Photography Apprenticeship – Why it is the best way to learn the trade.

Photography Apprenticeship

An apprenticeship is a system of training a new generation of practitioners of a trade or profession with on-the-job training and often some accompanying study (classroom work and reading). Apprenticeship also enables practitioners to gain a license to practice in a regulated profession. Most of their training is done while working for an employer who helps the apprentices learn their trade or profession, in exchange for their continued labor for an
agreed period after they have achieved measurable competencies -Wikipedia

A good photographer, I feel, is born with the talent inside them.  You are either blessed with the ability to take good photos or not.  If you do not have that knowing inside of you, then rather do something else that you have a passion for.  To get true fulfilment in life, one needs to follow your passion and work hard towards moulding your passion into a way to support yourself financially.

Studying photography, talent and passion will surely help you to take good photos, but to mould this passion into a paying trade requires a lot more.  By nature, creative people lack administration skills and in a lot of instances they struggle to convey their ideas effectively.  But these and other skills like communication, the knowledge of how to quote and customer service are very important assets when it comes to running a successful photography business.



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Nowadays, most photographers are one-man-bands, with only a few of us working for bigger companies.  Most start their businesses from scratch, a slow learning curve with lots of mistakes, disappointments and judgement errors.  For every one good photographer that makes it out there, there are probably 10 that fail miserably. If everyone could just have a solid knowledge base and basic training that helps them to understand business principles and other core business functions then there would be a lot more that succeed and the overall quality of service will also be better. My solution to the above problem is an apprenticeship system, designed to help photographers
that are starting out; to learn from those that have already achieved success in the real world. Personally, I have learned the hard way. Before I became a full time photographer, I had other businesses in which I honed my admin, interpersonal and business skills.  I am not proud to say that in the process I unfairly treated and mistreated some of my clients, just because of a lack of knowledge.  Quoting, administration and bookkeeping are other areas where photographers lack and also here I had to learn the hard way to play by the rules.  Let me tell you, it is not a joke when your bank account with all assets are frozen due to your failure to submit your annual accounts!  I was lucky not to suffer more serious and permanent penalties, but many others do.

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This brings me to the focus of why I feel that apprenticeships are so important.

Knowledge is there to be passed on!

The best way to contribute to humanity and society is by passing on that what you have learned.  Be it with education or by learning the hard way.  You, the successful photographer, can do your part in helping another person to achieve happiness and success in life.  And even if they move on to leave you after their apprenticeship to become your competition, you’ll still have that warm feeling inside, the knowing that you did good and helped another.   In the bigger scope of things, you helped an individual to contribute to society and probably eventually to support and feed a family.

Over the last 10 years, we have done just that here at ZaraZoo Photography.  We have taken in no fewer than 5 photographers that had very little or no experience. By working alongside us for a minimum period of 2 years, they learned and gained invaluable experience in real life situations.  They made mistakes, but we were there to help them get through the consequences and to minimise the damage.  Of the 5, two are still with us and the other 3 now make their living as full time photographers!  We have helped them to kickstart their careers and have opened up a world of possibilities for them. It prides me that all of them operate businesses that put emphasis on integrity, honesty and give good customer service  – what a joy to know that you are part of someone else’s success story!

If you operate a successful photography business, I urge you to adopt the apprentice system.  Share your knowledge and leave a legacy.

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