My Top 5 Things To Know Before Starting Your Photography Business
Owning your own photography business isn’t easy. You need patience and lots of experience. And there will be many times you will fail before you start to get things right. After all, how do you expect to grow if you don’t get knocked down every now and then? But, if you can prevent a few bumps in the road from happening, why not? So, for those of you who are just starting out and want a little advice, here are my top 5 things I’ve learned over years running my photography business.
THEY HIRED YOU
Yes that’s right. These people are asking for YOUR expertise and that’s just what they want, even if they don’t know that yet. I know, but what about that mom who brings you photos from Pinterest and demands that you recreate them? Listen, as sweet as that may be, you aren’t in the business of letting other people tell you how to do your job. You started this business to share with the world your talent. Anyone can pull up a Pinterest photo, hold a camera and push the shutter, but you my friend know how to create beautiful moments that will last a lifetime. You’re the one who knows how to make a great photo and that’s just what you need to be doing. I’m not saying don’t look at that mama’s photo choice and pull a little inspiration from it, but don’t let clients take control of your session. Period.
To avoid things like this all together you need to be setting the right expectations in the beginning of the process…when a client first contacts you.
For me, when I get a message from an interested client, I always reply back with what they can expect from me. This includes the type of photography I shoot (which should be clear on your website), what they can expect from me on our photoshoot day, how long it’ll take for them to receive their photos and my editing process. Make sure you are clear on your editing process. Mention what you will and will not do to photos. No photographer wants to be editing for all hours of the night and that will happen if you aren’t clear about how you edit photos. I can’t tell you how many times I went back and forth with people on fixing the tiniest little details, that honestly no one saw except them. Details that weren’t even important in the big scheme of things. Trust me on this, if you don’t communicate to your clients what they can expect from you, you will be getting these types of requests. I guarantee it.
I know it can be scary at first to be this upfront. When your first starting out, you are so desperate for people to take photos of, that it almost seems like you are willing to do anything. But I promise you will regret that. Don’t be afraid to scare a client away. The ones who are worth having appreciate you being upfront more than you know and in turn your work life will be so much easier!
2. DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHER PHOTOGRAPHERS
OMG if there was only one tip I could give you it would be this one. There are so many photographers out there these days that is can be hard to not come into contact with one, or 100, that are amazing and make you question yourself and your work. Well I’m here to tell you to SNAP OUT OF IT!
I think I wasted two years trying to be like other photographers in my area and I was missing the parts about photography that I really loved…documenting the everyday. I didn’t realize my love for it until I was forced to stop taking photos for almost 1 year. I got pregnant, was sick, put on bed rest and then had a colicky new baby. At that point photography became something I barely thought of. Then one day when that baby was doing something adorable, I had this uncontrollable need to dust off that camera and document it. I fell in love and couldn’t put my camera down. I began documenting every little detail of our day. And that’s when all of this you see here began for me.
As photographers we are artists and because of that, we are our worst critics. Focusing on someone else’s work is only going to hurt you and your business more. Focus on you and where your passion lies and it will all work out for the best. Clients will come to you for your particular style. They are out there, you just may have to look a little harder.
Want to get better at taking everyday photos?
3. UNDER PROMISE AND OVER DELIVER
Have you ever been told what to expect and then end up get that plus more? It’s the best! Under promising and over delivering is so simple and can make the biggest impact on your business. When you surprise people with over delivering they feel valued and will return to you again and again…and probably bring their friends too. So don’t under estimate this one, it’s gold.
4. GIRL (AND BOY) GET TO WORK!
This one is huge. Clients are not going to be knocking your door down in the beginning. Maybe at first, a friend of yours recommend you and a bunch of families want photos from you, but that’ll end quickly. You need to get to work (hard) to get clients in the door. Market yourself as if you are the best thing since sliced bread and be confident about it. Don’t worry that some people may not like your work. Fine. You don’t want them as clients anyway. I’m not trying to be mean, I’m just being real. You want clients who are on fire about what you’re putting out there.
So, how do you get people interested in YOU? Well, they aren’t going to know you exist unless you start making some noise. Thankfully with social media, it’s a little easier to get your name out there; however, that’s not enough. Everyone and their grandma is a photographer these days and they’re using social media just like you. What I’ve learned a long time ago is that you need to be doing things on a different level than your competition. Period. So do some research. Check out what’s working for them, and do it better, but do it different. In order to be better, YOU MUST BE DIFFERENT!
4. DON’T BREAK THE BANK WITH THE BIGGEST MOST EXPENSIVE EQUIPMENT
It’s totally awesome to purchase bigger and better equipment, but don’t think you NEED it to have a beautiful photos or a successful business. The person behind that camera is what really makes a photo. I’m not saying start a photography company with your iPhone (although you can get some great photos with it), but an entry level camera or one just above that will do just fine int he beginning.
When I decided to start my business, I made this mistake. I thought the equipment would make me a better photographer, rather than putting the time in to perfect my craft. Instead of using my entry level camera that was capable of taking perfectly beautiful photos, I went out and purchased the most expensive camera I could find. And guess what? My photos looked pretty much the same. The same issues I was having were still there thousands of dollars later. Come to find out, I just needed to learn more about shooting correctly. Plus, that new camera was way more than I needed or could handle and it ended up on the shelf. I started practicing more with my entry level camera and purchased a very affordable 50mm on Amazon. I went on to using that combo for 2 years, before investing in the equipment I use today. It was awesome. Clients were happy and so was I.
Perfect your craft first. Trust your talent. Build a client list. Then go get that new expensive camera. It will totally be worth the money spent then. Now, that expensive camera I broke the bank with…what ever happened to it? Well it’s still sitting on the shelf collecting dust as my back up camera.
And as a little bonus…
6. TAKE A BREAK
I find at times my creativity can start to overwhelm me, especially when I have so many ideas trying to come out at once. So I take a break. I can’t recommend a break enough. In the past when I would start feeling like this, I would think to myself that I was not interested in photography anymore and in reality, that was the furthest thing from the truth. I just needed a little break.
Being a photographer sounds easy, but we work our butts off. There is so much on our plates and I don’t think many people realize that when they are starting out with a photography business. We dream up amazing photo ideas and physically put ourselves in positions most acrobats can’t even do just for that perfect shot. We spend all hours of the night editing, and are away from our families on the weekend many times throughout the year. It’s hard and enough to burn you out. So take a break, It’s okay. You won’t forget what you’ve learned. If anything you’ll come back with bigger, better ideas and the mental clarity you need to run this business successfully and like a boss!