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About 12 yeArs Ago, At A time when new photogrAphers were finding fewer opportunities to apprentice as full-time assistants but more clients were hiring photo students with no business experience or understanding of artists’ rights, we launched pDn’s 30, our annual issue on new and emerging photographers. i still hear grousing from older photographers about the attention we pay to young upstarts, but as i’ve said many times, the mission of the issue is education. our goal
is to entice aspiring young photographers to read the issue
© brian bloom
and learn how the pDn’s 30 photographers launched successful careers. we want
to show that there’s much more to being part of the professional photo community
than just taking photos.
we had a similar goal in mind when we decided to highlight rising stars of wedding
photography this month. these days wedding photographers are facing stiff competi-
tion from newcomers. As digital cameras have made picture taking easier, more dab-
blers and career changers are trying to shoot weddings before they have a grounding
in professional business practices, pricing or customer service. when we began search-
ing for emerging photographers to feature, one veteran photographer grumbled about
naïve newcomers lowballing the competition. As Jose Villa notes in our end Frame this
month, many of the new arrivals want to do everything fast: they expect to shoot
fast and earn money quickly. Lacking a commitment to serve their customers or the
dedication to hone their skills, these photographers might land some paying gigs, but
they’ll find real success elusive. As Villa says, “they are becoming just another wedding
i hope some of those aspiring newcomers read how the passionate, dedicated
rising stars featured this month have built their wedding businesses. their stories
put the lie to the idea that it’s possible to achieve overnight success. they’ve put a
lot of work and time into refining their style, learning the ropes and developing the
kind of clients they want. And each of the rising stars we interviewed said they also
owe a debt to fellow photographers who were willing to share useful knowledge.
many learned the fundamentals of photography the traditional way, by work-
ing as darkroom printers or as assistants to commercial or fashion photographers.
others sought opportunities to work as a second shooter to wedding photogra-
phers who were willing to train them in customer service or client contact. many,
like KC wong, who joined a network of fellow wedding photographers who have
promoted their work to high-end clients, created their own communities of photog-
raphers they trust to share ideas and feedback. several are glad they found mentors
who guided them as they discovered not only how to land a job, but how to build a
satisfying career that can sustain them and their families in the long run.
when they sought guidance from fellow photographers, they found it. says pho-
tographer Austin gros, “i think people are more available and willing to share and
help other people out than some people might think.”
i hope gros is right. wishing the influx of new photographers would just go away
won’t do much good. but members of the professional photo community can make
a difference by ensuring that promising new talents learn the best business practic-
es and ethical standards. ultimately the photographers who share their knowledge
and experience help themselves by strengthening the whole community.