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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.

Mar
13

Wedding Portraits – 5 Tips for Getting Out of a Creative Rut

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

As a professional photographer, it is normal to take a fair amount of pride in your work. In an ideal world, everyone would take pride in their work; but photographers in particular are usually people who own their business, who are doing something they love and who are creative by nature.

It can be particularly frustrating when you feel that you aren’t doing your very best work. Even if the customer is happy, you want to keep doing your best and you want to keep growing and learning in your craft. Getting compliments or rave reviews are great, but that feeling when you take your latest and best image is unforgettable.

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Wedding portraits is something that is particularly challenging in this regard. Your job is to capture the newlywed couple on the happiest day of their lives, which usually means photographing them face-on while they grin into the camera. Maybe you’ll ask them to embrace, to hold hands, or to stand in front of one another. But ultimately, you’re essentially doing the same thing in every photo. There is less freedom to be creative and to have a vision; which makes it easy to get into a creative rut.

How can you grow and expand when all these photos are essentially the same thing? As they say, the devil is in the details. Actually, it is precisely the limitations that this type of photography places on you that will allow you to challenge yourself to become even more creative.

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Here are five pointers that will help you get out of that creative rut and take some truly memorable wedding portraits.

#1 – Look for Inspiration

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Tip number one is to look for inspiration on the web. Social media like Instagram and Pinterest are excellent for this. Just take a look at the ways in which other photographers have handled their wedding portraits and see if there is anything you can learn or borrow from them.

As Steve Jobs famously said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” Don’t be afraid to try and improve on what has come before you. Save some screenshots on your phone, or print out a list or shots you’d like to go for. Trying something brand new usually means failing a few times, but that’s what makes it an adventure!

#2 – Get a Second Shooter

Our second tip is to find a second shooter. If you feel that your creative juices are running a little dry, then how about inviting another cameraman along for the day? Get them to have a go at the same shots and you might find that they give you some fresh ideas that you can try. Even if you don’t end up taking their advice directly, this will help you to step out of your comfort zone and that’s when new ideas start flowing!

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Ask your second shooter for some advice on locations. Try and find someone familiar with the venue, or maybe a photographer that has some ideas about great locations to shoot. Let him take the lead, and if you see him start something, see if you have a finishing flourish to take your portraits to the next level.

#3 – Remember the Basics

When you’ve been doing this gig for a long time, it’s easy to forget the most basic aspects; things like composition, framing, and lighting. Our third tip encourages you to bring it back to basics and remember some of the tips you learned when you were first starting out. You’ll often find you can inject fresh inspiration into your shoots.

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Try going for a classic or timeless look. Forget the props, crazy locations, special effects, and confetti canons. Try and see what you can do with your best lens, and most basic posing. You may find yourself asking why you’re trying to take the same photo that’s been taken by every wedding photographer before you. And the answer may just astound you!

#4 – Work With Your Resources

For our fourth tip, let’s talk about your environment. Every wedding is different, whether that is because of the weather, the dress code, color scheme, or the crowd around you. Don’t fight it – work with it! Rain or clouds can be a dramatic backdrop for a photoshoot for example. A big crowd of onlookers can make for an interesting new perspective.

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But the biggest resource you have at your disposal during your wedding sessions is the couple! No doubt they have a lot of ideas and suggestions for their photos – after all, they’re the ones paying the bills. Don’t be the snobbish professional who knows best. Listen to your customers and you may just find they can teach you something. At the very least, it may bring some fresh new ideas to the table.

#5 – Leave Your Ego at the Door

This final tip is really the point you need to focus on here; your job is to make the subjects of your photos happy. You might be tired of taking the same old shots over and over again but if that’s what the couple wants, then it doesn’t really matter.

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It’s an easy mistake to think that you need to be more creative and dramatic with your photography, while forgetting that the customer actually just wants a nice picture that will look good on their bedside table.

Your creativity here should serve a purpose, and that purpose is to make your customers happy. Forget about showing off what an original and inventive photographer you are – at least for the portraits. If you want to be creative, then you can always get in a few artsy shots of the bride’s shoes and the wedding rings. Letting go, and giving the client what they want should always come first.

