If you are looking to start or grow a photography business, this blog is for you. Planning for longevity as a business owner in this competitive market takes passion, guts, and wisdom. It will be one of your best life decisions to wake up each day and create behind a lens.
Whether you are photographing your own personal stuff or documenting the story of others, never lose sight of who you are and what you personally bring to this industry. Taking photos as a hobby and then deciding to turn your skills and enjoyment into a photography business is courageous. I want to see you thrive, succeed, and remain, so here are 7 things I wish I knew when I started my photography business.
I’ve been running my photography business for the past 8 years. In those years I’ve learned the hard way! It actually takes a lot to run a business, stay creative in seasons of creative drought, and manage the never-ending struggle of maintaining a healthy work/life balance. I have by NO means found all the answers and I’m still growing and evolving on a daily basis.
I want to share in this blog some of the things I have learnt and wish someone would’ve told me 8 years ago when I started. Specifically, 7 things I wish I knew when I started my photography business
Photography is only a small part of a photography business
I know it’s hard to believe right! That the stunning images photographed for people to grace their walls are only a small part of a photography business. But it’s true! There is so much logistical work that goes on behind the scenes.
Firstly, planning the photoshoot, understanding the client’s desires, communicating in a way that prepares the client for the photoshoot, organising everything needed for the photoshoot. Secondly, shooting. Thirdly editing. Fourthly administration and then finally delivering, quality images that are hopefully above and beyond.
If you can set your heart and mind to mastering the things you don’t enjoy doing, you will succeed. Be honest with yourself and set aside real hours behind the desk to build your photography business. Remember that it’s the behind-the-scenes things that take up time, because they have great worth and value. You must do them well and appreciate their importance.
Develop a strong, unique, and personal brand
Your X Factor is you! The way you think, emote, and create is what sets you apart from others. There is always the temptation to become like others to ‘fit in’ but it isn’t fun or sustainable. Having the strength to run your own photography business with your one-of-a-kind personality shining through is of paramount importance.
Of course, research other photographers and glean from them, be inspired by them, and emulate them but you can’t become them. It won’t work for you. Keep your own style and learn how to infuse your own self into your own brand and you will feel great.
Be intentional to discover clarity in your own personal brand so it is clear to you and to others. When you can focus on the wonderful work brand that you are humbly proud of. You will understand that your work is only a fraction of your full client experience. Who you are and how you interact with your client will ultimately help your brand and bring you enjoyment and peace.
The best gear choice isn’t about the specs
I’m not going to say that gear isn’t important, because it is but choosing gear is an individual thing. What works best for you may not work best for me. Getting photography gear that is a great fit for you is about finding what works best and sticking with it. It’s so easy to fall prey to all the tech specs battles, brand wars and commentary. My advice is, do your research, test gear, be specific at what you want the gear for and don’t fall prey.
There are plenty of rental companies out there where you can rent and trial the gear. Find what you love to work with and then outlay the money, it’s a much wiser option. Gear can get expensive, and you don’t want to have got the supposed best thing on the market and it not fit you. Once you are all set up with your photography gear, stick with it and get to know it inside and out. You don’t want to be fumbling around with new cameras etc at someone’s special celebration – it’s unprofessional.
THE GEAR I USE (some links contain affiliate links):
Travel Camera Bag
Camera Bag Insert
Aputure Mini LED
Mic I use for…everything
Shure In Ear Monitors
Hard Drives I LOVE
R3 Memory Cards
R6 Memory Cards
You are never going to have it all figured out
Seriously, chill out! You will never have this industry all figured out. And neither will anyone else. Every photographer is on a journey, some are more experienced than others, but everyone is learning and growing. You are no exception and the sooner you embrace that factor the easier you will be on yourself. Anxiety and stress to have everything perfect including a huge client list will only have you over promise and under deliver. You are a creative and you will need space to create.
Yep, sounds basic but business can get you so caught up in excelling, that you can forget to make time for yourself to create. When you mark in your calendar time out to refresh, relax and rejuvenate more ideas will come into your mind for your next business step.
It is a journey, your journey and through trial, error, and success you will keep figuring out your photography business. Are you relieved that you are not the only one, we are all there with you figuring out the best our business can be. So have fun, be thankful and enjoy it!
Education and networking is worth more than anything else
Most photography businesses start out working alone. Until the client base is consistent and the business becomes prosperous it is ideal to build a team of work peers around you. It is encouraging and helpful to learn from people who inspire you in business. Find photographers that are better than you and be mentored by them.
Never stop growing and educating yourself. In fact, before you start your business or if you are already on your way, spend your well earnt dollars on education. Investing in yourself will definitely pay off for you and although your photography business bank account may take a dive, you need it. We all do! And the future benefits far outweigh the current pain. Take time to find like-minded people, they will become your biggest cheer squad and you will need some cheering from time to time.
Your business should bring you life, not steal it
Most photographers start out in business for mostly all the right reasons. Combing passion, people, and prosperity. You have to pay the bills somehow, so it might as well be with your skillset and love of photography. Right? You want to spend quality time traveling with family and friends and enjoying the extra time off by working for yourself. Right? Countless, photographers start out in business like this and soon we all learn that without boundaries this dream never becomes reality.
You need a clear business plan with reasonable boundaries for others and yourself. Be the wise boss and don’t let your business own you. Be present when you are on a photoshoot. In the excitement of wedding season don’t smash yourself. Find a rhythm that suits you and acknowledge that your health, family, and friends are what you started this for in the first place. Working hard in a photographer business is a given and you are up for this, I’m just saying remember longevity in life and business.
Never stop creating for YOU
Keep going right through your lifetime creating because it is the essence of who you are. You got into this work because you love creating so don’t ever stop creating. If you are working purely to please the client, you will fall into a rut and not enjoy what you produce. Create your own personal art and take time to have fun and do that, it will keep your passion burning. Use personal work to branch out, experiment, try new things, take new directions. You might even implement these ideas into your paid work eventually. Clients who love your style and confidence will want to hire you for their special celebrations.
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