixabay.com

You are afraid of being left with­out mon­ey, your loved ones do not under­stand you, and you can’t find the very author’s style in any way … These are just a small part of the chal­lenges that you are like­ly to face if you decide that pho­tog­ra­phy is more than a hob­by for you. Yes, it will be dif­fi­cult at first, but many have passed this path suc­cess­ful­ly. We talked to pho­tog­ra­phers shoot­ing in var­i­ous gen­res and found out what was the most dif­fi­cult thing when they start­ed, and what a begin­ner should pre­pare for if he decid­ed to quit his bor­ing job and go into pho­tog­ra­phy.

Artem Arutyunov, works in the genre of architectural photography

— My jour­ney began in the 9th grade. My friends and I were walk­ing after school, and I saw that an incom­pre­hen­si­ble cov­er was lying under the car. Joy knew no bounds: I thought that there was a tele­phone! But it turned out — Nikon Coolpix.

In 2016, pho­tog­ra­phy made me grow. I start­ed get­ting plea­sure and recog­ni­tion. Then I start­ed a group on Vkon­tak­te, where I post­ed my work: from flow­ers that I shot with macro lens­es, to aca­d­e­m­ic archi­tec­ture, sculp­ture, and then urban­ism. Now I’ve delved into min­i­mal­ism and street pho­tog­ra­phy.

Pho­to: Artem Aru­tyunov / vk.com/cons_ph

I real­ized that my hob­by became a pro­fes­sion when I began to devote all my free time from work in the office to cre­ativ­i­ty. It was impor­tant for me to find the author’s style, to immerse myself in the ques­tion of what I can do and show what my main chips are.

I switched com­plete­ly to pho­tog­ra­phy in 2018. But I con­sid­er it not a pro­fes­sion, but rather a craft. A pro­fes­sion is when you get only mon­ey, and I get both plea­sure, and devel­op­ment, and mon­ey, and I also push myself to do some­thing new. A pho­tog­ra­ph­er can­not be “pre­served” in one genre — he will quick­ly run out of steam.

Pho­to: Artem Aru­tyunov / vk.com/luxnocturnal

The hard­est part of the jour­ney as a pho­tog­ra­ph­er who is com­plete­ly self-employed is find­ing sta­bil­i­ty, clients who help keep afloat and com­bine com­merce and cre­ativ­i­ty. And then, in terms of sever­i­ty, there is already a search for a cre­ative path, over­com­ing the impos­tor syn­drome, a cri­sis of self-real­iza­tion.

For a begin­ner who wants to become a pho­tog­ra­ph­er and make mon­ey with it, I advise you to stock up on mon­ey for the first peri­od so as not to feel con­strained and tor­ment­ed. There is noth­ing more dis­gust­ing than the feel­ing that you are run­ning out of mon­ey. Because of this, you will think about return­ing to your pre­vi­ous com­fort zone, doubt whether it was not in vain that you left the office.

Pho­to: Artem Aru­tyunov / vk.com/cons_ph

If you take the intan­gi­ble side, then decide what you are good at, what strengths you have. There is noth­ing more impor­tant than get­ting into a niche. You need to be able to show your­self to the audi­ence that you are inter­est­ed in, and not just to every­one in a row. The max­i­mum cov­er­age is pos­si­ble when you are “a gamer on the pipe and spe­cial in every­thing”, but there are few such peo­ple.

Find­ing the author’s hand­writ­ing is the most impor­tant thing. There are many pho­tog­ra­phers, the sphere is full. Com­ing here with pink dreams in the hope that you will find your audi­ence because you hold the cam­era in your hands is wrong.

Mikhail Shestakov, portrait painter

From the series “Sea­sons”. Pho­to: Mikhail Shes­takov / vk.com/mishest

— I start­ed shoot­ing in the 7th grade, when I had a parental 1.5‑megapixel soap box. But I have been pro­fes­sion­al­ly engaged in pho­tog­ra­phy since I was 23 years old. It’s hard to remem­ber what genre I start­ed with. When it’s a hob­by, you shoot every­thing. Gen­res are com­pre­hend­ed after the fact, and not at the time of shoot­ing.

