Book Review: Going Pro

If you’ve followed this blog, you know that I’ve been reading the book Going Pro: How to Make the Leap from Aspiring to Professional Photographer by Scott Bourne and Skip Cohen.  I just finished it and as promised, here is the review.  Right before picking up Going Pro I read VisionMongers by David duChemin which is another book about the journey of becoming and being a professional photographer.  You can check out my review of that book here.

Going Pro: How To Make The Leap From Aspiring To Professional Photographer

In this review I’ll sort of be comparing the two books I mentioned.  VisionMongers focused less on details and more on key principles, while Going Pro incorporates some principles but really delves more into specific things you should do.  In that way I think these two books compliment each other.  If you are thinking about making a living in photography, you should read them both.

Going Pro has 11 chapters and around 225 pages.  Don’t worry, it’s all easy reading and there are lots of beautiful images captured by different professional photographers to keep you entertained if the text gets boring (it really doesn’t get boring).  The chapters are:

Chapter 1: Define Your Niche
Chapter 2: Be the Best Photographer You Can Be
Chapter 3: Test the Water and Show Your Work
Chapter 4: Marketing
Chapter 5: Social Media Marketing for Photographers
Chapter 6: Use Twitter to Grow Your Photo Business
Chapter 7: Blogging: Your Online Presence
Chapter 8: The World of Search
Chapter 9: Old-Fashioned Networking
Chapter 10: Expand Your Business
Chapter 11: Outsourcing

This book starts out with defining your niche, basically, what do you want to shoot, or more generally what do you want to do specifically?  It’s interesting because VisionMongers basically starts out with this concept and emphasizes it as well.  You need to know what you want to do and where you want to go.  That’s the first thing you need to figure out.  I was at an academic time management workshop yesterday and the first point the speaker made was that you need to know what you want to do and where you want to be in the future.  I’m hearing this from so many places and so many people, that this must be really important because everyone is saying it.  Anyway, in this chapter, they list out all the different prominent “fields” of professional photography like landscapes, weddings, commercial photography and so on and give a brief description of each one.

Then the second chapter is about continuing to improve your craft and being the best you can be.  It’s a pretty short chapter with some tips and ideas on what you can do to improve and be at the top of your game.  The third chapter talks about having a website to showcase your work, getting feedback on your work at workshops, getting published, and details and suggestions on going about this.

The rest of the book is really about marketing and the different tools you have at your disposal.  From social media sites like Facebook , to Twitter, to blogs like WordPress and Blogger, to search engine optimization techniques, and finally to “old-fashioned” networking.  I think this is where this book really starts to shine.  There are so many great tips and specifics on how to use these tools and how pro-photographers use these tools.  These chapters don’t cover everything you need to know, but they sure give you a great place to start and get you going in the right direction.  For example, one major take away for me was the specifics on how to search on Twitter and how you can use Twitter to find potential clients and see what kind of work is available in your area.  I just never thought of using Twitter for something like that.

There are some “features” of this book that I liked.  Some chapters include do’s and don’ts like what should you do if you are using Facebook and what you shouldn’t do.  Another thing, throughout the book there are short messages by established professional photographers and some of these are interesting.  From cover to cover there plenty of amazing images, but one complaint I would have is that many of these images are repeated from one chapter to the next.  I really liked the photos by Chase Jarvis, very cool.  Also, the list of resources at the end of the book is certainly helpful.

To finish up.  If you are thinking about becoming a professional photographer, I would recommend that you read this book, especially if you don’t really know where to start.  But, before reading this book, read VisionMongers by David duChemin and then read this book.

If this review has been helpful, I would appreciate your feedback.  Thanks!


Book Review: VisionMongers

I just finished reading VisionMongers: Making a Life and a Living in Photography by David duChemin.  I bought the Kindle version of the book from Amazon. I purchased it because I feel and keep thinking that one day I think I want to earn a living from photography.  I just sort of have this idea stuck in my head, but I really don’t know where to start, how to start, or what it takes to make your craft your vocation.  I’m just kind of clueless on the business side of things and how to do it and what to do first.  I feel like I’m surrounded by fog or that I’m just lost and need something to get me started and to guide me.  So I bought this book hoping that it would show me the way or at least get me on the right track.  I’ve read other books by David duChemin before like Ten and Ten More and some of his other books at Craft&Vision.   Before hitting the “Buy now with 1-Click” button at Amazon, I read the reviews and it certainly has really good reviews.  So I bought it and now I’m writing my own review.  By todays standards, this book isn’t new.  I mean this thing was published in 2010.  That was ages ago, but that’s okay, because the underlying principles that are covered in this book are in some ways timeless.


This book has five chapters.

  • Chapter 1: Foundations
  • Chapter 2: Work, Work, Work
  • Chapter 3: Sounding Your Barbaric Yawp
  • Chapter 4: Business and Finance
  • Chapter 5: It’s a Brave New World

All of these chapters except for Chapter 5, which is really just the conclusion of the book, are loaded.  Chapter 1 talks about the importance of vision and passion.  If you are going to get into photography for a living, you need to have vision and passion to define you and keep you going. It’s not about the money honey.  After chapter 1, you should have a pretty good idea of whether you should make a living in photography or not.

Chapter 2 lives up to its title.  Here David duChemin just plainly lays it out – making a living in photography ain’t gonna be easy.  It will takes lots of work and there’s no secret shortcut.  I really like this chapter because of its emphasis on working hard and really earning something.  To me that’s just really encouraging because when the going gets tough, you know it’s supposed to be that way and that you haven’t made a wrong turn just because the road is rough and full of potholes.