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Closing Comments

So there you have it – five tips that can help you rediscover the fun and creativity for your wedding portraits; look for inspiration, get a second shooter, get back to basics, use what you have, and focus on the customer. Let us know in the comments below what you do when you find your creative juices are running dry.

The post Wedding Portraits – 5 Tips for Getting Out of a Creative Rut by Michael David Reichmann appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Feb
19

7 Ways to Help Ensure Your Photography Business Stands Out

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

Let’s be honest, not many people view their photography as a business these days. But even if you are not a professional photographer, there’s no reason not to view your photography as a business because for many that’s the ultimate aim. But being able to make a career as a photographer has arguably never been more difficult. Any prospective photographer now is not only competing with other photographers but with thousands of people with smart phones as well.

So here are 7 ways to help ensure your photography business stands out from the crowd.

7 Ways to Help Ensure Your Photography Business Stands Out

#1 – Have a Business Plan

If you think about it logically, you would never start any business without a detailed and well thought out business plan. But for some reason, photographers often forego this part of the business. A good business plan isn’t just necessary if you need to finance your new business from a bank, it also gives you a clear understanding of every element of your business, because after all, this is a business.

Not only will it help you plan your budget, understand your market and audience, plan your growth, and evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and how to improve them, it will also make you view your new venture as a business rather than a hobby.

7 Ways to Help Ensure Your Photography Business Stands Out

#2 – Have a Great Website

We live in a world where everyone’s first port of call for any information is the Internet, so this is often where anyone interested in your work will head first. A great website is an absolute necessity for any business but as a photographer, it is even more important. But any old website isn’t enough. As someone who’s entire business depends on people seeing your work, it’s vital that you have a website that really showcases your work in the best light possible.

So instead of settling for any cheap website that you can find, really spend time researching all the different options available and choose something that is modern and fits within your style (and budget). Websites are not expensive these days and usually for a few extra dollars a month you can also remove the website company’s branding to make it look even more professional.

Once you have found the right website provider, spend time putting your website together and pay attention to the photos that you are uploading. Don’t showcase every single photo you have ever taken, instead, pick a few that really highlight your best work.

7 Ways to Help Ensure Your Photography Business Stands Out

#3 – Social Media Presence

Love it or not, social media is now imperative to any business and whether you are someone who knows your Twitter from your Pinterest or you have absolutely no idea, you need to at least have a presence on a few channels. Spend a bit of time reading about the basics, understand what the best practices are when you have taken the plunge, and make sure you stay true to who you are. The powerful thing about social media is that people choose to follow you and your work because of you, so be yourself and don’t try to imitate other people.

You don’t have to try to cover every social media channel. Just pick a couple that you are comfortable with, communicate, and use them well. Set yourself a clear plan of what each channel is for and what your objective for using it is. This will ensure you have a clear message and brand that carries across everything you do.

7 Ways to Help Ensure Your Photography Business Stands Out

#4 – Your Own Style

While it’s always great to view other photographer’s work and be inspired by them, there is only one you, and that’s the best way of ensuring that your work stands out. Try to take photographs based on what you like rather than what you think your followers want to see. The obvious exception is if you are working from a brief from the client, but even then, the majority of the time the client has hired you because they like your style.

If you are struggling to find your style, a good exercise when you are starting out is to collect any photographs that you particularly like from magazines and newspapers. After a while when you have a collection of them, spread them all out and usually, you will see a similar style or look and feel. That’s where you should start, as that is what your eyes find pleasing. Over time you will adapt that to something that is more unique to you.

7 Ways to Help Ensure Your Photography Business Stands Out

#5 – Marketing Communications

Big companies spend millions of dollars on advertising and marketing. While we photographers can’t do that, you still need to build a marketing communications strategy into your business plan. Your website and social media presence is a big part of that but you also need to think about specific marketing collateral such as business cards, flyers, post cards and email marketing. All of this combined will give you some much-needed exposure for your business and potential clients. But like any other business, you will need a clear strategy and a marketing plan to get the most out of the money you invest.

