What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
I am a BIG fan of learning in many different forms. Continuous learning. Life-long learning. Most things in life change and evolve over time. So too with photography, from many different aspects: using the gear most effectively, understanding light, knowing sometimes less is more, understanding business fundamentals so that I can provide high-value photography services at a reasonable price to my clients and at a fair price for me. So, I am a member of PPA (Professional Photographers of America) and local photography groups. I attend seminars, classes, and workshops (and lead some too) several times per year, and I read voraciously (that's the engineer and the PhD & MBA in me) about advances and new concepts in the field. I also collaborate with local photographers whom I admire, shooting with them to learn new techniques or to appreciate different perspectives on improving my photographic skills or my business sense.
How did you get started doing this type of work?
I am a very visual person (i.e., a visual learner - visual information processor - visual communicator). I am a problem solver. I love different things, different people, different places, and different concepts. Solving a variety of different problems with a variety of visual concepts seemed like a natural path to becoming a photographer.
What questions should customers think through before talking to professionals about their project?
In my "day life" as an aerospace engineer designing and building satellites and their very complex remote sensing systems, I am all about knowing how things work and how they go together to produce the most amazing images technology can produce. Imagery is imagery, regardless of where the camera is located. 8-) Therefore, my first question is never, "how much does it cost?", but rather, "how does that work?" In the case of quality photographic services, knowing what all goes into a major photography project: the prep, logistics, equipment, consumables, shooting time, post-processing time, printing costs, etc., leads to most really interesting photography projects costing more money than people think they ought to have to spend. Bottom line: the inside secret is probably, respect the whole process and be part of the final solution.