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Course Spotlights: Photographic Portraiture and The Business of Photography

Instructor Todd Bigelow shares insight on his fall quarter courses, Photographic Portraiture and The Business of Photography:

Why are these courses important for my photography education?

Portrait photography is, without a doubt, the type of work most commonly associated with commercial, corporate and editorial photography. To put it another way, a good photographer will shoot portraits for a wide variety of clients. Although the use may vary, the need for strong portraits is constant. For example, corporations hire photographers to shoot portraits of employees to promote on their website and printed materials, for use in marketing materials and corporate campaigns and even for annual reports. Magazines of all kinds hire photographers to shoot everyone from celebrities to the average citizen for stories and profiles while ad agencies hire portrait photographers to promote a client’s products or services. Now, when you really break this down, you have TWO critical parts: First is the need to learn how to create a variety of portraits to fit specific needs and the second is to learn how to develop those clients and create a business relationship. By combining the Portrait Photography course and The Business of Photography Workshop, students get the full picture that will enable them to pursue a career in photography.

Do you have a sample assignment for each?

The Portrait Photography course is designed with practicality in mind. I’m a working photographer who is bringing 25 years of experience into the classroom, so the assignments reflect what students will typically encounter in the profession. For example, I will assign a variety of portraits to be shot while honing in on key elements such as the use of natural light or control of the background through depth of field and composition. Great portrait work is not the result of secret techniques or super advanced knowledge, it’s really about excelling at the fundamentals of portrait photography which include light, composition and subject rapport. I also assign conceptual work where the students draw on their own interpretation of a concept (such as Love or Power) and develop a portrait that reflect the concept either literally or figuratively. For example, the image here was shot to reflect the concept of “toughness.”

As for The Business of Photography, we go into details on what is required if you truly wish to create a freelance photography career. This course has been taught all over the country and presented at major photography conferences in Florida, New York, Virginia and elsewhere and has been named several times as one of the best photo workshops worldwide by Photoshelter, so it’s value to photographers is real. Photographers must learn how to not only develop a portfolio, but how to leverage that portfolio to develop clients and create licensing revenue. One thing photographers learn immediately when developing an advertising, editorial or corporate client is that you will need to sign a contract. I present a number of real contracts and break the important sections down so my students will know what to expect and how to negotiate. We also discuss at length the need to copyright your work and protect against others using your work without consent or pay, a real problem in the profession. I also provide real, up to date information about creative fees as well as how to structure your business and prepare to pay taxes as a self employed person. For more detailed information as well as student testimonials, please visit www.BusinessOfPhotographyWorkshop.com.

What will I take away from these courses?

Students who enroll in the Portrait Photography course will walk away with a very strong foundation to create a variety of portraits. We incorporate a full day in a well equipped studio where students can play with various lighting set ups, but students will understand upon completion that creating portraits is more about the subject than it is about the equipment. That’s the key difference between Portrait Photography and, say, Studio Lighting. We concentrate on subject first and equipment second. Students who enroll in The Business of Photography Workshop will ingest a wealth of practical knowledge that will help them navigate the world of freelance photography as a career. This course is essential to photographers seeking to earn money using their technical and creative skills.

Thanks, Todd!

Enroll in Photographic Portraiture and/or The Business of Photography today!

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