Robert Hall , Jul 31, 2008; 11:43 a.m.
I live in Massachusetts, also, and a former high school teacher, retired and have started a business. Some things I have learned: Photography is a combination of art and science, and you need to have a strong "feel" for both. There are several ways to learn, but practical experience is absolutely essential. You can self-teach almost everything you need if you have the self discipline. If you were to join PPAM, the Mass. PPA affiliate, you would probably be well-rewarded. It takes considerable time to meet people and make connections, but once done, you will find the people very helpful. There are several members in Western Mass, very warm and accepting. There are good books on the art-side of photography. Now for a taste of reality. Photography is expensive. We are in the "thousand-dollar club" where each item is $1000. A lens, studio light, software package, etc. will cost you that amount, or more. Second, most people have their own digital cameras taking their own photos. If your market is "portraiture and weddings" you face stiff competition from them, and from anyone who can afford a low-end digital slr. To really succeed, and make a comfortable income, you have to offer products that the amateur cannot produce. This is not as hard as it sounds, but it takes knowledge, experience, and marketing skills, all of which can be gained through PPAM and our school, NEIPP. email me if you want more assistance.