Amateur Photography

Professional Photography – Starting Small

Many amateurs wonder if they will ever make it in to the big wide professional world of photography, and to be perfectly honest…. if you have a good eye and take nice shots, I don’t think there is any thing that should stop you. 

For example let me tell you my story. I am still very early days yet, but it is a venture I am enjoying. 

At the age of 33 I had my first ever decent camera, I instantly fell in love with it. To be honest the poor thing was wasted on taking pictures of my kids, and items I needed to list on eBay, I used the auto setting ALL the time. I didn’t have a single clue about F stops, and Iso settings, and to be truthful I am still learning now. I got a little fed up of not knowing how to work it better, and little did I know the next step of my playing would be the step that has taught me so much. 

18 Months ago, I started a 365 project. I looked into it and researched what would be the best way to do it and the best way to challenge myself. How could I use it to learn more about my camera, how could I learn more so I stopped using the Auto function as much (Lets be honest, when you have kids running in all directions, Auto is sometimes the only option) I found that the most useful way was to set themes. Something different for each week. Not only would this keep things interesting, but it would allow me to try different styles of photography I may have not thought of before. 

Let the word inspire you

Let the world inspire you

Other people found it interesting and decided to join in too. Some like myself found that they not only had the love for photography, but actually, they are pretty good at it too. 

So we tried themes like landscapes, flowers, still life, portraits, street & even stock photography. Exploring rules of thirds, lead in lines, depth of field and loads of other different jargons we had no idea of at the start of the venture. 

Castle in the Distance... Can you see it?

Castle in the Distance… Can you see it?

Fast forward now to today. I have done a couple of wedding shoots for friends, and have a few booked up ready too. The part I found hardest was “Am I any good?” its all good taking pictures yourself and your dad saying how fabulous they are, but what about if you are really any good? Would your friends be happy with your photos or will you have let them down for their special day. The pressure you can put on yourself is huge. The other question is “Do I charge?, If I charge, how much shall I charge?” personally, I have done the couple of weddings so far for free. This is to help me know if its an area I would like to pursue one day, or whether I have what it takes to organise, and mingle with strangers for a whole day. Also, if things go terribly wrong and you only end up with 5 decent pictures, at least you hahaven’tipped your friends off for a couple of 100 quid and lost a friendship over it. Always express you are not a pro, but you will try for them. There are lots of couples that simply cant afford a photographer, and if one of these couples are friends then it might be worth asking if you can take the pics for them. 

Sometimes you get GREAT shots

Sometimes you get GREAT shots

My 2nd bit of how to start is…. take pictures of other peoples children, with permission of course… LOL please always make sure the parents are present. Its all good taking pictures of your own kids, you can threaten them with an early bed, or lose out on the xbox if they don’t sit still, or just so I can take one more shot. Other peoples kids are unpredictable, and you cant threaten them either…. Damn !!! Again, start for free to see if it is something you want to do. 

Most important, listen. Listen to the feedback. Listen to the friends of friends when they see your pictures. Those are the ones that don’t care if they hurt your feelings. If its a crap picture, you can bet your ass they will be the ones to say so. And trust me, you will take some crap ones…. but don’t show those ones to the client 😉 

Obviously you wont stay free forever, but don’t jump straight in and expect to be earning £1000 every weekend. Photography is a hard enough skill to learn, and even harder still earning a reputation that matches the pictures too. Start small and build your reputation, if you are worth paying for, people will. 

Experiment with portraits

Experiment with portraits


How Do You Find The Time??

Is a question I get asked a million times? 

The plain and simple of it, I don’t !! But I wouldn’t have it any other way. After having been out of work for some time, I soon realised I don’t like to sit around doing nothing. I have to be doing something. So when I was unable to work, due to PTSD, which is a whole different blog post, I started to eBay. It started off by just selling bits and bobs around the house, just like everyone else. I soon realised that I was finding it quite therapeutic too. I was interacting with people even if it was just on a virtual level, I liked that. I liked that I was good at it too. An opportunity came along where I was able to use some of the money I had made to buy more items to sell. From there RillyRoos started to grow. When it was getting too big for my bedroom, I knew I had to do something. 

