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Sep
28

10 Lessons from a Guy Who Quit His Job to be a Full-Time Photographer

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Make Money From Photography, Photography Tips and Tutorials

Every decision you’ve ever made, each image you’ve ever shot, and each chance you’ve taken, has brought you to where you are now as a photographer. Think about that for a second. Regardless of what your goals might be or where you want to go with your photography, it all comes down to a series of moves. So really, all of your success and all of your failures are a beautiful mix of causes and effects. One action yielding one outcome big or small. For most of us, our love for all things photography points to one end and that ever-burning question of “How can I be a full-time photographer?”

If you’ve ever wanted to know what it takes to quit your job and become a professional photographer or how it feels to turn your love of photography into sustainable income, then this is your lucky day. I’m about to share with you some lessons I’ve learned during my three-year journey to become “one of those people”; someone who managed to turn their passion for photography into a full-time job and kiss the rat race goodbye. A few of these lessons are ones you might expect and a few might not be so obvious. So, sit back and get ready to hear some real-world advice from someone who actually made their dream happen, and how you can follow if you choose.

#1 – You have to want it more than anything

It’s easy to say you want something. But have you ever truly desired to make something happen? I’m talking about the kind of want that consumes your very being. Well, maybe not that dramatic but it’s not far off. If you are going to “make it” at anything then you will have to want it more than anything else.

10 Lessons from a Guy Who Quit His Job to be a Full-Time Photographer

The happy upside to finding something that you so completely want is that the challenges you face don’t seem to matter as much as they might otherwise. And yes, there will be oh so many challenges. Which leads us to lesson #2.

#2 – You will have to sacrifice

Don’t get me wrong. The following words aren’t meant to be a deterrent but at the same time, they are quite true. To ultimately reach your goals there will have to be sacrifices made along the way. The nature and exactness of these sacrifices will vary greatly but there will always be things that you will have to give up in order to make your dream a reality.

10 Lessons from a Guy Who Quit His Job to be a Full-Time Photographer

These sacrifices could be anything from giving up sleep and experiencing physical discomfort or missing time out with friends. Photography is a medium that literally requires you to be present for every shot. This means that to truly be there in the moment you won’t always be able to someplace else. It strains relationships and can take a toll on your body, your finances, and even your mind. But much like lesson #1, the sacrifices won’t seem so terrible if they are viewed as a necessary means to make something you truly want happen.

#3 – Understand the “calculated risks”

Taking calculated risks is sometimes misunderstood by some people who are looking to take a leap with their photo work. Let’s break down the very phrase “calculated risk”.

First, we have the word “calculated” which means something that is done with full awareness of the possible consequences. Then we have “risk” which refers to exposing something we value to danger, harm, or loss. So, when we say that we are going to take a calculated risk, it means that we are about to put something on the line knowing full well that the outcome might not be favorable. This is where I feel the point becomes lost with some photographers.

10 Lessons from a Guy Who Quit His Job to be a Full-Time Photographer

To reach your goals you’ll certainly have to take some risks. While that’s true, I’ve learned that it’s the manner in which you take those risks that makes all the difference. When it comes to taking calculated risks, never risk anything that will ultimately prevent you from reaching your next goal.

I’ll admit though, this advice can be somewhat paradoxical. Meaning that in the end, you will have to take the ultimate calculated risk. That is going all in and attempting to make your living exclusively from your dealings in photography. Until that time comes, make sure your risks are of the non-terminal variety.

#4 – You will have to teach yourself patience

This is a hard one. You will have to be patient. Stay ambitiously patient, but be patient nonetheless. If you’re not a patient person then you’ll probably have to teach yourself to be one. And if you come to the conclusion that you can’t teach yourself to be patient then you’ll just have to fake it. I can tell you that there is no set timetable when it comes to reaching a sustainable goal.

10 Lessons from a Guy Who Quit His Job to be a Full-Time Photographer

Being patient doesn’t mean that you should sit back and wait for things to happen. Instead, make every minute of every day count towards achieving the thing you want the most. But understand that there’s no guarantee when that goal will be reached. Just know that you will reach it if you are patient (and persistent) and don’t stop.

#5 – Confidence comes after the fact

This is something that I struggle to remind myself on a daily basis. Confidence is just as important as skill in some cases. Having the gall to try something new, to attempt difficult things, that’s what it takes to make big things happen with your photography.

Some people are born confident (or at least so it seems). But for others, confidence is a learned talent. What’s the downside to becoming confident in your work? Confidence only comes after you do the thing you’re afraid to do.

10 Lessons from a Guy Who Quit His Job to be a Full-Time Photographer

Yeah, that’s a hard idea to swallow but it’s true. To become confident you will have to constantly step outside your comfort zone to varying degrees. This could mean being proactive with clients, taking on jobs that are just slightly outside your assumed skill set, and at times even talking your way into (and out of) a few situations.

#6 – Disregard secret formulas for success

The internet is chock-full of every kind of self-improvement website and video imaginable that all aim at making you better at photography. That’s 100% okay and none of us would know much of anything about making photographs if it weren’t for people who publish good educational information. After all, you’re reading this article on one of the best photo education sites online. But that doesn’t mean that everything that glitters is gold.

10 Lessons from a Guy Who Quit His Job to be a Full-Time Photographer

A big red warning flag should go up whenever you hear or read something that tells you to, “Do this and you’ll be a great photographer” or worse yet, the dreaded, “I’m a master photographer so listen to me” line. Understand that your journey to finding success is completely unique to you. My goals and choices are likely totally different than those you will choose. At the same time, some lessons are universal. Just remember that there is no secret formula, only tested advice.

#7 – Grab opportunity by the throat

I love a good metaphor and grabbing opportunity by the throat is one of the best ones I can think of to describe what I learned about approaching opportunity. Learning to recognize opportunities for advancing yourself and your work is only a small part of the puzzle. You have to also aggressively seize those opportunities when they come along.

For me, there were three or four big opportunities that eventually put me where I am today. Narrowing it down even further, one of those opportunities hinged on a single email that I sent to someone. If I hadn’t sent that one message, things might have turned out much differently.

10 Lessons from a Guy Who Quit His Job to be a Full-Time Photographer

Don’t just say, “I think this is a great opportunity but…” There are no buts when it comes to this sort of action. Unfortunately, you have to decide that for yourself whether not an opportunity is worthwhile. But if you do decide to go for it, do so with everything you’ve got. You never know where it might lead. Which brings us to #8.

#8 – Your destination will change

This is somewhat of a strange lesson which I’ve only come to grasp in the last year or so. The end all be all dream I had when I started making photographs was to take pictures of beautiful things, sell them, and repeat. I thought I would do this enough to make a living.

Well, the hard truth about photography is that it’s nearly impossible to make a living exclusively from selling prints. It’s not impossible, but even the established greats in the photography history books didn’t merely sell prints to support themselves. The ones who did often were only able to do so AFTER they became giants in the art.

10 Lessons from a Guy Who Quit His Job to be a Full-Time Photographer

Don’t be afraid to allow yourself to evolve in a natural direction. Currently, I write for four to five publications, have authored two books on photography, host my own YouTube channel, and dabble in all manner or photo-related adventures. I still love making photos and do so whenever I can, but do I sell a lot of those prints? Not really.

Would I ever have imagined myself as a writer? Absolutely not! But when the opportunity came along I took it, and it’s all been one amazing ride to where I am now. The takeaway here is to be flexible with your attitude and accept that you always understand that a glorious outcome is out there, but it may not be the one you originally set out to achieve.

#9 – Think big but have realistic expectations

Set huge goals for yourself. Dream big. Think big. Never let anyone tell you that something is impossible for this or that reason. While you should never set strict limitations for yourself and your dreams it’s also important to live in reality. This is a reality, isn’t it? The point is to never expect great things to happen quickly or without a lot of work (remember #2 and #4 above) supplied on your part.

10 Lessons from a Guy Who Quit His Job to be a Full-Time Photographer

The most saddening thing that can happen to those who have unreal expectations is that they quit. They stop chasing after what they love and resign themselves to an existence they don’t really want. If you want to go full-time in the photography world always remember that success finds us at different times and with different outcomes. Think as big as you need to but keep your feet firmly on the ground.

#10 – It’s all worth it in the end

As we close out our list, #10 is the lesson that I want you to understand with the most clarity. Of all the lessons I’ve learned on my journey to independence with photography, there is one that had to wait for until the end and it’s this – it’s all worth it. All of it. All your hard work, all your sacrifice, everything that you poured into making your dream of being a working full-time photographer will ultimately lead to one of the greatest feelings imaginable.

