Q&A | For Photographers (& Entrepreneurs)

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I have been posting a lot of personal stuff here on the blog lately, I hope you all don’t mind! Today’s blog post is a little personal, but it’s also going to be helpful (or so I hope!).

Before the month of November, my high school photo teacher, Mrs. Shine, asked me to spend a day in November to talk to her students (I spoke to all her students from zero-sixth period. How nerve-racking, right? AHH!) about how I started my business in her class in high school and how far it has come since then. She wanted to talk step by step, trial and errors, anything photography related.. including business! This really made me get out of my comfort zone, but I loved it!

To really sum it up, I talked about how I would take pictures with a point and shoot type of camera of nature, then as soon as I acquired a DSLR Camera, I started talking pictures of friends. Then, a family contacted me to photograph them for Christmas cards and actually paid me. After that, the business started picking up because of Facebook and referrals. With the help of taking Mrs. Shine’s class my junior and senior year in high school, watching youtube, reading blogs, and attending workshops, I have improved my photography skills and business. Also, how I use to be afraid of the sun and didn’t know how to correctly shoot in manual to knowing my camera settings so much better. Plus, so much more!

Before I spoke in front of her classes, she asked each student to write 3 things they thought were interesting, 2 things they learned, and 1 question they had. Some classes had students actually raise their hand and ask questions during and after my presentation! I absolutely LOVED it! At the end of the day, Mrs. Shine gave me the stack of papers that the students wrote on. I got to read every single one. I loved it!!

I thought I would wrote out + answer the most popular questions I read. There is no specific order, but these are the questions that were popping up every few pages!

Do you pick your locations? Before I pick, I always ask my clients if there is a specific location that has meaning to them or that they love. If they have an idea, but need help, I offer a list of locations.

Do you pose your clients? Yes! Most of my clients have no idea what to do and that is the way I like it! I will pose the clients through their WHOLE session!

How long are the sessions? When I first started, I did not have a set time. Then, I wanted to do two hours. After practice of working fast, I now offer 1-1.5 hour session!

What do you use for editing? Ever since I got into photography, I have been using Adobe Aperture. I use it for everything besides hard cloning photos. I use Photoshop for that. Many photographers use Lightroom, but I haven’t needed to make the switch because Aperture has had everything I personally need! You can view some thread online what is best for you. Here is one: CLICK HERE.

What inspired you to become a photographer? As I was saying in the presentation, but not many know, it was my niece. As soon as she was born, I was photographing her like crazy (I still do) and being able to capture her growing up and sharing with ones who are not local + being able to look back on the photos is what made me really love photography. Photographs are so important as generations pass and it’s always heart warming to look back on them. I wanted to photograph other people and create memories for them to look back on them, too. So, I became a photographer.

Do you plan to do this as your career? Do you plan to get big and be in magazines? This IS my career. I plan to do this career, as long as my clients help make it possible. I will be getting as “big” (popular, famous, whatever big was thought as) as my clients + supporters get me! Though, I absolutely love the publications, my business is solely serving my clients. So, no, my plan is not to be in magazines. If it happens, yay!

What is golden hour? Golden hour is the last hour of the day – the sunset! It is most photographers’ best friend! It creates gorgeous light for your photographs!

On average, how much do you receive/what is your salary get per year? I’ve been fighting on actually sharing the exact amount, but I feel like it’s not needed because every single business owner is different. Let just say: Every single year of my business it has been different! As my business grows, my rates raise, which then means I receive more money. If you plan to start a photography business or any business, your first year or two (sometimes more!) will be your hardest years of business! You will be putting more investments in than actually making profit, but that is OKAY! 🙂

How many sessions/weddings do you do per month? year? Every month and year has been different. In 2015, I photographed 100 (more or less) sessions and 10 weddings!

Is it hard to work with different people? In all honesty, it can be! But all the different types of people I get to work with, is what I love!

How many years of photography school do you need? ZERO! I, myself, have not gone to photography school. I have taken the two years in high school, the rest is self taught, and attending workshops that other photographers have taught. Most of the photographers I am friends with or know, they have not gone to a college for photography. If you are planning on going to college for photography, I am not saying do not go. If you wish to go, go! I just personally believe you do not have to! I have so much more fun putting my investment in learning from other professionals in this industry who have experienced it all, than learn from one professor and spend 10x more than I need to!

How long did it take to get your photography/business license? In every area, it’s different! It took me about 1 week and a few hundred dollars to complete the whole process! For me to actually have the certificate? It took about 3-4 weeks!

When is the best time to shoot? There is no “best” time! You can shoot at ANY time. You just have to know how to work with the current light you have. What is my FAVORITE time to shoot? Golden hour (during sunset), as I mentioned above in another question. 🙂

Does it cost a lot to start a photography business? YES!! You can definitely keep your budget low and work with what you’ve got, but it does cost A LOT! BUUUTTT, it’s all an investment, that you will get back in the future with your sessions or weddings you will have! 🙂

Do I work alone? Depends! When I am at shoots, majority of the time, I have David (my boyfriend) with me! Weddings are the same! I have David with me or another/second shooter! Boudoir, there is no assistant! After any shoots or weddings, I work alone! Editing, emails, bookkeeping, etc. I work all alone!

Do I travel? Yes! I have been to Virginia, Utah, Arizona, Catalina, and parts of California for photography! I hope to one day, travel outside of the United States!

Thank you high school students, for all the questions! Thank you Mrs. Shine, for giving me the opportunity to share my story with your current students!

GUESS WHAT!? I am now off to speak to more high school students of being an entrepreneur at a young age! YES! Another teacher I had in high school, wants me to speak to her students! 🙂 I am feeling so blessed!!

If they have common questions, I may have another blog post for ya!

Thank you all for reading this whole post and I really hope it helped you!

Shelby Danielle
{Follow me of Instagram for daily updates: @ShelbyDaniellePhotography}


About Me

I am a wedding & portrait photographer based in Southern California and beyond!

I started at the young age of 16 in my hometown of Orange in Orange
County, California. As my photography business grew and I got married,
life took me to the Chino Hills area, making me more centered to all
major Southern California counties.

Here on the blog, you will
see a variety of posts regarding tips, sessions & weddings, and my
personal life of being a wife, mother, and business owner. To learn more
about me or to see more daily adventures, follow me on Instagram and/or

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