We went off to get a storage locker, which then became two, then three, and an office. Before long, it was time to move into bigger pastures. We are now proud occupiers of a warehouse. 

But, this doesn’t answer the 1st question of ‘How do you find the time?’ 

As I have already said…. I don’t! 

I am up any time from 5.30 in the morning, some days I have a crafty snooze on the settee, and some days I just straight onto the PC to check the previous nights sales and answer any queries. Check emails and messages for potential clients etc, and then its time to get 4 out of the 6 fed & dressed ready for the day ahead and I often fall into bed at Midnight after finishing off bits & bobs from the day before. 

I have to say, if it wasn’t for Mr Rilly, I don’t think we would be as successful as we are now. He has given up his time and his career to be a stay at home dad, (Don’t tell him I said so, but he is pretty damn good at it) 

So there I am at the warehouse, 5 days a week, 8-9 hours a day, and I come home and often finish off little bits, or communicate with buyers and clients. And then BOOOOOM a new thing starts!! School event photography & Friends getting married and they know I have a love of photography, and its something I have wanted to try, so as a gift to them I have done their wedding photos, and I have to admit, I am pretty OK at it. Very proud of the shots (and thankfully so are the Brides & Grooms). Not only now do we have one business with 49 clients to sell for, in my spare time I do photography. 

I am not a wonder-woman, a supermom, or a career driven maniac, I am just a woman who likes to keep busy. 

Back to the question again…. How do I find the time?? I don’t, I MAKE the time. I enjoy what I do, I like being busy, I have a family that is supportive of the businesses, so its worth making that time for. 

And that’s the key, If you enjoy something, don’t just sit their moaning about not having the time to do it… MAKE the time to do it, what ever it may be. 

Taking the Opportunity

So, I have been walking around with my camera and equipment in my big old bag, ready for an opportunistic shot.

Its really heavy and I havent taken it out yet randomly in the middle of the street. I am still at that nervous “Is anyone watching me” “what if people think I am a loon?” stage.

But today, for the first time, I stopped in the middle of the path and spotted something I wanted to snap. I stepped to one side, set up my camera, crouched down and *Click*


Taking a chance!

Taking a chance!


I liked it 🙂 Maybe I will take more chances…

DIY Light Boxes

Have you ever wondered how professional photographers manage to make things like food look totally amazing?

They use something called ‘Light Boxes’ or ‘Light Cubes’

Two dear friends of mine, made their own one day. 2 very different cubes, and 2 very amazing effects. Both on low budgets too.

First one is by Nicola. She is an avid amateur like myself. She made her box with a simple cardboard box, Dulux white paint and some linen sheets.

So this is her 1st stage. Looks a bit like Evil Edna. The 2 sticks at the back are nothing to do with it

So this is her 1st stage. Looks a bit like Evil Edna. The 2 sticks at the back are nothing to do with it

This is how she has it set up

This is how she has it set up

This is the end product. See how crisp and clean the whole photo is?  Would you believe this is done on an iPhone?

This is the end product. See how crisp and clean the whole photo is?
Would you believe this is done on an iPhone?



Next one up is Dawn. She roped in her Darling other half and twisted his arm into helping her with her crazy, overtaking obsession.  Dawn went along the route of using blank canvas frames and fixing them together.

Looks very professional, dont you think?

Looks very professional, dont you think?

This is Dawns 'Hobby Corner'

This is Dawns ‘Hobby Corner’

And this is Dawns end product. They almost look good enough to eat.

And this is Dawns end product. They almost look good enough to eat.

Dawn has also experimented with 'Low Key' photography too using her box.  Very effective

Dawn has also experimented with ‘Low Key’ photography too using her box.
Very effective


So you dont have to have an amazing budget to get some great pictures. In some cases its a matter of having a cardboard box, or spare canvas frames.

All pictures are the property of the ladies mentioned. they are not to be copied without permission.
You may see more of Dawns photography at Locor Images on Facebook