10 Lessons from a Guy Who Quit His Job to be a Full-Time Photographer

Honestly, any description I can give of how amazing it feels to make photography (or photo related) your full-time job will ultimately fall miserably short of its mark. So, if you’re struggling with whatever you happen to be doing with photography let this final lesson fortify you enough to keep going. Believe me, it will all be worth it.

Some Final Thoughts

These lessons are just a small portion of a nearly indecipherable culmination of trial and error, ups and downs, peaks and valleys. Your particular path will be different than mine, as it should be. I managed to leave a successful, albeit unfitting, career in healthcare to go on to make a living doing what I really love. The best part? I’m no different than you.

I’m ecstatic to tell you some of the lessons I’ve learned so that you might understand that you can do the same thing I did. It may not happen quickly and it might not be exactly what you originally planned, but when it finally happens…and it will happen, it will be better than anything you can imagine.

The post 10 Lessons from a Guy Who Quit His Job to be a Full-Time Photographer by Adam Welch appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Aug
30

The 10 Most Important Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Photography Business

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Make Money From Photography, Photography Tips and Tutorials

No photographer wants to get into the photography business with the aim of becoming a marketing expert. But the reality is that if you don’t focus on the marketing and business end of photography, your business will not be able to survive long enough to do the fun stuff. It stinks, but this is the truth.

The 10 Most Important Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Photography Business

Luckily, the learning curve at the beginning is the toughest part, and as you get used to the business side, everything will come much more naturally to you. Eventually, you might even learn to enjoy it, or at least appreciate the work, after you see how powerful it can be in getting you where you want to go.

So here are 10 of the most important strategies you can start right away to make sure your photography business succeeds.

1. Use Your Personal Network

The 10 Most Important Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Photography Business

Nobody wants to be that annoying marketer that always pushes their business on their friends and acquaintances. However, this fear can push photographers way too far in the opposite direction, never working with the people that have grown to trust them the most. Your personal network is your strongest asset and even more so at the beginning of your photography business. These are the people who will give you your first jobs and introduce you to your first clients.

Photography is unique in that no matter what genre you are involved in, people in your network will most likely need your services at some point, whether it’s wedding or event photography, business portraiture, family portraiture, or print selling. So let your network know what you do and how you can help them.

Create a mailing list and send out an announcement to your network. Show your best work, talk about your photography business, and make sure to explain how you can help people. How can your business benefit them? They will not know unless you tell them. In addition, make sure to ask for referrals.

2. Take Advantage of Local Marketing

The 10 Most Important Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Photography Business

Whenever you say the word marketing these days, for some reason everyone immediately starts talking about social media. That is funny, because as important as social media is, it should be one of the last steps to think about for any marketing plan.

Your first step should be working within your local community. Similar to the last point, these are people who know you. You are just down the street from them. There are businesses of all types in your community that can probably use your work, so create a plan for how to get in front of them.

Make a good impression

Keep in mind that you only get one first impression, so be smart about how you reach out. First and foremost, figure out how you can benefit them. If you are going to reach out to someone, you need to know how their business or life will be better with your services and explain how you can help. Always be kind and courteous with their time, and if possible see if you can get an introduction before contacting someone cold. Does anyone in your personal network know the person you want to contact? That’s always a great first step, but if not, just reach out yourself.

The more you are seen, the more people in your community will notice you and start to think about working with you. Whether it’s local events, business events, fundraisers, you name it, you should make the point to be there, particularly at first. This is the way to create new relationships and to spread your reach.

Similarly, reach out to the other photographers in your area. Many photographers will assist others when they need help and vice versus, and this will help strengthen everyone as a whole. It can be easy for photographers to feel competitive with each other but avoid this. The ones that work together and refer each other will do much better in the long-run than the ones who try to do it all on their own.

3. Create a Mailing List

The 10 Most Important Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Photography Business

Use a mailing list provider such as MailChimp or Aweber to keep up with your clients, personal network, and fans. Email lists have the highest engagement of any form of marketing, and it is the way for you to stay on people’s minds.

Ask people if you can add them to your list, and always have them opt into the subscription. Put signup forms or popups on your website that encourage people to join. Consider giving away something to encourage them to do so, such as free computer wallpapers of your photography.

When sending out emails, create content that your list will enjoy. Do not sell too often with it. The more benefit and interest that you provide for the people on your list, the more they will enjoy it and the more they will like you. Then when you sell, they will be primed to purchase your services or product. When it’s time to sell, sell.

4. Create a Personal Project

The 10 Most Important Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Photography Business

This image is part of a personal project I’ve been working on involving talking to and making portraits of people in my community.

Personal projects will not bring new clients to you right away, and they will take away time from building your business and making a living. This is the tougher side of doing projects, but they are immensely important for the long term growth of your business and for growing your voice as a photographer. A project can be done slowly over a long period of time, so you can build it into your weekly schedule.

Think of an idea that will resonate with both you and your community. This is a way of keeping your passion for photography alive. It will also help to set you apart from the other photographers in your community. It will show people that you are an interesting person. They will be more interested in working with you, even if the paid work you do is a completely different genre. It will be a way for you to gain press coverage and something for you to talk about to engage people. All in all, a personal project will make marketing yourself so much easier, and it will feel much more natural.

5. Respond Quickly

There is no point in building your photography business or marketing your work if you are not going to respond quickly to inquiries. Respond quickly at every step of the process throughout a job as well. Responding quickly does not have to mean within the hour, although sometimes that can help when getting a new inquiry. It can mean responding within 12 hours or a day, as long as you are consistent and prompt.

Fortunately for you, a lot of photographers are terrible at this, so this will quickly set you apart. It will show people that you are a responsible person, and it will make them more comfortable working with you.

6. Build Your Connections (Both Local and Online)

The 10 Most Important Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Photography Business

Building your network is a lifetime process. As you go further and further in your career, you will begin to create connections with people who can do more and more for you (and who are tougher to get in contact with).

Whichever point in your career you are at, and whatever level your skill level as a photographer, start at that point and build connections there. Then over time, work your way up the ladder. Be patient, be smart, and don’t try to push too hard at first, particularly with people who don’t know you. First impressions are impossible to get back. Grow your network carefully and consistently.

7. Keep Your Existing Clients Coming Back

It can help to create a client management system. You can start off with an excel document at first and eventually grow to a more robust system, such as Sprout Studio. Keep in contact with your best clients, and even consider sending them holiday cards or a small gift to stay on their minds. A small gesture can go a long way, and it is much easier to get an existing client to come back than it is to reach a new one.

8. Makes Sure Your Website Sells

The 10 Most Important Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Photography Business

Think about your website as your number one selling tool. Whatever your primary service is, your site should be developed for the specific purpose of leading people to hire you for that service or for purchasing one of your products.

Study the basics of copywriting, create specific sales pages for your offerings, and even consider creating sales funnels that lead people to an end goal. These can be very powerful ways of priming people to want to work with you.

9. Take Advantage of SEO

SEO, or ranking highly in search engines, is a long term strategy that takes some studying to understand how to do (beyond what we will be able to cover completely here). My belief is that you should always focus on local networking first, as that has the ability to get you very quick gains, whereas an SEO campaign can take years to truly get you where you want to be.

But that being said, SEO should not be ignored, because most people will use Google to find the right photographer for them. Always remember, the goal of Google is to serve up the most relevant websites for the query topic. If you want to rank for a specific term, make sure to create the best possible page that will answer that query. Without this, an SEO strategy will not work.

The 10 Most Important Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Photography Business

Listen to Google

Google runs on links, so you need to figure out how to get other related websites to link to yours. It’s interesting because while it may seem annoying to gain these links, Google is actually forcing you to do things you should be doing in the first place.

Network with websites that you would like to be featured on, and figure out how you can provide that site with some value before you contact them. You will get nowhere if you just ask for something, but if you contact them willing to help them out, it will help immensely. As you grow with your abilities and your marketing, your opportunities for getting covered will grow as well. Internet marketing gets much easier over time.

This is another area where a personal project can help grow your business. People want to share interesting topics, so even if you are not generating income from the project directly, you can use the project to get covered on websites and to make people more aware of you, which will ultimately help improve SEO and grow your network and mailing list.

10. Create a Daily Plan

The 10 Most Important Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Photography Business

All of this is way too much to do in a feverish month of working. Similarly, your marketing skills will grow gradually, so take your time and be strategic about how you work through your marketing plan. You do not want to spend a whole month contacting everyone you can only to burn out soon after.

Set aside a daily block of time to build your business. Contact a few people every day or every few days. Use the feedback from those to tweak your next pitch. Over time, you will figure out what works and what does not work. A small amount of work each day will eventually snowball into much bigger things.