Chapter 3 is about marketing.  He talks about general principles and foundations which he calls “The Four Pillars” and these are creativity, congruency, consistency, and commitment.  Then he gets into specifics like logos, websites, postcards, and about making connections and getting yourself out there.  There is a lot more to this chapter it is just loaded.  There’s so much good stuff there that I wish I had taken some notes.

Chapter 4, just like the title says, is about the business side of things and managing your finances.  Again, David duChemin discusses principles like the importance of staying debt free, the need for contracts, and project scope management.  He doesn’t get into specifics of how to make a budget or what software you should use to manage your finance.  This book isn’t about that, instead it tells you why you need a budget and why you should stay debt free.  It tells you why you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket and then shows you how you can diversify your income streams.

In Chapter 5, David duChemin wraps things up and goes back to a theme that’s present throughout the book, and that is, making your craft your vocation, that transitioning to making a living in photography is a unique journey.  There isn’t necessarily a well worn path to follow, you have to make your own path and make journey yours.  To drive this theme forward, throughout the book there are over seven stories or interviews of people who are making a living in photography, and these highlight the journey that these photographers have been and are on.

I will probably be re-reading this book in the future because I think it is just so rich in content.  When I do, I will make it a point to have a notepad next to me so I can take notes.  If you decide to get this book, and if you are thinking about going into photography either full time or just on the side and you have no idea where to start, I encourage you to read this book,but make sure to take notes.  Oh, don’t forget to read the interview with  Joe McNally in the appendix.

If you are interested in photography and would like to learn more about it and improve your craft without having to buy more gear, then take a loot at the Craft and Vision books.  They even have a free one here and the other books are pretty inexpensive like only $5 and they usually have some kind of sale or bundle discount.  So  definitely check them out.

Next on my reading list is another book, this one by Scott Bourne and Skip Cohen and its called Going Pro: How to Make the Leap from Aspiring to Professional Photographer.  Instead of buying this one, I checked my local library and they had it!  So I checked it out and have a week or two before I have to return it, and I can probably even renew it.  I actually have quite a few more books on my reading list, but this is probably going to be the next one.  Actually, I’m currently reading and almost finished with Part 2 of Scott Kelby’s The Digital Photography Book  I was able to get the kindle of edition of the boxed set for really cheap on cyber monday.

Book Review: Getting Started with Camera Raw by Ben Long

Over the last 3 to 4 weeks I have been reading Getting Started with Camera: How to make better pictures using Photoshop and Photoshop Elements by Ben long.  I just finished it and will be reviewing it here.

This book is actually rather “old” by todays standards of 2nd and 3rd editions coming out in 2 to 3 year intervals, however, most of the content is still relevant today.  It was published back in 2006.  Since 2009, when I first had access to a DSLR (Pentax k-2000 or k-m) photography has become my primary hobby and I am continually trying to improve and educate myself.  One area that I felt that I was really lacking in was knowledge of post-processing  and the “theory” behind it.  I could tweak photos in Aperture 3 and adjust exposure and contrast and I can even do a little HDR with Photomatix and get what in my opinion and opinion of friends are pretty good-looking photos.  I have also been shooting in RAW because I have noticed that I do get a lot more editing overhead, however, I felt like I was not getting the most out of the RAW files and was not sure if I was using the right tools the “right way”.So around 4 weeks ago I walked into a used-books store looking for a book on the programming language C.  I didn’t find one on C, but I did pick up Getting Started with Camera Raw for $2 (90 Philippine Pesos).  I leafed through it and noticed that a lot of it was about using Photoshop and Photoshop elements, both of which I don’t really use.  But, I also noticed that it had a lot about the basics of editing photos, whether jpeg or RAW, and this is what caught my attention.

This book covers how your camera takes pictures and what it does to the light data it capture to produce jpegs.  This might sound boring, but I have found that an understanding of this is actually important and useful, for me anyway (maybe it’s because of my engineering background).  Again, this book covers image editing basics from correcting tone and contrasts with levels and curves (both of which I didn’t know how to use before reading this book).  This book also explains what the various controls do and which control to use in certain situations.  For example, should you use the exposure slider or the brightness slider for an overexposed image?  Before, i never really touched the brightness slider.  I always used the exposure slider.  Well now I know when to use both.  A chapter on advanced editing methods are also included, and this is one of my favorite chapters since I learned a ton.  I learned things like how to use masks and how to use curves to fine tune edits with the exposure sliders.  For people who want to know more about Workflow this book also has a chapter on Workflow using Camera Raw, Photoshop, Elements, and so on.  The book ends with a chapter on shooting raw and how you can capture the most data with your camera.

There was one thing about the book that confused me, but by the end of the book I figures out what the author was saying.  I thought that when you say “exposing for the highlights” this meant that you underexposed so that you could preserve the details in the bright areas and ensure that you didn’t have blown-out highlights.  Well, I guess I understood this wrong and what this actually meant is that you expose the shot so that you preserve the highlights and don’t make them dark and turn them into mid tones.

Because of the advancements in technology specifically related to HDR, this book is kind of out of date unless you use Photoshop CS2.  But that is really the only area.  I would also like to point out that I don’t use Camera Raw nor Photoshop nor Photoshop Elements for my RAW workflow.  I use Aperture 3, but I still found this book helpful and it is a great introduction to understanding and working with RAW.  Overall I found this  book to be very informative, well written and easy to understand.  I learned a lot and I did not find it boring to read.  Then again, I find thermodynamics books to be kind of interesting.