How to Get Through Your First Paying Photoshoot

We all start somewhere, and that tends to be with a nerve-racking first paying photoshoot. Here are some tips to help get you through yours.

Dipping your toes into your first paying job can be terrifying for many of us. I vividly remember the anxiety and stress of my first paying photoshoot. I had no idea what I was doing, I didn't know if my photos would work or be good enough, and I was generally a wreck. The simple change in dynamic from doing it just for fun to doing it for money is huge and something most of us don't really consider. After a few years of telling people that you are a photographer, someone you know or a family member is bound to ask you to take a portrait of them or their family, do their company's headshots, or even worse, photograph their wedding for them (I would strongly advise against this for a first paying job regardless of how long you have been a photographer for).

This video moves from making sure you back up your work correctly, in order to avoid having an article about you appearing here on Fstoppers about how you did something daft and lost your best friend's wedding photos through to making sure that you have the right insurance and business structure for where you live in the world. The video also covers how to make sure that your client is happy with the final product and how to make sure that everyone gets what they expect out of the day. This is something that plagues most pros for most of their careers until they put the right tools in place to prevent it. 

If you have already done your first shoot, how did it go and what did you learn from it?

If you are still waiting for this moment, what are your main fears for going into your first paying photo shoot?

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10 Comments

Umm.. have you seen his work? He is far from an amateur. Great video, Scott!

Tony Clark's picture

I looked at your profile and it's pretty sparse, how about a little credibility and share your website? As a pro, I'm always looking for knowledge and experience regarding how others conduct their own business.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Good tips. I back up to two memory cards and I found a way to back up to my phone but it's slow.

Scott Choucino's picture

Thanks Motti. Good idea re; the phone to!

Miguel Santos Novoa's picture

Thanks for the video, but too much emphasis on technical details and not the experience to the customer is the wrong approach.

Using the author's example, I will shoot my uncle's wedding, and I need to make sure I make 3 copies on site before leaving? What? Has he shot a wedding before? There is no time for that unless you have more than a few assistants.

Anyway, probably he was exaggerating to make the point, but backups as important as they are, are not the most important item for your first paying photo shoot.

And by the way, I manage 10Petabytes of storage at work, so I know about backups and data integrity and recovery processes.

Alex Herbert's picture

Not that I'm advertising it as best practice, but since I started shooting 4 years ago I've had 5 different cameras and never backed up anything on a shoot. I've also had ZERO data loss. Bad things can definitely happen, but the odds are very much in your favour.

Motti Bembaron's picture

I lost two (that's 2!!) Sandisk cards in my D750 in my past 3 years. Both happened to crap on me at weddings. If I did not have a second card the images would have been lost.

Yes, things can happen. Why take a chance.

Alex Herbert's picture

Ah ok, I've only done Canon, Sony and Panasonic. Maybe it's a Nikon thing :)

Motti Bembaron's picture

It's possible it is a Nikon thing :-(

Robert Nurse's picture

Maybe after the wedding festivities are done and he's packing up, he made two copies of everything to those portable drives.