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For Photographers…building a portfolio

For an aspiring photographer building a portfolio is one of the first things that you need to do. You can’t make a career out of being a photographer if you don’t have some great images to show potential clients, but how do you get from just starting out to building a successful business. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I can share what worked for me!

1. Practice, Practice, Practice! It may seem simple, but it is really the key to becoming a great photographer. You need to learn your camera and how to work it and you need to learn to pose people and work with those in front of your camera. Whether it is photographing a bowl of fruit on your kitchen counter or having your best friend model in all different lighting situations, practice is key.

2. Learn to shoot in Manual! I know I say it all the time, but it is SO important, this combined with practice is really the key to taking your pictures from “Ok” to “Amazing”. Learn the relation of Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO and learn to nail the perfect exposure straight out of camera.

3. Shoot for Free! I am fully aware that there are lots of photographers that don’t think you should ever shoot for free, but I am just telling you what worked for me. When I was first starting I asked friends to let me photograph them and I was able to get images that were the beginning of my portfolio. Ask newlywed friends to put their wedding attire back on so that you can shoot them as if it was a wedding day and give them the disk of images for free.  You can also get in contact with wedding photographers you look up to and offer to 2nd or 3rd shoot for free to gain experience. When you are starting out, every great image you can show is a valuable asset to your portfolio and to me it was worth doing things for free to build up my website.

4. Present your photos online in a professional way! People are looking for a photographer online, so that is where you need to make sure your images are seen. I LOVE Showit and ProPhoto Blogs, but there are other ways to present your photos in a professional way. Focus more on quality than quantity, and try to have a variety of subjects.

5. Stop Shooting for Free! You may be thinking that this contradicts what I just said, but I promise it doesn’t. After your initial portfolio building stage, which the length of will vary for each person, it is time to stop doing it for free. You may start out with fairly low prices, but you need to put value on the work that you do and others will too. How do you know when it is time to stop giving free session? It is different for every person, but I would say that when you feel like you have enough photos online to show your talent, you know how to work your camera, you are comfortable directing and posing subjects, and you have a good number of people asking to be photographed by you, it is probably now time for you to start charging.


As always if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment or send me an email at  and I will get back to you as soon as possible!

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Bronwyn Elizabeth

Thank you so much for writing this! I’m just starting out, and have been doing shoots for free, to build my portfolio, but now I think I’m ready to start charging. Would you mind sharing how much you charged in the beginning, so that I might get an idea of what a good rate might be? Thanks again!:)

Jeremy Schmucker

great tips on how to start a photography portfolio and business!

Kristin Schmucker

I would love to give you more details! Do you have an email address that I could send some info to you at?

Hi Kristin. I’m just starting out and these tips are great. Thank you so much for putting it out there for the new folks! I’ve been looking into upgrading my blog to ProPhoto. Hopefully I will soon!

Baby Bump…

It is hard to believe that I am already 27 weeks pregnant and just starting my 3rd and final trimester…the finish line is in sight. It seems like just yesterday Jeremy and I were anxiously awaiting being able to reveal to all of our friends and family that we were expecting. Let me tell you this little one is growing like crazy and moving like crazy! I guess I should try to enjoy the fact that this is the only time in life when people actually want to see my growing belly, I must admit it is a little strange. There is so much to do in the next few weeks to prepare for her arrival, starting with a big trip to ikea tomorrow to get the last of her nursery furniture! Can’t wait to show you all the finished room!


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Cindy Clinton-Kinsey

Love it!

Rhonda Hooper

I know we don’t know each other but I just have to say that you look beautiful! You are really glowing, and you will be even more “glowy” once that beautiful baby is here. Congrats…it only gets better from here.

Patty Thompson

Congrats! what a beautiful mommy to be picture.

Elaine Joy McDonnell

You look so cute! :-)

Shelby J

awwww! You look so adorable!

Jeremy Schmucker

love love love you both! the third trimester is finally here!

Ashley Gargano

Hi, I’m one of Jeremys friends from Illinois and want you to know that you look great! I’m happy for both of you!

Kristin Schmucker

Thank you so much Rhonda!

Kristin Schmucker

Thanks Ashley!

Kristin Schmucker


Kristin Schmucker

Thank you!

Rhonda Hooper

Oh, you are soo welcome. I miss being pregnant. Have you laid in the bathtub and watched the baby move around? To me, that was the most special time from my pregnancy.

Rhonda Hooper

For me, the third trimester was not only the most exciting, but also the most painful. I know you are probably rubbing her feet and her back and walking slower with her…but it will all be worth it when you see that beautiful baby’s face!! Love you guys!!

Kristin Schmucker

Oh yes! One of my favorite things to do these days!

My Random Life #10

It is hard to believe that it the end of August…where has this summer gone? It has been a great one getting settled into our new home and preparing for the arrival of our little one. When I sit back and think about it I realize how much I love my life, I have so much to be grateful for.

Today is Jeremy’s first day back to class for his 2nd Master’s degree…what an overachiever. First class up…Greek. I am so grateful to be married to such a determined man who is such a hard worker in every aspect of life and loves the Lord and his family so much. I couldn’t ask for more.

This is also the first “back to school” season in 20 years that I haven’t gone back to school. Kind of a weird feeling to not head off to class with Jeremy.

I was looking at my schedule for September and October today…wow…its going to be busy! So many sessions to fit in before I am on maternity leave. I will still be blogging while I am out though and with all of the sessions this fall, I should have plenty to blog.

Jeremy and I have been swimming twice in the past two days…and I might be addicted to being in the water. It is a great break from the heat, relaxing, refreshing and a great way to exercise without actually feeling like I am exercising…what more could I want…

Currently watching: Master Chef on Hulu…not sure why I started watching it, but it is actually quite entertaining.

Here is what Jeremy is studying and what I am studying…

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It is crazy that it is the end of summer!

Great husbands are so great! I was also thinking how much I have to be grateful for while flipping through old pictures the other day. This was cute, thanks for sharing :)

Krista Morgan

I think I like your studies better Kristin! :)

Kristin Schmucker

Me too Krista!

Jeremy Schmucker

My book is blue and Beyonce isn’t on the cover therefore it is MUCH better!

Yellow and Gray wedding inspiration…

A little yellow and gray wedding inspiration. I just love this color combo, especially after seeing the explosion of it on Pinterest. There is something very fresh and modern about the combination of these colors and yet when you throw in a little black it is very classy too.  To see more you can visit my Pinterest board dedicated to this lovely palette.

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My sister-in-law is getting married and is doing a gray, yellow and navy theme, I’ll have to share this with her!


I love yellow and gray for a wedding! I love all of your boards, but this is one of my favorites.

Jeremy Schmucker

the colors of my business cards! great idea…

What’s in my bag? 85mm 1.8

It is no secret that I LOVE my 50mm 1.4, so I was a bit skeptical that another lens could be just as amazing. The 85mm 1.8 is my #2 lens though and let me tell you, I often just swoon over the images that come from this fabulous lens. Though I love the editorial images that I get from my 50mm, there is just something about the very intimate, private images that are captured with the 85. This is Jeremy’s favorite lens to shoot with on a wedding day since he can get in a little tighter than I am getting with my 50 and he can get a completely different shot of the same pose. The 85mm 1.8 is amazing for bringing out the romantic moments of a wedding day and it always produces the creamiest, dreamiest images.

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I was thinking about getting one so I’m glad to know that you like it!

Jeremy Schmucker

my favorite lens!

Rachelle Chase

my fave too!