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Master Portrait Photographer Levi Sim

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Liam Photography Podcast
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In this episode Liam and Levi talk about making great portraits without spending tons of money on lighting.
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and this gentleman is absolutely the person to talk to about this. And his name is Levi Sim. And I'm gonna bring him on with us right now so that we can talk about this subject. Hey Levi, how's it going? Welcome to the show. It's good. Thanks for having me liam. All right. So as I was saying, leave, I wanted to have you on this week because I get so many student photographers to hit me up about how to get started in portrait photography when they don't have tons of money. And I thought you were a perfect person to talk about this. So to start off, could you give my listeners a little bit about your background in photography, how you got started and what you're currently doing now? Oh sure. You know in in high school, I loved photography. This was the late 90s and I, we were shooting film in high school and I spent all my extra time and and all my classmates extra film in the dark room, I borrow paper and negatives from everybody else. And uh, just make as many pictures as I possibly could. And I don't think any of them were good. Not even not even close. And I don't know why. It never struck me to photograph a person at that time either. Um, but but I loved it. And and then my brother came home from school and his roommate was a photography major and he goes levi there are no jobs in photography. And so for some reason I believe it's because he's my older brother. So I believed him. And uh Yeah, I didn't make any pictures after that for 12 years. And I studied geology and education and Chinese in school and had a, had a lot of adventures. And then About 12 years later, the same brother says, Hey, you know, dad's making some money shooting portraits, surely you could. So I bought a camera and quit my job a year later and I've been a full time photographer since 2010. And uh I love it so far so good. And it turns out there are not a lot of jobs in photography, but it also turns out you don't need a job to be a photographer and I've done both. And now I work at Utah State University with a job in photography. And I love it. It's, it's everything I could want in a job, I get to photograph literally everything I get to travel and I get to work with remarkable people. So that's absolutely awesome. Yeah, that's the other big thing I hear from students all the time is that, you know, they're scared because they're like, well there aren't, there aren't really any staff jobs anymore. And I'm like, well, yeah, of course the industry has changed radically since I was younger. Um so there are very few staff positions available anymore in the world, but you don't need to have a staff position in order to be successful as a photographer. It's true, but it's also, it's also true that a lot of creative people are not great business people are not great at doing the books. And so I have a great recommendation for your students. Drop drop out of photography school and study accounting and then and then go be a photographer and and and know how to do your books. And um because I mean this is something that I don't know, I hire an accountant and you should just plan to hire people to help you do the things you can't do well. And and I'm sorry, I'm not very good at doing even that thing. I've hired several people who have not turned out to be the right people to hire a sticky situation. Yeah. But find a find a an accountant who works with small businesses, especially photographers and get them to also do your book. So be a bookkeeper and an accountant for you and pay them what it costs and make enough to pay them. And and and they'll help you understand whether or not you are making enough to pay them and but uh but find people to help you do the things you you don't naturally do well. Um Absolutely. And that's one of the reasons why I wanted to have skipped coming on a couple of weeks ago because he talks about, you know how to how to make your business successful. That's part of his forte. And I do tell students that all the time. I'm like, look, you need to have somebody to do your bookkeeping and accounting once you get started. Because as you said, most photographers are lousy of business because they're creative people. I'm lucky enough that many moons ago when I got my first I. T. Degree. It was actually a dual major, it was a business degree with a major in accounting and some computer science. Yeah. So I did computer science and accounting at the same time. Right. Right. Well and so the problem for you is that you're attempting to make your own web page, Don't even make your own web page. This is not your business, your business is making pictures. And you should let people who do their business as well as you do like as well as you make pictures, you should find somebody else who does their job that well and let them do it for you. Yeah, absolutely. And that's why I do recommend the students, you know, hey, look into getting your website on squarespace or somebody like that. That makes it really easy and painless for you or hire a web designer or get somebody in your family that specializes in that to help you out with it. Yeah. Like I use I use my adobe portfolio is free, it comes with your adobe subscription through the hands. And so that is not a bad site and it probably does everything you needed to like, like when you're when you're a big time commercial photographer, you should have a big time commercial website for the rest of us. All right. Who are doing mostly word of mouth business, which is going to be most of you listening to this. If you're becoming a photographer. Word of mouth businesses where it is at and you you probably use your instagram and your facebook for most of your business interactions and so you don't need a fancy web, nobody cares about your website. It should have your good pictures on it and your phone number. And that's that's kind of I bet skip said something similar. Um, and whatever SKIP said do that. But uh, uh, getting getting together with people and talking with people is how you are going to make a living in this business. And if you can't do that, then hire someone who can hire someone who can talk to you.