Conclusion

The main theme throughout this article is that you need to put yourself out there. The work will not just come to you. Create an organized plan, stick to it, and go for it. Be both careful and relentless. That is what is needed.

It may seem like there is a huge wall in front of you that is impossible to cross. But if you chip away at it a little bit each day, within a few years you will find that you have opened up many paths through it.


For even more business help – join the Focus Summit 2017 Online Business and Marketing Conference for Photographers on Sept 26-28th 2017. We will cover marketing, business development, law, SEO, branding, blogging, and much more. Use the code “DPS” for a $50 discount.

The post The 10 Most Important Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Photography Business by James Maher appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Aug
23

How to Create a Successful Local Marketing Strategy for your Photography Business

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Make Money From Photography, Photography Tips and Tutorials

The internet has taken over most aspects of our daily lives. We can talk to the world at a moments notice, promote our services instantly, and sell anything we want day or night. However, in the quest to grow as many followers and fans as we can, it can become easy to forget about one of the most important opportunities that exist for your photography business. There is so much potential right outside your front door.

Think local

No photography business can afford to forget about their local community – so you need to create a complete marketing plan that addresses both the internet and your own local community.

Photography Business Marketing

You don’t need to reach an audience around the globe to receive a job from your neighbor down the street. How many people cross your path in a given day? How many of them know what you do or could potentially use your services? How many of them might be interested in what you have to offer?

Through local marketing, you want to create a daily strategy for your local connections to grow consistently.

Photography Business Marketing

Be informative not intrusive

You do not have to be overly intrusive about it. You do not have to sell to your friends, colleagues, or acquaintances directly. Have you ever had a friend that you haven’t seen in years suddenly contact you out of the blue asking to talk or to get together? Then you speak to them and realize that they have just gotten a job as a financial planner (or some other such thing) and are trying to sign you up as a client.

This is not what I mean by local marketing, but you do have to be effective at making people aware of what you do, whenever the situation presents itself. You want to intrigue people. When people ask what you do, help them understand your photography business. You are in a creative field, so make it sound as exciting as possible.

Photography Business Marketing

Just let people know what you do

If there is a crossover that might help the person, mention it. For instance, what type of photographer are you? What are the specific services that you provide? Depending on who the person is, tailor what you say to them or their situation.

Send out an official announcement letting everyone know about your photography business. Briefly, explain what your services are and how you might provide potential customers with assistance. When done correctly, this will not be intrusive but informative. People will congratulate you and celebrate your endeavor.

If you are trying to grow your family portrait or corporate business, the people you know will be a huge help. How many of your friends work for businesses or have families? I am assuming most of them. Why would these friends want to seek out a stranger to provide these services when they could work with someone they know? You can be that person.

Photography Business Marketing

Build relationships with other businesses

How many businesses do you frequent on a daily basis? From restaurants to law firms to local shops, there is a wealth of opportunity right under your nose. It is simple but can seem so daunting at the same time. Smile, talk to that business owner you have seen for years and tell them about your services and how they might benefit from them. Bring a brochure of your work.

For businesses that you do not have a prior relationship with, try to locate the person in the company who would be in charge of hiring out the type of work that you want to do. It can be much less effective to just walk in the door blind with the aim of speaking to the first person you see. Your prospective chances will improve significantly if you can make a pointed and direct contact with an influential person within a business.

Exhibit your work

Seek out gathering spaces, such as a coffee shop, a bar, or an event space to hold a show. This is good for their business as it provides art on their walls and a reason for people to enter their establishment. For you, it provides a fun space to show your work. If you live in a smaller community, where a lot of people who know you will come across the work, then this can be a great strategy. If you can draw people to the space to help show and sell your work, then that is a good thing. Many gallerists hold pop-up galleries in addition to their permanent spaces for just this purpose. Consider doing similar pop-up events of your work.

If you live in a smaller community, where a lot of people who know you will come across the work, then this can be a great strategy. If you can draw people to the space to help show and sell your work, that is a good thing. Many gallerists hold pop-up galleries in addition to their permanent spaces for just this purpose. Consider doing similar pop-up events of your work.

Photography Business Marketing

Make sure it’s on your terms

However, there are some pitfalls to this strategy. Providing your work to a business for an open-ended period of time at no cost doesn’t necessarily mean that your work will sell or that it will help you get noticed. I see artwork covering the walls of coffee shops all over New York, and most of it never moves. This is just giving the establishment free art with little or no benefit to you.

You need to select the correct establishment and have a way to draw people there with the specific purpose of seeing your art and hopefully purchasing it. Without that, this strategy can be as much of a drain on your time and resources as it can be a success. If these benefits are not there for you, the establishment should pay you for your work (or pay a rental fee) since you are providing a service to them. You are giving them an ambiance and improving the experience for their customers.

Photograph students at a local school

Another thing you could consider is contacting an acting or music teacher at a local school and offering to photograph the student’s headshots. If you do well, it will help build your portfolio and both the students and the teachers alike will tell others of your services. Hang an advertisement in a local business, do work for a local website, sell your work at a local fair; there are many creative ways to integrate what you do into your community.

Photography Business Marketing

There is an infamous and successful example of this type of strategy employed by a guitar teacher named Dan Smith in New York City. Beginning in the 1990s, Dan hung small ads in doorways and vestibules in businesses all over Manhattan. You could not walk into a diner or coffee shop without seeing one, and these ads persist today. He has built a business out of this single marketing strategy, and it lead him to be so ubiquitous that even The New York Times ran a profile of him.

The repetition is what worked for him, and it was not annoying; it was almost humorous and became a defining characteristic of growing up in the city. This is an example of the 80/20 rule, where 80 percent of your income can come from 20 percent of your marketing. Dan found a strategy that worked and pushed it to the extreme. It only worked because of the extreme measures that he took in plastering so much of the city with his ads. Other music teachers pasted their ads around the city, but none did it like Dan.

Conclusion

By working on a variety of local marketing strategies, these endeavors will combine to create an overall awareness of your business in the community. Some of the individual pieces might seem small, and all of this may seem tedious at first, but all together they can be very powerful.


For even more business help – join the Focus Summit 2017 Online Business and Marketing Conference for Photographers on Sept 26-28th 2017. We will cover marketing, business development, law, SEO, branding, blogging, and much more. Use the code “DPS” for a $50 discount.

The post How to Create a Successful Local Marketing Strategy for your Photography Business by James Maher appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Aug
9

7 Common Mistakes That Every Photography Business Needs to Avoid

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Make Money From Photography, Photography Tips and Tutorials

Everyone makes mistakes. When growing your photography business, you will make more mistakes over than the years than you can count – and some of them you will even look back on and cringe.

Mistakes are all part of the process. But also part of the job of being a photographer is figuring out how to minimize these mistakes, especially the ones that can set you back a long way. Learn from your peers so you can avoid their mistakes.

Photography Business Marketing

Here are some of the main pitfalls that plague photographers. Just fixing these alone can save you a lot of money, and even more importantly, a lot of time.

Mistake #1 – Not Charging Enough

When you are first building your portfolio, certainly you might have to do some jobs for free or at a reduced rate as you build your skill level. That part is fine, but once you have that portfolio and are a full fledged business, you do not want to sell yourself short.

Photography may seem to others like a passion job – that you just show up for an hour or two, take some photos, and send them over. But it is about so much more than that. It’s about building your skills, learning about light, composition, fixing mistakes on the fly, editing, and learning how to work with clients. It’s traveling to and from the location, paying your expenses, spending the time to market yourself to get the job, paying the bills to keep the lights on, and feeding your family. And it’s about having some time left over to enjoy yourself.

Photography Business Marketing

Create a spreadsheet and calculate these costs so you know what you have to make per job to survive and thrive. This will give you the confidence to ask for what you are worth. If you’re not able to cover all of these costs, then you’re not running a true full-time business, you won’t survive in the long run, and you’re lowering the value of the work itself.

Stay away from the cheap jobs and the cheap clients. They will just suck your time away and demand more and more. If the requirements for a client on a particular job suddenly change halfway through, ask for more money.

Sometimes you will want to do work for less than you are worth if it is the right type of job or the right type of client, but this should only be situational. There will be many points in your career where it will be more valuable to spend the time on your marketing and business development than on the job itself.

Mistake #2 – Not Reaching Out to People and Being Proactive with Marketing

Photography Business Marketing

Jobs are not going to come to you at first, no matter how good your work is. You will have to go out and find your clients, so create a list of your ideal client types and of the best ways to reach each of them.

Work within your personal network, canvas local businesses, attend events and offer your services to individuals. The more you put yourself out there, the more business will come to you. But at first, every job you receive will come as a direct result of you proactively contacting someone or figuring out a strategy to get your work in front of them.