Pho­tog­ra­phy grew from a hob­by into a job nat­u­ral­ly and grad­u­al­ly. I nev­er decid­ed: “I will be a pho­tog­ra­ph­er and now I will start pro­mot­ing myself.” I did pho­tog­ra­phy for fun, just because I’m rush­ing from it, I love doing it. And at some point, friends and acquain­tances began to ask if I could take pic­tures of them. Peo­ple them­selves have become will­ing to pay for what I do.

I would advise a begin­ner to be patient, prac­tice as much as pos­si­ble and not expect that after one, two or even ten shoot­ings you will learn every­thing at once. Pho­tog­ra­phy is a job to which one must devote one­self. If you are afraid of some­thing and your desire rests on fear, then you need to deal with it. And all your life ask your­self: “Am I doing what I want?”

Nina Ippolitova, horror photographer

Pho­to: Nina Ippoli­to­va / vk.com/your___horror

— The love for pho­tog­ra­phy woke up when I was 6 years old. Then the first soap dish appeared at home, and I didn’t let go of it at all. Then, already in ado­les­cence, social net­works came, every­one want­ed avatars for them­selves. High school girls began to come to me, which for me was lux­u­ri­ous. Then I start­ed tak­ing mon­ey. When you are 13–14 years old and you get 300 rubles for a few shots — it’s very cool!

I have been work­ing in hor­ror style since 2016. Every­thing that was before, I reset and do not count as expe­ri­ence, because then I could not find myself and the clien­tele. My hob­by turned into a job when it began to ful­ly sup­port me, and I went from a sta­ble zero to a good plus.

Pho­to: Nina Ippoli­to­va / vk.com/your___horror

At the ini­tial stage, the most dif­fi­cult thing was with the fam­i­ly. They did­n’t want to under­stand what it was like to be a pho­tog­ra­ph­er. They said that this was pam­per­ing that could not pro­vide for me, and not mine at all.

Anoth­er prob­lem was that at first I worked in the red, and then, when it began to work out, I real­ized that this was not mine, I don’t like this style. And abrupt­ly went into hor­ror. Of course, the audi­ence did not appre­ci­ate. They like fairies, princess­es and light col­ors, but here — gloomy, hor­ror, cold. I had to do it all over again: work in the red, increase the client base

If you look at my path, then I have one piece of advice: go ahead and nev­er lis­ten to any­one. Shoot what you want, because you can’t please every­one. Pay no atten­tion to any­one at all!

Irina Zinchenko, works in the genre of “neat erotica”

Pho­to: Iri­na Zinchenko / instagram.com/zin_irin

— My jour­ney began at school, when my moth­er bought me a cam­era. I pho­tographed my first wed­ding in 9th grade. Then I had my own online store, I went into sub­ject pho­tog­ra­phy for a long time, but aban­doned every­thing when I entered the med­ical uni­ver­si­ty. There I real­ized that this was not mine either, and went into make-up.

I trained as a make­up artist and decid­ed that I want­ed to shoot again. At first, in 2018, I just pho­tographed girls in the forests, and lat­er switched to love sto­ries. And one day I got a hot shoot in my style — neat erot­i­ca. And I real­ized that — mine! Now I am devel­op­ing this direc­tion, as I see a cer­tain phi­los­o­phy in it.

Pho­to: Iri­na Zinchenko / instagram.com/zin_irin

The hob­by turned into work when I decid­ed that from now on I take a very respon­si­ble atti­tude to pho­tog­ra­phy, that I need to devel­op a client base, shoot a port­fo­lio, and start devel­op­ing social net­works. I just col­lect­ed a finan­cial cush­ion, bought a cam­era, lens­es, a lap­top — and quit my office job.

The hard­est thing was to break the pat­terns that were in my head. How the face should be lit, how bright the glare should be, that the hori­zon should nev­er be filled up, and no “grain” is not of high qual­i­ty! I was always drawn to cin­e­mat­ic, not staged, real­is­tic, but in my head there were stu­pid cat­a­log pic­tures, which I call post­card pho­tographs. All this slowed down my devel­op­ment for a very long time.

Don’t be afraid to exper­i­ment and go beyond what you’re told. Train your unique vision and style right away. Believe in your­self, do not deval­ue your work. Well, pro­mote your­self, of course, because the pic­tures that you hang in front of the table and do not show to any­one, no one will see!

Author: Lisa Chechevit­sa