I met Adriane at a wedding at Lakeview Resort this past April and then we were reunited at another wedding earlier this month. She was an event coordinator and I was the photographer. It wasn’t until our second meeting that we dove into more serious conversation and of course it was about photography! Adriane mentioned it would be her last weekend at the resort because she was pursuing a career in photography. It had always been a passion of hers and she was finally following her dreams…and doing it, in my opinion, the right way! When we both agreed that the most appropriate and beneficial way to become a “professional photographer” was with practice, education and time, we made an instant connection and left the conversation feeling good. But that didn’t come without hesitation.

Adriane admitted that she was nervous about telling me, a so-called “professional photographer”, that she was, for lack of a better description, another one of those moms with a nice camera who wanted to have a career in photography…because, as we all know, there are a ton of those people out there today and they aren’t always received well by the pros. But Adriane is different from a lot of those other people because she wants to start her career the right way (again, just my opinion…it’s how I started my biz). She wants to practice a lot, work alongside a professional and educate herself before opening her own business and charging others for services.

So let this be a call to all those who have nice cameras and want to pursue photography. Use Adriane as an example and consider doing right by yourself, your future clients, your fellow professionals and the industry…practice as much as possible, attend classes and workshops, shoot with other professional photographers and work on increasing your value as an upcoming professional. Chances are you’ll be more successful in the long run and you’ll contribute greatly to the photography industry. You’ll also probably make some great photog friends along the way, kinda like me and Adriane. 🙂

But enough from me, let’s hear from Adriane and her plans to become a professional photographer! We decided to meet up at Coopers Rock State Forest last week to take some pictures and chat a bit more. I also asked Adriane to share some details about her journey and thoughts on becoming a professional photographer so I could in turn share that with you all! So here we go…meet Adriane!

Let’s start with some fun questions!

1. What’s your favorite movie and why? I would probably have to say The Notebook, just because it’s such a heart warming love story, but I’m really not a huge movie or even TV fan so it’s hard to choose. I have a hard time sitting quietly on the couch, I’d rather be chatting with someone or doing something productive!

2. If you had to eat only three things for the rest of your life, what would they be? Salad, potato chips, and turkey/bacon/avocado sandwiches on Udi’s gluten-free bread. I love veggies! I’ve been gluten free for a little over a year now so these are staples for me.

3. Where do you get your inspiration for your photography visions? I find inspiration from a number of places, but the main place I find inspiration is in observing my daughter. I love paying attention to all of the little details when I’m watching her. Her golden curls, thick black lashes, and whatever she is busying herself with. Since I really started to dig deeper into photography, I have found myself taking the time to enjoy the little details in life that add up to make the big picture. This isn’t something I’ve always done, but I’ve grown to be a lot more detail oriented in all aspects of my life in the last few years because of this.

We also brought our little girls along to our meeting at the park. Here’s Kerriann!

Now for some serious questions…

4. Do you think Pinterest is hurting or helping the photography industry? Both. It depends on how the photographer utilizes Pinterest. I spend a lot of time browsing Pinterest but I don’t do it solely to find poses/props/photos to copy. I find inspiration in wardrobe choices, color, lighting, AND poses. I like to see what works in other photos as well as what doesn’t work. I think critiquing other photographer’s work is a great learning tool.

I have seen other photographers who copy props/poses from Pinterest without giving any credit to the original photographer and I do think that this type of use of Pinterest hurts the photography industry. It’s also sad because it’s an easy out. Some photographers are quick to rush to Pinterest and copy ideas rather than spending the time coming up with their own quality shots. Because of this, we are seeing the same shots repeatedly. This is where the photographers who take the time to come up with their own shots really have the chance to shine. Their photos really have the “wow factor” because they are fresh and new. Like anything else, Pinterest is what you make of it. And this is not to say that there is anything wrong with trying out a shot you saw on Pinterest (or any other site), but there is a fine line. I love when I see an “inspired by” shot, something a photographer saw on Pinterest but then added something of their own to.