Mistake #3 – Not Collaborating and Working With Other Photographers in Your Space (i.e. Your Competitors)

Photography Business Marketing

Other photographers can be one of the biggest helps to you along your journey. They’ve been there before, they have a lot in common with you, and they could become great friends. Learn from them and offer to help them.

Often you will get some of your first jobs from other photographers, whether it be assisting them or taking some of their overflow. Many established photographers still have a portion of their income come from helping out other photographers in their community.

In addition, accountability can be extremely important for your growth. Find a photographer in a similar place (level and business-wise) as you and work together. Have strategy sessions and share what is working and what is not. Having someone in your life like this can be integral to your success and for getting you through the hard times.

There will be a portion of photographers who see you as a competitor. They will not want to talk to or worth with you. That’s their problem, and the collaborations that you do with the willing photographers will help you both jump ahead of the ones who don’t.

Mistake #4 – Not Responding Quickly Enough

Why don’t photographers respond as quickly as possible to job inquiries? Either way, it makes things easier for us when the competition is slow to respond. I hear it all the time, how surprised people were by how quickly I responded to them, both at the beginning and throughout the entire job process. This shows a level of dependability, and in addition to helping people to want to work with you, it will also make them want to refer you. The more dependable you are, the more your clients will want to help you out however they can.

Even if it’s not a job inquiry, respond quickly. You never know when a casual conversation or advice that you give will turn into a job or reference. Often, it will turn into nothing, but when those one or two out of 10 turn into jobs, in the long run, those will add up.

Mistake #5 – Not Spelling Out the Terms of a Job from the Very Beginning

Photography Business Marketing

Being a skilled photographer is not just about creating beautiful pictures. A big aspect of the photography business is how you handle the job from start to finish, and often the most important part is the very beginning when you spell out the terms and requirements.

It is really tough to know exactly what a client is envisioning for the job, so it helps to ask a lot of questions. This will even help them figure out what they want, as many of them will not have any experience with hiring a professional photographer. It will also help you justify your price when you talk out the steps of a job with them.

Make sure they know that if the parameters of the job change (through their decisions), you will have to charge more for the extra work. Most clients will think it is not a big deal to add something that was not specified ahead of time, but this is just more work they are giving you that was not spelled out originally. It happens a lot of the time, so it’s very important for your photography business to learn how to handle it correctly.

Mistake #6 – Not Having a Contract

Similar to the last point, while you both need to come to an agreement on the scope of any photography project, you also need to spell out those terms in a contract. Without a contract, you can easily be screwed over, and many photographers learn this the hard way. Hire a lawyer to give you advice, and look into thelawtog.com, which provides a variety of photographer contracts. These can save you a lot of time and money.

Read this on contracts: The Biggest Legal Mistake Photographers Make

The contract is important for setting the boundaries of the project. It will be easier to ask for more money if the scope of a job changes when you have a contract that spells out the exact requirements that were drafted.

Mistake #7 – Not Having an Efficient Workflow

Photography Business Marketing

Efficiency is one of the most important aspects of running a photography business, and unfortunately, speed is something that is learned over time. Create a speedy and organized system for how you work. Import a job, cull the selects, crop, do the post-production work (light, color, contrast, etc.), export, deliver, and invoice. The more efficient you are with this, the less you will procrastinate. There is nothing that will cause a photographer to procrastinate more than staring at a mountain of unedited images.

While this tip may sound simple, jobs that might take beginning photographers three hours to edit, can take an experienced photographer an hour. It took me much longer to edit a job when I started, and this organization and efficiency can give you so much more time to spend on everything else.

Also read: Photography Workflow Tips – From Memory Card to Computer and Beyond

Always tell a client that you will get a job to them a couple days later than you think you can. This will allow you time to screw something up and still get the work to them on time. Usually, you will get it to them early which will make you look even better (this is called under promise, over deliver).

Mistake #8 – Bonus Tip: Learn When to Say No

Photography Business Marketing

It’s hard to say no as a photographer, especially if you are growing your business and are under booked, but some jobs or some clients are just not worth it. If you are not being paid enough and the job is not good for your portfolio, if the client is tough to work with and overly demanding, save that aggravation and pass.

Some of these clients will prey upon young photographers to squeeze as much out of them before the photographer wises up. Just avoiding these jobs alone will save you so much time, and allow you to put it towards marketing and business development efforts that will set you much further ahead than by taking a less than desirable job.

Your time is very, very important, so don’t waste it. Saying no can be one of the best decisions you make.

If you have a photography business and have any other tips for newbies just getting started, please share in the comments below.


For even more business help – join the Focus Summit 2017 Online Business and Marketing Conference for Photographers on Sept 26-28th 2017. We will cover marketing, business development, law, SEO, branding, blogging, and much more. Use the code “DPS” for a $50 discount.

 

The post 7 Common Mistakes That Every Photography Business Needs to Avoid by James Maher appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Jul
10

Do You Need a Photography Resume?

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Make Money From Photography, Photography Tips and Tutorials

In the photography world, there is a lot of emphasis on having a portfolio, but hardly any attention is ever given to the photography resume. So do you even need a photography resume at all? The question is largely debatable and boils down to the type of photography you are aiming to do. In this post, I’ll highlight some scenarios when you might need a photography resume (along with what to include in it), and when you do not likely need one.

When You Might Need a Photography Resume

In my seven years of working as a freelance corporate photographer, I’ve been asked to present a photography resume only a handful of times. Each time, it was when I was being considered for a part-time or full-time photography role. If you’re applying for a salaried photography position within a company or being listed with a creative agency, this is when you might need a resume.

Do You Need a Photography Resume?

While it’s rare for any commercial client to require a resume for a freelance photography job, it’s still good to have one on hand just in case. But if your target client is non-commercial with a focus on something such as weddings or families, you probably won’t ever need to submit a photography resume.

When You (Probably) Don’t Need a Resume

For most freelance photographers, it’s rare that a client will ask for a resume in order to be considered for a gig. Typically, the emphasis for freelance photo shoots is more on your portfolio and how you handle your correspondence (i.e., email, phone calls, in-person meetings). This is true for both consumer (eg. wedding, family) and commercial (eg. corporate event, headshot) photographers.

Can you imagine a bride asking a wedding photographer for a resume? Or better yet, can you imagine what a wedding photographer’s resume might look like? Having a list of all of the weddings a photographer has ever shot doesn’t matter unless you’re aiming to be a celebrity wedding photographer.

Do You Need a Photography Resume?

Keep a Resume on File

The good news is that resumes aren’t terribly difficult to create, especially with the existence of LinkedIn. For all of the naysayers who don’t find LinkedIn relevant, I admit that it may be more or less useful depending on where you’re located. Here in Seattle, LinkedIn is a very active recruiting tool and social network where you can also store your electronic resume for anyone can see. As a full-time freelance photographer, I think it’s a good thing to have my professional resume seen by as many prospective clients as possible.

What to put on your resume

What should you include on your resume? There are a few staple items that should definitely be included, but the rest of the details depend entirely on why you’re submitting the photography resume in the first place. Personally, I have zero educational background or full-time employment that has anything to do with photography. Yet I still include my education and work experience to show that I have some.

As for my position as a full-time freelance photographer, I list that as my most current work experience. Writing the description for this position was rather awkward at first, but it actually became quite interesting when I put all of the skills I actually perform as a photographer into words. Consider every single part of your photo shoot workflow, from scouting and booking locations to post-production and delivering final photos to your client under tight deadlines. There are a lot of professional skills that go into being a photographer, so detail it out for both yourself and prospective clients. Include the following:

  1. Your name and contact info.
  2. Educational background.
  3. Any relevant experience you have.

Do You Need a Photography Resume?

Focus on Your Portfolio

Instead, what should matter to are these things:

A Curated Portfolio

As a photographer, your portfolio IS your resume. It should contain only your very best work that visually showcases your skills. How many images you choose to include in your portfolio is completely up to you, but generally, 15-20 images per category is a good amount.

Testimonials From Clients

Testimonials are basically your references. They should be short, accurate statements that reflect your process and what your client liked about working with you. Although it’s rare for anyone to actually call and verify your testimonials, they’re still important to include as they give the potential client a glimpse at what others think.

Do You Need a Photography Resume?

By James Royal-Lawson

Client List

Most consumer (wedding, family) photographers won’t need a client list unless the names of the couples and families are recognizable. However, commercial or corporate photographers may want to include a list of notable clients with whom they have worked. Typically, it’s okay to just make a list of client brand names, but you can also include tear sheets (a screenshot or copy of your published final product). This helps prospective clients get an idea of the types of clients and projects you’ve worked with before.

