How to get enough experience to charge?

Started Mar 22, 2018 | Questions thread
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JustinSmithPhotography Forum Member • Posts: 98
How to get enough experience to charge?
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I'm not sure this is the right forum to ask this question. With that out of the way...

I have been a hobbyist landscape photographer since about 2008. I have technically owned a business for a while, meaning that I have an EIN and have to report sales tax quarterly. However it's almost always been reporting $0 income, so I'm not inclined in any way to call myself a professional at this point.

It's admittedly one of the more difficult types of photography to earn a living from, something which I hear from pros all the time. The issue is that today it is very easy to find full resolution images of beautiful places online to download for free. So, I have accepted that I have to branch out into other areas of photography. I don't love other types of photography as much as I do landscape photography, but I like any kind of photography more than doing anything non-photography related for a living.

I'm trying to set up a service-oriented side of the business that will focus on portrait work (for families, Linked In, work-related), also pets. The advantage here is that people can't google themselves for high quality images to print, so they have to get someone to do it. However, I can't rightly charge someone for any type of photography if I cannot demonstrate competency in it. I've been able to get basic portrait work done only by hiring a model via Model Mayhem. I cannot find anyone willing to let me photograph them otherwise. Friends, family, and co-workers are always "busy". Unfortunately I cannot use Model Mayhem for everything I need sample work of. For one thing, professional models are too expensive. I just cannot afford to shell out a couple hundred bucks every weekend for 2-3 months straight. The other problem is that a lot of the images I need are things that I can't get from there, such as child portraits, or pets, or a business team in their workplace.

So this is the dilemma. How do I get the experience I need to be able to start charging for these services, if I can't even get people to let me do the practice work for free? I'm sorry if this post comes off as a little desperate, it's just that I worked for a long time developing a plan and I did not anticipate that it would fall apart for this reason.

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