5. When did you first become interested in photography and what was one of the first things you did to act upon that interest? I have always been interested in photography. My parents, as well as my grandfather, have “the eye” and I guess they all rubbed off on me! I was a photographer for my high school yearbook and newspaper, but I wouldn’t say that I really acted upon my interested until after my daughter was born in 2009. I learned all I could about my Canon G series point and shoot and finally convinced my husband to let me invest in a Canon 20D (which I bought used from my brother in law) in December 2010. In December 2011 I upgraded to the Nikon D7000 (which I currently use) and that really gave me the confidence to take my photography to the next level. At first I spent a lot of time reading all that I could on the internet, and following lots of child photography blogs and forums.

6. Why do YOU feel it’s important to become educated and gain experience BEFORE calling yourself a “professional photographer”? These days it seems like everyone is interested in photography and wants to be a photographer. There is nothing wrong with this, but there is a difference between photography as a hobby and photography as a profession. It’s important to become educated and gain experience so that you can develop trust with your clients. If they don’t trust that you have the skills, they will not value your work, and you will be replaceable, for their friend/cousin/etc.

Develop your skills before you dive into the business so that you value your work enough to charge what you are charging. If you are confident in your prices, and products, others will see this, talk about it, and spread the word.

When I see other photographers who clearly posses the technical and business knowledge to have a successful photography business, it makes me want to work harder to reach the position where they are. Photography is my passion, not just a phase I’m going through. It’s important for me to work hard so that I can guarantee myself a spot as a photographer in the future. I know the competition is fierce but it’s motivating!

7. What educational and hands-on activities are you pursuing to become a professional photographer? A couple of months ago I met a very successful photographer, Ben McMillen, while working a wedding at my previous job. After expressing my interest in photography to Ben, he told me that he employs other photographers at his studio to shoot weddings and encouraged me to contact him if I was interested in working with him. After running into him a second time and chatting photography, I second shot a wedding with one of his photographers, and from then we both decided that it would be beneficial to start second shooting weddings with him. Ben has a photography studio in Waynesburg, PA and shoots weddings, children, seniors, events, really anything you can think of.

I also took a few classes at WVU, in studio lighting and photojournalism this past year. These courses really helped me to gain confidence in shooting in manual mode.

I am also doing my best to network with other photographers in the area. I love talking to them to see what has worked for them, and what hasn’t at the start of their businesses. I also think it’s great to develop friendships with others who share the same passions as you, and I’m looking forward to continuing to do this in the future.

8. What does being a “professional” mean to you? Before I launched “Herlihy Photography” in May, I considered a professional someone with a business license, a business name, and someone who was charging clients for sessions. Now I am not so sure if this is a proper definition of what a professional photographer is. I see others who have these things but do not have the skills to back them up, and am not sure if I would consider them “professionals.” Now, I would say that a professional is someone who has all of the above things, plus a vast knowledge of the skills it takes to run a successful business, as well as the technical knowledge of photography that it takes to photograph whatever niche they market their skills to.

9. Do you have any advice for others who are interested in pursuing photography as a career? Read and practice as much as you can before you label yourself a professional. Find a mentor who can help you develop the skills you need to be successful. I know not all photographers are willing to reach out to “newbies,” but surprisingly, many are. I have been amazed at how many photographers have been willing to talk to me,  answer questions, and even offer to help me out. I’ve had such a great experience over the past few months. I’m already looking forward to returning the favor and helping out others in the future once I’m the experienced photographer on the other side.

Take classes if you can, but ultimately, practice is what will really help you to excel. Get out there and try what you are reading about. Ask your friends and family to pose for you. Volunteer to tag along for birthday parties, reunions, etc. Or, just get out into the streets and people watch. Cities are perfect for this! I guess I keep saying this, but practice makes perfect. No amount of reading will make you a skilled photographer. You need to develop the confidence to put yourself out there in order to get the shots.

We ended our meeting with some pictures of our girls. Here’s the cuteness that I captured. I love how Ally was completely comfortable with this and right away tried putting her arm around Kerriann. So precious! 🙂

And a few more sweet moments between Adriane and Kerriann…

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions and share your journey, Adriane! I love that you’re following your dream and taking the time to really educate yourself and gain experience. You’re definitely a great example for other photography enthusiasts out there! Good luck with everything and I’ll see you around! 🙂

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Great article! My favorite line “It’s important for me to work hard so that I can guarantee myself a spot as a photographer in the future. I know the competition is fierce but it’s motivating!”

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