7 Ways to Help Ensure Your Photography Business Stands Out

#6 – Good Equipment

There’s no doubt that the most important element of a successful photography business is the quality of your photos. While most of this will come down to your creative flair and technical abilities, the actual quality of the end result will also matter. For example, if a client wants to use your photograph on a big advertising billboard but you captured that photo on a basic point and shoot camera, chances are that the photograph will simply not be of a high enough resolution to enable usage at big sizes. The same can be said of lenses, which is why the best lenses cost more than the others. But beyond the camera and lenses, even accessories such as filters and tripods can make a difference to the quality of the final photo.

So, the lesson here is that you should always go for the very best equipment that you can afford and when you are able to trade your equipment up, do so.

7 Ways to Help Ensure Your Photography Business Stands Out

#7 – Great Photos

When all is said and done, the ultimate success of your business will come down to the quality of your photographs. A good indication of how your photos are received is to sign up to a stock agency and see which images sell and which don’t. Try to evaluate if there is a common theme between your sales and the ones that don’t sell and use that to improve your work, but still keep to your style.

Learn from your “nearly shots” and from your mistakes and remember that it’s okay to make mistakes at the start. The important thing is to learn from them and ensure you don’t make them again.

7 Ways to Help Ensure Your Photography Business Stands Out

For a lot of people, photography is their hobby and that is absolutely fine. But if you do have the ambition of making this a career then the first step towards that is to treat it like any other business and set yourself up properly from the start. Like any other business, with hard work, determination, and a clear plan for your photography business, you can make it successful.

Have you got any further tips or advice? Please share them below.

The post 7 Ways to Help Ensure Your Photography Business Stands Out by Kav Dadfar appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Jan
23

8 Tips for Getting Great Expressions in Family Portraits

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

8 Tips for Getting Great Expressions in Family Portraits

Sometimes as a photographer, you are lucky enough to get a family session full of models with perfect natural smiles in every photo. It doesn’t take much to get a photo that is ready to hang on the wall. However, most of the time with family portraits it isn’t that easy.

Maybe you’ve got somebody who doesn’t want to be there or little kids that have no idea what you’re trying to get them to do. And maybe, just maybe, you’d like to have some photos that show some extra personality. Everyone looking at the camera and smiling is nice, but I always love the ones that show a little more of who the family really is. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve to help you through the more difficult sessions, and to help you get some fun full-of-personality shots and great expressions with any family.

1. You’re in charge of the kids

8 Tips for Getting Great Expressions in Family Portraits kids

Many times during a family session, you’ll have parents that are really concerned about whether or not their kids are looking and smiling at the camera. They don’t realize that the moment their little one looks and smiles, their faces aren’t photo-ready because they’re spending all their time wondering what their kid is doing.

Remind the parents to keep their faces ready for photos at all times, and you, as the photographer, will take care of getting their kids to look and smile. If they are talking to their child, it will be hard for their child to look at you, because he’ll think he needs to be looking at mom or dad. Whether you want the parents looking at the camera or not for a particular photo, remind them to do their part for the photo and leave the rest to you.

2. Let the parents help sometimes

parents - 8 Tips for Getting Great Expressions in Family Portraits

This might seem to contradict point #1 above, but there are times when getting those genuine smiles from the kiddos requires a little bit of help from the parents. If you have a reluctant smiler and you want to get a good individual photo of the child smiling, ask the parent to make a funny face, or do something silly off-camera. If you want the subject looking at the camera, ask the parent to get right behind you. Parents often know one silly word that will get their child giggling, or the child might just need the comfort of seeing a parent smiling at them to know that it’s all okay.

You can also have photos with the parents interacting with their children in the frame. These often end up being some of my favorites. I love capturing the genuine interactions, and those expressions that the parent sees every day. Put the parent and child together, and simply ask them to smile at each other. Often this initially awkward directive gets them really giggling together, and you’ve got the perfect expressions.

3. Laugh at the silly one

laugh silly - 8 Tips for Getting Great Expressions in Family Portraits

One of my most effective prompts for natural looking family interaction and genuine expressions is to ask them to laugh at the silly one. Sometimes they all look to the same person right away, and everyone will start truly laughing. Sometimes they all look at someone different, and after a second of bewilderment, they all start laughing.

