Is this Camera Something I can make money with or is it a great hobby?
A special Edition on every Photographers’ mind.
Haven’t we all thought this before? This hobby is fun, but, I know there are people making money as a photographer. Can I make money as a photographer too? That is a good question, and I guess that brings up the ultimate answer: It depends. I hate that answer. But, it is for real. In this Special Edition blog, I am going to cover that answer, and give several professional inputs in what it would take for YOU to make money with your camera. So, let’s just get into it with this:
The photography business can be a scary place to start to think about doing a new business. The competition is tough, the paperwork can be really scary, and the thought of not making it work seems overwhelming. And what if you are an introvert? Oh, having to deal with people seems overwhelming too. Can’t I just take a picture and sell it on the internet so I don’t have to deal with real people? The easy way is probably not the way to make money, at least at first.
But, if you have such a passion for this art, and it is a driving force, you would be remiss to not give it a try. So, with that, let’s use the information that somebody has already put together for us to see what it really takes to put a photographic business together.
His name is Jeff Cable. And he has put together 15 tips on “starting your successful Photographic Business”.
HAVE PASSION AND LOVE WHAT YOU DO
There is nothing worse than hating one’s job. Professional Photography requires hard work and long hours on the clock (and feet), so, only passionate photographers actually succeed at, maintaining successful photographic businesses without burning out. And even then, some don’t succeed.
Passion for the craft is what will sustain when the going gets tough. And passion will also pay off in the everyday routine, and in your relationship with your clients, and with your photographs, because it will push you to give it your all.
“If you have passion and you’re having a good time, guess what you get back? You get photos of people who are also having a good time,” Cable said. “[Clients] tend to feed off of you having fun… I get hired a lot because of my photography, but I also get hired a lot because of who I am as a person.”
Cable walked a good distance to 5pointz in Queens, New York, because he heard the graffiti was
cool. Then he climbed on top of a dumpster and photographed this rap battle taking place there.
“Why did I do all of this? Is it because I get paid? Am I going to send it to the newspaper? No? I’m doing this because I love photography.” he said.
KNOW HOW TO SHOOT AND PRACTICE IF YOU DON’T
A successful photographer knows his or her equipment so well, he or she knows the ins and outs of their equipment and everything it can do. They would know every lighting situation they might encounter on the job. But, it’s not just knowing the equipment. The ideal pro can select good foregrounds and backgrounds for stellar compositions and can predict key moments before they even happen and be ready for them. They will hardly ever say: ” I just didn’t have my camera ready.”
“If you’re going to call yourself a professional photographer and start commanding good money for it, you want to know how to do these things,” Cable said. “A good photographer can walk into any room or environment and within 15 seconds or less have it figured out, and that comes with experience… It’s not hard. It’s just practice.”
FOCUS ON WHAT YOU KNOW
As you build your reputation and expertise as a professional photographer, make note of your strengths and weaknesses so you can shoot according to your strengths for paying clients, and practice during your own free time or during free test shoots to improve your weaknesses.
INVEST IN GOOD STARTER EQUIPMENT
Since price really does determine quality in photography, it probably would be wise from the very beginning to invest in good camera equipment, and back-up equipment. Although, you could rent back-up equipment as an option as well. Don’t forget, though, that photography is all about the brain, the heart, and the eye behind the picture, but, if you don’t have the good equipment to capture it, then you may miss the whole thing.
“The camera is just a tool, but it is an important one,” Cable said. “Having a good camera helps, but it doesn’t make you a good photographer… it won’t get you there all the way.”
This is what Mr. Cable put down as a starting list of things you should have:
This is just a suggestion. See what you can do:
- A good camera body (preferably a professional grade camera body)
- Assorted lenses include:
- 70-200 2.8 lens
- 50mm 1.4
- 1.4X extender
- 1 bounce capable flash (and backup)
- a good tripod
- at least 2 to 3 32GB CF cards
- Card reader
GET INSURANCE AND BACKUP RELIGIOUSLY
Insuring your own gear is obvious here, but, general liability insurance is a good idea here too. In case you accidentally knock over an expensive vase while shooting a wedding, or a child trips over your camera bag and breaks his arm is just as important. Some venues require that you have liability insurance before you take pictures there professionally, and proof showing that you have it.
“If you don’t care about your photos, then don’t worry about it, but if you care about what you’re shooting or you’re charging a client for it, backup. And don’t just backup on your home machine. Backup somewhere else,” said Cable. “I’m really kind of very detail-oriented when it comes to that and you need to be if you’re charging people money.”
HAVE THE RIGHT ATTITUDE
People skills are a huge part of being a photographer. If you don’t like working with people now, then you should take a course on dealing with people’s personalities. Learn to treat people with respect. Have fun with your clients. Smile with your clients. Keep in touch and keep your clients at ease during the photo shoot.
