It goes without saying that almost all photography enthusiasts harbour the dream and ambition to start their own photography business. However, it’s rather unfortunate that there exist quite a few challenges that tend to doom most of them to failure.
So, if you’re thinking of turning your passion into cash or you are simply a budding photographer with your eyes fixated on the ultimate prize, then you may want to take note of the following tips.
1. Conduct extensive due diligence before committing your effort or money
Cameras are not cheap and neither are the matching lenses. But even more importantly, the time spent in raising any business from its toddler stage to full bloom is invaluable.
So, before jumping right on the bandwagon and investing top dollar in expensive gear, it’s advisable first to take a step back and research extensively about your prospective niche.
After that, you will be in a position to gauge accurately the cons and pros involved in that particular niche and familiarise yourself with the accompanying risks. You can always get ideas about profitable photography fields from business photography blogs, e-zines or even traditional magazines.
2. Decide the ideal level of photography for you to start your business
It’s estimated that 78% of budding photographers fail to make it to the front row of this industry because nowadays nobody takes the time to analyse their ideal entry point in the industry or has the willpower to persevere through initial problems.
For instance, if you’ve just been shooting some armature shots in the past year or so, it should be rather obvious that you have a better chance of thriving in this trade if you start in stock photography before venturing into more specific niches.
That also means finding a reliable mentor and first investing in quality but budget camera gear. This way, you will have enough capital flexibility to afford the luxury of a few losses or setbacks that characterises most startups.
3. List down all the equipment/gear needed to kick off a full-fledged photography business
Apart from the obvious stuff, the likes of the camera, tripods, hard disks, background canvases, etc., business photography runs deeper than what meets the eye.
A good PC and quality photography software, for example, rarely features in most people’s shopping lists when they are starting this trade. And as it so happens, this specialised gear is always dependent on the particular niche, field or preferred shooting style. For example, if you’re interested in starting a sport’s photography business, then investing in a high shutter speed camera as opposed to a conventional one will go a long way in making your work better. The same way, wildlife photographers may want to spend some few extra dollars on telephoto zoom lenses as a substitute for standard or wide-angle ones as long they are interested in producing crisp photos. Besides, bear in mind that your clients won’t care for the brand, type or model of gear used, as long as the work produced is of top quality.
4. Sometimes your passion for photography does not equal success in the photography business
Just because you carry your camera whenever you go for your occasional nature shots doesn’t necessarily mean that you will make an excellent/successful wildlife photographer. Well, as much as linking your passion to your profession is the dream of every photographer, sometimes you have to blend your profession to become your passion. Which means that if you’re undecided on the kind of photography business you want to pursue, then exploring the most profitable option is not a choice.
It is easier, for instance, to establish yourself as a reputable wedding photographer compared to a more complex area such as developmental or sports-related photography.
Even in history, the most successful professional shooters were those who’s work met the immediate demands of their audience. Channelling your efforts to the most profitable avenue is one of the easiest ways of carving a name for yourself in such a competitive field.
5. Dedicate some time in developing a presentable portfolio before venturing out
As far as business photography goes, nothing sells you better than an excellent portfolio. Unfortunately, 6 out of every 10 startup photographers will barely invest enough time and effort in crafting out an impressive portfolio, which makes it several times harder to land new clients.
Your portfolio should not only be a culmination of your best pieces of art, but also an accurate representation of your style and preference. In other words, it should sum up your career journey and photography style in a few high-resolution images.
6. Learn how to market and popularise your photography business
Contrary to the opinion of most people, it is wiser to popularise your business as soon as you possibly can – regardless of whether or not you’ve learned the ropes. The sooner you put yourself out there to be criticised or complimented, the sooner you can wedge your foot in the door (don’t forget about simultaneously building up your portfolio – tip #5).
At the same time, marketing skills are just as valuable as your photography aptitude as far as your growth and business success goes. Thus, the earlier you learn how to navigate the murky waters of effective marketing strategies the better.