Want to be a Professional Photographer?

Professional photographer

Professional photographer

As you’re probably aware everyone is a photographer now-days and competition for every gig is fierce. Possessing photography skills is just one of the many core ingredients in order to become a professional photographer. Becoming a professional photographer and turning your passion into a full time profession is not easy.

That being said, there are lots of extremely successful photographers who are able to live of their photography business so it’s definitely doable. The key reason why these photographers are successful is they have realized they need to treat their photographic adventure as a business first. In order to have successful photography business there are multiple skills you’ll need to master not related to photography. Some not so fun such as promotion, accounting, budgets, etc. Lets look at some important points to consider when you are running any business.

Cash flow

Think of cash flow as income – expenses. It’s very important to have a cash flow plan for your business. Planning your expenses and than sticking to your expense structure is very important so just because you landed a check from that high-paying gig doesn’t mean you should run out and buy the new lens you’ve been dreaming about. Having some money in the bank once you hit a low and miss a few jobs can make or break your business. This is especially important once you are starting out and the rule of thumb should be you avoid expenses which do not show a return on investment under a year. You can plan a little bit more long term after you’ve established your self, have built up your portfolio and have a few reference clients that you can rely on for word of mouth.

Promotion

For some reason, people don’t like to promote them selves but this is an absolute necessity for an aspiring photography business. Without promotion you’ll not get any gigs. I plan to cover promotion in a lot more details in the future but here are few pointers.

Be different, stand out

Don’t be a photographer of everything, be the best landscape photographer there is but don’t do everything as you’ll not be good at anything and you need to stand out among the hundreds other photographers out there. Just by not focusing on everything, you’ll be different than 95% of the photographers out there.

Web presence

Have a web presence with a portfolio on your own domain. Make it as interesting as possible. Here are few tips – blog about your equipment, post a new photo every day, write about your photography and strive to make you website an enjoyable place to visit. Engage in social media. Participate in other photography related websites. Participate in contests, write for other websites in order to promote, write a monthly newsletter in order to keep your prospects engaged with what you’re up to. It’s all about standing out and making you the person a prospect will associate once they need that special photo.

Network

Engage with potential clients and network with other photographers offline. Go out and meet editors, buy them coffee, mingle. Go to photography events, organize your own events. Put your self out there in order for people to respond.

Selling

As with promotion, selling is another task you’ll need to get used to when you’re running your own business. Getting this part right and how much to charge can break or make your business so prepare for a lot of trial/error here until you get it right. One of the hardest questions photographers faces with is when someone asks for a quote. I plan to cover this is more details as well.

Last but not least

Some things to keep in mind that might be useful.

  • Keep in mind, once someone is paying you, they want you to do things their way. Sometimes, you’ll have to do stuff you know could be better but the client is not seeing it this way.
  • Once you start working full time, keep shooting for fun. It’s really important to keep doing fun things as once you’re paid you’ll be doing the stuff your clients wants you to do.
  • Prepare yourself for an emotional roller coaster. Having your own business will be full of ups and downs. Constant search for new opportunities is something you need to get used to.
  • Constantly keep developing your skills and be on the lookout for new ways to promote your self.

In order to make it, you have to do it

While the above title says it all, you should make a strategy considering most of the above aspects. You need to carefully plan and the rule of thumb is not to quit your job right away unless you already don’t have a healthy flow of clients. Working part-time as a photographer first makes a lot of sense as that way, you’ll have the cash-flow covered, you’ll still be able to do most of the things related to promotion and selling part you can practice.

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