Case Studies

Consider taking your portfolio a step further than the average photographer by including a few case studies. Simply pick your top 3-5 photography clients that you’ve worked with, and include the best 5-10 images to showcase from each project. Use those images along with some personal written commentary that describes how you decided to tackle the photo shoot. Also, consider adding any behind-the-scenes photos or diagrams that show any setup details. Use these case studies to show off how you approach a photo shoot. After all, a prospective client wants to know not only that you can create an image, but what it’s like to work with you.

Do You Need a Photography Resume?

In Conclusion

Depending on your ultimate goal as a photographer, you may or may not ever have to create a photography resume. It depends entirely on what you strive to achieve as a photographer. What are your thoughts on having and using a photography resume?

The post Do You Need a Photography Resume? by Suzi Pratt appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Jul
3

How to Make $500 a Month From Your Photography Hobby with Microstock

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Make Money From Photography, Photography Tips and Tutorials

I am an amateur photographer, but I make around $500 in revenue from my photos each month. Photography is a hobby for me, but it can be an expensive hobby at times. This money pays for photography software, computer hardware, and lenses, so the hobby I love doesn’t cost a dime. This article will discuss how I did this with microstock, and provide tips on how you can do the same.

How to Make $500 a Month From Your Photography Hobby with Microstock

Making your first buck

In 2010, I wanted to improve my photography so I purchased an entry-level DSLR and started to actively study how to become a better photographer, mainly from resources on the internet. As I tried different techniques, compositions, and camera settings, I posted my photos to sites like Flickr, Facebook, and 500px. In the beginning, I didn’t get very many views or likes but still enjoyed posting and learning from other photographer’s photos on those sites.

After shooting, learning, and posting for two and a half years, a design company saw a photo of mine on Flickr and asked if they could purchase a commercial license. I did a couple of quick searches about licensing and pricing on the internet, then sold my first commercial license for $75. This is the first photo I ever licensed.

How to Make $500 a Month From Your Photography Hobby with Microstock

Pay for your hobby

Before this first sale, I hadn’t considered selling licenses to my photos. However, I had gotten to the point where I wanted to upgrade my entry level DSLR and lenses to a full frame system but couldn’t justify the cost for my hobby. However, I could justify the cost to myself (and my wife) if the money for the upgrade came from licensing my existing photos.

Microstock

So, I started researching photo licensing and learned about microstock sites. These sites are websites that act as an intermediary between buyers of photo licenses and photographers. They are called “micro” because they typically sell photo licenses for less than where professional photographers have historically set their prices.

As a result, there is a lot of negative information about microstock sites on the Internet. Despite this negative information I decided to try posting my photos on Shutterstock, one of the most popular microstock sites. At the time, I had only made one sale ever so I felt that getting a small payment for each sale was better than no payment at all.

The first month I made less than $10 with 55 photos accepted by Shutterstock. However, I kept uploading my photos when I had time. A monthly later I had 100 photos on the site. In my third month, I checked my stats one morning and found I made $56 dollars from selling extended licenses from these two photos.

How to Make $500 a Month From Your Photography Hobby with Microstock

How to Make $500 a Month From Your Photography Hobby with Microstock

A work in progress – keep at it

This was a bit of beginner’s luck because after that I didn’t have a day with more than $50 in sales for many more months. But it kept me motivated to continue uploading my photos to Shutterstock and even upload to multiple other microstock sites as well.

I also started uploading my better photos to art-on-demand sites like Fine Art America. These sites allow you to upload your photos, set a price, and create a storefront for anyone to purchase prints of your photos. When someone purchases the art, these sites handle the payment, printing, and shipping of the photo and send you money from the sale.

Lastly, I upgraded my photo blog to sell licenses directly from my website. Despite the fact that my photos are available on all the popular microstock sites, stock photo buyers continue to see my photos on social media and purchase licenses directly from my website.

How to Make $500 a Month From Your Photography Hobby with Microstock

Realistic numbers – don’t expect to get rich

Two years after my first photo license sale, my monthly revenue from photos was about $500 a month. This $500 is an average, with my biggest month was $1400, while some months have been lower. Now that my photos have been posted, they can continue to get sales indefinitely. In 2016, I did not have much time for photography and only posted eight photos over the course of the year. However, I still averaged $460 a month in revenue from the photos I had posted in previous years.

These revenue numbers are for all the photos I have posted online. I only post my best photos from each day out shooting. My current online portfolio of all my photos is around 700 total. Microstock sites don’t accept all of my images, so on some of the sites, I only have 300 photos accepted and up for sale there. Doing the math, my photos earn less than $1 a month on average (per photo). And in reality, it is even less because I have one photo that has earned over $4000 over the years, while others have gotten no sales.

How to Make $500 a Month From Your Photography Hobby with Microstock

However, I am fine with this because I take the photos I want to take and then post to stock sites to see if they sell. Photography is still a hobby and the pleasure it gives me comes first, making money is secondary. Often, the photos I like best are not the best sellers on microstock sites. For example, I prefer the photo of me and my shadow below because I really enjoyed making it, but the snapshot I took of a split trail while on a hike, sells much better.

How to Make $500 a Month From Your Photography Hobby with Microstock

How to Make $500 a Month From Your Photography Hobby with Microstock

What sites work best

Although I have posted a portion of my collection to over 20 sites over the years, all of these sites can be categorized into one of two types; microstock and art-on-demand. 75% of my photography revenue has come from microstock sites, while only 8% came from art-on-demand sites. The remaining 17% is through direct sales from my photography website.

I have tried a number of art-on-demand sites over the years but currently only post to Fine Art America because it is the only site where my images consistently sell. I have also tried many microstock sites. Typically, if I hear of a new one, I will upload 100 of my best photos to begin. If I start to get sales, then I will upload the rest of my collection. Here are my top five microstock sites based on earnings. I currently only post to these five sites as I have found the other ones aren’t worth the time it takes to post the photos.

  • Shutterstock
  • 500px
  • Fotolia / Adobe Stock
  • 123RF
  • Big Stock Photo (Owned by Shutterstock)

How to Make $500 a Month From Your Photography Hobby with Microstock

Last tips for you

If you are an amateur photographer who wants to make additional revenue from photo licenses, here are the steps you can take:

  • Post your photos to social sites. My favorite is 500px, but I have also started posting to Instagram, and I still post to Flickr, which was my favorite a couple of years ago.
  • Setup your own photography blog. My blog does not get as many photo views as my social sites, but all my social sites link back to my photo blog. It makes it easy for potential buyers to purchase licences if they see them on social media. I used Squarespace for my blog because it was easy to set up in one day.
  • Upload photos to Shutterstock. Most microstock photographers who post their revenue on the web list Shutterstock as a top earner. So it is likely that if your photos will sell, they will sell on Shutterstock more than other sites, making it a good place to start.
  • Upload photos to other stock sites. Once you see some success on Shutterstock then go ahead and post your top photos to other microstock sites.

How to Make $500 a Month From Your Photography Hobby with Microstock

Conclusion

It has been seven years since I decided to take photography seriously and I have improved a lot over the years. However, I still have a lot to learn, but these days the software, courses, and gear that help me make photos are all paid for by revenue from the sale of photo licenses, rather than out of the family budget from my day job.

 

NOTE from the dPS team: Check out our Going Pro Kit with more stock photo success tips and other ways to make money through your photography

The post How to Make $500 a Month From Your Photography Hobby with Microstock by James Wheeler appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Jun
29

Why Couples Aren’t Booking You for Their Wedding Photography

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Make Money From Photography, Photography Tips and Tutorials

Nobody wants to hire you for their wedding photography. It’s not fair, is it?

Your photographs are gorgeous, you’ve created a shiny new website, and you’re more loveable than a bucket of kittens. So why isn’t your phone ringing off the hook with people wanting to hire you for their wedding?

Be different - Why Aren't Any Couples Booking You for Their Wedding Photography

It’s easy to start doubting yourself and going a little crazy. Maybe your photographs aren’t as good you thought. Are your prices too high, or too low? Perhaps all your competitors are secretly dating wedding planners?

The reality is that these days it requires a little more savvy to be a successful wedding photographer. It’s because there may actually be more wedding photographers on the planet than there are stars in the solar system. So, let’s help you shine brighter than everyone else in your area with some simple, practical ideas for getting more wedding photography bookings.

Your photography style

There are so many different styles of wedding photography. Photojournalistic, posed, quirky and fun, romantic, fashion, traditional, highly retouched, and so on.

Pick a style that you love to photograph and then specialize in it. Only show that style of photography in all your marketing. Ideally, it’s a style that most of your competitors aren’t using. The more defined you can make it, the better because people who love that style will be drawn to you.

