Tap into your creativity with photography

Credit: Hazel Coonagh

Credit: Hazel Coonagh

By Michelle Newman

Professional photographer Hazel Coonagh lends us her advice on how to get started in the world photography, getting your work noticed and why weddings are the bread and butter of the business.

1. Take pictures right away

Start experimenting and photographing as many different variations as you can, even if you just have a camera on your phone. Learning by doing, really is the best way to improve with photography.

2. Do your research

Researching pictures is important to learn about simple things like the rule of thirds; that’s a fairly standard compositional trick that people learn early on. The basics are lighting, composition and subject matter, they’re the most important things to keep in mind.

3. It’s never been easier to learn the fundamentals

There are so many fantastic tutorials online so search whatever you’re looking for on sites like YouTube. I learned quite a bit from magazines and books but to have someone show you examples as they go along is really, really, helpful.

4. Join a club or do a course

It’s a really cool way of meeting people who have similar interests and it can help you to push your skills if you know you’re going to be presenting them to your peers. If you want to make a living out of photography, you’ve got college courses, night courses, these are tonnes of courses around that you could use.

5. Assisting established photographers is really helpful

That’s where you’ll learn skills like how to carry out a more professional operation. Find someone who’s work you like, get in touch with them and ask for their advice. Usually assisting isn’t paid, but it pays for itself in terms of what you learn.  

6. Photography is as expensive as you make it

Realistically, if you want to take it on professionally it’s going to cost you a bit. For a your first camera you’re looking at spending about €600, for the most basic DSLR.

7. A portfolio is about quality over quantity

Don’t include everything that you’ve ever shot. 10 really strong pictures are going to impress people far more 50 images which are only alright. Your portfolio should only include your absolute best and stick to the kind of work that you want to get.

8. Get online to get noticed

If you don’t want to pay for a website, having an online portfolio with things like Instagram or Tumblr is very popular nowadays, which you can get for free.

9. Weddings are the bread and butter

If you’re into them, weddings are a massive part of photography. There are certain areas where a photographer’s job might be a little bit at risk given the way media has changed, but weddings will always be there. They’re also very accessible for people who don’t live in the city. Other than weddings, you could be a portrait photographer, you could specialise in food, product, fashion. There are lots of areas you could go into.

10. What are your pictures worth?

Pricing is a tricky one to gauge, especially when you’re starting out. Figure out what you’re going to give people; for weddings will you give them an album or a disk with everything on it? Look up some more established photographers and see how much they’re charging. Obviously you wouldn’t be charging that much right away but you can get an idea of what people would charge.

For more information on Hazel Coonagh visit www.hazelcoonagh.com

Credit: Hazel Coonagh

Credit: Hazel Coonagh


Ask the Expert

Canon product expert David Parry shares some tips with aspiring photographers on a quest to tell their story

1. Think about the story you want to tell

Before you begin searching for a camera or lens, think about the stories you want to tell through your photography and how you want to differentiate your content with a recognisable style.

2. Get yourself out there

Consider what people enjoy examining, experiencing and sharing and how best to reach these targets through self-marketing.

3. Research before you buy

Speak to other photographers, ask an expert at your local camera store for their advice on which camera is best for you and your photography before you buy.

4. Learn the lingo

The Canon Companion app is a handy little resource that makes sense of photography buzzwords and will show you how to put them into practice.

5. Think outside the box for props

It’s worth investing in props to suit the style of photography you enjoy. Affordable extras can be re-used in lots of ways to give various effects.

For more information visit www.canon.ie

Catherine Devane