Photography is one of those things that has always been a part of my life. In elementary school I got a camera as a gift one Christmas and fell in love. I’d just take random photos, especially of cars for some reason. Fast forward a few years, I took photography as an elective in high school. Back then it was film, and yes I must be making myself sound real old but honestly it wasn’t that long ago. My teacher really encouraged me and that just made me want to learn and keep pushing. As the years went by my focus shifted and it was all about finishing college and getting that “good job” with benefits and saving for retirement. I know it may sound way too early to be thinking about retirement, but that is literally what was drilled in my head and all I knew. I never in a million years thought that being a photographer was even an option. I realized that I just wasn’t happy, or even fulfilled; something was missing but I just didn’t know what it was. With the help of my best friend and amazing cousin Thomas, I rediscovered photography and as they say the rest was history. I’ve learned that you can’t do what you think the world says is acceptable; you have to do what makes you happy. Dig deep in the depths of your soul, and when you find it, hold on tight and fight for that.
Here are some tips I’ve learned in my time so far as a professional photographer.
1. Be consistent:
This has to be the number one thing that I too struggle with, but it is the key to success in any field. If you’re not consistent then your work will never truly grow and develop. It shows others that you are serious about what you do, and that you’re reliable. I’m definitely not saying that you need to prove yourself to people, but you should want to prove it to yourself. It teaches you discipline and in this field it’s hard enough in the beginning that you don’t have time to just waste. Respect your time, it is valuable, and once you realize this, everything will just connect. When people reach out to you they know that they’re getting a professional and not just an amateur.
2. Study your craft:
Study, study, and study! You are never “too good” to learn. If you’re serious about growing your brand and want to be taken seriously, then you need to be able to articulate what you do. You won’t always have the ability to sweet talking your way through certain things, and a professional will be able to spot a phony a mile away. Don’t fall into the trap of empty compliments like “your work is so dope”. Don’t get me wrong that’s nice to hear but have something to back that up, be prepared and always ready to explain a photo. Why did you choose that angle? What’s the purpose of this photo? What was your inspiration?, etc. Don’t just take a shot, just to take a shot. Have a purpose.
3. Collaborate with fellow creatives; doesn’t have to be in the same field:
This is major in my opinion. Working with other creative people is so inspiring and will only make you better. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people and just create magic. Now more than ever is the time to work together and build one another up. Put yourself out there and take a chance. What do you really have to lose? Think outside the box and collaborate with people outside of your field; this is where you’ll really push your creative mind and you’ll be surprised with what a blessing it is.
4. Get a mentor:
This is one of those tricky things to be honest. I still don’t have a mentor but it doesn’t mean I’m going to give up on finding one. Sometimes timing is everything. This will be someone that is going to inspire you and push you to be the ultimate best. Don’t think that they are there to baby you. Heck no! They’re there to push you and show you things about yourself that you may not even see yourself. This person will change the way you see what you do, and they’ll guide you.
5. Don’t do it for the money, hype or trend:
This is probably the one thing that bothers me the most. If you’re thinking of becoming a photographer because you think you’re going to make a ton of money, go to the coolest parties and get hired to take photos of Drake, you’re sadly mistaken! I don’t mean to be harsh but it’s just reality. You have to do this because it is truly a passion and a desire you have. You have to love it and be willing to work hard to get to the place you know you deserve to be. This isn’t a game or just some “thing” you decide to do because everyone seems to be doing it. Be real, be nice, be you! I hope this helps anyone out there considering photography. I’m learning everyday, and I fail everyday, but one thing that I refuse to do is give up. This is a journey and you have to be willing to hang on for the ride. Like I always say, “With true passion comes success.”
By Jodianne Beckford
Jodianne Beckford is a lifestyle & fashion photographer who currently resides in Toronto, ON. She is of Jamaican descent, and was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Jodianne has always had a love for photography, but not until 2013 when she moved to Ottawa did she have the opportunity to really take it to the next step and learn the technical aspects. She was taught by a fellow photographer and cousin Thomas Cumberbatch of Tommy Bokeh Photography. Shooting at weddings is where she was able to find her niche, discovering that capturing moments was her gift and from there it’s history. Recently having moved back to Toronto she began a project called The “E” Project; the “E” stands for entrepreneur. For more information about Jodianne Beckford or to see more of her work visit jodiannebeckford.com.