Getting experience

There are so many ways in which a budding photographer can get started, get experience and get booked.  I will tell you my route in the hope it helps you to think of your own strategy and get into the portrait market.


For me, the most challenging part of being a green gilled photographer was direction.  Not which direction should I go with my work, but directing my clients.  For starters, I had all the technology to think about and get right without having to be the charming confident and on the ball photographer who is great with kids and adults alike and is able to think ahead to the next shot so as not to flounder hopelessly after doing one set up not knowing what the hell to do next.  With Children’s photographers in London there are so many talented individuals, why would they choose me when I didn’t know how to actually conduct a shoot.  So it’s really important to do practice runs with your friends and family.


In the first year I usually wrote down a sequence a bit like a screen play, so I knew exactly what shots I was going to do and in what order, that way I could concentrate on being a nice person and not sweating too much.  Yes you have to look at your crib sheet but it’s so much better than panicking and dying in a heap on the floor.

Make sure you have everything backed up and double backed up which leads me to point number 2…, make sure you have a good IT person to help you at a moments notice, sounds silly but you REALLY need this.  If you’re stressing about getting the images ready and how the hell do I do that in photoshop etc, and then your computer goes dead, well, need I say more.  I’ve had a very good computer guy who will drop everything and come and rescue me before I loose my sanity.

Thirdly, don’t try and do anything too tricky with strangers.  Save the techy bits for your friends who have more patience!   Stick with simple lighting and posing.  When your confidence grows, so will your ability to introduce more complex set ups.

I would stick to around an hour if I were you for a family with kids.  Children will generally do what they are told by a new person but will start to take the piss and act up as they do top their parents, within an hour.  They also don’t have a huge attention span so an hour is just enough to have fun and get some great shots hopefully.  If the kids are acting up, change set ups, change locations, give them an incentive.  You really have to be on the ball with kids and one step ahead.  I use mini smarties as an incentive (really small so they don’t take long to eat) and have a prize for the end if they’ve been good… a balloon and a wrist band in my case.

How to get those first shoots

Schools – let it be known with your friends at your children’s school that you’re in the market for photo shoots and give them an amazing deal to get off the ground.

Put details up on boards in the following places:

  • Ballet Schools
  • Local Cafe’s
  • Local shops
  • School boards
  • NCT groups that you know about

Hope this helps for now


Susan Porter-Thomas LSWPP Family photographer


Getting experience

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