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Picture This: Natalie’s Ins & Outs of Photography (vol. 100)

Introduction: Grabbing a Camera


There are so many times when I find myself scrolling through Facebook or even Instagram and there will be an advertisement with bold letters stating that anyone can be a photographer. 


While anyone does have the capability to be a photographer if they own one digital camera, it takes so much more work than just one click of the shutter button. To be a photographer, you must have the capability to communicate with other people, always put on a smile even on your rough days, and be willing to understand what another person wants. It’s not just about  picture-taking or editing—there is an entire business side that professionals have down to a T. 


I remember being asked once if I would ever give mentor sessions about what I’ve personally learned from photography. However, I did not have a good answer at the time because I am still learning and grasping not only photography skills for myself, but also the business side altogether. I learn something new every session, and I don’t know if it’s something I could ever teach another person. Instead, I feel like it has to be just something one would have to go through themselves. To some photographers, mentoring means giving out their biggest secrets, which is the reason why they decide to charge the mentee a fee.


With all that said, I wanted to try a different way to “mentor” anyone interested in creating a business, whether it’s photography or something else. I don’t know how I feel about mentoring sessions with my crazy college schedule, but I’d love to share my story and what I am learning. I guess I am giving out my secrets for free, which I can’t guarantee will work out for every individual who follows it. The biggest secret I want to give to anyone who’s reading this is patience. You’re never going to get where you want to go if you don’t have the patience to continue working for it and improving on it. It took me years to get to my first wedding, but sometimes for others, it may only take a month when they first grab a camera right off the bat. Like I said, everyone has a different story, but here’s mine.



In 2015, my sophomore year of high school, I was obsessed with taking golden-hour pictures (I still am) for some reason. There  had to be a certain amount of warmth in the picture. I remember asking my friends to literally stand in front of the sun because I thought it would turn out really cool. Now, keep in mind that at the time, I was probably standing in the middle of a bridge across the 169 Highway at my hometown, taking pictures with my iPhone. Nowadays, I would’ve been pissed with my younger self for being so stupid for taking portraits with just a phone, but at the time, I never considered myself a photographer.



My uncle noticed that year how much I was taking pictures, and he recommended that I get a Nikon camera. I still have my Nikon D50 today. She’s an oldie, but she’s been with me since the beginning when I started photography. I would never sell her for another camera, she’s become that important to me.



My love for taking pictures led me to one of my older sister’s friends, Sydney. She was a senior and told me she needed her senior pictures done. I had never done senior portraits before, and it was kind of a huge deal for me. I had just gotten my camera, and honestly, I didn’t know how I was even using it most of the time. I would guess my numbers and play around until it looked right. I always shot on shutter speed mode at first because I only adjusted my ISO: a camera’s setting for its sensor’s sensitivity and another dial. I was very uneducated, but truly lucky.



Here are three steps I have come up with to start a photography business based on my experience:


The first step is to get your camera! Figure out what device is best for you. Before I got my uncle’s camera (Nikon D50), I actually had a red Nikon Coolpix. Nothing big or spectacular, but a tiny digital camera where its focal point, or aperture was 5.6 the lowest. Personally, I love focusing on one small subject and blurring everything else. The lower an aperture, the more focus ability the camera has. An aperture of 5.6 is great for a group picture, but isn’t something I will stretch out for. It’s great to begin with, however! You want to buy a camera that will help you understand the photo-taking process and the technicalities.


The second step is to explore more! Once you receive your dream camera, you need to take the time to sit down and explore the features it gives you. Maybe you can look through your camera and figure everything out by guessing and checking (that’s what I have personally done), but I have many friends who have told me they spent hours on YouTube teaching themselves. 

Another option can be to check the included manual. This may take you awhile to accomplish before you even begin to feel happy enough with the images you’re taking. Keep in mind, also, that this is why photographers stick to one brand because every camera brand has different buttons on their cameras. There are so many ways to explore your new device: take classes, watch videos and go on random photoshoots with your friends to help figure it out on a whim!


When you feel ready enough, the next step is to do an actual shoot, whether it’s paid or unpaid. This not only gives you experience and something to put into a portfolio draft, but it also starts spreading the word about your new photography skills! People do listen, and when something is offered cheap or especially free, it doesn’t go unnoticed too often.


This is how to start a photo-biz! The biggest piece of advice I have is to grab attention and to start announcing yourself as a photographer. Credibility becomes even more important later in the game.


Stay tuned for more photography advice in my Picture This series! Until then, follow my Instagram that is dedicated to my photography and check out my website—I do pictures for seniors, weddings, couples and families. 

Natalie Elle Tyler is a senior at Winona State majoring in Creative Digital Media. She is minoring in Dance, Creative Writing, and Journalism. Natalie manages her own photography business. When she isn’t writing, she’s either doing a photoshoot, hanging out with friends, or dancing. Her ultimate dream is to make book covers through her photography while having the time to be a freelance travel photographer or photojournalist.
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