“Be part of the event if you can” said Cable, pictured here. ” There’s nothing better than getting them to trust you by just turning
around and going, ‘ hey, take a look at this one”.
How do you stand out in this competitive field of photographers? You find ways that make you unique and use them. Create your own unique selling style, photographic style etc. ( e.g. I work my butt off, I tell stories as I take photos, etc)
“There’s a lot of people out there that want to become photographers,” Cable said. “I’ll shoot stuff that most people wouldn’t shoot in ways that most people wouldn’t shoot it. I’ll lay on the ground, I’ll go up high, I’ll even dance sometimes with the kids while I’m shooting them.”
HAVE A COMPELLING WEBSITE
Maintaining a fast HTML-based website with a handful of solid images will do wonders for your business. Make sure you only show, even in your portfolio, show only the best photos. Can you imagine what your business image will do if even a few bad photos are shown.
“What are you judged by—your best images or your worst images? Your worst,” Cable said. “People will judge you on your website.
Here is a great example of a real good website. Go to it and see what I mean:
LEARN TO TELL THE STORY.
No matter what the gig is, make sure you capture all that you are supposed to capture, but be aware of all the things that fill in the story, or fill in the gaps. Keep your head on a swivel looking for “unscripted” moments to get recorded.
“Don’t wear blinders. Shoot a lot of things and look around for those unscripted moments that you didn’t expect,” said Cable. “You gotta be ready for anything that might happen.”
Cable captured this shot at the 2010 Olympics because he was ready for it, and planned for it
beforehand, and knew that something like this was coming.
CONTINUE TO LEARN
Learning goes hand in hand with practice and differentiating between you and the competition. Try new equipment. Go on a stroll and shoot new things. Go on Photo walks to stay inspired and stay passionate about your business.
“I dread the day when I can say, ‘I’ve done it all. I’ve learned every bit of the camera, I’ve shot everything I want to shoot,’” Cable said. “I push myself always to deliver better for the client, but also to kind of inspire me more.”
#11 TIP –
It may be easier said than done, but learning to understand people goes a long way. Learn what they like, who they really are – your clients will appreciate the attention and your photographs will show your compassion.
We forget as photographers, that we can give this gift – Cable
DESIGN YOUR PRICING AND STICK TO IT
When you are first starting out as a photographer, you may need to give away a few free for free for a while, while you develop your portfolio. But, after that, set your price, and no more free ones ever. Develop reasonable pricing and deliverable s, and then stick to it, even if people request a discount.
“Your photos are your art,” Cable said. “Giving them away is leaving money on the table and is devaluing what you do. It makes you the guy with the camera just hitting a button.”
KNOW BUSINESS AS MUCH AS PHOTOGRAPHY
The sad fact that many photographers fail as a business, because they just don’t understand business. They don’t realize how to run a business. It has been said that to do a photography business that a person should go to school in business, and then do photography as a secondary subject.
The problem is, a lot of it is marketing and selling yourself and understanding the business side,” Cable said. “It’s great that you can take a good picture, but if you don’t know how to sell it and price it and you give it away, you won’t be able to do this for very long.”
ALWAYS THINK ABOUT REFERRALS
In addition to embracing social media, working with local vendors is important. “They can be great referrals
for you” said Cable. Photographic vendors is a great way to earn their loyalty.
Treat everyone, even the kids as potential clients. Make friends wherever you go. Try to develop a good friendly attitude around people. Everyone is a potential client.
“Whether it’s a referral from the family [or] the friends of the family, people spend a lot of money on advertising and word of mouth has always been and will be the best ever,” Cable said. “I go above and beyond to make an impression.”
BE SMART ABOUT YOUR TIME
That old saying: “time is money” is true, and on the other hand, this saying is true too: ” things always take more time than you think they will” is also true. As you develop your business, make sure you treat your time wisely. Factor your time into your shooting. Learn to use a schedule. Effectively budget your time. Learn to streamline your time.
That’s it. Mr. Cable developed these 15 tips to making your business succeed. And most of this article came from PictureCorrect and the author was Rebecca Bennett who got most of her ideas from Jeff Cable. Between these two people, and even I have added my own comments in creating this SPECIAL EDITION for you today. I want to thank both Rebecca Bennett for her article and the quotes she used in her article from Jeff Cable, and PictureCorrect for providing this article.
Now, usually on Friday, I usually share a bunch of great photos of the particular articles that I just presented, but, today, I wanted to share links or web addresses of photographers that I know, who have businesses now, that have put together great websites. So, please take a moment and go to these websites, to be inspired about “BUSINESSES IN PHOTOGRAPHY”.
Thanks to my friends who have DONE IT. You guys are amazing, and when I grow up I want to be just like you.
Please go to these links:
Thank you for reading through this blog. I hope you learned a lot about how to make money in photography. There may be more subjects on this in the future. Please share this with your friends.