I never could have thought I would be guest blogging on one of my favorite photography sites. Before I even begin, I just want to thank Jodi Friedman for making it possible.
My name is Hannah, and I am a teen photographer. You may hear that and think, “Wow! I would like to see some of her pictures! I bet she can’t take anything publishing-worthy.” As a teen photographer, it can be hard to be taken seriously. I’m writing this post for other teen photographers, as it’s something I wish I could have had when I was starting in photography.
I started photography when I was 10 years old, using my mom’s point-and-shoot and taking pictures of pretty much everything. I just decided I wanted to try photography for fun. I started to post pictures on a website run by National Geographic Kids, called My Shot. It was for children/teen photographers to post their pictures in a moderated community where they could receive critiques from other kids.
I won a few online awards on that website. At the beginning of last year, I really got noticed by National Geographic Kids. One of the proudest days of my life was when I found out I was published in the National Geographic Kids print magazine. The even bigger news was that my photo was featured in Vice President Biden’s house in Washington D.C. I never could have imagined being noticed for my photography, much less having my photo hung in the Vice President’s house. It came as a total shock to me.
This is the photo that was hanging in the Vice President’s house:
I started doing professional portraits shortly after that. One of my most memorable photos was of a ten year old girl who received a photo shoot as a birthday present from her parents. She wore her mother’s wedding dress. We will be showing this photo on the blog on Friday so check back. While I love photo shoots, I am even more interested in capturing real-life moments of my friends and family. One of my favorite photos is one of friends just being completely natural while we enjoyed each others company. Seen here:
My goal in all my pictures is to capture the subject how the person really is, not wearing a “mask” or pretending.
When you’re starting out as a teen photographer, you need to have a professional approach to photography. That doesn’t mean making it any less fun for you, but you need to be able to be taken seriously by adults. It means leaving behind any whining or complaining — and using professionalism to convince someone for you to do their portraits. Voice tone comes across in different ways to adults, and what may sound like asking to you may sound desperate and annoying to the person you’re talking to. It’s important to explain why you are of value to that person, just as an adult would do.
Once you get the shoot, make sure you’re diligent about sending them their photos in a timely manner. If you are taking paid jobs, you cannot use excuses like “I have a lot of homework or tests.” If you wait three weeks after you take their portraits to show them their images, they may think you’re lazy, or that you don’t want them to see the photos because they aren’t good.
A great way to be noticed is to get your name out there in advertising, without mentioning you are a teenager. When people see great photos, they want that person as their photographer. Your age doesn’t matter if you can consistently take high-quality pictures that people want to hang on their wall.
The last thing is this: never forget why you are a photographer. You do it because you love it, and not for any other reason. If for some reason you don’t feel passionate about it anymore, there is no reason for you to continue. You’re a teenager, you have your whole life ahead of you. Do what you love, and make the most of your teenage years.