This one can backfire, though, and needs to be used with caution. Some kids automatically think that laughing means to be over the top silly, and they over-exaggerate a huge laugh that doesn’t look natural at all. Some kids think that laughing also must be accompanied by pointing, and that never looks great in a photo either. In these cases, I tell them to giggle quietly and to keep their hands down. Usually, that solves the problem. If it doesn’t, I just move on to something else and let the moment go.

4. Simply hug

hug - 8 Tips for Getting Great Expressions in Family Portraits

Oftentimes in sessions, I position everyone into a nice arrangement, take a photo of them all smiling and looking, and then I just say, “Now, everyone hug each other.” or “Put your arm around the person next to you.” When I look at the photos side by side later, I’m always amazed at how much more natural the smiles are in the hugging photos.

I think that when photos feel really formal, it’s hard to relax, and people end up with stiff smiles. When they feel comfortable, the true smiles come out. There’s just something about being surrounded and hugged by those you love that makes you feel safe. Sometimes you need to prompt them to hug each other but make sure they’re still looking at you. Occasionally you get the real huggers that will turn right around and give their mom a bear hug. Although that looks cute in real life, it doesn’t work as well for a photo.

5. Let the personalities shine

personality - 8 Tips for Getting Great Expressions in Family Portraits

Sometimes you might have a perfect photo in mind, but you just have some little guys that have big personalities. You could spend the whole session trying to get them to be somebody they’re not, or you can just go with it and laugh about it.

Let’s be honest, sometimes those expressions that just scream personality make the best photos. Families will treasure those photos and laugh about them throughout their whole lives. You can try to get that perfect family photo for mom, but don’t make everyone miserable by insisting on squelching unique poses and expressions every time they pop up. That said, I don’t encourage them in their silliness because sometimes that can make them go a bit out of control. Just simply take the photo, and don’t make a big deal out of it.

6. Big groups are fun too

big groups - 8 Tips for Getting Great Expressions in Family Portraits

Giant group photos can look very dull at times. When you have tons of people in one photo, it can be a task just to get them all arranged, and then after all that work the photo just looks like a bunch of little boring faces.

Try getting a few photos that are just for fun. Ask the entire group to hug or kiss their neighbor. (Give them the option. Nobody likes to be told they must kiss the person next to them.) If you have a bride and groom, you can have the bride and groom kiss, and ask everyone else to cheer or to react however they’d like.

When you have a big group of people with funny happy faces, it makes a photo that you want to look at for awhile, and you can’t help but smile. These photos are never perfect, but they’re fun, and end up being the photos the families really love.

7. Capture life

life - 8 Tips for Getting Great Expressions in Family Portraits

You don’t always need smiles, nor do you need all the eyes showing. Capture the family participating in an activity together, and just let their expressions happen naturally. These lifestyle photos will capture the family as they are, right now. They will be the photos that really bring back memories for your families when they come across them later. You don’t have to set up anything elaborate. It can be as involved as a picnic together with the blanket and basket and everything, or as simple as holding hands and walking together. If you do have them walking away from you, ask the family to look at each other as they walk, so you get some profile expressions, and interaction with each other.

You don’t have to set up anything elaborate. It can be as involved as a picnic together with the blanket and basket and everything, or as simple as holding hands and walking together. If you do have them walking away from you, ask the family to look at each other as they walk, so you get some profile expressions, and interaction with each other.

8. Take a lot of photos in a row

8 Tips for Getting Great Expressions in Family Portraits

When you’ve got a lot of people to capture at once, the chances of getting all of them with a great expression at the same time is slim to none. I snap a lot of photos in a row of one pose because the chances of catching smiles and open eyes for each person go up greatly when you have a lot to choose from. If all else fails, you have a lot in nearly the same position, so you can swap eyes, faces, or heads if needed.

It can be so frustrating when you have a family photo that is nearly perfect, but one family member is blinking. Trust me, even three in a row may sometimes not be enough to get every expression that you need. I don’t head swap often because I usually have one in the series that captures everything as I want, but it’s nice to have the option of swapping something if needed.

I’d love to see your family portraits in the comments! What tricks have you found to capture great expressions in your family sessions?

The post 8 Tips for Getting Great Expressions in Family Portraits by Melinda Smith appeared first on Digital Photography School.