5 things I wish I known when I started my photography business
Isabel from Isabel C. photography who does wonderful ‘day in the life’ photography asked me at a One-on-One session about what the 5 things I wish I would have known when I started my photography business 14 years ago. What a brilliant question and I thought you might be interested too in this.
So here’s my 5
1. Learn about Business!
As artists and photographers and just want to hone our craft and business is almost a dirty word. But making a living is somewhat important, isn’t it. After all, you can’t go into the supermarket and get stuff for exposure, or can you? 😉
To be able to sustain a living or to make it worth the time shooting for clients, one needs to understand what it actually cost to run a business and the time involved to complete a job. We all know that photography gear cost money, but so does insurance and electricity. Plus starting out there is usually an enormous amount of time that goes in to setting up a new venture. So in the long run the time spend working should be included in the pricing structure.
2. Practice your Craft
When’s the last time you picked up your camera? Are you photographing every week?
If the answer is yes, that’s good, very good. Like with anything, if you do it over and over again, you get better at it. So grab your camera and go out into the world and photograph.
The people I see getting really good are the ones who live and breathe photography and go out and practice it hands on …a lot. It’s as simple as going out and doing it. After a while you know your camera blind and can concentrate on what you see, rather than which button or dial to press resulting in fewer moments missed.
3. Provide Value
To be able to be paid, we need to provide value. In reality it’s not the awards you win that get people through the door (though it does help people trust you). You need to sit down and think about how your photography serves people’s needs and improves their life’s.
Provide value and educate the client, so they can see it. I believe this is a much better mindset than copying the competition.
4. Numbers don’t Lie
Accounting …such a boring word for photographers, though, such an important one.
If you haven’t already read this, so it now: http://www.stacyreeves.com/greatestpricingguideever.pdf
This is over 10 years old and is written for wedding photographers, but it can easily be translated to any photography business. When it comes to business basics, things don’t really change.
And when you are reading this and arrive at ‘Numbers too high?’
You need to either learn to change what the numbers say, or work out how you can do things faster, more efficient, or cheaper (sorry, there goes that new lens that you were thinking of buying).
As Ian and Erik once told me, there’re two ways going broke as a photographer.
One – is not charging enough.
By being cheap you might get lots of work, but after a while you’ll burn out and because all the hard work isn’t really paying off you move on.
Two – it by being overpriced (not providing value) and sitting at the beach waiting for work and getting a tan.
So which way would you rather go broke?
Learn about the numbers and apply them with providing value in mind.
5. It’s all about the journey, not the destination
Awards are great, recognition is great and so is money. But as anyone can tell you who has one or all of the three, once you have it, you realize how important it really is. Which is: Not as much as the hype. Don’t get me wrong. Winning the Moran Photographic Price and Australian Documentary photographer of the year has been an amazing and life changing experience. But the journey goes on! Otherwise I would have already arrived, but I’m excited on what’s going to be around the corner.
There may or may not be an award to win, but surely there will be an exciting image to capture, which is what it’s about for me. Personal work is also hugely gratifying and gives you space to take risks and try out new things without any pressure.
So that’s the 5 things I would have liked to hear back in the day (of film).
Some of them I did instinctively …others not so much.
Plus, here’s a few more quick tips:
Do the best work you can at every single job.
Understand that just because I wouldn’t spend the money on, doesn’t mean other people won’t.
Don’t be afraid to take risks. Sometimes they pay off and sometimes they cost you. But it makes things more interesting and you certainly learn something in the process.
Good Graphic design is worth a lot for your professional identity.
If it feels right, it probably is!
Embrace change …things are never constant.