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Do you have a passion for photography that you are considering turning into a career? Do you simply need tips on how to become a freelance photographer?
Freelance photography can be a very fulfilling career path; one where you can travel, follow your passion, and make money at the same time.
We spoke to professional freelance photographer Stefan Grau, who shot our website photos, and has a long list of inspiring people that he’s worked with, including Barack Obama! How many people can say that?!
Below are some tips for you aspiring freelance photographer from Stefan Grau, who is currently based in Munich, Germany.
Starting out as a graphic designer, it wasn’t until after a trip to SouthEast Asia that his career goals were put into perspective for Stefan.
“it was clear to me that I needed to work more outside instead of the office. So I applied for an apprenticeship in photography and started right when I came back from the trip. It took me a while to become fully independent but with assistance work, retouching for other photographers and giving classes in Photoshop, I managed to fulfil my dreams. By now, I work more than ten years successfully as freelance photographer and I am still super happy to be able to work with so many nice people together”.
When asked what tips he had for people that want to turn photography into a career, Stefan’s top advice is to play around!
“Photography isn’t a formula you learn and apply. The perception is constantly changing, so should your work. Go outside whenever you can and experiment with new trends, techniques, and equipment. The camera is just like your cooking pan; a simple tool. What you create with it, is the real magic.”
Along with allowing yourself the freedom to explore the art of photography, being confident in knowing what to ask for is a critical aspect of freelance photography:
“Confidence is a major part for becoming a freelance photographer. You need to be able to talk to people. Sometimes it’s a production team, another time, a random person in on the street you want to portrait. Nobody will support someone who is stooped in the corner. You need to convince people of ideas and make them love what you do. So shout it out loud! Most importantly, be a good person! If you treat everyone with respect and you are a nice person it will lead to a good working relationship”.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with knowing where exactly to start from- between the right equipment or simply getting started. Experimentation, according to Stefan, is necessary in knowing what equipment works for personal style of photography:
“You can do amazing images with just an iPhone, but if you need to work for a client you better have a camera that suits the purpose. I work with various cameras from different brands, all depending on the outcome. You don’t need to own all the gear, but it’s good to know what’s on the market”
Every freelance photographer is going to adopt their own personal style of photography, which comes with allowing yourself to explore the different facets. For Stefan, that is represented in portraits:
“I love the never-ending process of learning and adapting. Almost every job is different and you need to be fully awake. That keeps you fit. My biggest passion is Portraits. I photographed all kinds of people, from farmers in the most remote places in Nepal to Hollywood actors. I’m always fascinated by how many stories one can tell with just a little expression of the face.”
Last but not least, Stefan reflected with us upon his career highlight, photographing the one and, Barack Obama:
“In Summer 2019, I photographed Barack Obama. He was in Munich during a Conference. I was really honored to be the only one allowed to photograph him during his stay. He is a really cool person and it was a fun shoot. I was very limited with the gear, so I had to think of a simple but effective light setup. It was a memorable day in my career”.