Your photography style - Why Aren't Any Couples Booking You for Their Wedding Photography

Yes, you will repel some people, but it’s better to have 20% of people love your work than having 100% of people just say that it’s “nice”.

People buy from people they like and trust

Hiring a wedding photographer is a huge decision for a bride and groom. They have to pay a large sum of money to have a stranger stand by their side all day on one of the most important days of their life. They’ve got so many concerns spinning around their head. For example:

  • Is this photographer going to be rude, or just plain dull?
  • What happens if we don’t like the photographs? After all, most photographers can cobble together a decent portfolio. But can they do a good job in tough conditions?
  • What happens if it rains?
  • Will the photographer be able to cope with my crazy family?
  • Will they actually turn up?!
  • Is it even possible for me to look good in a photograph?
  • Will they be able to keep us on schedule?
  • Will the group photographs be as painfully boring and time-consuming as I fear?

The list goes on.

People buy from people they like and trust - wedding photography

One way to get more wedding inquiries is to handle these concerns within your marketing. When you show a couple that you understand their fears and you can help them, then they’ll start to trust you. If you can do this in an engaging, kind, and entertaining way then they’ll start to like you, too.

So how might you deal with their concerns? The single best way I’ve found is to have a money-back guarantee. However, you shouldn’t simply have a bullet point saying “Money-back guarantee” on your website. Inject some feeling into it.

Explain that you’ve heard all the horror stories about wedding photographers letting down couples and that your signed guarantee is there to put their mind at ease. It also demonstrates that you’re confident in your abilities and that you truly care about your clients. This one thing will instantly make you stand out and build trust.

People buy from people they like and trust -wedding photography

Be different

If you’re the same as every other photographer then the only reason to hire you is the price. We’ve already talked about differentiating yourself through your photographic style and through having a guarantee, but there are many other ways to do it.

For example, I choose 70-page A3 sized (29.7 x 42.0cm, or 11.69 x 16.53 inches) wedding albums that can fit 250 photographs in them comfortably. That number of photographs can comfortably tell the whole story of the wedding day, so the bride and groom don’t have to leave out any images. This avoids awkward conversations with Auntie Betty where the couple has to explain why she didn’t make the cut because they put their friends in instead.

There are lots of great slideshow services (like Animoto) available for you to create beautiful, animated, audio-visual presentations within a few minutes. Couples love them and you can even create presentations made up of their childhood photographs which can be played for the entertainment of guests during the reception. I use a projector and screen to present the show and it’s guaranteed to get the parents a little tearful.

Be different - Why Aren't Any Couples Booking You for Their Wedding Photography

Photograph different, offer different products and stand out from the crowd.

Or, how about creating a framed portrait of the bride from the engagement session to give to the bride’s parents as a surprise gift on the wedding day?

Sometimes you don’t have to be different to stand out. You simply have to explain something that other photographers don’t make clear. For example, many photographers scout venues before the wedding. It helps then find the best places for the romantic and group photographs. They get to see where the best light will be and the best compositions can be made. Most photographers never mention this in their marketing, so if you do then it cements your position in the market as a helpful and dedicated professional.

Reveal your personality

Again, people hire people they like and trust. So, give prospects a hint at what it would be like to work with you by injecting your personality in your marketing. The About Page on your website is really important. If a couple doesn’t connect with you after reading it, they’re far less likely to get in touch.

Rocking the client meeting - wedding photography

Just like with your photography it’s okay if your personality doesn’t gel with everyone. If you’re a bit quirky that’s fine. If you’re obsessed with dogs then talk about that. People will connect with you over the weirdest stuff. But if you give them nothing to connect with then you won’t attract anyone.

The less you reveal about yourself the more unfriendly or distant you may seem. These days even large businesses are starting to understand that people don’t like dull “corporate speak”.

Use social proof

People want to get a feel for what it would be like to work with you. That’s why people love to read reviews and testimonials before going on holiday or watching a movie. The same applies to photographers.

Testimonials are one of the most powerful marketing tools you can use. Never stop asking for them. Don’t just put them on one page of your website, use them on every page and in your other marketing. Make them impossible to miss. Ask clients to put them on your Google business page too, as this will quickly help your search engine ranking.

Use social proof - Why Aren't Any Couples Booking You for Their Wedding Photography

Another great way of showing clients how great you are to work with is to create a behind the scenes video. Ask a second shooter to film you in action at a wedding. The best moment is when you’re charming the guests during the group photographs, or perhaps the romantic ones. It’s the perfect way of providing absolute proof that you would be a joy to work with on the big day for their wedding photography.

Rocking the client meeting

Most wedding photographers meet their couples in person, or over Skype before they’re booked. Sadly, all the fantastic marketing in the world can unravel quickly if you screw this bit up.

One of the most common mistakes photographers make is they start talking about their packages 30 seconds after meeting.
A better approach is to make the whole meeting about the client and what they want. You do that by asking lots of strategic questions. For example:

  • What are you looking for in your wedding photographer?
  • What’s the most important thing to you about your wedding?
  • Describe your wedding in three words
  • Is there anything you’re worried about?

This shows that you care about them and what they want. It also gives you a nice segue into explaining some of the things that separate you from the competition.

For example, when couples tell me, “we hate weddings with formal group photographs with everyone looking bored”, that gives me the perfect excuse to bring up something unique I do. I bring a bottle or two of bubbly to spice up the formal photographs. One of the bottles is given as a prize to whoever performs the best during the group photographs. This always leads to a bit of banter and of course you get great photographs of the bubbly being popped open.

Rocking the client meeting wedding photography

You should only start talking about your wedding packages once you’ve been chatting about their wedding for about 30 minutes. That is enough time for you to build rapport with them, find out what they’re looking for, and to explain how your unique services can help them.

When presenting your packages, start with your finest (biggest and best). After you’ve explained each package, ask them how they feel about it. Some clients never even bother looking at the smaller packages if they love the top one.

When you work down the packages like this it’s hard for people to then take the smallest package because they’ve just heard you talk about all these fantastic things you can do for them.

Get the booking

Rocking the client meeting - wedding photography

Don’t forget to ask for the sale! It’s so easy to have a nice long chat, only to realize that the couple has left and you never asked them to hire you. It’s your job to gently nudge them into a decision. As you go through the packages and find out which is their favorite, just come right out and say, “Fantastic, I’d really love to work with you because you’re such an amazing couple and your wedding sounds fantastic. A deposit is just $XXX amount and I can take a credit card if you’d like to reserve the date now. How does that sound?”

Simply asking for the booking in a positive and enthusiastic way will dramatically increase your conversion rate. But, you’ll still get some couples say they want to think about it and get back to you. There are many ways to handle that situation. The underlying strategy is to keep them talking because the longer they’re with you the more likely it is that they’ll book. One response is to say, “I completely understand, but do you mind if I ask how you feel about everything we’ve talked about today?”

Another response would be, “Absolutely, but can I ask what it is you’re looking for, maybe I can help if there’s something on your mind?”

Rocking the client meeting - wedding photography

The trick is to keep digging until you find out what’s keeping them from hiring you right then and there. This is a great time to stress your money-back guarantee because it helps people overcome the fear of choosing the wrong photographer.

Conclusion

This article only scratches the surface on how to book more weddings, but hopefully, you can see that the issue is rarely just price. Sadly, too many wedding photographers respond to a lack of bookings by lowering their price rather than improving their service and the way they connect with couples.

The more you think about how you can serve your clients the better you’ll do. So, which idea resonates the most with you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

The post Why Couples Aren’t Booking You for Their Wedding Photography by Dan Waters appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Jun
26

7 Tips to Help You Start and Grow a Photography Business

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Make Money From Photography, Photography Tips and Tutorials

I have been a Digital Photography School writer for the past three years and I have to say, I absolutely love writing and sharing my photography experiences and knowledge. Every time one of my articles get published, my Facebook page and my website get a lot of visitors. I know this is because I use google analytics for my website which tracks visitors on any given day and shows where they spend most of their time (I highly recommend using Google Analytics for your website). I also get a ton of questions on my Facebook business page and the recurring theme of the questions is always something like this, “I love photography, but can you advise me on how to start my photography business and make money from it?”

So I decided to address that burning question in the hopes that it resonates with so many other photographers, who are thinking the same thing and are perhaps a little nervous to write in for the fear of showing their vulnerability. If you are, please don’t be, because everyone, including me, started somewhere and we all had similar thoughts.

#1 – Just Start

If you are thinking about starting a photography business to such a large extent that you cannot think about doing anything else, then just start. Go ahead and take that first step towards making your passion your career. Remember that “done” is so much better than “perfect”.

