Need help getting started

edited March 2015 Posted in » Nikon D3100 Forum
Hi all,

I'm Jenna, and I also own a Nikon D3100. I would love to start up my own photography business, big or small. I just graduated with my masters not to long ago so I haven't had a chance to get into photography, but I would love to start my business now that I have more time on my hands. However, I have NO idea where to start.

What editing program should I use (I have photoshop, but it's a bit dated and I am thinking it is time for a new one).

Where can I learn editing skills/techniques?

What equipment should I buy that is helpful for beginners? So far I have a 35mm f/1.8 close up lens and a 55-200mm f/4-5.6 zoom lens. Where is a good place to buy it?

Thank you to everyone who can help make this dream a reality for me.


  • edited March 2015
    I am strictly an amateur myself and cannot offer much of anything in the way of business advice, but will say that what you are proposing is a tall order indeed.

    I think before you cast off. You need to decide what it is you're interested in photographing and become proficient in the actual making of photographs before you worry too much about the rest.

    I don't want to be a wet blanket, but there are a lot of professional photographers out there with huge investments in top-end equipment, and a lot of technological experience. Whether or not they're very good photographers is debatable, but they know their way around the equipment. If you're going to jump into that shark pool I think you'd better be very conversant with the technical requirements of your equipment, and comfortably sure that you have some vision that others lack.

  • edited March 2015
    I am not looking to jump into the professional world right away. I guess I'm just looking for basics like how to make my photos better when I take them/edit them, what equipment would be best to use for someone who is just starting out - that sort of thing. I am interested in doing portrait photography, whether that be family, single, babies, etc.
  • edited March 2015
    I think you are probably well started with the 35mm lens, which is a nice fast lens for general work, and has a lot of latitude for depth of field. In DX format this is a "normal" perspective, which means that what you see will resemble the perspective you see with your eyes, though the field of view is much narrower. For more distant subjects, outdoor portraits and the like, the short to medium end of the zoom might prove sufficient, at least to begin with. I would suggest that the main task is going to be getting good exposure, pleasing lighting, and interesting composition. If those factors come out right, editing will not be very complicated.

    If you expect to do a lot of portraiture, you may well find that lighting is your weakest point. The built in flash is harsh and unkind to faces. Natural light, though it can be very nice, may not do what you want it to. I am not the person to ask about flash, as all my equipment is obsolete, but I think you will probably need to find out more about what flash unit will meet your needs. For portraiture you need something that does not cast harsh shadows.

    If you start with the basic procedures such as Moose here outlines, you'll get reasonably reliable results and good exposures, and whether your pictures are good or not will depend mostly on whether you are.

    There's enough to learn that you can spend a lifetime and a half and not be done, but I would suggest that first of all you get out and expose lots and lots of images. Try everything and erase what does not work. Look around, try to figure out what makes pleasing pictures good, and don't be afraid to imitate. Read up on composition and try to figure out why some arrangements look better than others. Don't be afraid to experiment and to delete.

    And know your camera inside out. Before you get more stuff, be the master of what you have. Focusing choices, metering patterns, decisions on ISO and aperture, and whatnot, should be familiar.

    I would not worry much about post processing yet. Try to get good clean exposures, and you may need very little else except when circumstances require.

    I must confess that as an old slide shooter I tend to think that many digital photographers rely far too much on post processing. Many of the images I see touted on the web look unnatural and manipulated to a fare-thee-well. The best photoshopping is an art itself, but much of the time I'd rather see a good photograph well conceived and composed, with a flaw or two, than a perfectly fabricated image that has strayed too far from the camera that made it.
  • edited March 2015
    Thank you for your advice. I will become more familiar with my camera before anything. I need to learn about the different settings and what they mean.
  • edited March 2015
    Hey Jenna. First, let me answer your questions:
    What editing program should you use?
    If you’re on a budget, there’s plenty of capable free options. Just start off with Nikon’s own NX-D for RAW processing. For touching up, you can continue with your version of Photoshop or use something like GIMP.
    If you can afford it, then the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan is the obvious choice. It’s $10 per month and you get the latest versions of Photoshop and Lightroom.

    Where can you learn editing skills/techniques?
    The Internet is full of information. Just search “how to” followed by what you want to do. Plenty of articles, tutorials, and videos will show up.

    What equipment to buy?
    This is very subjective. I believe in getting fast glass as soon as you can. This means primes and constant aperture zooms. Once you get used to your camera and the lenses, then look into getting flash and lighting which opens up a whole new world.

    Where to buy?
    I like Adorama and B&H. If you don’t mind grey market, then Digitalrev has very competitive prices and free shipping.

    As for starting a photography business, it’s a bit early in your photography journey which I’m sure you’re aware of. Just focus on getting quality pictures. Make a website to show off your work. That will be your portfolio which you can later show to potential clients.
  • edited May 2015
    @ohyeahar thank you for your nice suggestions!
    @jrob16 I am thinking about starting my photo business too! I would love to get in contact with you and see where you're at if you don't mind. Probably between beginners some help can be mutual. Thanks!
  • edited May 2015
    Thank you for your suggestions everyone. @Martino_Rabaioli I would be happy to connect with you.
  • edited May 2015
    @JRob16, awesome! Thank you so much! Would you mind PM me on Facebook? Look for Martino Rabaioli. My profile picture is a sculpture of a man trying to get out of the stone.
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