We, photographers, are always learning new things every day, be it in business, technology or photography skills. If you wait to be a perfect photographer, you will be waiting a long time. Now, I am not saying that you should not invest time and effort in understanding and practice. Skill is very important. But if you are considering learning the craft and the art of photography, then there is no better time than now!

7 Tips to Help You Start and Grow a Photography Business

My lovely friend and fellow photographer during a casual meet up where we exchanged headshots and talked shop over coffee and cupcakes!

# 2 – Use Social Media

Social media has exploded over the past few years in terms of the number of people who are using it for business, no matter what business they are in. Because so much of social media is both visual and text, photographers and writers have a slight advantage in terms of creating and sharing quality content.

So as a photographer, it behooves you to take advantage of the channel at your disposal. But be aware that the whole point of social media is to be social online, showcase your work, show who you are as a photographer and a person. Network, connect and interact online. It is one of the relatively inexpensive ways to make yourself know and recognized.

7 Tips to Help You Start and Grow a Photography Business

I love Instagram and think it is one of the best tools out there, especially for photographers. It is so visual and by engaging the right way, you can get a loyal following, new clients, and industry contacts. But like anything else it takes time and a concentrated, thoughtful approach.

# 3 – Practice, Learn and Practice Some More

Photography is an art form with many different nuances. Each aspect of photography has many different interpretations and to really excel in photography, you have to know and understand the basics.

Light, color, composition, emotion, and movement are all critical aspects of a good photograph. You have to learn them, practice them, and then put your own spin on them to make your own photographs go from good to great. There is no time limit for learning photography. The only way you can get better is to keep at it and photograph every chance you can get.

I carry my camera everywhere I go. I have been doing this for so long that it’s second nature now and I don’t think twice about it. Sometimes I will only shoot ten to twelve frames and sometimes I will shoot several hundred. But what I tell myself every time I bring the camera to my face is that this time I have to try something different and create something I have not created before.

7 Tips to Help You Start and Grow a Photography Business

I always give myself permission and time to play – sometimes it’s with florals from my neighbor’s backyard.

7 Tips to Help You Start and Grow a Photography Business

Whereas other times it is a quick click while hiking in the mountains around Boulder. The snow and the clear blue sky made for a pretty backdrop for this ranger outpost!

#4 – Market Your Work

Marketing is crucial to any business but so few of us really put much into it. Most of us have the mindset that if you produce quality work, then your photography will speak for itself and clients will line up outside your studio for all eternity.

But sadly, that is far from the truth. Like any good product or service, we have to take the time and the effort to educate our clients and our potential clients on why working with us is a great idea. The more you think about promoting your work on a daily basis, the more effort and heart you will put into your marketing. And remember, marketing takes a lot of time. Very rarely does a marketing effort pay off immediately.

7 Tips to Help You Start and Grow a Photography Business

One of my marketing pieces for a show that I am participating in – the show is aimed towards other businesses as well as creative women entrepreneurs!

#5 – Use Your Network

Unless you live in a personal bubble, you have a network. Networks can be social (i.e. friends and family), professional (peers or work colleagues), or industry related (other businesses that support photography).

So I challenge you to do a network analysis (sorry, I am a computer science major from my previous life so I love all this technical jargon!) and figure out who are all the people that you can reach out to and tap into for work. They might not be your direct clients but they may know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone, who is looking for a photographer. Never underestimate the power of word of mouth marketing.

7 Tips to Help You Start and Grow a Photography Business

Word-of-mouth and referrals are the best kind of marketing you can ever invest in and they are free (for the most part). Your only expenses – making genuine connections and friends among your networks!

#6 – Hustle

You have probably heard this adage before – there is no such thing as a free lunch. There are no shortcuts to anything in life, so what makes you think that there are shortcuts to photography?

Photography, like any other profession, is extremely competitive with a relatively low barrier to entry. This means you have to hustle that much harder and longer to make an impression and to have an impact on your business bottom line. If you are starting out, try many genres of photography.

If you are starting out, try many genres of photography. Use any opportunity you can to improve your skills. Make friends with others in the industry and share experiences. Give it your all and eventually, you will reap the benefits.

7 Tips to Help You Start and Grow a Photography Business

I met these two local creatives via social media. We really hit it off well and collaborated on a beautiful spring tablescape inspiration shoot.

7 Tips to Help You Start and Grow a Photography Business

7 Tips to Help You Start and Grow a Photography Business

I also routinely go out for shootouts with many other photographers. It is a chance to make friends in the industry and geek out on all things photography!

#7 – Share

Share your work, your knowledge, and your expertise. The more open and willing you are to share among your peers, your competitors, and your clients, the more satisfying the journey to photography business success will be.

People, especially clients, will understand that you are genuine in building professional and personal relationships and the next time they hear of any photography work, they will connect with you. Photography friends and peers will refer clients if they are booked, help you when you are in a pinch, and work with you on creative projects – all of which as so important for your personal growth and growth of your business.

Conclusion

If you have other tips on growing a photography business, feel free to share with the larger dPS community in the comments below. Remember it’s not what you know, but how good you are building a community.

The post 7 Tips to Help You Start and Grow a Photography Business by Karthika Gupta appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Apr
20

How to Overcome Difficult Lighting Scenarios at Weddings

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Make Money From Photography, Photography Tips and Tutorials, Portrait Photography

A wedding photographer has to be prepared for pretty much anything. Big belly laughs, impromptu outbursts of song and bear hugs can happen at any moment. Not to mention that the light is constantly changing and you’ve got yourself a schedule to keep. Let’s just say weddings keep you on your toes.

That’s why it’s always worth planning ahead and being prepared. Weddings rarely take place in just one location and moving from indoors to outside, or from sunshine to shade can cause a huge change in exposure. When not competing with the sun, indoor lighting poses new problems. Tungsten bulbs mixed with daylight causes all sorts of white balance issues. But this is why we love weddings, they keep us sharp.

Being prepared and practice is key to achieving consistent results. Here are three top tips on how to make the most of difficult lighting situations.

Couple portraits – How to find good light on a dull day

Believe it or not, it is raining at the point of capture in the image below. This photograph was taken in July in Surrey, UK. The British weather was doing all it could to play up to the stereotype it would seem.

Couple portrait weddings

Not every wedding takes place on a gorgeous sunny day and it’s not always feasible to shoot at sunset to capture the golden hour of light. What can you do to create images that your clients will love and to which you’re proud to put your name? Especially when the heavens decide to play against you. Here is the process I use when assessing lighting conditions and how this photograph was taken.

Understanding the principles of lighting is fundamental in any photographer’s quest to a beautifully lit photograph. Fortunately, these principles are consistent regardless of where you are located in the world or how expensive your equipment is. Whether you’re using the latest Canon or a generation old Smartphone, light can be manipulated to your advantage.

Approaching every scenario with the same set of questions can radically change how you see light and ultimately how you take pictures. Where is the light coming from, where is the even light and where are the greatest differences in the light?

Place the subjects in shade

Shade weddings

Here you can see the scene exposed to what the human eye sees. The background is correctly exposed which throws the foreground into darkness. What we want is to do is correctly expose the foreground to create a clean canvas with an overexposed background. In this scenario, there is about three stops difference in exposure, which is perfect.

Shade overexposed weddings

By placing the couple under the branches of the tree they are instantly evenly lit. There are no stray light rays coming through branches or dappled light on faces, and the pebbles on the driveway aid in reflecting light back onto the subjects. By exposing for the skin tones the background will be overexposed, providing a clean canvas.

A few tweaks in Lightroom to warm the skin and recover some of the highlights and voila! An evenly lit portrait on a rainy day. The added benefit of the tree branches is that they, of course, provide shelter from the wind and rain. This technique of using trees as shelter can also be employed on dry days that are windy. Even if the sun is shining, a venue on a hill can increase the risk of a veil blowing away!

Confetti

Why is this difficult? Depending on the location of the venue or church, you may be competing with changing light that the couple will walk through as they process down the confetti line. This is problematic as you are going to be walking backward, trying to capture the action, as well as tracking the changing light.

It is quite common in the UK for churches to have tree lined pathways, this creates a lighting issue as a break in the trees will cause the couple to walk from light to shade to light, etc. This can mean a dramatic jump in exposure.

Confetti lighting weddings

Take pictures of your hand

This is probably the easiest method to test the exposure of skin tones which can and should be used to test all of the techniques in this article. Take a photograph of your hand, inspect the screen and adjust accordingly. The wedding guests may look at you in an odd way, but when you’re working at a fast pace this can be a life saver.

Take images of your hand in both the light and the shade and note the difference in exposure before the bride and groom appear. Depending on how you shoot, it makes sense to only change one setting as you will be multi-tasking. The control for shutter speed on Canon cameras is located where the index finger naturally rests, and logically is the easiest of the settings to change.

Pay attention as the couple moves from light to shade, remembering the readings of your hand. The camera settings are displayed in the viewfinder and alternate between the two as the light changes. Where possible, pre-plan your shots, performing a mental run through of where people are likely to be and what lighting difficulties you may encounter.

Confetti lighting 2 weddings

First dance

Who knows what kind of lighting setup the DJ will have. Will they make a beautiful white spotlight for the first dance, or will they bust out some crazy laser snowflakes? Anything could happen. One method to overcome this is to shoot into the DJ’s lights and use them as compositional features rather than compete with them.

This isn’t the only option, sometimes shooting with the lights are beneficial as it gives you scope to capture the guest’s reactions. To create this shot, one flashgun at both corners of the stage (pointing at the center of the dance floor), elevated on tripods, and attached to Yongnuo wireless triggers were used.

First dance weddings

This setup offers two things. Firstly, by backlighting the subject even exposure on the skin can be achieved with no unwanted shadows. Secondly, you don’t have to worry about what the DJ is doing with their lighting setup.

It pays to ask the DJ before any dancing commences, what they plan to do and work with them. You would certainly be unlucky should you encounter anyone who wasn’t amiable in having a discussion. However, the point remains that they have a job to do. If they feel the song warrants a change in lighting then they will adapt it for the benefit of the wedding, not for your advantage. This is completely understandable, however, lighting surprises aren’t often welcome. This is why it makes sense to pre-plan and take control of the lighting.

Lens chimping technique

A caveat to shooting in this way is that it is possible to end up with equipment or the DJ themselves in the background. For this reason, an interesting tactic to employ is Sam Hurd’s lens chimping technique. By placing a convex lens element in front of your lens it creates cool flares and throws the background out of focus.

First dance 2 lens chimping technique

Practice is certainly recommended as an incorrect application of this technique can result in the lens element focussing all lights onto your sensor and completely blowing out the shot. The first dance is often a tricky one to shoot, it would be interesting to hear about your ideas and innovations below. Happy shooting!

Conclusion

Hopefully, these quick tips will help you deal with challenging lighting situations at weddings or any other photography opportunities. Do you have any others you want to share? Please do so in the comments below.

The post How to Overcome Difficult Lighting Scenarios at Weddings by Liam Smith appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Apr
12

How to Build a Travel Photography Portfolio

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Make Money From Photography, Photography Tips and Tutorials

Building a photography portfolio can be a scary proposition, as it forces you to choose images that best represent you as an artist and creator, whilst also demonstrating your technical skill and storytelling ability. Developing a travel photography portfolio is no different.

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However, developing a portfolio is an exercise that has many benefits, both from a personal growth as well as professional perspective.

Unlike many areas of photography, there are some extra considerations for a travel specific portfolio. The main difference with travel photography, as opposed to specializing in weddings, events, or commercial, for example, is that there is a far greater need for you to be flexible in your approach to image making while allowing for the huge variety of subject matter one would normally encounter.

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Start planning your portfolio before you travel

This, of course, comes down to why you want to develop a portfolio of work and who you are aiming to show it to. I have always found this can shift depending on whether I am planning an exhibition, developing a book, building a stock library, showing work to an editor, planning a photography tour and marketing to potential attendees, or simply showing friends and family a new place I have been fortunate enough to visit and photograph. All are valid reasons to develop a travel photography portfolio. If you keep these options in mind before you travel, you are more likely to return with images that can be used across multiple platforms and for different reasons.

The consideration here is you may need to have multiple portfolios depending on to whom and where you are marketing. This is a key factor to consider before traveling as it will shape your approach to image making while on your trip. Having said this, it is also great to stay open to potential opportunities that may present themselves in the future by having covered a subject or place well.

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One of the biggest lessons I have learned is to stay completely open to any possibility. This is especially true when visiting destinations that are expensive or difficult to get to, which ultimately means it may be a while before I return, or perhaps not at all. This means that when you are shooting in this situation, make the absolute most of your time. Be open to possible image usage across multiple platforms and for many reasons. This is best done with thorough research for all possible uses of images from the location you are visiting.

What if you aren’t traveling soon?

So how do you start in building your portfolio if you are not planning to travel? Your local area is an excellent place to create content, and for many reasons, some of which I have listed below:

  • You build your skills working in different and changing lighting conditions.
  • Learn how to deal with bad weather while still coming home with images that describe a place well.
  • You learn how to show a destination through images. The goal being to give people who have not been there an understanding of this destination.
  • You are able to visit during different seasons, times, and weather conditions with ease.
  • Research the most common images available for that area. This is handy if your aim is to build a stock library for editorial or commercial use. Then push yourself to photograph this area in a new creative way.
  • You develop your ability to work with local organizations and businesses to help you get the images you need.
  • Build your understanding of the process of storytelling with your images from a destination.
  • You will further your understanding and knowledge of your camera gear and the photographic process before you are looking at an unrepeatable moment. There is nothing worse than a once in a lifetime image opportunity and not having the confidence or ability to capture it well with a camera.

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Now do the same at a destination

Transferring this process to travel destinations is no different. However, the importance of thorough research before you leave is far more critical as you will not know a travel destination as well as your local area. While it is important to have a plan of attack before you land, remain open to opportunities that may arise during your travels.

It is also important to travel to different destinations that have a variety of cultural backgrounds, landscapes, architectural styles, and ultimately photography opportunities. This will further help diversify your images which can then be presented in your travel photography portfolio.

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Your first trip

Your initial trip can be considered the most important as it will be your first opportunity to build a library of images. I always recommend making your journey as long as possible, across different destinations, to help you get a wide variety of images.

While traveling I look for eight main areas of subject matter:

  1. Landscape
  2. Portrait
  3. Wildlife
  4. Food
  5. Architecture
  6. Culture
  7. Transport
  8. Local events, festivals and activities

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Not every destination will give you the opportunity to photograph all of the above options. However, I have found over the years these will give you the best chance of showing that destination and what it would be like to be there.

If you were to make a list of potential images of your local area or any destination based on the list above, you can easily build a large library that shows it in a comprehensive way. As well, taking into account different demographics of people will further build your portfolio of images to show any destination in a more comprehensive fashion. For example, budget accommodation through to more expensive options.

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Diversify

Diversity is also of key importance for your work, especially if you are visiting a location that receives a lot of tourist traffic, all with cameras in hand. Here are some key points to consider to build diversity into your work, regardless of where it will end up.

  • Visit during different times of the day than the norm.
  • If the weather goes bad, keep taking photographs.
  • Use a full range of focal lengths for each subject.
  • Try to shoot from an elevated position as well as crouch down low to help give different perspectives.
  • Be completely proficient in all lighting conditions so you are able to deal with them no matter what scenario.
  • Experiment with filming as well as stills. There is a huge demand for footage and video content.
  • Document the process of traveling.
  • Put people into your photographs, whether it be yourself, your friends and family, or people you meet along the way.
  • Be sure to always photograph the less exciting, day to day elements of travel as well. You never know where these could be used in the future.

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Hone your skills

It is important to have developed your ability before you go traveling to not feel a lack of confidence should a fantastic photographic opportunity arise. Practice, practice and more practice is critical for any area of photography. However, the extra cost and competitiveness of the travel photography industry mean you need to be highly proficient before you go traveling in order to make the most of the opportunities that will arise.

Travel is far from cheap and easy. Your time away should best be used creating content. So again, it is important to feel confident in your gear and process before you go to maximize this time away. While there are cheaper destinations to visit, it is still a resource hungry activity. Learning how to shoot efficiently when opportunities arise means you will further add to your diversity of images as well as your versatility and ability for future opportunities.

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Culling

Once home, the process of selecting images can begin. Again, look for a variety of images and subject matter that best show your ability, both technical and artistic. Try to avoid images that look similar or show the same subject more than once. Pick only your strongest work and focus your selection based on use. Images for an art instillation are going to be very different to images for stock of local transport or architecture. Having someone review your work with fresh eyes is also an option to consider.

Printing your images, even at smaller sizes can be a great way to finalize a selection of work. It allows you to interact with the images differently as well as being able to view them under different lighting sources to ensure your edits are the best possible. You are able to lay the images out offline to see how well they work as a series or collection, something that is very difficult to do on a computer screen.

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Conclusion

Remember, the more you get outside taking images, the more you can develop an understanding and skill level in working in all weather and lighting situations as well as working with people from different places and cultures. Practice, practice, practice.

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The post How to Build a Travel Photography Portfolio by Damian Caniglia appeared first on Digital Photography School.